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    • "Ain't hardly nothin' to do but hunker down till she blows herself out." The man squatted, "Rance, is the name. Been watchin' you, doin' a fine job. You'll do Wheeler, you'll do. Try and get some rest, might end up bein' a long night. Least you won't be ridin' drag come daylight, there's a plus for ya."   He stood and made his way to his shelter to await the grub that was coming.   @Bongo
    • Meanwhile, in the main house, Reb Culverson was visiting with his old friend Fightin' Joe Hooker, who was the ramrod for the fledgling Montana Territory Stockgrowers Association, Northern District. He was there to convince ranchers to join and support the organization, hoping it would take root.   "And just what good is this here association ya got started?" Reb asked.   "It'll give us a voice in the territorial government, Reb, that's what it'll do. Once that happens we'll be able to git us some sortta range police to protect the herds, and the ranchers." Hooker responded. "Rustlin' might not be the threat it was, but you know as well as me, it can come back."   "You get anywhere with Lost Lake, 'er that cow thief on the Evergreen?" Reb asked.   "Can't say as I have, startin' with the smaller spreads an' workin' my way up to them two. I'm well aware of both spreads, and the men that own 'em."   -------------0------------   They swept down out of the trees whooping and hollering and firing off a couple of shots as they closed on both sides of a big group of cattle, just as they had planned. The  lone night hawk knew he had no chance of stopping the raiders, or of saving the cattle while he watched the chunk of the herd moving toward and then into the trees at a run.  He emptied his Colt at the raiders, the whipped out his Winchester  and levered several shots in the area where they had disappeared.   He could not know that one of his shots had found its mark. A man that had just joined took a slug in his back and toppled from his horse. Toole and the men continued to drive the cattle toward the dry riverbed as planned. It was an acceptable loss.   The sound of the shots, mere pops at the distance to the main house and the bunk house alerted everyone, and men boiled out of the bunk house guns in hand, only to watch the night man shooting after the rustlers.
    • Out on the boardwalk they stopped, "So we managed ta git a deal right off, thet's good, it is. Now all we gotta do is convince ol' Wentworth to free up the money so's ya don't have ta use yers right off." Amos commented, "Seems a fair deal but like you say, minin's not no sure thing."   "John and Mary are good folks. It's not a sure thing, but you saw the vein, went to the floor and it looks rich," Speed responded. "And it looks to be wider where they stopped digging. I can't wait to get it assayed to see what we've really got our hands on."   "And it should assay out pretty good from the looks of it, though I know so little about copper ore." Alice admitted.   "Well, you saw the copper ore, which is clearly distinguishable from the surrounding rock due to its reddish, mottled appearance. And that surrounding rock is granite which is not easy to work, but it can be done, and, if we have hit it, the veins could be as much as a mile long, a mile wide, and a mile deep!" Speed explained with a grin. "With that equipment we'll be able to not only dig deeper, we'll be able to tunnel, and we have the property to do just that."   "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" Amos exclaimed. Might oughtta buy up what ground ya can aound 'er, jest ta be certain!"   "First things first, let get on up to the bank." Speed suggested.
    • Justus was more than happy to have a chance to get out of the bulk of the wind, although he knew this was far from over.  And he knew they'd be hacking up dirt for days.     With the picket lines set, he moved over to help put up the shelters for the night, pretty quickly deciding that it was a fool's errand...they were all going to be miserable until this let up.   Squinting, he looked out toward the herd, not able to see but a few in the dust, it looked like they had been swallowed by the big, dirty cloud, and weren't even there.  In fact, he had the eerie sensation that all that was left in the world was this small circle of men and horses.   "Ya need me ta do anythin' else?" he called over the din of the wind.   @Flip
    • Doc Gilcrest walked into the bunck house to see Carson on his feet, dressed. "I may not be able to ride, but I can darn sure walk some. Tired of layin' in that bed."   "I reckon you kin do thet, sure 'nough. No body said ya had ta lie there if'n ya didn't want to. Yer stitched up plenty good. Jest leave thet hog leg where she's hangin' fer now, don't need the weight in thet wound."   "So anybody come sniffin' around?" He asked.   "Not so's you'd notice. There's four men down there keepin' watch, but it don't look like Lost Lake's lost any sleep over their man, that is if'n they even know he's gone." Gilcrest offered.   "He seen that brand an' went ta shootin'!" Carson reflected. "I jest shot straighter. Had no choice in the matter. Fool could'a rode on, but, well, that just ain't what happened. Hell of a mess."   "Oh I dunno. So far nobodies come huntin', the boss ain't upset over it, neither's Granger, so you got nothin' ta worry on 'cept gettin' better."   "I should'a been more careful, but maybe there just wasn't no way to be more careful. Up on the side of that mountain is the purdiest view a man could look at. You can see fer miles, see right where they got them cows of theirs. Now that ain't gonna be no easy matter to get to any of 'em. They're deep on Lost Lake range. Gonna be hard to get at, an' worse to get out. We'll lose some men tryin' this one, that's for sure!'   Gilcrest rubbed his chin. It wasn't like Carson to go on about the prospects of a job.

The Trials Part 1 & 2

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Mature Content: Yes, implied violence.

Location: Kalispell Courthouse
When: 1st week of June, 1876




Kalispell was the scene of two momentous trials in the span of less than a week that first week of June. The first one involved the two bank robbers who had been captured in the act of trying to rob the town's bank. During the violence which erupted, one of the local citizens was gunned down in cold blood. Three outlaws met their grim end too in the big shootout with the lawmen and other aroused citizens. So as trials go, this one was pretty much open and shut.


Judge Harland Bryant, the circuit judge, was known as a stern judge, a believer in law and order and for the two outlaws there could be no lenient treatment. Both men were tried together and their defense attorney could come up with nothing better than to convince them to plead guilty and throw themselves upon the mercy of the court. It proved to be a false hope.


The judge did not even need to retire to his chambers to ponder the sentence but, after giving the pair a stern lecture on law and order and the dire consequences of murdering an unarmed man and trying to shoot others, he promptly announced the two were to be hanged the very next day. There were some locals who said he acted a bit too fast, if he had put off the executions for a few more days, there might have been more publicity spread thru the territory and a bigger crowd would have attended - an economic benefit to the town of course. As it was a large crowd gathered about the hastily constructed scaffold to watch the criminal's demise. There was even some applause as the men dropped thru the trapdoors. However some with weaker constitutions found it a bit too much.


The pair weren't even cold yet when the saloon offered a special sale on drinks, they called it their Two for One deal and that establishment was soon packed with thirsty or bargain hunting customers. There was much talk about how one of the jaspers had cursed right up to the second he dropped to oblivion.


By darkness, the two were buried in unmarked graves and would soon be forgotten, their criminal depredations over. And a grim omen too for the one outlaw who had managed to escape.


To be continued............

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Now the second trial was a lot more contentious. The local lawmen were certain if Speed had not pistol whipped Case when he did, the other lawman would have drawn his gun and used it to kill. However it did not go that far. He was knocked out first and dragged off to jail. And when the second trial opened, a very capable lawyer hired at a high fee no doubt, Mr. Goodnight proceeded to hammer away at the prosecution's case bringing up all sorts of doubts and even a few witnesses for the defense who countered most everything the prosecution witnesses testified.


The mere fact that the marshal had mobilized a whole bunch of armed men then posted them not just at the courthouse but even in strategic positions in town such as the saloon roof was seized upon by Goodnight to show this was nothing more than a naked powerplay more about competition for local office than any real attempted murder case. He protested that it also was a tool of intimidation for the local jury and that his client could never get a fair trial in Kalispell.


Now that part, Judge Bryant squelched, telling everyone in no uncertain terms the trial was taking place  'here and now' and that he would guarantee it would be a fair one. The jurors took so long in their deliberations there were fears of a hung jury but again Judge Bryant sent a note into the jury room saying he would tolerate no 'hung jury nonsense' and to come up with a verdict or they'd be in that room til the cows came home.


Finally a decision was announced and there was silence in the courtroom as Judge Bryant  asked the jury foreman for their verdict. It was a split one, guilty on the count of causing a public disturbance but.........non guilty in the far more serious offense of assault on an officer of the law. Once the judge had gaveled the courtroom quiet as both sides partisans had exploded either in glee or disgust, Judge Bryant announced he was fining Case Steelgrave $100 dollars and his stay in jail so far already negated any further jail time. The man was free to leave upon payment of the fine. Being the Steelgraves, such a sum was easy to cover and he was out in literally minutes.


His duties finished in this town, Harland Bryant went back to the hotel, ate a hearty meal, then packed to leave. There were other towns, other cases awaiting his presence, such was the life of a circuit judge.





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