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The Ronan pioneer. [volume] (Ronan, Mont.) 1910-1970, December 28, 1917, Image 7

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075298/1917-12-28/ed-1/seq-7/

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Met Animal in Field and It Attacked
Him; Caught Hold of Antlers and
Twisted Deer's Head Until it Fell;
Then Cut Its Throat; Is Local
It was Sampson, who in his youth,
slew a lion with the jaw bone of an
ass, but from the Superior country
comes a story that almost rivals the
exploit of the Swoboda of old Israel.
Just as the victorious hosts of Britain
are sweeping the plains' of Palestine,
scene of Sampson's muscular glories,
Charles Corn, the strong man of
Mineral county, with his bare hands
kills a big buck deer which gave him
The story is undoubtedly true be
cause Corn, the killer, tells it him
self. One day last week, when he
was going over one of his fields, he
came face to face with a big buck
deer. The buck, throwing discretion
to the winds, gave the two-legged in
truder battle.
Rode on Buck's Antlers.
Corn has a local reputation as a
wrestler. The challenge of the buck
roused his wrestling instincts. As
the animal rushed towards him he
grappled with the buck's antlers. The
force of the~buck's rush threw Corn
off his feet And lifted him in the air.
He kept tight hold of the antlers, and
could feel that the weight the buck
was carrying was wearing him down.
All Corn had to do was to hold on
tight. His was the predicament of
the man who caught the bear by the
tail. He wanted to let go but deemed
it inexpedient.
The buck was winded. The great
burden he was carrying on his an
tlers was exhausting his store of en
ergy. Finally he stopped. Corn
could feel himself getting down to
wards terra firma. The buck was
all in when Corn's feet touched the
ground. His strength intact, Corn
gripped the ground with his feet, as
wrestlers do, and began his side of
the singular contest. After thresh
ing about the ground for some time
he managed to get the hammer lock
on Mr. Deer. The antlers gave him
leverage and when he put forth all
his strength, and gave ti antlers a
swift twist, the deer followed his
head, turned with it and fell.
End of the Battle.
In an instant he had his knee on
the buck's neck, while he held the
deer's head in the fashion that cow
boys affect in holding down a horse
that is about to be branded. While
he held the animal securely on the
ground, out of the reach of its
threshing feet, he drew his trusty
bowie knife, and slit its throat.
Then he went back to his farm
house, secured help and brought in
his trophy of the chase. He called
his friends in to witness that he had
gone out unarmed, and that aside
from a slit jugular there was no
wounds on the carcass of the buck.
He showed them, in the snow, the
track of the deer, and his own, where
the deer had allowed him to reach
the snow with his feet. His bloody
hunting knife corroborated part of
his story, and the severed throat of
the fine buck made good his version
of the killing. They believed him,
as do most of his neighbors of the lo
cality. While the story may be doubt
ed by those who do not know the
man, in that section of Montana, it is
Great Falls Brick & Tile Co.
Manufacturers of
Office: 402 1st National Bank Building
You an get a loan on your farm
for improving, buying livestock, et
cetera, from THE BANKING COR
PORATION, Helena, Montana. They
are the largest farm loan bank in
the State-reasonable Interest rates
and prepayment privileges. No com
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formation-no red tape and no de
The Banking Corporation
"Safety First"
Great Falls is
geographic a 1l y
situated to give
better service to
country banks
the' any other
city within the
The First Na
tional is the big
gest bank in north Montana and is
fully equipped to render prompt
efficient service. Your patronage
is solicited.
Great Falls Moent.a
Established 1886.
In some unknown spot in Alder
gulch, near Virginia City, in Montana,
or on the banks of Grasshopper creek,
near Bannack, is an unmarked, for
gotten grave that contains the bones
of a man who perished, friendless and
alone, by his own hand more than
half a century ago, but whose name
will live in the history of the west
as long as civilization endures. That
man was Comstock, a first owner of
the famous Comstock lode at Virginia
City, Nevada, which has produced
more than $350,000,000 in gold and
Comstock realized only $11,000
from the famous mine that bears his
name, and which became the most
widely known mining property in the
world. In a few months he had lost
every dollar he had, and discouraged
and disappointed at having allowed
the greatest strike in mining history
to slip through his fingers, he wan
dered off into the mountains on a
prospecting trip. Finally reaching
Montana, this man who a short time
before had in his undisputed posses
sion wealth enough to have made him
the richest man of his time in Amer
ica, sat down on the side of a creek,
and placing his pistol to his temple,
blew his brains out.
Tossed Away Vast Wealth.
Comstock, had he risen to his op
portunities, might soon have flashed
across the skies of Paris and London,
the greatest speculator of the cen
tury, running printing presses night
and day to supply the demand for
stock "in Nevada mining claims for
miles around Virginia City. As it
was he believed when he sold out that
he was getting more than his inter
ests were worth. Others who fol
lowed him undervalued opportunity
also, and yielded in time to the old
law of the survival of the strongest,
but none could give again so much
for so little as did Comstock.
Comstock was not the real discov
erer of the Comstock lode. Two bro
thers, Hosea and Allan Grosh, sons of
a Pennsylvania Universalist minister,
found rich silver ore on what after
wards was known as the Comstock
lode about 1855 or 1856 and realized
that they had made rich discoveries.
But they had no capital and were
forced to spend most of their time at
placer mining to get enough gold to
buy food, in the meanwhile neglecting
the rich quartz deposits. There is a
story to the effect that a stockman
and trader named Brown had agreed
to supply them funds to develop their
monster vein. Selling out his store,
he was about to join them when some
desperadoes murdered him. Then
Hosea Grosh crushed his foot by a
glancing blow of a heavy pick, and
a month later he died in their rude
cabin from blood poisoning. Allen
When Pete Sets a Speed Mark
"Sizin' Pete Van up from looks," says Rawhide, "you'd never pick him for speed, an' I, myself, never
see Pete make a quick move without a hoss under him. If Pete's entered in a foot race most folks would
play him with a copper, but Bill Skelton claims Pete's the swiftest animal he ever see, barrin' nothin'. At
that Bill says he never saw Pete show speed but once, an' that's back in about '78.
"They're in the Musselshell country, an' one mornin' they're out after meat. They ain't traveled far
till they sight dust. In them days this means Injuns or buffalo. This makes 'em cautious, 'cause they ain't
anxious to bump into no red brothers with a bunch of stolen hosses. When Injuns are traveling with this
kind of goods it ain't safe to detain 'em, an' Pete an' Bill both are too genteel to horn in where they ain't
welcome, specially if it's a big party. Of course if it's a small bunch they'd be pleased to relieve them by
the help of their rifles.
"They start cayotin' around over the hills till they sight long strings of brown grass-eaters. This herd
ain't disturbed none-just travelin'. This means meat an' plenty of it, so gettin' the wind right, they
"The country's rough, an' by holdin' the cotlees they're within a hundred yards before they're noticed.
It's an old bull that tips their hand; this old boy kinks his tail and jumps stiff-legged. This starts the
whole bunch runnin', but it ain't a minute till Pete and Bill's among em.
"Pete singles out a cow an' Bill does the same. Pete's so busy emptyin' his Henry into this cow that he
forgets all about his saddle. He's ridin' an old-fashioned center-fire. His hoss is young an' shad-bellied,
an' with a loose cinch the saddle's workin' back. The first thing Pete knows he's ridin' the cayuse's rump.
This hoss ain't broke to ride double an' objects to anybody sittin' on the hind seat, so he sinks his head and
unloads Pete right in front of a cow.
"Bill, who's downed his meat, looks up just in time to see Pete land, and he lights runnin'. Bill says
the cow only once scratces the grease on rete s pants. rrom then on it s rete's race. It look's like the cow was stanoin' still.
c. "-/ " -
'... 4 - ' ' .-'-"'".
"Anybody that knows anything about buffaloes knows that cows can run. Pete dbn't only beat the the cow, but runs by his own hoss,
which by this time is leavin' the country.
"'Pete's so scared," says Bill, 'that I damn near run my own hoss down tryin to turn Pete's back.'
"Judgin' from this, I'd say that Pete might make a good race yet i f you'd scare him bad enough."
A Relic of Prospecting Days
In the 60's Montana gold 'camps knew many prospectors of
the type of Comstock, who made the biggest strike in mining his
tor, only to die without a cent a few months later.
Montana's early gold seekers built for themselves cabins like
the one pictured above which stands today on the banks of Yogo
creek, in the Little Belt mountains, an interesting relic of a day
that has passed forever. This cabin was built by Toe-String Joe,
a prospector who was in the first rush to Yogo. He killed a man
at Yogo and was taken over to White Sulphur Springs. A friend
there furnished him with a fast horse, and Montana knew Toe
String no more.
A murder was committed in this cabin only a couple of years
ago, and the slayer, a prospector, who killed another miner, is
now serving time at Deer Lodge.
decided to cross the Sierras to Cali
fornia to raise money with which to
mine and mill the rich quartz ore
they had found. Overcome by terrible
mountain storms, he managed at last
to reach a mining camp, but died
there 12 days later.
Enters Comstock.
When Allen Grosh started on his
fatal journey, he cast about for some
one to leave in charge of his effects.
Comstock, a prospector, seemed the
most available man. It is said that
a written contract was drawn up,
by which Comstock was to have one
fourth interest in one claim for keep
ing it from being jumped in the ab
sence of Grosh, and was to live in the
rough stone cabin that had been built.
Grosh, who was a well educated and
well equippPd prospector, did not
take Comstock into his confidence or
tell him anything of what he called
the "monster vein." It was said that
Grosh hid his assaying tools and
memoranda of their discoveries be
fore Comstock came to the cabin, but
long after his death, when his heirs
searched in vain for evidence to bear
out their claims in court, little could
be found.
There were so many claims made
later as to what really, happened the
following spring that it is impossible
to tell the true facts. The story gen
erally accepted is not the one told
by Comstock, but concerns two Irish
prospectors who were down on their
luck-Peter O'Riley and Patrick Mc
Laughlin. They took up an unpromis
ing looking claim for placer, but
could only make $2 a day out of it.
Then they decided to start digging
a trench straight up the hill from the
bottom of the gulch to cut through
some hard blue clay and yellowish
gravel that they had noticed.
The Big Strike.
At a depth of four feet they came
upon a deposit of dark, heavy soil
which sparkled with minute flakes
of gold. Running for a gold pan, one
of them tested the dirt. The pan held
many dollars in gold. They had dis
covered the top of the famous Ophir
claim, the north end of the Comstock
Just as they were finishing the
last cleanup for the day Comstock
appeared. He had been looking for
his lost horse and now galloped down
the ridge, and as he noted the gold in
the pan, he shouted, "You've struck
it, boys."
Comstock was a foxy individual,
and he did some quick thinking.
"Look here," he said to the two
miners, "this spring here was Old
Man Caldwell's. You know that;
there's his sluice box. Well, Manny
Penrod and I bought his claim last
winter and we sold a tenth interest
to Old Virignia the other day. You
two fellows must let Manny and me
in on equal shares."
O'Riley and McLaughlin objected
strenuously at first, but they were
a little afraid of Comstock, and be
sides 50 feet of a placer claim was
more than they could work in a sea
son, so it did not amount to much
after all. So when Comstock added,
by way of a clincher to the argument,
that five persons, of whom he was
one, had located 160 acres on the
bench as a stock range, and he
thought they were within its boun
daries, they gave up like lambs and
agreed to everything rhVt Comstock
The First "Freeze-out."
Now occurred the first freeze-out
that the district had known. Com
stock rode swiftly to the camp of Gold
Hill, told Old Virginia, a well known
prospector, of the tale he had told
the two Irishmen, and offered Old
Virginia his horse and a bottle of
whisky for Old Virginia's alleged in
terest in the property. After drinking
half of the whisky, Old Virginia sign
ed a bill of sale.
Comstock's own account of the
whole matter is an artistic piece of
lying. He said in his account of the
strike: 'I had owned the greater part
of Gold Hill and had given the pros
]pectors working there their claims.
At Ophir O'Riley and McLaughlin
were working for me. I caved the
cut in and went after my party to
form a company. With my party I
opened the lead and called it Com
stock lode." Comstock goes on to ex
plain how he acted as good angel to
Rawhide Rawlins
Virginia City Pioneer Became Not
able Figure in Railroad Construe
tion World and Left Five Sons in
U. S. Army; Won Admiration of
President Wilson.
James McShane, one of the men
who constructed the telegraph line
from Virginia City to Helena in 1865
and 1866, died last week at Omaha at
the age of 76.
McShane, who will be remembered
by pioneers of the state as having
been associated with his uncles,
Count John A. Creighton and Ed
ward Creighton, and with Senator
Millard and John S. Collins in the
construction of telegraph lines all
over the west, was born at Spring
field, Ohio, in 1841. In Nebraska
he went to Omaha and made several
trips across the plains with wagon
trains in the interests of the Pacific
Telegraph company.
In 1864 he came to Virginia City in
charge of a wagon train, and during
the next three years was engaged in
building the line to Helena. In 1869
he was present at the ceremony of
driving the golden spike at Promono
tory, Utah, which marked the com
pletion of the Union Pacific to the
In 1867 Mr. McShane left Virginia
City and joined the Union Pacific as
a construction contractor to begin a
period of nearly 50 years' work in
railway construction that covered
railway building in Montana, Ne
braska, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho,
the Dakotas and Kansas. In every
one of these states his name is known
as one of the most potent forces
among the builders of railroad sys
tems which made possible the rapid
spread of civilization in the west.
Mr. McShane left a widow and 13
children. Six of his sons are in the
service of the government, five be
ing in the military branch. The fam
ily prizes a personal letter written
to Mr. McShane by President Wilson
when the chief executive saw the rec
ord of the sons. James McShane, a
son, is a resident of Miles City.
the camp and gave rich mines away
right and left.
The little drama was, in truth,
very simple. Comstock, one of the"
most ignorant and bombastic of men,
had managed by loud talk and pure
impudence to make himself the most
important personage of the epoch.
He had never really round anything
but he claimed everything in sight.
In a few weeks, when miners came
from all points of the territory, the
most important man in the region
was thought to be Comstock.
Comstock in His Glory.
Comstock was exuberantly happy
for a few weeks. His Indians did
most of the work and all he had to do
was to watch the sluice boxes and
show visitors around. A party of
ladies from Carson valley were on the
claim one day, and as was the cus
tom in placer camps, each lady was
the gold as a memento. Comstock
and expected to wash it out, keeping
the gold a s a memento. Comstock
took a fancy to one of the number
and slipped in a large handful of gold
dust, giving her more than $300.
Comstock was wildly avaricious
when mining, and as wildly extrava
gant with his gold When obtained. He
bought whatever took his fancy and
gave it away the next minute. His
only pleasure seemed to be the spend
ing of money, and most of his com
rades were like him in this respect.
McLaughlin sold his interest -for
$3,500; O'Riley was more fortunate
and hung on till he received $40,000,
but he spent it all in stock specula
tion and died in an insane asylum.
McLaughlin died a pauper and was
buried at public expense.
Comstock sold all his interests two
months after the ledge was struck,
and a couple of years later, as has
been told, killed himself in Montana.
Virginia City Named.
Comstock called the camp that
arose around the big strike "Pleasant
Hill Camp." Then it became Mount
Pleasant. In a month's time there
were a dozen, tents, dugouts and
shanties on the present site of Virgin
ia City. The name Winnemucca was
thep suggested. But one midnight
Old Virginia, going home with the
boys and a bottle of whisky after a
boisterous evening, fell down when he
reached his cabin and broke the bot
tle. Rising to his knees, with the
bottle neck in his hand, he hiccough
ed, "I baptize this ground Virginia
Town." A drunken shout of approv
al arose, and it was decided to return
to the saloon and celebrate the new
name for the rest of the night. The
name was broadened to Virginia City
and became the most famous mining
camp on earth.
Old Virginia was thrown from his
horse in 1861 and was killed,
National Life Insurance
Coqpany of Montana
Legal Reserve Company writiong the
most lberal policies on the market.
Home Office
Butte, Mont.

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