Elias Steelgraves will do whatever is necessary for him to get what he wants, to advance his station in life, to increase his holdings.
He often purports to one thing but will do the exact opposite. He can never be trusted to be truthful. At seventeen, he decided that Elinor Dressin was going to be his wife. And although she was being courted at the time, he began his own courtship, knowing that her other beau, Harlan Knowles, would confront him.
When that happened, acting stunned and injured, Elias challenged Harlan to a duel, allowing Harlan to select the weapons. Dueling was pure sport to Elias, and Harlan was not a man of weapons.
Although Elias knew he could defeat Harlan, he let on publicly like he was against the duel idea. So convincing, even those who knew him, believed him. So, in order to eliminate the competition, he lay in wait for Harlan. The secluded area was perfect. When the man crossed the bridge, Elias sprang from hiding and slammed him in the head with a rock and then shoved the lifeless body to the rocks below. The following day he went to Elinor complaining that he had waited an hour past the time Harlan was to show, he never did. Though she did not believe him, she saw in him a man that would get what he was after, and as his wife, so would she. They were married and before the year was out Benjamin was born.
Various Business Interests
Elias is a wealthy landowner and businessman. The Steelgrave empire rivals that of any of the robber barons in the east.
Details: Duties, Elias now simply oversees his empire. He has sons to handle the family's affairs.
Skills: Still a ruthless and deceptive businessman, still capable of getting what he is after.
Responsibilities: The overseeing of his holdings and the care for his family.
As ruthless as they come. Resorts to violence, mayhem, arson, and murder in his quest to obtain what he wants.
Aliases / Nicknames
Evergreen Ranch, Whitefish, Montana Territory).
Place of Birth
St. Louis, Missouri
Kith & Kin
Wife: Elinor Steelgrave
Elinor Steelgrave is a handsome woman in her sixties. She is very petite, almost delicate looking, but her appearance disguises a spine of steel. In demeanor, she is invariably polite in a condescending manner. She is highly intelligent. Like Elias, Elinor manages the family with an iron fist. This steel is applied in her business dealings as well.
Benjamin Steelgrave (Late 30s)
Benjamin Steelgrave is the eldest son and his father’s right-hand man when his mother allows him to be. Along with his wife, Nona, and two young sons, he has moved to the new ranch in Whitefish. Benjamin would be considered a gentleman rancher as he has no inclination to actually work the range. He is a rather handsome and elegant man who, like his mother, has a somewhat condescending air when he speaks. He is not unintelligent, but he is not the brains of the family.
Case Steelgrave is the next in line of the Steelgrave brothers. He is probably the most intelligent of the siblings and the deadliest. Case is charming and cunning, and only comes truly alive when it is time to kill. However, he manages to goad his target into drawing first, therefore never facing murder charges. He is proud of his legend, but has one goal for the future, goad Shade Thornton into a gunfight.
For several years, Case made his home base in Texas. He recently moved to Whitefish and is now the town marshal.
Clayton Steelgrave (Mid 30s)
Clayton is employed as the foreman of Evergreen Ranch, the Steelgraves’ ranch in Whitefish. He is the family member that is least interested in perpetuating the feud with the Thornton. He has longed for a ranch to work and, under other circumstances, would have likely gone on the drift. He is generally good with horses, cattle, and people. He enjoys working and playing hard. Clayton is also good-natured, usually quick to smile and laugh. Despite the fact that Shade Thornton killed his younger brother, he would like to see the feud ended.
He is married to Janet Redmond and they have four children (two boys, two girls).
Zeke Steelgrave (30s)
Zeke has taken over the management of most of the Steelgrave’s non-ranching business interests. Of course, he answers to Elinor when it comes to business decisions, but as he has a very keen business sense, she does not interfere often. Zeke, like his elder sibling and mother, loathes everything Thornton and does not bother to disguise it. He is also cunning enough to interfere with the Thorntons’ various business interests without being overt or having it easily traced to him.
Calvin Steelgrave (deceased, a. 22 at TOD)
Calvin “Cal” Steelgrave was spoiled, arrogant, and truly psychotic. He was the family hellion and used to getting what he wanted or taking it if there was resistance, women included. He also considered himself as good a gunfighter as any that’d ever been born. While carousing with his brothers in Missoula, he spotted Regina Cantrell being escorted by her future brother-in-law, seventeen-year-old Shade Thornton. He caught her coming out of a store and tried to drag her into an alley and assault her. Shade heard the struggle and beat Calvin severely, even though he was younger and less experienced. A few hours later, Calvin lay in wait, intending to shoot Regina. Instead, Shade killed him.
Much to the fury of the Steelgraves, the shooting was ruled self-defense and Shade was not charged. The Steelgraves vowed vengeance leading to Shade leaving home.
Age: Mid-to-late 20s
Leah is a lovely and pampered young woman with a nasty streak where men are concerned. She seems to enjoy luring them into her web and then crying foul, forcing her brothers to send them packing, usually not very gently. Most men call her bewitching. Those that have been caught in her trap, call her a witch.
Very few. He does trust his legal henchman to a certain extent (Carson Tyndall).
Others To be determined during gameplay.
Anything Thornton, friends and associates as well.
Others To be determined during gameplay.
Elias’ banner year. He kills his first man, marries Elinor Trench and greets his first child, a boy, Benjamin.
He grew up living off of his Grandfathers' investments and holdings. Now, as a father, he began his quest for more property, power, and prestige.
By the age of 27 and In a short ten years, Elias Steelgrave doubled the family holdings in the Northeast and he began looking to the west as the next step in his climb to the top. So he packed up his family that now included four sons and a wife that matched his tenacity in the pursuit of wealth and headed west in one of the family’s wagon trains. They settled in a couple of different areas, but Elias' urge for dominance and power drove them further westward.
Elias finally settled his family in the growing town of Missoula Mills. Missoula was founded in 1860 as “Hellgate Trading Post” while still part of Washington Territory. By 1866, the settlement had moved east, 5 miles (8 km) upstream, and was renamed Missoula Mills, later shortened to Missoula.
Elias built an elaborate mansion overlooking the Bitterroot River, making the eventual city of Missoula the Steelgrave family’s western headquarters.
The war in the east offered a new business opportunity for the Steelgraves. Importing rifles by the boatload, they supplied the Confederacy, so long as they could pay. When the ports of the south were blockaded by the Union Navy, Elias attempted to send his cargo overland by the wagon load. However, that became too risky with the Plains Indians attacking his trains. Even hs routes into Texas became too perilous. So, he organized a network of purveyors who dealt with several Indian tribes dealing in all manner of goods including whiskey. So guns, powder, and lead were a natural addition.
In 1862, the youngest Steelgrave son, Calvin, was shot and killed in Missoula by Shade Thornton. The shooting was ruled self-defense which sent the grief-stricken Steelgraves into a rage. Vowing revenge, Elias set out to ruin the Thorntons. Simply buying the Thorntons out was not an option. Besides, the family was very entrenched in the Kalispell region. So, Elias began acquiring neighboring parcels of land north of the Thorntons' Lost Lake Ranch. Those he could not buy, he acquired by hook or crook. Soon, he had a rival ranch that he named Evergreen and he moved his family north.
The hostilities between the Thorntons and Steelgraves continued escalating.
The Evergreen ranch continued expanding as the SGR added another parcel of range after the sixth farmer or small rancher was burned out with the act being blamed on Indians, expertly portrayed by SGR riders.
Frustrated by his lack of influence in the town of Kalispell, not to mention the fact that its founding was accredited to Ishmael Thornton, Elias set about creating the town of Whitefish.
The ten-year span of bloodletting, rustling began to ease up as serious law was being developed in response to not only the lawlessness of the Steelgraves but other factions as well. Elias called off his riders, mostly hired guns who would only be used to secure new lands, hold water holes if and when they were found and ride the property line. But bad blood was far from over between the two, it bubbled just below the surface.
The Steelgrave clan had grown in both wealth and power but the plan to take the Chogun Valley from the Thorntons had stalled and seemed more difficult than ever.
There was fire in the old mans eyes as he looked around, they had one, but he wanted every mothers son of them to swing, or bleed out on the range. "Let's get after 'em boy!" And like a man twenty years younger Elias, swung into the saddle, pulling the horses head around. "If the boys can cut 'em off before they get to the trees that'll be a plus, or days worth of work to get out of there."
"There weren't that many, and I doubt they were after the whole herd," Carson said leaping in the saddle as both men laid spurs to their animals. Using spurs was not something a man did as a matter of course, hardly. But when they needed to move, then yes they would. This was one such time where speed was of the essence. Both mounts stretched out into a full brake neck gallop to try and catch not just the herd, but the rest of the rustlers as well. The cows would only run so far, and could be easily rounded up again, even if they had to be rooted out of the trees.
Now the riders of the Evergreen were not lily white, far from it, and there were plenty of cattle on Evergreen range with altered brands. But stealing from a thief is probably not the best idea anyone ever had, and generally, sooner or later, it ended badly. Bad men wronged will hunt you down. Yet to their credit, the Baker Brothers only saw what they believed was an easy way to make some money, they had no idea of Elias Steelgrave, or the Evergreen. Just rustle some cattle and drive 'em to a market far enough away no one would notice, except everyone in that part of the country knew 'pine tree' brand of the Steelgrave outfit.
Elias was up and out of bed with all the noise and activity outside who could sleep. He dressed quickly, not in his usual suit, hardly. He was dressed in range clothes. It had been a matter of years since he had been on the range, or even in the type of clothes that one wore out there. But they were not unfamiliar to him. He belted on his Colt, ready to be a part of the chase and eventual capture of the thieves.
His only regret was that his sons were not on the ranch to get after what he heard as rustlers. But Granger and the hands were competent enough to handle whatever they might face out there. Arlen Granger was loyal, and a tough man to deal with. He had some good men riding for him, and most were good with a gun. It was how he held the range he held, which brought to mind a rumor he had heard of sheep herders moving into the country. And that meant war! Plan and simple. There was cattle and cattle came first!
He bounded down the stairs like a man half his age and went out the door looking around to see that most of the riders were out of the yard and heading after the herd. All he hoped was one or more to be caught so they could string them up. No sense dragging them into town when they all had rope, and the rustles all had necks!
He caught up a mount and headed out after the others. This was his fight, no questions asked.
Days had passed without any word, there seemed to be a delay of some sort about the trial, and that did anger him, but then, what was he to do? Nothing seemed to be the appropriate answer. Oh he ranted to himself about doing any number of things, horrible, murderous things to many of the towns people, yet he sat in his chair, doing nothing.
He did know that John Goodnight had arrived so that was something positive in this lengthy line of disappointments, and his daughter Leah continued to badger any that would listen about this hospital business, though an orphanage would supply child labor to the ranchers and the damned squatters and their farms, which could serve a purpose raising vegetables, so long as they didn't infringe on the open range the cattlemen needed. Perhaps, even spur some industrial growth. Yes, the orphanage could be of use after all.
Spring round up was underway, Granger was doing a good job of seeing that his herd was coming in from the areas they had scattered to over the winter, and beginning to fatten up. Perhaps he would plan a drive, just a destination would be needed, depending, of course, on the price per head. Yes, perhaps a cattle drive would be in order depending also on the number of head he had to sell off. Well, that would wait until fall, but it was a plan of action.
Sunday, April 2, 1876:
Elias had considered many plans to free his son, the first was a failure, the idea of getting a man on the roof of the Stardust would have been a good plan, that is if Speed Guyer had not had the same thought, and why wouldn't he? The field of fire was perfect. but there were other roofs he might consider.
He had killed a loyal man, one that had worked his way up from cowhand to foreman, done everything ever asked of him, and then, he was shot down in cold blood for something that was out of his control.
And what could he hope for if he didn't at least attempt to free Case? Nothing more than if he did. That was the cold truth of it. He would still stand trial, if he was not killed during the attempt. The attempt would only stand to make it worse, should it fail, and as he thought about it, fail it likely would.
He sat pondering his very limited options were were adding up to nothing. He had sent for his attorney, Goodnight, to defend Case, and if there was a lawyer who could get the job done, it would be John Goodnight a man after his own heart. Yes, that was the plan, Goodnight would get him off!
Case might have mind his P's and Q's around Kalispell. The fact being, if he was exonerated the rewards might be two fold, one, it would bolster his campaign for County Sheriff, and two, might just end Speed Guyer's reign as Town Marshal, and allow Case to appoint a new man. The thought made him laugh, and laugh he did. Then, just like Whitefish, he would run the town as well as the county!
Layton Harris’s suddenly lifeless form crumpled to the floor, a hole in his forehead. “So, Granger, that makes you the foreman now. Get a couple men and get the body out of my house! After that I want to know exactly what happened in Kalispell. Six men turned over a dozen of you away, I’ll need to hear this. Now, get some men and do what I said!”
Without a thought, Arlen Granger took hold of Harris’ body by the shoulders and drug him out of the door. There were several hands in still the yard as Granger and the body of Harris came out of the door. Three men immediately went to Grangers aid and carried the body down the steps and away from the house.
“See to it he’s buried out aways.” Arlen ordered.
In the house, Elias’ servant was cleaning up the blood from the thirty-two caliber wound as Arlen walked in. Elias looked up, a dazed look on his face, as if he didn’t know what had just occurred in his own hallway. “Arlen, what happened and why didn’t you bring Case here as I ordered.
“The Marshal met us with a shotgun, his Deputy come up from behind with another old timer and then Santee, Bannister, and McKenny crossed over from someplace. All was armed and ready, hell boss, there was even a couple women with shotguns close by. They had us cold.” Granger explained. “If one of us would'a moved for a gun, they’da tore hell out of us.”
“The Marshal alone would got maybe half a dozen with his eight-gauge. And the rest of them boys’d been pourin' lead into what was left. They just wasn’t no way to spring Case without us all dyin’ just no way.”
“Can’t let him go to trial. Can’t let him face the Circuit Judge.” The thought of ambushing the coach and killing him came and immediately went. It would be plain who orchestrated such a thing, unless they killed all of them. Perhaps an attempt on him at the hotel, or would he be at the boarding house, and if so, which one? No, no it was getting too complicated to try and plan that, and there was not a lot of time left.
His head snapped up, okay Arlen okay. I need to make another plan, you tend what has to be done and I’ll call for you when I have something.” He said almost absently.
“Yes boss.” Arlen said, and quickly left.
And then it came to him, a man on the roof of the Star Dust Saloon with a rifle.
It had gone badly in Kalispell, and badly didn't cover it. They had been out-flanked by three men they all knew and had ridden with, men that once involved would have shot them down with no remorse. The gunfighter Pike and another to the rear of them and Speed Guyer in font. Oh, they had the numbers in a head on fight, but it would ave been anything but.
Harris and Granger had ridden into a hornets nest and had escaped with their lives. But now they had to face Elias, which meant their live may well be forfeit anyway! They had no idea what might happen when they reached the home ranch without Elias' son. The old man was volatile and they were about to confess their failure to him.
As the place came into view the uneasiness among the Evergreen riders increased. Many of them considered drawing their pistols to be ready, just in case. There was nothing any of them could have done to have it turn out differently, nothing.
They rode into the yard and Elias was there to meet them.
Mature Content: Yes Language
With: Elias Hood, Layton Harris, Arlen Granger Location: Add specific location information here. When: April 24th, 1876 Time of Day: Mid-Morning, evening, etc.).
The place was straightened up somewhat. Elias was sober, and had been for since news of Cases arrest reached him.
Three men stood in the parlor, two with hat in hand. Elias, his Foreman Layton Harris and the Assistant Foreman, Arlen Granger. This was not a friendly meeting by any stretch of the imagination.
“What the hell has taken you two three full days to gather the goddamned riders I ordered? I meant to have my son out of that jail and home by now.” Elias was fuming. I wanted them sonsabitches in Kalispell yesterday, goddamnit! Not nursemaiding cows!
“For Christ sake Elias, they were all over the spread. They were branding as they found calves, a couple were driving them down out of the hills, but we had men tied up everywhere on this ranch, except here.” Harris shot back. Boss or not, there were situations where men would be all but out of reach. “It’s spring round up, damn it, and that takes every man we’ve got. Cases men are no help, they’re off someplace doin’ whatever.”
“I sent one of the young hands out to find them, but I ain’t heard squat since he left.” Granger piped up. “We got maybe a dozen men that need food and remounts to make the trip to Kalispell. Ya gotta give ‘em some time, they ain’t been here twenty minutes.”
“I gotta give ‘em shit! I pay their wages on time, I expect them to be here when I need them! So you get their lazy asses in them saddles and ride for Kalispell! I want it done now goddamnit!”
“What the hell else can go wrong?” He shouted at their backs as they hurried from the room to help with the remounts and get them going.
With the two of them there would be fourteen men, against two. Kalispell had had it’s fair share of excitement, but that had been five men in the bank job, this would be three times that many! It would be a much different situation, besides, there were another fifteen that had yet to ride in to the home ranch, plus Cases men. If they ever showed.
Elias got his own bottle, that was the way of it these days. He had fired the chink that cook, told him get back to his laundering. Which he did. But Elias was truly alone in almost every way possible for a man to be alone on the second largest spread in that part of the state.
Ashworth was all but useless to him, running about like a school girl tattling on everybody. On the other hand, the man could be useful at times like this, and that's why he used him. What the hell had happened?
A whole family gone to hell! His wife gone to God knows where, his son's off and away living their own lives, and that snot nosed Leah with her big plans for a hospital that would never get built, not if he had anything to say about it. It was why he had the riders he hired. He burn the thing to the ground as many times as she built it. He'd show her! Hell, he'd show Kalispell, and them Thornton's too!
First though, the boys needed to bring Case home. Which would lead to a bit of vengeance with that Marshal Guyer. That was a dead man walking if there every was one! Lay a hand on a Steelgrave? His brother ought be tearing that Municipal Building down, brick by brick.
He threw the glass he was using across the room, it shattered when it hit the wall, glass and brandy flying everywhere. With a disgusted look, he lifted the bottle and drank from it, who needed a glass anyhow?
There came a pounding on the door, loud and continuous. It was enough to bring Elias awake, he was in his chair beside the grey embers of what had been a fire. His clothes in disarray, an almost common sight anymore. The empty brandy decanter lay on it's side on the table next to his chair, and the glass crashed to the floor when he was startled awake by the incessant knocking.
He sat up to gather himself, and his bearings, then managed to stand, swaying a bit in his hung over condition while he made his way to the door. He flung it wide open, "What in God's name, Ashworth? For Christs sake, you'll wake the dead."
"Marshal Guyer arrested Case last night and I'm afraid he's got a good case." Ashworth spewed quickly.
"Slow down, slow down. What about Case?" Elias asked as he made his way back to his chair. "Sit down, sit down."
"Elias, Marshal Guyer arrested Case last night." He said slowly. "Case tried to pull a gun on him as I understand it and got a broken nose for his trouble, but Elias, I'm afraid he's in real trouble this time."
"Trouble, huh. Well, do me a favor and get Harris an' Granger in here." As he said that there was a knock and both men entered the house.
"Wondered what the rush was. Been here sooner but we ways a ways out." Layton Harris explained. "Didn't think you had comp'ny comin'."
"I didn't! Ashworth says Case in in jail. Well, I want him out! You get some of the boys an go down there an' bring him home. You hear me? Get him outta that jail!. And get me another bottle of brandy!"
Granger cringed, "Elias, uh, Mister Steelgrave sir, that will mean gun trouble. Guyer and his deputy, Pike, they'll not stand for it."
"I give a good Goddamn what they'll stand for! You take every man that can be spared and you get my son out of that damned jail!"
"Yessir!" Was the only reply, it was now just after nine, and it would take time to get the men together, it would be ten-thirty, eleven o'clock pushing hard to reach Kalispell. Almost mid-day and the streets would be busy with people. Neither man liked the idea at all. But they had their orders so they backed away and rushed out the door.
"Well? You done what you came for." Elias barked. "Sad damned day when a an has to get his own bottle!"
Nolan Ashworth left the yard as fast as he had arrived, he could see the activity, men riding out get others for the foray in to Kalispell. He would say nothing, work his way to the post office so as not to be seen, if that were possible.
There seemed to have been some satisfaction in the burning of the church, and all that was inside. Yet sitting with a snifter of brandy that satisfaction had vanished as quickly as it had come to him. He sat, alone in the big house, where once he had had the company of his wife and his children, now he had bitter memories of how they had left him.
Elinor who had made her usual trip to Helena, is said to have returned but left again. It was rumored she had fled to St. Louis and the high life there, but his hired men could not confirm that. She had effectively disappeared, dropped from the face of the earth so to speak.
The Boys, they had set out to claim the empire for him, but never returned. From what news he had gathered, they had seen the folly in his plan, seen the needless killing that would have to be done at the risk of their own lives. It didn't help that Clay, with his wife and four children had cleared out and left the area. Then Zeke, the most ruthless of his sons, perhaps even more so than Case, had left it was said for the gold fields of the Dakotas, though they were certainly a huge risk especially with the Sioux out.
Benjamin, spoiled by his mother and the outright owner of a huge ranch just past where Whitefish once stood. Ben, the gentleman rancher. Married, two children and as far from his father as he could get. He wanted none of the Steelgrave plans or spoils,
And then there was Case, Case who had his own plans that didn't include his fathers grand schemes. Plans that only started with the County Sheriff post. Elias believed he was aiming much higher than that. Much higher than anything Kalispell or fledgling Flathead County* could offer. So that left him, Elias Steelgrave alone.
Of course there was Leah. Getting her back on the Evergreen would take kidnapping her and locking in chains, she had made that abundantly clear. He knew that his assault on her had changed everything between them, and even with his justifications, he knew he was morally wrong, not that it actually mattered to him, for he would again bury the truth with dink and self delusion. It was how he had justified everything he had perpetrated on people over the years.
Yet there he sat, alone with his thoughts, his anger, his explaining away and his paltry excuses. Yet, there was a plan forming, not yet concrete, not thoroughly rationalized, just the inkling of a plan.
*(Flathead County was founded in 1893 some17 years on.)
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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