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Montana oil and mining journal. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1931-1953, January 25, 1936, Image 6

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075103/1936-01-25/ed-1/seq-6/

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Billings Jail Break in Vigilante Dags Resulted in Reunion of Tiro
Brothers; Fugitires Held Posse at Bag For Three Dags and Nights
HiJiifiifïLni i îSfgfii K ÆfitfaraiaRfiiiM
Chateau, Montan»
HAT! LEAVE Missouri with
out their mules! Not on your!
life, a Missourian without
mule would be as forlorn as
a Californian without his
prune Juice. For no other reason could
It be truthfully explained how Johnny
Gaines and George Hammond came to
Montana accompanied by an odd dozen
or so
_ ^_ teams.
This was previous to the year 1886.'
The Musselshell valley was occupied
by several large cattle and sheep out-|
fits whose holdings extended as far as
the imagination of the owner and the
tolerance of his neighbor would allow,
There were thousands of cattle scat-|
tered through the valley but during
the summers feed was more than suf-l
ficient owing to the frequent heavy
cloudbursts and rainstorms that were
want to come up with short notice and
drench the valley.
On the other hand the winters wit
nessed much distress when the snow
was deep and crusted so that the cattle
often starved The stockmen, although
deploring the fact, had so far made no
remedy for these yearly losses. How
ever, some of them had thrown dams
across the mouths of numerous coulees
to keep the heavy cloudbursts from
flooding out the luxuriant meadows
that were common and to spread the
water over a r
places a great
cut and the results obtained very
plainer Justified the development of a
more extensive system.
Handel of Musselshell, who
known throughout the valley
a partner in the Musselshell
Sheep company, described the advent of
irrigation to his vicinity. Handel Broth
era will long be remembered as Mus
aptahejr« leading citizens TTiev came
ÄSft im y CamC
"The RL outfit owned by the Ryan
Brothers of Leavenworth was under
the management of Jim Cox. The fact
that Cox was an enterprising foreman
with rawresslve ideas is clearlv shown
MfZ theR L was Qotcmlv
the t «ret outfit to bring Texas*cattle
jer area. Prom these
eld of wild hay was
is well
and was
pioneered the first real irrigation proj
ect in the valley," said Mr. Handel.
The first difficulty
a large number of horses broke to the
work harness, since the most work the
average horses ever did at that time
was to gallop over the prairie with a
buckboard bouncing behind. And it was
doubtful if much could be accomplished
in the way of digging
fresno dashing over th
of a team of half
when Gt
the rescue with their string of Ozark
equines. They had mules second to no
other brand In the United States or
Missouri when it came to delivering
power at the drawbar of a fresno, they
avowed. Also, they personally had no
fear of manual labor and could begin
operations at once if necessary, and
as soon as other laborers could be
hired they would strengthen their
forces to the needed proportions. So
the deal was made and the summer of
1888 witnessed the perspiring efforts
of many mule skinners carving Mus
selshell valley's first Irrigation ditch
into the industrial map.
So apparent was the wisdom of this
was to procure
ditches with a
e prairie in tow
broke broncs
were at this sort of crisis
aines and Hammond came to
from the farm of
Lawrence Jeffers ,
Madison County , Montana

gBête j

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£ %
v s ■'
• v
'Mr '

S I ■ :
1 '5
No Fertilizrr Used
Fertilized with
Anaconda Phosphate
(I.VJ lbs. to the acre)
Anaconda Phosphate
Is Sold by Leading Dealers
A Montana-Made Product of The
Anaconda, Montana
Havre Chamber of Commerce Requests Federal Government
Use Old Fort Assinniboine As Site for New Federal Prison
r ,-*'3
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fttdBB äh
w" i
Parade /rounds at Fort Assinniboine with buildings in the background, which were constructed in the Tmii«»
days of the Territory of Montano. The fort was at the height of Its glory during a period of from 35 to 55 years
ago. The Havre Chamber of Commerce is now urging the fort as a site for a new federal prison in Montana.
„ v T v
w ® ena *' or Wheeler, Senator J. E.
Murray and Congressman Roy E, Ayers
f a fH e P ^fJ he ?<**tion of * P™***«*
* Communications were recently sent
^ three from the Havre Chamber
of Commerce, asking them to get in
touch with the department of Justice
and the secretary of the treasury, urg
n in Montana at old Fort
project that before it could even be
tested Lord Lowther contracted for a
similar system to be built by the two
enterprising muleteers, on the N P
ranch, five miles east of Roundup, as
soon as spring should open up In 1887.
The winter following the construc
tion of the RL ditch (1886-1887) is
vividly remembered by pioneers of the
region as one of the most disastrous
to stockmen ever experienced. Snow fell
four feet deep and formed
not quite strong enough to hold a horse
or cow, yet strong enough to bear
weight of the softer-footed carnivora.
The result was that deer, elk, antelope,
cattle, and even horses and buffalo
were driven by the wolves and moun
tain lions to flounder helplei
deep snow and fall prey to
eaters. Thus was the need of depend
able irrigation for hay meadows force
fully driven into the minds of those
who were alert enough to deplore the
needless loss of thousands of dollars
worth of cattle.
a hard crust
In the
e meat
The N P was favored with two sources
of water supply and the best advantage
was taken of this fact to insure
crops even in the driest of years.
r il
ing the old fort as a site for the
posed prison.
Among advantages pointed out as
aking the old fort site suitable for a
federal prison were the following:
Buildings already there which might
be used for many and varied purposes;,
2,000 acres of land, much of which is
already irrigated and at moderate cost
the entire acreage could be; fine gar-1
low creek, which drained a large area
of the northern uplands, emptied into
the Musselshell river on the N P. Dams
were thrown across the myriad stream
beds of Willow creek to concentrate the
flow into one strong channel. This
done, the outlet was made to open
about In the middle of the system so
the water could be used as soon as It
came down without the need of a head
gate. Also a dam was built across the
river, not a hundred feet from the door
of the N P ranch house, raising the
river to the level of the main head gate.
This dam was washed out at different
times owing to the sandy sloping beach
on the south bank of the river at this
point. Lord Lowther and Lord Clifton
occupied a long log house about 100
yards west of the ranch house. This
building with its high ceillnged rooms
and many paned windows might well
have been transplanted from old Eng
land as to its furnishings. Mounted
heads of deer, buffalo, and many other
trophies adorned the walls, while a|
great open fireplace, built for use and:
not for looks, took up most of the west
wall space. The most noticeable thing
(from the American viewpoint) was the)
long rows of shoes that were placed
along the wall of the cloak room. These
included everything from patent leath
er oxfords to hob-nailed, cowhide, knee
length boots. It was Lord Lowther 's
good fortune to step into his Montana
home and feel just as much at home as
he would have felt back in England,
Like all good Britishers, the owners of
the N P were lovers of fine horses and
Lord Lowther spent the greater part of
his time riding over the country on his
purebred saddle horses. The favorite of
his string was a thoroughbred named
So well did the projects on the RL
and N F serve their purpose that Gaines
and Hammond soon were doing an ex
tensive business. It was not long till
the Musselshell Sheep Co. contracted
for a similar system. J. W. Newton,
who brought a herd of dogle cattle
from Iowa to the vicinity of Roundup
in 1886, also built an irrigation system,
on the Hart Bar H.
J. W. Newton was a quiet man with
a keen sense of humor. It was he who,
after a posse had besieged and slain
alleged rustler in "the battle of the
rimrocks" about 20 miles east of
Roundup in 1902, tried to claim a $50
reward—as being the first man to
hear a famous grouch of the neigh
borhood speak well of another. The
grouch had put in a good word for the
dead man by saying that the alleged
rustler had been a square shooter. The
events surrounding this tragic fight
were peculiar.
It was in the fall of 1901 that
Billlngs police picked a young boy, ]
about 12 years of age, off the streets,
The lad said he had run away from 1
his home In the east to come west and
find his brother who was known to be
somewhere in the Musselshell country, j
The police promptly locked him up and
sent word to the boy's family. Lodged
in the same jail was a young man of i
about 23, who was awaiting trial on
b webb bp* !
"I pick my whisky
ad /picJc my jfn.
L Mildness !
90 FR00F_
yétsmadX sjp /
•n lookisS for mildntn is
A una
to |il|lt-to too down ptnundr Th*'»
Odbto Mwodi h «M to

aadnwtH r*c*h*d fc k wining it*»er*kl»
Qrcek le Ike way to get it toe»j)ee»JY»lr.
owmMxfM MtniuM coatotATW ml e*
Cobbs Creek
} : *
pro-;den sites used when the post was gar
risoned; good hay ground; Montana
Power Co. high tension lines running
across property. It was also pointed out
that Beaver creek transverses the prop
erty and that there is a good supply of
water and water and sewer systems are
.already in use.
Port Assinniboine was the largest and
northernmost post in Montana.
.. . . .. .
The first move of the doomed man
was to place the boy down in a deep
crevi ce where he would be safe from
fiymg bullets, the second was to hurl
a taunting come and get me at the
a cnarge of robbing
along the Musselshell,
the bo
waiting for instructions from the lad's
parents, he accompanied the man when
that individual effected a d
escape and took to the rugg
mountains for hiding.
On January 3, 1902, Jake Keller,
riding across the hills, came upon the
two fugitives driving a band of Keller's
horses. Keller promptly notified the
vigilantes committee and it wasn't
long till a grim posse appeared among
the rim rocks on the trail of the two.
They overtook and surrounded them
at the head of Snail Coulee, seven miles
southeast of Gage. Escape was impos
sible, for at the moment they were
found the man and boy were lying
on top of a huge rock from which their
only escape
to land 30
straight into the clutches of their ene
a camp wagon
The man and
became firm friends. Oon
while the officers were still
could be by Jumping off
feet below, or to retreat
The vigilantes answered with a thun
derlng hall of bullets that sent hun
dreds of chips flying from the rock,
The fugitive, however, saved his fire
and lying flat on the rock proceeded
to make the committee look scarce
even though the odds were probably
80 to 1. Although it was mid-winter the
weather was mild and the fugitive did
not suffer from cold as he kept the
besiegers at bay.
Never was a more one-sided battle
conducted with greater caution. Al
though the man's position was assail
able from three sides, the attack was
carried on from the far side of the
coulee at least 200 yards away where
the besiegers skulked below the rim of
a hill, appearing first one place, then
another to fire a shot and then drop
out of sight again, nils sort of war
fare continued for three days witn
much shooting but no casualties. The
members of the committee divided Into
shifts and part of them retired to a
cabin about two miles distant for their
meals while the others held the siege.
Finally, tiring of this mode of fight
ing, three of the possemen attempted
to get within reach of the man on the
It was getting dusk, the man on the
rock was nearly exhausted from lack
of sleep. Suddenly he saw a shadow
like movement on the opposite wall
and raising on his elbows he sent a
the'bullet flying across. The shadow slip
ped behind a tree and Jake Keller
gasped at the closeness ' of the bullet
which had clipped off a twig not six
inches above his head. Simultaneously
three shots rang out and the man on
the, rock half rose to a sitting pos
ture and rolled over the edge of the
great boulder, landing with a smash
ing thump 25 or 30 feet below. He lay
there many minutes before his at
lackers felt assured that he was not
shamming. While some of them In
the wounded man, others
atop the rock to extricate the
boy from his hiding place In the crev
ice. The boy was scared and crowded
so far back into the rock that they
had difficulty getting him out. Ques
tioned, he told his name to the men
who had circled round him.
"Hey, Dick, here's your brother look
ing for you," one of the possemen ad
dressed a member from the NP. It
was true, the lad was the brother of
Dick Clifton, who was one of the be
Further questioning
they were to deliver the
to a man who was to meet them across
the divide. Part of the posse galloped
away to Intercept the receiver of the
stock. Arriving at the rendezvous they
found the man waiting, but he declared
he was unaware that the horses were
to be stolen. So, weary of this onesided
warfare, the vigilantes gave him the
benefit of the doubt, believing that
such a close call would be a good warn
ing to him to mend his ways if he
indeed were a rustler. Cautioning him
to keep his mouth shat and to mind
a to him if he were
they let him go and
revealed that
stolen horses
what would hap
investigated agai
returned to the H X ranch house where
the inquest was held. The men who
fired the three shots had reached the
wounded man first and they held a
hasty consultation. When the rest of
the committee had arrived there were
three rifles, each of a different caliber
and make, leaning against the rock
face. One was a 30-30 Winchester, one
a 25-20 Savage and the other a Kras
carbine. The man had been wounded
by the 30-30 but no one could, or would,
ever say which of the three men owned
each rifle.
Riders were sent to notify the wound
ed man's relatives at Musselshell, and
those who were left built a fire under
the rock and settled down to wait for
the man to die. He knew he was dying
and cursed them with every name he
could think of. All through the night
they talked or dozed by the flickering
light of the fire.
At near midnight one of the com
mittee noticed a
the wounded man
got quite close to the rifles which were
stacked against the wall. He looked
Just in time to see the rustler reach
for one of the loaded rifles. As the
men took it away from him and moved
the others beyond his reach, he made
a gurgling laugh and promised that
had they let him alone a minute long
er he would have taken a few of them
along for company. Two hours later he
died, and it was then, when the men
were voicing their regrets, that Mr.
Newton claimed the reward for having
been the first to hear his neighbor
speak a good word of someone. News
of the fight traveled fast and dozens
of men who had had not
with the pursuit or the kill!
rived in time for the fin
Through the long morning they wait
ed and talked in subdued tones till a
team and wagon appeared over the
hill with a woman and girl riding in It.
Apparently oblivious of the surround
ing riders they loaded the body of their
dead brother and son in the wagon and
drove off over the hill toward Mussel
shell where they buried him.
slight movement of
who somehow had
to do
ad ar
of the
There was no boasting by the men
left behind, for, well knowing the life
history of the dead man, they realized
that he had been a victim of circum-j
stance, or environment. Anyone trav
eling the highway about eight miles
east of Roundup can look to the north
and there, at the highest
miles, they may see
was named for him because it
was said he spent many hours there
scanning the surrounding landscape
for the camps of the range riders. Or,
visiting the scene of the fight one will
r as It was carved there by one
committeemen, the name of
the slain man—"died here Jan. 6 , 1902."
t for


that produces the
Energy—that's what it takes for each
of us to do the things the world ex
pects. Bread la the beet single source
of food-energy in the diet. Serve it
in abundance.
At every meol, serve
something baked
.t - um mmmm
. m r- V. »

William H. (Bill) Davey, 73-year-ofa
former Butte mayor and prominei
taurant man. died at his home in
a few days ago. Pneumonia was the
cause of death.
Davey was one of the best known
men in the Butte vicinity and was
noted for bis famous bets on Butte
weather. For many years he bet there
would be rain 26 days in June, and he
thought nothing of wagering ( 1,000 at
a time. Another favorite bet was that
it would rain on 45 days during May,
June and July.
He won so steadily that Butte people
finally refused to bet with him and
only visitors to the city would take up
his propositions, but his bets received
publicity that extended throughout the
United States.
nt res
Avoid accidents. Drive carefully.
Guess But
Whether the "Pain"
Remedy You Us#»
is SAFE?
Don't Entrust Your
Own or Your Family's
Well - Being to Unknown
'T'HE person to ask whether the
preparation you or your family
are taking for the relief of headaches
is SAFE to use regularly is your
family doctor. Ask him particularly
about Genuine BAYER ASPIRIN.
He will tell you that before the
discovery of Bayer Aspirin most
"pain" remedies were advised
against by physicians as bad for the
stomach and. often, for the heart.
Which is food for thought if you
seek quick, safe relief.
Scientists rate Bayer Aspirin
among the fastest methods yet dis
covered for the relief of headaches
and the pains of rheumatism, neu
ritis and neuralgia. And the experi
ence of millions of users has proved
it safe for the average person to use
regularly. In your own interest re
member this.
You can get Genuine Bayer
Aspirin at any drug store — simply
by asking for it by its full name,
point to do this — and see that yoa
get what you want.
Make it a
Bayer Aspirin

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