Since the execution of Plummer, Ray, Stinson, Pizanthia and Wagner, there had been no execution in Bannack. The example had been sufficient, and, though it could not be said that there was no crime in Bannack, yet the change from the wild lawlessness of the roughs, and the reign of terror caused by the presence of Plummer and his satellites, was most encouraging. Scores of men silently and quickly left Bannack for other regions. The dread of the "Vigilantes" was strongly impressed on every person, and though it is not easy to suppose that the nature of the desperadoes can be materially changed, yet it is tolerably certain, to those who have witnessed the effect of what the heralds would call "a noose pendent from a beam proper" -that men of the worst morals and most unquestioned bravery -men whom nothing else could daunt -still maintains a quietness of demeanor that, under any other circumstances than the fear of retribution by the halter, would surely be foreign to their very nature.
Among those who dreaded the arrival of the day of vengeance was a man passing by the assumed name of R. C. Rawley. He was no common loafer, originally; but was, under another name and with a fairer character, a merchant in a large Western city, from which, owing to what precise discreditable cause we are uninformed authentically, he migrated to Colorado, and there gradually sank down to the character and standard of a "bummer." It was evident to all who knew him that he was a man of education and of some refinement; occasionally remarks made in his sober moments attested this, but a long course of brutal dissipation had rendered his acquirements worthless, and had so debased his morals, that he associated only with the thieves and marauders whose guilty career terminated, as these pages have shown, upon the gallows. Robbed of all self-respect, and even ambition, R. C. Rawley, on his arrival in this country, attached himself as a hanger-on to the road agents, and was the constant tool and companion of Stinson, Forbes, Lyons and their associates. He sometimes seemed to become ashamed of his conduct, and worked for short periods, honestly earning his living; but such spells of good conduct were only occasional. He returned, uniformly, to his old habits, "like the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire." Rawley was a good-looking man, and, but for his habit of intoxication, he must have been handsome.
In the winter of 1863-4, Rawley, though not closely identified with the band, yet bore a suspicious character, owing to his connection and association with them. He was seldom, indeed, on the road; but he acted as an inside spy. As soon as the first blow was struck at the road agents, he became nervous and excited in his demeanor, and, warned by the promptings of a guilty conscience, he suddenly left Bannack, on a winter's morning of such severity that nothing but the belief that detection and punishment awaited him could have justified a sane man in undertaking a journey of any considerable length. He was popularly supposed to have gone south or to Boise.
In an ill-starred hour, in the month of September, 1864, unexpectedly to most people, but with the knowledge of the Vigilantes, who had kept track of his movements, he suddenly returned to Bannack, thinking, doubtless, that all danger was past. He came back in rags, to find all his old friends gone, and looked like a lone chicken on a wet day. For some time after his return he kept quiet, and went to work for a man who lived down the canyon, in the neighborhood of New Jerusalem. Those who knew him state that when he was sober, although he was not a firstclass workman, yet he labored steadily and well; but, as may be conjectured, his frequent visits to Bannack, which always involved a spree of drunkenness, greatly impaired his usefulness.
During the time when he was under influence of strong drink his old predilections were brought prominently forward, and he did not hesitate to utter threats of an unmistakable kind against the members of the Committee; and also to express his sympathy and identification of interest with the men who had been hanged, stating that they were good men, and the Committee were----strangling------, etc. This kind of conduct was allowed to remain unpunished for some six weeks or two months; but, as Rawley began to get bolder and to defy the Committee, it was resolved that an end should be put to such proceedings.
A meeting of the Vigilantes was called, and it was determined that his case should be thoroughly investigated. This was done, and, during the trial, evidence of a most convincing kind was adduced, of his actual complicity in the outrages perpetrated by the band, of his being a spy for them, and of his pointing out favorable opportunities for the commission of robbery. As his present line of action and speech left no doubt that he would connect himself with some new gang of thieves, and as it was more than suspected that such an organization was contemplated, it was determined to put a sudden end to all such doings, by making an example of Rawley.
A party was detailed for the work, and going down unobserved and unsuspected to New Jerusalem, they arrested him at night and brought him up to Bannack, without the knowledge of a single soul except his actual captors. As it was deemed necessary for the safety of society that a sudden punishment should be meted out to him in such a manner that the news should fall upon the ears of his associates in crime like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, he was taken to Hangman's Gulch, and, maintaining the most dogged silence and the most imperturable coolness to the last moment, he was hanged on the same gallows which Plummer himself had built for the execution of his own accomplice, Horan, and on which he himself had suffered.
The first intelligence concerning his fate was obtained from the sight of his dead body, swinging in the wind on the following morning. Before his corpse was taken down for burial, a photographic artist took a picture of the scene, preserving the only optical demonstration extant of the reward of crime in Montana.
Thus died R. C. Rawley. A "passenger" or two attended his final march to the grave, and shrouded in the rayless gloom of a night as dark as despair, thus perished, unshrived and unknelled, the last of the tribe of spies, cut-throats and desperadoes, who, in the early days of Bannack, had wrought such horrors in the community.
The effect of the execution was magical. Not another step was taken to organize crime in Bannack, and it has remained in comparative peace and perfect security ever since.