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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 1941
erne SMOKY WN.U. SERVICE (Continued from last week) VHAriCK Vll These men whom Roper now gath ered about him hated a particular man, not only as lawless as them selves, but a man who was more than one man. Ben Thorpe was a thousand men operating under Cleve Tanner in the south, and Walk Lasham in the north, his innumer able retainers filamented the plains from the Rio Grande to the Big Horn. That Roper’s men hated Ben Thorpe was no coincidence Roper had picked men of personal grudge. Most of them had first been out lawed because they had not suited a single organization the organiza tion of Ben Thorpe. Up and down and across half of Texas, constantly in the saddle, Bill Roper threaded his new organiza tion. Sometimes Dry Camp Pierce was with him more often he trav eled alone. These famous gunfight ers and outlawed men whom Roper gathered were just youngsters, most ly. Some of them were true killers some merely reckless kids who had got off on the wrong foot. All of them were badly wanted by what little law there was. One night in early June, Dry Camp Pierce and Bill Roper sat in the back room of a saloon, deep in Texas. “Look,” Dry Camp Pierce said. “I’ve stole cows until I could pave my way to hell with their hides. But—I don’t know—to steal cows for Dusty’s kid—” Bill Roper’s teeth flashed clean in his grin. “Whose cows?” “I’ve stole cows—” “You’re going to steal cows that belong to me, now.” “Figure you own these cows?” “I’m half of King-Gordon, now split. I’ve taken, out of King-Gor don, seven camps without cows now I’m claiming the cows that Thorpe took from Dusty King. And from some other men that we’re going to lend a hand to, pretty soon.” Dry Camp Pierce—he was called that because he hated to camp too near to water—went to work for Bill Roper as he had never worked before and thus the king of cow thieves, the brand changer extraor dinary, for once aligned on the side of the law that was not. Ten rustlers’ camps hooked into Thorpe-Tanner territory But Dry Camp also helped in oth er ways. A hot June dusk, five days after the meeting at Whipper Forks, found Bill Roper at the Dry Saddle Cross ing, where he was to meet Lee Har nish and this meeting, too, was ar ranged by Dry Camp Pierce, though by this time Pierce was already far away. Here ran the broad, many-chan neled river, dividing two countries— a river whose split wanderings made two miles of intermittent shallows. At this border of a vast, impercepti bly rolling prairie stood a narrow string of adobe shacks. That was the Dry Saddle Crossing. Two men—Bill Roper and Lee Harnish—sat in front of one of those abandoned shacks, and tried to get together. “I’ve always understood,” Roper said, “that you were acquainted some, below the line.” Harnish’s hard eyes studied Rop er, and for a little while nothing could be heard except the mourn ing of doves in the willow scrub by the water. Next to Dry Camp Pierce, Lee Harnish was the oldest of those to join Roper he was twenty-eight. He was tall and lank, sun-baked al most to the color of an Indian his green eyes were curiously blank, im penetrable, and he liked to look his man in the eye with the peculiar fixity seen in the gaze of hawks. “I’ve been down there some,” he admitted. “I’ve made a few drives into Chihuahua one drive to Mex ico City.” “If you had a big wet herd run to you just below the line, would you know ho to get rid of it?” “I can’t make out your hand,” Harnish said. “King-Gordon never swung the long rope yet, that I heard of.” “I’m not King-Gordon now. My stunt is to smash Cleve Tanner and I don’t care what it costs.” “What’s wrong with backing him into a shoot-out, if that’s what you want?” “That comes later. If I bust Tan ner I can bust Thorpe. But if Tan ner is gunned before he’s busted, Thorpe will take over in Texas, and the chance to break up his Texas layout will be gone.” “You ain’t going to bust him by running off a few head of cattle. This river crossing is slow worlt. kid.” “I figure to cross five thousand head within the next three months,” Roper told him. “Five thousand head won’t even scratch the hide of Thorpe and Tan ner, son.” “I know that as well as you. What it will do, it’ll draw Tanner to throw his warriors onto the border. That’s what I want. Because by then I’ll be working somewhere else.” “And you want me to take ’em on the other side—is that the idee?” “I want three dollars a head, American gold, paid off as the cat tle come out of the water ...” Ropet’s ways of gathering his wild bunch were diverse, as diverse as the saddle men he gathered. One way or another, picking up a man here, three more there, he got all he needed, and more. But certain other things had to be done, In order Ta at The Vvlld bunch would have work to do, planned in such a way that something would be accomplished that would stay ac- complished. On a steamy afternoon early in July, Bill Roper sat in Fred Max im’s San Antonio law office. Maxim was an attorney who, some thought, had worked under a different name, somewhere before but here, assur edly he was in no one’s pay. “I’m not asking the likes of you what’s what,” Bill Roper said. “I Roper’s ways of gathering his wild bunch were diverse. want to know who actually owns range rights on the Graham stand.” The hard-bitten little man across the desk from Roper was still cadgy. “When it comes to ousting a man from possession—” “You know who ’ousted’ Bob Gra ham and his family from possession. Cleve Tanner took over that outfit by main horse-and-gun power, with out decent cause or reason. Every body knows that. I’m asking you now—” “Taylor and Graves are already doing everything that can be done to regain possession of Graham’s outfit,” Maxim said, smiling. It was the smile that Roper liked. “Suppose I hold the Bob Graham lands, and Bob Graham’s family are living on it. “Bob Graham hasn’t got posses sion,” Maxim said. “Suppose he did have?” “Never could happen. Ben Thorpe” “Shut up a minute,” Roper said. “I’m not asking you to put Graham back in possession of his range. I'm not asking you to save him from being put off again in the way he was before. What I want to know is, can you head off some cooked-up legal interference with Graham, aft er he’s in possession again?” Fred Maxim thought it over. “I can only promise you that I can cause considerable delay,” he said. “Months of delay?” “Providing you can show posses sion—I’ll keep you clear until hell freezes.” “That’s all I want ...” Still July, at Willow Creek— A barren range of hills, sand hills golden in the dawm, purple in the twilight, barren always. Beneath them, what had been the Willow Creek camp of the old King-Gordon. In the bunkhouse nearest the river, five men lounging around a little room. “All right, you hard guys,” Bill Roper said “you know who told you to come here. Dry Camp Pierce told you to come here. Maybe he told you what you could look for here, huh?” These four gunfighters who met Roper here were none of them older than Bill yet each was famous as a killer in his own right. Of them all Bill Roper alone had no name, no reputation. Yet, in respect for the name of Dusty King, they had come to hear him out. Nate Liggett, a round-faced kid with eyelashes that looked as if they had been powdered with white dust, said, “Well, what seems to be your offer?” “I guess you already know Bob Graham,” Roper said. “You know how a warrior gang of Cleve Tan ner’s jumped down on him, on some thin excuse, and run him off his range. They even took over his house and his windmill and his cor rals. Now, I aim to hand back that range to Bob Graham he’s waiting in Bigspring for the word. Your part of the job is simple enough—you just go and take it away from the Tanner bunch.” “Simple, huh? Just how do you figure this simple trick is to be done?” “A lawyer in San Antonio kept the Rangers off when Tanner jumped Graham. Now we’ve got an other better lawyer in San Antonio to keep them off when Graham jumps Tanner. The only question is, who’s got enough salt to grab that range—and then hang onto it?” “And what do we get out of all this?” “Graham takes over the outfit and runs it. You hang around and help him, and see that he doesn’t get run off again. For that you get a half interest in the outfit. You split it among you any way you see fit. I’ll back Graham with cattle, and what other stuff he needs.” Nate Liggett said, “Bill, I don’t see where we come in for no ad vantage.” “If you’re satisfied with the lone wolf stuff you’ve been pulling, I haven’t got anything to offer you,” Roper admitted. “But I’ll tell you this—the boys that string with me now will see the day when they’ll run Texas and Cleve Tanner, and Ben Thorpe, too, will be busted up and forgot!” “It’s a hefty order!” “Maybe it is. This Graham bus), pess is a kind of experiment it’ll work if you make it work. But if it goes through okay—it’s only the beginning, you h^ar me? You string with me a little while and maybe, by God, we’ll show a couple of peo pie something ...” CHAPTER VIII Hot, dry days of early August— As the first sun struck with a rec heat across the plains, the Tanne: men who held the Graham ranch were already saddling. All ovei Texas, cowmen were throwing to gether the last trail herds of the year it was time for these Tanner men to roll their chuck wagon* again, to round up the last of th* trail-fit stock that remained in the herds which had belonged to Boh Graham. Out from what had been the Gra ham corral, three riders swept through the dusty dawn but they had hardly left the pole fences be hind when six other riders confront ed them, rising into their saddles like Comanches, out of the brush. The strangers closed in a semi-cir cle, unhurriedly, their carbines in their hands. In another minute oz two the three Tanner riders wer* grouped in a defensive knot, while from the semi-circle of the raiders Nate Liggett jogged forward to talk it over. “I don’t think you want to go on,” he said. “I don’t even think you want to work for this outfit any more.” Tuo nights later, one hundred and fifty miles away— With the approach of dusk, a pe culiar light lay upon the valley of the Potreros. In a reach of open grass a herd of five hundred head bunched loosely—tame, heavy cat tle, already well removed by breed ing from the old, wild, long-horn strain. But they had not bunched voluntarily. They shuffled restless ly, watching the brush! something was happening around them that they did no# understand. As the light failed, the figures o! horsemen emerged from the brush, cutting mile-long shadows into the flat rays of sunset the huge, heavy shouldered man who signaled to his spread-out cowboys by turning his horse this way or that, in Indian horse language, was Dave Shannon. They did not harass the cattle. Only, between sunset and the next daylight, no cow took a step other than in the direction of th* Mexi can border Dry-grass season Texas scorched by the hot winds— All across the southern ranges a peculiar thing was happening. As word spread from twenty points of disturbance, certain of the older cat tlemen began to sense that there was a curious, almost systematic order to what in itself seemed a widespread disruption. All over the Big Bend country, eastward almost to the well settled Nueces, west ward beyond the barren Pecos, northward to the fever line, was breaking a spotty wave of raids of an unparalleled boldness. Far apart, but almost simultaneously, hell had busted loose in a great number of places, covering more than half of Texas. Presently it began to appear that the tough, notoriously trouble-mak ing outfits under Cleve Tanner were not holding together as they always had before. Here and there men were beginning to desert the Tanner outfits sometimes fired because they had failed, sometimes volun tarily deserting to the ranks of the raiders who were now almost open ly punishing the Thorpe-Tanner holdings. Mid-August, in the season of driest heat— Into the Potreros, by a little used trail, a black-sombreroed horseman rode. He was a tested gunman, a proved man whose name was known and feared half the length of the Great Trail. Trouble-shooting for Cleve Tanner now, he was moving into the Potreros to find out what had gone wrong with some of Tanner’s choicest herds. He had come fast, changing horses frequently, riding far into the night. Loping down the almost invisible trail through the dark, his horse sud denly dropped from under him, head long into nothingness. The pony might have stepped into a prairie dog hole—or it could have been the loop of a rope. But as the dazed rider struggled up, his mouth full of dirt, a rifle was prodding his bel ly, and a voice was sayirX “Don’t you think you might have took the wrong way? .” West Texas, far up the lonely Pecos— One of Cleve Tanner’s outfit bosses was talking to the Ranger stationed at Mustang Point. “Such a damn’ outbust of lawless ness has cut loose here as I never seen before,” he said. The ranger here was Vai McDon ald. He had gone out nineteen times in battle, sometimes against Mexi cans, sometimes against the Coman ches, and he had hunted white ren egades galore. “Awfully tough,” he said in his own sympathetic way. The foreman of the outfit that was busted up was fit to be tied. “I tell you, we’re being stolen blind,” he raved. “Not just a calf here and there, either—they take ’em in swoops and bunches. It’s the bold est thing I’ve ever seen. Even when there’s no chance of getting clear with any cattle, they’re game to stampede a cut herd that it’s took weeks to round up, and scatter it from hell to—” THE BLUFFTON NEWS, BLUFFTON, OHIO “This is one of Ben Thorpe’s out fits? No?” “Does that mean—” “Well? How many times has Cleve Tanner passed out the word, ‘The Rangers be damned?’ He’s put more obstructions in the way of things wo was trying to do than any other one man. Who was it had the legis lature cut down our pay until we practically ride for nothing, and fur nish all our own stuff?” “The question here is whether we’re going to have any law, or are we going to have—” “From what I heard,” McDonald said, “Cleve Tanner has left it be known that he’s the biggest end of the law himself. Go talk to Cleve Tanner if you want law*.” “My understanding is,” the fore man argued, “that the Rangers are supposed to—” “I’ll move out and straighten up your little old range,” McDonald said. “I’ll be glad to. Just as soon as I get orders from headquarters. I’m waiting for them right orders now!” But the weeks rolled by, and head quarters was curiously still ... End of summer a welcome end— Cleve Tanner himself, the Cleve Tanner who represented Ben Thorpe in the south, master of breeding grounds, the man who controlled the roots of all Ben Thorpe’s plains or ganization, was talking to the Unit ed States Marshal at San Antonio. “There hasn’t been such a wave of outlawry since the horse Indians was put down. Damnation, man! It’s set us back ten years ... I know what your policy has been. Your idea is to let us fight it out for ourselves, against Mexico, against the Indians, against all hell. But I tell you, this thing comes from in side this thing might be something that I couldn’t beat without help.” The United States Marshal at San Antonio smiled to himself a little smile and he said, “Seems like this must be a terrible bad thing for you, Cleve?” “I’m telling you—” “Go ahead and tell me. You’re a Ben Thorpe man, ain’t you? A right leading Ben Thorpe man. Well— maybe I’ll tell you a couple of things, some day .” There was law in Texas, even in those days but there was no such law as could stand against the com bined renegades of the long trail, with behind them a lawyer who could delay forever in the courts and a reckless expenditure of mon ey, the sohree of which some sus pected, but which was not definitely known. (To be continued) Armorsville Mr. and Mrs. Henry Grismore and family were Sunday visitors at the 0. P. Hartman home. Mr.and Mrs. Harry Moore and family, Mr. and Mrs. Sypherd, all of Detroit, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hall and family of Carey spent Sun day at the W. I. Moore home. Mrs. Elizabeth Hosafros, Mr. and Mrs. Homer Arras and son Joe and daughter Joan of Findlay took Sun day evening dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Hosafros. Mrs. Virgil Cribley and daughter Virginia spent Sunday afternoon at the Owens home. Mr. and Mrs. Carl McCafferty spent Sunday afternoon with Mr. and Mrs. Mrs. Guy Fleming and family of Ada. Mr. and Mrs. Roily Moser and son were Sunday dinner guests at the Levi Hauenstein home. Mr. and Mrs. L. A. Klingler of Findlay, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Kling ler called Sunday afternoon on Mr. and Mrs. I. A. Klingler. Rev. Cole of Holgate called Wed nesday at the Levi Hauenstein home. Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Klingler called at the W. I. More home Sun day evening. Mrs. Charles Montgomery and daughter Sue and Mrs. C. E. Kling ler were Lima callers, Monday. Fulton county, Ohio, has been se lected as an additional area to which the government’s food order stamp plan for distributing surplus agricul tural commodities will be extended. Operation of the plan is expected to begin early in May. NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT The State of Ohio, Allen County, s». Estate of Bessie N. Ixmgadorf, Deceased. A. J. B. Longsdorf of Bluffton, Ohio, has been appointed and qualified as executor of the estate of Bessie N. Longsdorf, late of Allen County, Ohio, deceased. Dated this 5th day of April. 1941. RAYMOND P. SMITH, Probate Judge Q'lKIIHXHniMlllllillUHIIIIIHUnillHIHHimn.HHiuuuiWa LOCAL AND LONG i DISTANCE HAULING Every Load Insured I STAGER BROS. Bluffton, Ohio QHIMillliaiaaaaaaaaaaaailuai»iaaaaaaaaaaaaaHMaaaMNMaMaawaaa( include meat in your menu. Always ready to serve you. Bigler Bros. Fresh and Salt Monts Beaverdam The Loyal Berean S. S. class of the Church of Christ held their April meeting Thursday evening at the home of Mrs. Myra Yant. Attending were Mrs. Pearl Vertner, Mrs. Ar minta Dal'y, Mrs. Auneata Lenney, Mrs. Hazel Green, Mrs. Cora Barber and Mrs. Mildred Varve!. Mr. and Mrs. Dode Ramsey and family of Buckland were Sunday din ner guests of Mr. and Mrs. James Ramsey and daughter Linda Lou. Lewis Bailey of Camp Shelby, Miss, is spending the week with his moth er, Mrs. Bailey and sister, Miss Lou ella Bailey. Mrs. Mary Zeiders returned Sat urday after spending several months with Mr. and Mrs. Print Kilgore in Columbus. Dr. W. C. Lacock of Fort Braggs, N. C. is spending several days with Mrs. W. Lacock and family. The Homebuilders S. S. class of the Church of Christ met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Reigle. At tending were Mr. and Mrs. Willard Cherry and son Park, Mrs. Cleda Gratz, Mrs. Oral Fett and son Harry, Mr. and Mrs. Grant Barber, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Yant, Mr. and Mrs. Merrill Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Amstutz and daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Kent Amstutz and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Van Meter, Mr. and Mrs. CharlesLewis. Mr. and Mrs. Randall Skinner and son of Dayton were recent visitors of F. C. Skinner. An Operetta, “Ask the Professor,” will be presented by the High School, Friday evening, April 25th in the auditorium. Mr. and Mrs. John Lenney, Sr., en tertained with a Sunday dinner the following guests: Dr. Geo. B. Roth of Washington, D. C., Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Clements, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lenney of Van Wert, Mrs. Maude Lenney of Lima, Mr. and Mrs. John Lenney, Jr., and son Marion. Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Kramer spent last week end with Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Ewing at Columbus. John Moore of Lima was Sunday visitor of his mother, Mrs. Sadie Moore. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Fensler of To ledo, Mrs. Mabel Hollman of Auburn, Ind., Mr. and Mrs. Dale Spencer and son Duglas of Toledo were Sunday guests of Mrs. Carrie Durkee and daughter Ruth. Rev. and Mrs. J. Arthur attended a District Meeting of the Women’s Society of Christion Service at Spen cerville, Thursday. The Win One S. S. class of the Methodist church were entertained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hau enstein at Lima, Wednesday evening. i Those enjoying the affair were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hall and children, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Zimmerman and family, Mr. and Mrs. Edd Herr and sons, Mrs. Daniel Younkman, Mrs. Donald Michael, Mrs. RusseH Augs burger, and Mrs. Dwight Baughman. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Bassett of Ft. Wayne were week end visitors of Mr. and Mrs. Loren Bassett and family. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Ryan and dau ghters of Ada were Sunday guests of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Dally. __________ WHY Elrose Mr. and Mrs. Howard Nonnamak er and sons Harold and Dean were Sunday dinner guests at the Ami Nonnamaker home. Rev. Herbert Graham and wife, and son David of Rushsylvania spent several days last week at the D. D. Williamson home. J. O. Koontz spent Saturday night and Sunday at the A. J. Non namaker and Anna Koontz home. Mr. and Mrs. Howard Stauffer were Sunday dinner guests at the Lendon Basinger and Emaline Non namaker home. Union prayer services at Bethesda Thursday evening. Ami Nonnamaker, Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Nonnamaker called at the John Agin home in Bluffton Sunday afternoon. Mrs. Purl Hartman is on the sick list. Mumps and measles are in evi dence in this section of the country. George Griswack, former resident of this place, died at his home in Bradner, Saturday. Mrs. Lulu Koontz and son Robert spent Sunday at the J. R. Fisher home. Bernard Christman and lady friend of South Bend, Ind., Miss Bessie Arnold. Mrs. Anna Koontz, CASH TO DRIVE v 73 OfayOUtA I FOR BETTER FARMING Cirv that NEW CHEVROLETa_______ BARNYARD LOANS, $10 to $1000: Get cash promptly without red tape or delay. 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Stratton home last week. Rawson June and Margaret Miller of near McComb spent a few days last week with Mr. and Mrs. Harley House. Mary Lou Keller spent Sunday with Marybelle Shaw. Mr. Sid Morse of Oak Harbor and Elva Arnold of Toledo were recent dinner guests of Mr. and Mrs. Wright Hughes. Mrs. Jack Carrick and daughter Lila spent the week end with rel atives at Ft. Wayne. Mr. and Mrs. William Veach of Continental spent Sunday with Mrs. M. L. Crist. Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Dear and family of Findlay were recent call ers on Mrs. Mabel Lootens and family. Mr. and Mrs. Harley House were Saturday evening supper guests of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Miller and family of near McComb. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Knepper of Toledo were Saturday evening call ers on Mr. and Mrs. Dale Wilson and family. WHY ACCEPT LESS?