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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.

It is likely that the entries to this blog will be less frequent than in years past. I do intend to keep this blog active, and to offer insightful information and/or opinion (and sometimes humor and/or entertainment on occasion) when I do post.

Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897) - The Burning Down Of South Town and The Arrest And Deaths of The Mayor, His Town Council and Three Bankers

Fictional Short Story:  Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897)

January 07, 1884   The Burning Down Of South Town and 
                               The Arrest And Deaths of The Mayor, 
                               His Town Council and Three Bankers

    The events that transpired near drove me to retire from Law Enforcin' for good.  And it took quite a few people quite a number of weeks to git me to come back, and after I explain, you won't be wonderin' why I wanted to git out altogether.  On or about December 6, 1883, a number of officials and 16 fellow marshals got off the train at about 8:40 in the mornin', and as was my habit of late (to chase away card sharps and anyone I didn't like, to tell them to git the hell back on board and vamoose), I met the train and was greeted on the platform by one of the Adjutant General fellas I met only a small bunch of weeks before.   He told me he had some warrants to serve, and I opted to hurry the group over to the new Marshal Buildin' where we had 3 pot bellied stoves to warm us up,  as it was about 20 degrees, and the wind was blowin' somethin' awful.  In the Office, I had two fellow deputy marshals.  One to watch over the jail, one to help me keep the peace.  
    Over a gallon pot of coffee, I was given notice that the Mayor, the Town Council, and 3 of the 5 bankers involved in the land schemin' of South Town up on Bishop's Knoll were indicted in absentia, after all havin' been served by Marshall Jackson 2 weeks afore.  Marshall Jackson kept it on the quiet, because this was the first I ever heard of it.  Marshall Jackson was gone on an 800 mile train trip to visit relatives,  and wouldn't be back until January, and he left me in charge while he was gone.  I was asked about events here abouts, and I told them that since the Sioux raid, most of the townsfolk who was up on Bishop's knoll had packed up and left on their own. Some was bought out at 10 cents on the dollar plus train fare for each person in their family or for themselves for what they had built, or gone in debt.   Some was not paid at all and forcibly evicted by Court Order, usually with one of the Town Council and at least one of the 3 bankers on the arrest warrant, all in rotation, being thar' to give secret signals to Judge Hollister, who also had gone in cahoots with these skunks.  An open arrest warrant was then produced, where I then wrote in the name Judge Henry Lee Hollister, and Judge Hollister was added to the list.  

     I told the Adjutant Attorney officials and the 16 marshals with thaem also how that I served 65 of the more than 170 forcible eviction notices myself.  Where I could, I made provisions for those who were old or for those with young uns to have at least a basket of groceries and blankets if the needed it, for when they left.  Some I even gave a dollar or two besides.  Beth sometimes would throw in an extra or two, dependin' on who I was buyin' it for, and the wife would admonish me about makin' sure I was NOT bein' too generous, as all these folks weren't kin, and most weren't original town folks from our side of town.  I almost got fully town shunned when I helped one out of place colored family of folks, and directed the man to a Ranch I knew that would hire him for a cook and the mother and older children as hands about the main house and stable.  They got the job, I hears, and folks burn with hate that I didn't take care of my own first.  I figured since he was a genuine Christian man, as was his wife, and they was raisin' their kids right and polite and respectful, they was more deservin' bein' hard workin' and truly honest than most white folks I know who was bein' dispossessed that I came across.  One of the 16 visitin' deputy marshals brought up that by my hat, he saw I was a Confederate, and how could a veteran of the Confederacy be friends with the negro?

I told him that sometimes other folks, not much different than him, would bring up the Confederacy, and I would lecture them how that a confederacy of States is what we was as a nation after the Declaration of Independence in 1776 until we got the Constitution and a republic form of Government to go with it.  And the whole Great War of 1861 was started by New York and Boston bankers and industrial runners who started a war for no other cotton pickin' reason than to want their banks and companies to run the South and dictate to the States what they could or could not do, and how it took near 10 months for them to make the cotton pickin'  fake issue of it all bein' about freein' slaves, when they themselves would NOT release all the North's white slaves who were bond servants from any of their slavery where they was.  What a bunch of Yankee manure that it was ALL about freein' slaves!  No, the fight for the Confederacy was foremost about States rights, even after the South was wrongly over-reactin' to an invadin'  Federal Army sent down to provoke the South.  Folks have a right to live with their own, and like States, they should all get along and work together as one people of one nation.  I never cared for Lincoln, and for near 4 years durin' the Great War hated his guts; but at the end, he had it right before he was murdered from behind, when all he was doin' was tryin' to bring everyone back together, unless I am mistaken.  If so, prove me wrong.  After his death, we had no one at the top to call on to stop the Carpetbaggin' thieves who plundered the South, and who murdered with impunity.  The sentiment was we was gettin' what we deserved, and Yankee whites treated us Southern whites worse than the vast majority of slaves, who was by that time mostly generational like the butlers and housekeeps in England was,  at least from what I saw in the State and lands where we was until I left for the war, hopin' to stop any armies from invadin' and rapin and killin' our homefolk like the British did when they was here back in the last century durin' the Revolution.  I still knew survivin' old timers who told us about those days over and over as I was bein' reared up, and a couple of them near and over 100 was still alive when I went away in 1861, and passed on not long after.   

Well, with the sermon ended, we got about to business.  Less than 1000 folks now lived in South Town, with just a few other stores such as a mining supply and a couple of general stores and 5 saloons, as well as the new Courthouse .  I pulled out a map that we had drawn up by the son of the new Pharmacy Drug Store owner's boy who was studyin' to be an illustrator artist.  It was 12 feet wide and 8 feet high, and so huge, it took 3 of us to tack it up to the wall on chairs as it stretched from floor to ceilin'.  There I used a pencil upside down and pointed out where each of the men on the warrants was, or should be, and plotted how we should serve them all about the same time.  That bein' agreed, the warrants was all served right at about 9:50 am.   One of the bankers ran back into his office, and pulled a gun and committed suicide, and another was shot dead resistin' arrest.  The town council member that was at the Courthouse, Councilman Hagan, escaped temporarily and went into Kip's Livery at the west end of town, near the railroad, and two of the visitin' deputy marshals swear he intentionally broke 4 lanterns and started the fire that soon was spread by the wind, and was burnin' all of South Town down.  By 4 o'clock, more than three-fourths of South Town was on fire, and all of it was evacuated.  More than 300 folks were holed up in my pastor's Church, and hundreds more sought refuge in all the saloons of north town, as well as some of the other businesses.  The wind made sure there was nothin' we could do to stop it.  Curiously, 8 cases of dynamite at the South Town Mining Store NEVER blew, and I couldn't help but wonder who had it and where it was. 

By 5 o'clock that afternoon, we not only had the entire town council, the lone survivin' banker, the Mayor, and Judge Hollister all locked up, but we had a row of 7 safes in the New Marshal's Office as well, all lined up in a row about 10 feet in, as if a line of defense against cannon shot comin' through the front door.  By 6 o'clock the wind died down, and all could see that South Town was a total loss.

By mornin' the next day, not a single buildin' was standin', and a few burnt beams and chimneys were the only things left standin', as the fires were finally burnin' themselves out.  At that point, the Adjutant General's officials and all but 4 of the visitn' deputy marshals were recalled, and left by train to the Capitol at 9:45 in the mornin'.  The day was warmin' up into the mid to high 50s, and this brought out all the crowds of those folk who was just dispossessed of all their worldly goods by a Town Council member who was bein' held in the new jail.   No amount of reasonin' could be had to disperse them, and some of them were on such an edge that they wanted to be shot.  I sent word to the Capitol about how I was goin' to be extraditin' them thar', and received orders lickety-split back that Federal Judge Moroni Pierce just issued a court order to leave them put, and to move them would violate that order, and put me under arrest with a stiff prison sentence (when, not if, convicted).  How I wanted to load up my shot gun with rock-salt filled shells and shoot these buggers in the backsides and hear them howl.  And had they been in the same vicinity, even the same town as I was, I probably would have as I was so angry.  I kept my head, wired Captain Jones (who I had dealin's with on several occasions before, and who was disposed to help me, I wired him) at the Army fort, and let him know I may soon need troops for help on the double quick if things went blewey.  And hopefully, the telegrapher spelled "blewey" right, just so Captain Jones would not think in terms of greeny, purply, and pinky, and start thinkin' it had to do with the DDT's and little imaginary circus elephants runnin' around.       

After that, I went over to Beth's store and then got back to the office.  All I could do is arrange for a week of groceries for twice as many people as we was to be delivered, and load up 16 barrels of water into the marshal's office, and buy up every bit of ammunition that what was left of the $131 dollars in the expense till would allow.  By 3:30 pm, my nephew delivered the last box of grocery and ammunition supplies, and I gave him instructions to tell my wife and then afterwards go back to the store and tell his mother.  He left only 5 minutes before near 500 folk started comin' and throwin' rocks at the front of the office. I barred the door, closed and barred the last two unshuttered windows with 4 inch thick maple oak with gun ports for indian fightin', and told the visitin' deputies to settle in.   I had sent Deputy Burns home earlier at 11 in the morning, and told him to rest up and come back at midnight; and if anything happened, to git over to the telegraph and wire the Army who I sent word to about the potential mob action of 1,000 displaced folks.  I took off my spurs, got me a cup of coffee, bread, and some of the chili we was keepin' warm in a pot, sat down at my desk, kicked up my heels, started passin' gas and ate.  And for some reason, while I was eatin' and passin', all the visitin' marshals open up the windows and seemed to be suckin' air, not carin' or not if they got shot.  After a while they all started lightin' up cigars for some reason or other, closed up the windows as rocks were starin' to bein' thrown through, and two of them and my jailer sat down for some rounds of poker and coffee with an Irish whiskey lift.       

But about 7pm, somethin' happened.  There was a thump to the left front wall, followed by a loud shakin' explosion which ran a large crack up the wall from the floor to the ceilin' from the explosion. Someone had just dynamited the front of the jail.   Several shots were fired at the jail, and we returned fire killin' 3 and woundin' 5.  We could hear activity goin' on, and I unbarred the door to get a look, and as I opended the door no more than 2 inches, a hail of about 80 bullets hit the front of the buildin' with about 30 or more hittin' the door frame and the door.  I closed the thick front door and barred it again.  I took to the front window west side and tried to peer as best I could through the gun port. I thought I heard a train whistle and a train stoppin' at the station, and a few minutes later, it sounded as if a bugle was a bein' blown down the street.  

       Just then, right after the first flourish of the bugle, I heard the yell. "Sgt. Major!  Hickory! Hickory!"  And what few shadowy figures I could see was a runnin' like hell away from us.  Durin' the war, when we heard the cry "Hickory!", it meant burnin' munitions, and to get back and away, or to take cover.  So I immediately knew what it meant, and that one of the boy from the war was lettin' me know we was in for it.  

  I screamed for all the marshals to get behind the safes to the middle, NOW, and smellin' the fuse burnin' I yelled "Shit!" and did a runnin' leap and gymnastic jump over the 5 foot high middle safes, my toes of my boots catchin' as I grabbed the far lip and pulled myself the rest of the way over, a twistin' down and my boots gettin' hung up on two of the fellow deputy marshals as I came boundin' over, and puttin' my hands out to lessen the blow as my face side smacked hard into the plank floor.  Just as my face hit, the entire front of the buildin' vaporized displacin' the entire front porch with an 8 foot wide and 6 foot deep or more trench across the front of what used to be the building, and sending debris up some 300 feet in the air or more by some witness accounts.  As the front of the buildin' vaporized to about 4 feet past where the safes was before they was blown back, and the ceilin' was vaporized at least 12 feet past where we marshals ended up bein' blown back and a  layin'.  As the dynamite blew,  I was cast up at least two feet off the floor, and driven back hard and fast, blackin' out from what I remember to be pressure so hard, it was like two tons of sand suddenly droppin' on me from a sideways gravity, and then on top of me, pinnin' me down.   The safes themselves, all over 1,200 lbs each was pushed back another 8 or 9 feet, and the other marshals with them, and I was told all of them were not only pushed up against the wall, but all was on top of me, with only my face and nose stickin' out under 'em, barely suckin' air.   The mob had used at least all 8 missin' cases of dynamite, with very reliable witnesses sayin' they actually used at least 10 case of dynamite in total, openin' them, and throwin' them in a loose lean-to pile across the whole front to the Marshal's Office.  All the prisoners, bein' in just open bar jails, and havin' no protection other than the building and a few water barrels, was all killed instantaneously and splattered in so many pieces, we couldn't rightly figure whose hand and foot belonged to which or what to bury them proper.   

The Army had sent 80 soldiers down under the command of two Lieutenants, and had just cleared the access road to the start of Main Street when the buildin' blew.  The entire buildin' across the road, a lunch room, was blown clear apart, and many windows were blown in or broke up to several blocks away.  The mob dispersed, and by mornin' not 50 of those who had lost their homes and places where they lived in South Town were anywheres to be found.  My jailer and two of the visitin' marshals had a punctured eardrum, and all of them had at least one or two broken bones apiece.  I just had ear ringin' for 4, almost 5 days, and near tunnel vision and bein' hard of hearin' for the first 18 hours I came to.   In the safes were over $200,000.  Anyone who had bank accounts were paid back what they deposited, and the remainin'  $57,819 was confiscated and sent back to the Capitol.   It was far more a recovery than what I expected, but everyone was gone, so it was not likely anyone would ever get fully reimbursed for what they had lost, because of charges of murder and riotin' might well go with it in counter-charges.  

I turned in my badge, had the Mrs. buy the back 80 acres to our property that nobody had used in 15 years, which we was often practice shootin' into anyways, and bought it for $1718
in taxes and leans, and resolved to settle down to a life of more leisure, more peace and lots of quiet.  The Town gathered and elected by a (show of hands) consensual vote a new town council and mayor until an election could be held formally for those offices next Spring.  

Marshall Jackson returned 2 days after Christmas, and over the next 9 days, was thar' every mornin' at my breakfast table havin' a two and three hour visit, talkin' about all sorts of things, and always wantin' me to come back.  I finally gave in, and took up the badge, and returned to work yesterday.  The wife makes it a point to bring me lunch and set with me a while, and the children are now meetin' me on the way home from school, and greetin' me in different languages they are practicin'.  I have to be careful not to accidentally say some of the phrases I hear in Saloons and have used in the Great War, as the Mrs. will do like she did the last time she heard me use a cuss word in front of the children...knock me up side the head with somethin' hard, drag me by the ear to the wash basin, and wash my mouth out with soap.  And let me tell you, that laundry soap was so nasty and gritty and foul tastin', I bought a special white mouth washin' soap bar called Ivory Soap that my cousin Beth, who owns the largest General Store in these parts, says came out in '79.  Even if the wife don't catch me again, at least I hope the children will be grateful for the better and safer soap to have a cussin' mouth washed out with.  

-- Deputy B.  

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