BY CHARLES SIRINGO
Originally published in 1912
The writer was born in Matagorda County, Texas, in the extreme southern part of the State, in 1855, and was reared on the upper deck of all kinds and conditions of cow-ponies scattered throughout the Lone Star State, Kansas, Indian Territory and New Mexico. I spent fifteen years continuously in the saddle, seldom ever sleeping in a house or a tent. In these early days of the cattle business when the southern half of Texas was overrun with wild, long-horned cattle, the cowboys used the ground for a bed and the sky for covering. I first started out as a full-fledged cowboy in 1867 when only eleven years of age. Of course, I naturally became an expert at riding “bad” horses and roping wild cattle. Besides, this strenuous, open-air life gave me health and a longing to see the world and to learn the ins and outs of human nature.
The chance came when the spring of 1886 found me in Chicago with a pretty young wife and a sweet little girl baby on my hands. We were boarding and rooming with a private family on Harrison Avenue on the night of the Haymarket riot, when an anarchist’s bomb killed and maimed over sixty of the city’s police officers.
We went to bed expecting a riot before morning, so we were not surprised when we heard the explosion of the bomb, and, soon after, the shooting which followed. A young lawyer, Reynolds by name, ran to our room to tell me to get ready and go with him to the riot, but my frightened girl-wife held on to me and wouldn’t let me go, though I sent a representative in the shape of my silver-plated, pearl-handled “Colt’s 45” pistol, which had been my companion on the cattle range and which still keeps me company as I write. Reynolds had borrowed my pistol and as he ran around a corner at the Haymarket with the “gun” in his hands, policemen opened fire on him, thinking that he was an anarchist. He dodged into a door, went up a flight of stairs and out an alley gate and flew for home like a scared wolf. With face as white as snow he handed me the pistol while I still lay in bed, saying that he had enough of the riot business, as several bullets had whizzed close to his head.
After the riot the city was all excitement, and I commenced to wish that I were a detective so as to help ferret out the thrower of the bomb and his backers. I knew very little about the detective business, though I had spent part of 1881 and 1882 doing secret work for Texas cattlemen against cattle thieves in western Texas and New Mexico. This had given me a taste for the work, and I liked it. Besides, I had been told by a blind phrenologist [one who studies the cranium as an indicator of character and abilities] that I was “cut out” for a detective. At that time I didn’t believe in phrenology, but this man being as blind as a bat and telling so many truths about people I knew, convinced me that there was something besides wind and graft in phrenology. Had this man not been blind, I would have attributed his knowledge to his ability to read faces.
It was in the year 1884. I lived in Caldwell, Kansas, a cattle town on the border of Kansas and the Indian Territory. Circulars were scattered broadcast over the town announcing the coming of this noted phrenologist. After supper, on the evening of his arrival, many leading citizens turned out to hear him lecture at the Leland Hotel. He stood in the center of a large parlor, holding to the back of an empty chair. He was a fine looking old man, regardless of the fact that both eyes were out.
After making a few preliminary remarks on phrenology, he called for someone to come forward and have his head examined. The audience began calling for our popular city marshal, Henry Brown, who had only been marshal a short time, but who had won glory and a new gold star by killing several men, including an Indian chief, “Spotted Horse,” who had taken on more “fire-water” than he could carry. Brown hesitated quite awhile about having his head “felt.” He knew better than any one else in the audience as to what was in his head and he didn’t want to risk having his faults told. He finally went out and sat down in the chair. But it was soon made plain by the color of his face that he regretted going. He stuck it out though, and heard some very uncomplimentary remarks said against himself. I knew that the phrenologist was telling the truth, because I had known Henry Brown when he was a member of the notorious Billy the Kid’s outlaw gang in the Panhandle of Texas, and the Territory of New Mexico. I first became acquainted with him through introduction by Billy the Kid in the fall of 1878. I had just returned to the Panhandle from Chicago, where I had been with a shipment of fat steers, and had found Billy the Kid and his gang camped at the L X ranch where I was employed as one of the cowboy foremen. I presented Billy the Kid with a fine meerschaum cigar holder, which I had bought in Chicago, and he in turn presented me with a book containing his autograph. He also introduced me to several of his men, one of them being Henry Brown. During that winter Brown and a half-breed Indian quit the Kid’s outlaw gang and went to the Indian Territory, and I lost track of him until I met him wearing an officer’s star in Caldwell, Kansas. He begged me to not give him away as he intended to reform and lead an honorable life. But I regretted afterwards that I didn’t tell the citizens of Caldwell of his past record. For, while acting as city marshal of Caldwell, and while wearing his star, he rode into Medicine Lodge, a nearby town, with his chief deputy, Ben Wheeler, and two cowboys, and in broad daylight held up the Medicine Lodge Bank and killed the bank president, Wiley Pain, and his cashier. After a lively chase by the citizens of Medicine Lodge the four robbers were caught and jailed. That night when the mob opened the jail door to hang them, Brown and Wheeler made a break for liberty, knocking men down as they ran. Brown was killed with a charge of buckshot and Wheeler and the two cowboys were hung to a nearby tree.
After the blind phrenologist had finished Brown’s head, he called for another subject. This time the crowd began calling for Mr. Theodore Baufman, the Oklahoma scout. “Bauf” needed very little coaxing. He strutted out, carrying his two hundred and fifty pounds of flesh with the air of a king. The phrenologist ran his hand over “Bauf’s” head just once, and then said: “Ladies and gentlemen, here is a man who, if the Indians were on the warpath and he should run across one lone Indian on the plains, he would tell his friends that he had seen a thousand warriors.” This caused such yelling and laughter that Baufman was angry for weeks; but I, for one, knew that the phrenologist had told the truth, as I had worked with “Bauf” on the range as early as 1878 and therefore knew that his worst failings were a fear of hard work and the stretching of the truth.
Next the audience began calling for “Mamie,” my sixteen-year-old wife. She took the seat and the blind man ran his hand over her head once. He then said: “Here is a good-natured little somebody who cannot tell a lie or do a wrong.” The balance he told was what we all knew to be true.
Next the crowd called for me. I went forward and sat down in the chair. The blind man laid his hand on the top of my head and then said: “Ladies and gentlemen, here is a mule’s head.” When the laughter had subsided he explained that I had a large stubborn bump, hence was as stubborn as a mule. He then said I had a fine head for a newspaper editor, a fine stock raiser, or detective; that in any of these callings I would make a success.
So, during the excitement following the anarchist riot in Chicago, this old man’s words began to bear fruit and I concluded to try my hand as a detective. But the question arose as to the best way to start in the business, my main object being to see the world and learn human nature. I wisely concluded to start right by entering the greatest detective school on earth—the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.
My steps were light and my hopes buoyant when on the 29th day of June, 1886, I stepped into S. A. Kean & Co.’s Bank and asked the cashier, Mr. Yure, for a letter of introduction to Mr. Wm. L. Pinkerton . I was slightly acquainted with this cashier, as I had done business with his bank. He replied that he would speak to Mr. Kean. He soon returned and wrote me the letter. It read as follows:
“Chicago, Ill., June 29th, 1886. Pinkerton Detective Agency.
Gentlemen:—The bearer, Mr. Chas. A. Siringo, we know to be a person of good character, and having been a cowboy and brought up on the plains, his services and ability are commendable to you.
S. A. Kean & Co., Bankers.”
Armed with this letter of introduction I bolted into the Pinkerton Agency. I found the air in the main office impregnated with mystery and suspicion. A dozen pairs of eyes were focused on me as though I were an anarchist with a bomb up my sleeve. I asked to see Mr. “Billy” Pinkerton. I had often heard him called “Billy,” and my lack of business knowledge prevented me from using his proper name. The attendant informed me that he couldn’t be seen, but that any word or letter which I might have could be conveyed to him. I then wrote a note addressed to Mr. “Billy” Pinkerton, stating my business, and enclosed it with the banker’s letter of introduction.
The young man disappeared with these letters. In about twenty minutes he returned with the S. A. Kean letter, on the bottom of which was written in Mr. Pinkerton’s own handwriting:
“Capt. Farley:—The party referred to in this letter is undoubtedly a good man.—Wm. L. Pinkerton.”
I was told to go down stairs and present the Kean & Co. letter to Capt. Farley. I did so. He read it, then handed it back to me, and I still retain it as a relic of bygone days.
After being put through a test by Capt. Mike Farley, I was allowed to see the “big chief,” Wm. L. Pinkerton. He asked for references and I gave him the names of David T. Beals, president of the Union National Bank of Kansas City, Mo.; Jas. H. East, a popular Texas sheriff, and Pat Garrett, the slayer of “Billy the Kid.”
In 1880 I had assisted Garrett in running down that noted outlaw and his murderous gang; hence I felt safe in giving this noted “bad” man-killer as reference. Mr. Pinkerton said he would write to these men at once, and if their replies were favorable, he would give me a position in a new office which they were opening in Denver, Colo. He said they would need a cowboy detective there, as they figured on getting a lot of cattle work. I had told Mr. Pinkerton that the east was too tame for me, hence I wanted a position in the west.
Breaking Into Jail
After the interview I went home to wait a week or two for replies from my references, and while waiting, I broke into jail for the first time in my life. It was Saturday evening after dark. The mix-up took place at Barnum’s circus near the ticket wagon, when the great crowd was scrambling to buy tickets to the circus. A large man, who would have made two of me, tried to be fresh and I called him down. He made a pass to put me to sleep the first punch but before he could get in his work the weight of my old Colt’s 45 pistol had landed on his head. This was followed up with one more lick which buried the sharp pistol-sight into his skull. This brought the blood in a stream. By this time his partner had picked up a piece of board and had it raised to strike me from the rear. I saw him just in time. He found a cocked pistol in his face, and dropping the board, begged for mercy. Both of these men had wives with them and they were crying and screaming. No doubt they thought their “hubbies” had innocently stirred up a hornet’s nest. A policeman came running up, but he was so excited that he forgot to take my pistol, so I put it back into my pocket. This good-looking young policeman informed me that I was under arrest. I told him that I wouldn’t be arrested unless he also arrested the other two men. He then told them to consider themselves under arrest.
The wounded man, whose face and neck and white shirt front were red with blood, begged not to be put in a patrol wagon. Therefore, as it was only a few blocks to the Harrison street police station, the officer consented to let us walk. The other two prisoners and their nicely dressed wives took the lead, while the officer and I brought up the rear. We had only gone a block when the wounded man balked. He wouldn’t budge until I surrendered my arsenal to the policeman. He had suddenly remembered that I still had the pistol.
On reaching the Harrison street station we stepped up to a desk behind which sat a very old, fat man. My pistol was laid on his desk and the policeman told him I had used it on the red man. The old fellow eyed me, then the pistol, then the man covered with blood and his nice broadcloth suit ruined. He asked me if I had used this pistol on the man. I replied “Yes.” Then he said, “I’ll fix you, young man. I’ll make the charge assault with intent to murder.”
He then began writing it down in his book. The tiger blood in me began to boil. I finally turned myself loose and called the old bald-headed “judge” some hard names. The policeman tried to stop me but failed. Then he leaned over the desk and whispered something to the “judge” who changed the charge to “assault with a deadly weapon.” This satisfied me and I sat down.
Then the “judge” told the officer to call the patrol wagon and have me taken to jail. While awaiting the patrol wagon, I secured the consent of the kind-hearted policeman to deliver a message for me. I told him to go to Umbdenstock’s Lithographing and Printing office and tell them I was in jail. I was well known there and hoped that some one would be in the office, as it was Saturday night. Shortly after, I had a nice free buggy ride in the “hurry up” wagon and was put behind steel bars.
For an hour I paced up and down before the heavy bars like a caged lion. It seemed as though I was doomed to remain in jail until Monday morning without my wife knowing of it. That worried me the worst.
About 9 o’clock Mr. Mike Shea, a wood engraver, came to the jail and heard my tale of woe. He explained that he was the only person left in the Umbdenstock office when the policeman arrived with my message. Shea told me to rest easy and he would have me out soon. He then left to see the judge who ruled over that district. Soon after, Mr. Shea and a lithographer friend of mine drove up in a buggy. They said they would have to drive sixteen miles to the judge’s residence out on the edge of the city. The lithographer, whose name I have forgot, was a leading Elk and a particular friend of the judge of the Harrison street police station, so for this reason Mr. Shea was taking him along to “work” the judge, whose name I cannot recall. At 2 o’clock Sunday morning my good friends returned with the bond signed by the judge and I was liberated. It was 4 A. M. when I reached home.
Monday morning I was in the court room which was crowded with people. I had no lawyer or witnesses, but was trusting to luck, though the attorney who had used my pistol at the Haymarket riot was present, ready to offer assistance.
When my case was called the two men and their wives were put on the stand and they all swore lies against me. I was then called up and told my story. When I had finished the judge asked me if I had any witnesses. I replied “No.” Here a nicely dressed old Scotchman rose up in the crowd and said: “Your Honor, I am a witness for that young man.” This was a great surprise to me and showed that luck was on my side. The old gentleman was put on the stand and corroborated my statement. He said he was taking a shipment of draft horses back to his home in Scotland; that he was trying to get up to the circus wagon to buy a ticket to the show, when the fracas began, and thinking that I might need help, he had come up to the court room this morning. I thanked the old fellow later at his hotel, but I regret that his name has slipped my memory.
As soon as the Scotchman left the stand the judge dismissed the case. With a smile he said to me: “Here, young man, take your pistol and go home.” Thanking him, I started out with the pistol and cartridges in my hand. I looked at the prosecuting witnesses with a happy smile. They looked daggers at me in return. I afterwards learned that these people owned a restaurant on South Clark street, and that the sore-headed one had a reputation as a slugger and prize fighter.
If Mr. Pinkerton ever learned of my breaking into jail while waiting to be put onto the secret force of his agency, he kept it to himself. The secret might have prevented my securing the position, and again, it might have helped me, as I have since found out that the agency officials admire a fighter when it is known that he is in the right, though, of course, they want their men to use their brains to control their trigger finger.
My first work was on the great anarchist Haymarket riot case, and I remained on it to the end of the trial, when the ringleaders were convicted.
Parsons, Engel, Fischer and Spies were hung. Ling blew his head off in jail with a bomb, and Schwab, Fielding and Neebe were sent to the penitentiary for a long term of years. I heard most of the evidence, but I couldn’t see the justice of sending Neebe to the pen. All that he did was to set the type in the “revenge” circular which was circulated, calling a mass meeting on Haymarket Square to revenge the killing of strikers in a late riot in the McCormick factory. The evidence was in Neebe’s favor, except that he was running with a bad crowd, and did his loafing where the beer schooners were the largest. They were all tried in a bunch for the killing of Degan, one of the policemen killed outright by the bomb which was thrown from an alley by an anarchist, supposed to be Shnoebelt. A witness or two swore that they recognized Shnoebelt when his companion lit the match to light the fuse; that then Shnoebelt threw the bomb into the squad of policemen, whose commander, Bonfield, had just ordered the mob to disperse. Albert Parsons was standing in a wagon making a speech at the time. The next day Shnoebelt was arrested for the throwing of the bomb, though a couple of days later it was claimed that he was liberated for want of evidence to hold him. Still later, they claimed to have positive evidence of his guilt, but too late, as he had skipped for Germany. My own opinion is that Shnoebelt was murdered in jail by angry policemen, and his body put out of the way. At least, I received hints to that effect from men who were on the inside.
A million dollars had been subscribed by the Citizens’ League to stamp out anarchy in Chicago, and no doubt much of it was used to corrupt justice. Still, the hanging of these anarchists had a good effect and was worth a million dollars to society. Now, if the law-abiding people of the whole United States would contribute one hundred times one million dollars to stamp out anarchy and dynamiting, the coming generation would be saved much suffering and bloodshed, for we are surely playing with fire when we receive with open arms anarchists from foreign countries and pat them on the back for blowing up Russian and English Royalty. These chickens will come home to roost in our back yard some day.
I had talked with Policeman Degan, a fine officer, before his death, as his beat was near where we lived, and knowing the man, I couldn’t much blame his brother officers for losing their heads and wanting to wreak vengeance on all who upheld anarchy.
After the anarchist case was finished, I did all kinds of small jobs, such as “shadowing” bank clerks and officials, down to looking up a lost jewel or child. During this time I had to study the rules and regulations of the Pinkerton Agency, which were in book form. The next important case that I was put on was against the Irish National League, for the English government. About half a dozen of us “sleuths” were put on the case under the direct supervision of assistant superintendent John O’Flyn. This being such an important operation, Supt. Jamieson, a kind-hearted old man, called us all into his office and explained the importance of doing our best and not getting together when working around the Irish League headquarters. I was on this case over a month, and learned many new lessons. Operative Jakey Teufel and I went to Cincinnati, Ohio, with two Irish would-be destroyers of the English crown.
During the next couple of months I had many operations in the city of Chicago. They were of every class, some lasting for weeks, and others only for a few minutes or hours. A good share of the time was spent in the slums, or what should be called “Hell’s Half Acre.” Here I learned some valuable lessons in human nature and saw many eye-openers. I had one operation which was a picnic. It was easy, “all same” getting money from your wife’s relatives. I was put to work “shadowing” a long-legged, redheaded banker. He had to be in the bank most of the day, but at night he showed me a touch of high life. He would go into tough places and drink wine with the inmates. I had to do likewise so as to find out how much money his Royal Nibs was blowing in. This was my first experience in having a “good time” at some one else’s expense. We were glad when fall came and Mr. W. L. Pinkerton called me into his private office to tell me to get ready and move to Denver, Colo., there to join the force of their new office which was opened for business a few months previous. Our friends in Chicago were bidden farewell, and Mamie and little Viola were put into a Pullman sleeper and we turned our faces back toward the setting sun.
My work was of all kinds during this first winter in Denver. I had quite a lot of investigating to do, as well as helping to run down city crooks and law breakers in general. I helped break up a gang of crooked street car conductors who had duplicate punches to ring in on the company and thereby make from ten to twenty dollars a day each for himself.
Voter Fraud and the Archuleta County Uprising
Horses were the motive power then. Early in the spring of 1887 I was sent out on my first cowboy operation. In the southwestern part of Colorado on the border of New Mexico, was situated the County of Archuleta, the county seat being Pagosa Springs, and the nearest railroad being Amargo, New Mexico. What the Denver newspapers called anarchy, and a great uprising, had broken loose in this county which contained only about seventy-five voters. The residents of Archuleta county were mostly “Americans,” but the Archuleta brothers of Amargo, New Mexico, ruled politically by flooding the county on election day with their New Mexican sheep herders who voted. Finally the citizens rebelled and drove all the county officials with the exception of the sheriff and county clerk, who joined the insurgents, out of the country. They even burnt up some of their property and threatened death if they ever returned. In order to retain their office by law, the five deported county commissioners, “Press” and “Don” Archuleta, Bendito Martinez, Mr. Scase and J. M. Archuleta, had to hold a county commissioners’ meeting within sixty days; hence my being sent on ahead as a Texas outlaw, so as to be one of the revolutionists should a battle take place. In Durango, Colorado, I bought a horse and saddle and rode sixty miles to Pagosa Springs. Enroute I stopped at the G. cattle ranch and made myself solid with Gordon G., who was one of the ringleaders of the uprising and known as a “bad” man from Texas. While at the G. ranch I confided in Gordon by telling him of how I had killed three Mexicans in Texas and had to skip. He also told me of trouble he had in Texas. On reaching Pagosa Springs, I headed straight for the residence of E. M. Taylor, the County clerk, who was the brains and the leader of the revolutionists. I had made up my mind to establish myself at the Taylor residence if nerve and gall could accomplish the feat. Riding up to the porch I tied my horse and knocked on the front door. Mrs. Taylor appeared and informed me that her husband had gone to his sheep ranch, and would not be back till dark. I asked if I couldn’t wait there until his return. She asked why I wished to see him. Told her that I wanted to live with them awhile. Here the little lady climbed upon her dignity and informed me that they did not keep boarders; that there were two hotels in town. She then slammed the door in my face. Recalling that old saying: “Faint heart ne’er won fair lady,” I determined to try it. So unsaddling my pony and placing the saddle on the porch, I took the horse to the stable and gave him a good feed of grain and hay. Then returning to the porch, I lay down on the saddle. It was a damp, cold day, and through the window I could see Mrs. Taylor and her only child, a ten-year-old daughter, sitting by the blazing fire in the hearth. Through the window they could also see me. About dusk Mr. Taylor rode up on his horse and wanted to know what was up. I told him my tale of woe—that I had got into trouble in Texas and was hiding out—hence did not want to stop at a hotel. Also that I was a friend of Gordon G.’s. He replied that if I was a friend of Gordon’s I could stop with them, providing he could get his wife’s consent. He was absent in the house long enough to get the consent of ten men.
Mrs. Taylor was a splendid cook, and the warm supper hit the soft spot in my heart. And the nice clean bed in a cozy front room put me at peace with all the world. Shortly after I had established myself in the home of Mr. Taylor, the county commissioners, with the county judge, J. Archuleta, and the county attorney, Jas. L. Russell, returned from New Mexico under an escort of sixty mounted and well armed Mexicans. We revolutionists, about seventy-five strong, met them at the bridge spanning the San Juan river, and prevented them from entering the town. Communications were carried on through flags of truce. Our side were mostly wild and woolly cowboys and ranchmen, and we had plenty of liquor to keep up our fighting spirit. The county officials were camped in an old house on the opposite side of the swift flowing San Juan river, while their armed escort were housed in the vacated government barracks, a quarter of a mile distant from the river. A plot was laid to assassinate the seven officials at 3 A. M. Two men were to cross the river above town and slip along under the bank to a haystack which adjoined the house in which the officials slept. The haystack was to be set on fire. This would burn the house. Men secreted behind rocks on our side of the river were to shoot down the gentlemen as they ran out of the burning building. About 11 P.M. I waded the river half a mile above town and made a swift run to notify the armed guards doing duty at the old government barracks. Jose Martinez, brother to Bendito Martinez, promised that he would give me ample time to get back to the saloon where our mob was congregated, before notifying the officials. But this he failed to do; the result being that our guards on the bridge saw the officials running with their valises over to the camp of their fighting men. Then the drunken mob began counting noses to see who of their party were absent to have warned the enemy. Of course, I was missed. Hence when I returned there was something “doing,” and they were determined to hang me. But my friends, Taylor, Dyke and Gordon, believed my protests of innocence and my life was spared. They decided to set a trap for me the next night. They concluded that if I were the guilty party I must have communicated the secret to Mrs. Scase, and she sent the news to her husband by one of her small boys. It puzzled them to know how I could have waded the swift river, which was waist deep, without wetting my clothes. They had felt to see if they were wet. They did not know that I disrobed while crossing the river.
County Commissioner Scase had a Mexican wife, and when the mob burnt up their residence and livery stable and escorted Mr. Scase over the line into New Mexico, they allowed Mrs. Scase and her children to occupy an old shack on the bank of the San Juan river. So at this shack the trap was set to catch me. They felt sure that if I were a detective I would communicate with Mrs. Scase. Therefore, they had two men detailed to watch this shack. They secreted themselves in a large wood pile near the front door. These men took turns about guarding. We had a dance that night. All attended but the men on duty guarding the bridge and the Scase shack. About 11 P.M. I walked in a round-about-way to the Scase residence to deposit some short hand notes in the back of an old oil painting which hung on the wall, and which had escaped the fire. I passed within a few yards of the wood pile where the armed guard was doing duty. Securing the door key under a board—where Mrs. Scase had promised to leave it—I entered the front room and deposited the notes. Then I sat on the edge of the bed talking to Mrs. Scase a moment. The children were sound asleep. In taking my departure I slipped a board out of place along the wall, facing the river, and made a jump of about twelve feet onto the rocky edge of the river. Mrs. Scase replaced the board. As soon as I entered the door the young man in the wood pile ran to the dance hall to tell the half drunken mob that the suspect was caught in the trap. All grabbed their rifles or shotguns and raided the Scase shack. I was told that Mrs. Scase stood pat and insisted that I had not been there.
When I entered the dance hall the ladies and children turned their gaze onto me. There were no men in the place but the two fiddlers. A runner was sent to inform the mob that I was in the hall. In a few moments the hall was a surging mass of armed men. Gordon G. touched me on the shoulder, saying: “Anderson, I want to speak to you.” He led the way into a side room where there was a carpenter’s work bench, and pointing to this bench, he asked me to sit down as he wished to ask me some questions. Around my waist were old Colt’s 45 and a pearl-handled bowie knife. My first impulse was to draw the pistol and fight my way out, but on second thought I concluded that would be showing bad detective ability. I sat down on the bench facing Gordon, who stood six feet in his stockings, and was otherwise every inch a man. Placing both hands on my knees and looking me square in the face, he said: “Now, Anderson, I want you to tell me the truth. If you do I can save you, otherwise you are going to be killed. Now, remember, don’t lie to me. I want the truth. Are you a detective?” I answered, “no.” He then continued: “Well, what were you doing in Mrs. Scase’s house tonight?” I replied that I did not know Mrs. Scase, nor had I ever been in her house. Said he: “Well, one of our men swears he saw you go in there.” At this I jumped off the bench and with my hand on old Colt’s 45, demanded that he show me the dirty whelp that would tell such a lie on me. And that if he said it to my face, one of us would have to die. I said this in a loud angry tone so that the mob in the hall could hear me. Gordon said: “I believe, Anderson, you are telling the truth. But keep cool, and I’ll put you face to face with the man.” We then walked into the hall and Gordon called the young man. As he stepped up I asked if he had lied about me. The result was the poor fellow weakened and said he could have been mistaken, but the man who entered Mrs. Scase’s looked like me, but it being dark, he might have been mistaken. That settled it for the night, but next day the mob became drunk and unruly and were determined to hang me as a spy. It would require too much space to give the details. The result was that through hard lying I saved my neck and was promoted. Sheriff Dyke made me one of his special deputies at $4.00 a day, as long as I could remain. This money came in handy and it was all “velvet,” that is, belonged to me individually.
Two days later, after being appointed deputy sheriff, I saved the lives of the county commissioners, the county judge and Attorney Russell, who, by the way, has since served as district judge of that district, and at the present writing, so I am told, is still an honored citizen of that county. A plot had been planned for both sides to stack all the fire arms and leave two men from each side to guard them. Then a meeting of the commissioners could sit in the court house. The scheme was to have some rifles cached and make a raid on the fire arms and their guards. Then the slaughter was to begin. All the county officials with the exception of Bendito Martinez had agreed to the plan. All were trying to get Martinez’s consent. He finally caught my eye and I shook my head—as much as to say don’t do it. That settled it. He stood pat and the plot fell through. I have heard it said that a Mexican can’t take a hint, but Martinez caught a hint in a very light shake of my head. Poor fellow, he soon afterwards shot a man dead in the Durango court room, which broke him up financially, though I hear he is getting on his feet again.
After holding the county officials and their armed escort at bay for about four days, peace was declared by the leaders of the revolutionists being promised an even division of the political pie in future. Then the commissioners held their meeting and all departed for New Mexico. The blood of the insurgents had cooled off as the liquors in Bowland’s saloon diminished, hence peace was declared under a flag of truce—a woman’s white apron.
For the next six weeks I had nothing to do but play outlaw and eat Mrs. Taylor’s good cooking. Whenever suspicious strangers appeared in town Sheriff Dyke would have me keep hid out until he could learn their business, for fear they might be Texas officers on my trail. Often I would be the sole occupant of the Taylor residence and at such times I would read Mr. Taylor’s private political letters. His old love letters would be laid to one side. I had secured a key that fitted his desk.
There were piles of political letters for votes bought during past election. The ruling price of votes was two dollars in cash or one sheep. Most of the interesting political letters were from Billy Adams, brother of the twice governor of Colorado, Alva Adams. From these letters I learned many new lessons in up-to-date western politics. I appeared before the grand jury in the adjoining county of La Plata, at Durango, the judge of the court being Chas. D. Hayt, and the prosecuting attorney, G. T. Summer, with the result that sixteen of the leaders in the uprising were indicted. I then disposed of my horse and saddle and “sneaked” to an eastbound train for Denver. I had been on the operation about two months and during that time I dared not write reports or letters to my wife, nor receive mail from Denver, as the post office at Pagosa Springs was in the hands of the insurgents. I had used the name of Chas. Anderson on this operation.
Arriving in Denver, I was hurried away to the Republic of Mexico to run down an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway brakeman who had stolen $10,000 from the Wells-Fargo Express Company at La Junta, Colorado, during the excitement of a train wreck. A ride of 700 miles on the A, T, & SF Ry. brought me to El Paso, Texas, and another 1,200 miles on the Mexican Central Railway brought me to the City of Mexico. On arriving there the first thing I did was to write a nice letter to my friend Taylor in Pagosa Springs, telling him that I had got a telegram from my brother in Texas warning me to skip, as the grand jury had found a true bill against me for murder, and that I intended to remain in the City of Mexico a month or so until my brother could get money to me; then I was going to lose myself in the wilds of South America. My address in the City of Mexico under a new assumed name was given to Mr. Taylor, and in the course of three weeks I received a nice long letter from him. He told me that the grand jury in Colorado had indicted him, Sheriff Dyke and fourteen of the other leaders, for running the county officials out of Archuleta county and burning their property. He said that they were all then under heavy bond, and on account of the mysterious way in which I left, they had laid their downfall on to my giving them away before the grand jury; that they were mad enough to murder me if I could have been found; that I only had one friend in Pagosa Springs who stuck up for me to the last and refused to believe me guilty, and that was his wife. He said that this showed how a woman could be a true friend when once her mind is made up. He assured me that no matter to what part of the earth I might drift, I could count on having true friends in Pagosa Springs, and that any time I should need money, to write him.
I have never seen any of the Archuleta county warriors since leaving there, hence I do not know whether I am regarded as an outlaw yet or not. I see by the papers that Taylor still lives in Pagosa Springs, which has grown to be an important railroad town, and that he is judge of the court there.
In dismissing the Archuleta County uprising, I wish to say that these men had good cause for revolting, as politics in that county were rotten. Most of them were honorable citizens, though a little rough and wild. Of course, I felt “sore” at them for wanting to hang me up by the neck.