Boone was, at this time, a wild and reckless character, when inflamed by liquor, to the immoderate use of which he was much addicted. He sometimes broke out on a spree, and would ride his horse up the steps and into the Court House. Having arrived at Paris, Boone tried hard to persuade Shoot to accompany him to Texas, and it is believed that he obtained some promise from him to that effect, given to pacify him, he being drunk at the time, for Shoot immediately afterward returned home.
About nine p. m. Boone came from town to Shoot's house and woke him up out of bed. The unfortunate man went out in his shirt and drawers to speak with him, and as he was mounted, he stepped on to a stile-block, placing his hand on his shoulder, conversing with him in a friendly manner for a few minutes. Suddenly, and without any warning of his intention, Boone drew his knife and stabbed Shoot to the heart. He fell instantly, and died before he could be carried into the house. He spoke only once, requesting to see his wife. The murderer rode off at full speed. It seems that Boone had quarreled with his wife, and was enraged with Shoot for not going with him to Texas, and that in revenge for his disappointment he committed the murder. Immediate pursuit was made after the assassin.
Mr. William Shoot, the brother of the deceased, was at that time living in the town of Hannibal, and immediately on receipt of the news he started in pursuit of the criminal. Boone Helm had, however, forty miles start of him; but such good speed did the avenger make, that pursuer and pursued crossed Grand Prairie together, Shoot arriving at Roachport and Boone Helm at Booneville, within the space of a few hours. Telegrams descriptive of the fugitive were sent in all directions, and were altered as soon as it was discovered that the murderer had changed his clothes. Shoot returned to Paris, and being determined that Helm should not escape, he bought two horses and hired Joel Moppen and Samuel Querry to follow him, which com mission they faithfully executed, coming up with their man in the Indian Territory. They employed an Indian and a Deputy Sheriff to take him, which they accordingly did. When ordered to surrender, he made an effort to get at his knife; but when the Sheriff threatened to shoot him dead if he moved, he submitted. He was brought back, and by means of the ingenuity of his lawyers, he succeeded in obtaining a postponement of his trial. He then applied for a change of venue to a remote county, and at the next hearing the State was obliged to seek a postponement, on the ground of the absence of material witnesses. He shortly after appeared before a Judge newly appointed, and having procured testimony that his trial had been three times postponed, he was set free, under the laws of the State.
He came to California and joined himself to the confraternity of iniquity that then ruled the country. He either killed or assisted at the killing of nearly a dozen men in the brawls so common at that time in the western country. In Florence, Idaho Territory, he killed a German called Dutch Fred, in the winter of 1S61-62. The victim had given him no provocation whatever; it was a mere drunken spree and "shooting scrape."
He also broke jail in Oregon, a squaw with whom he lived furnishing him with a file for that purpose. He escaped to Carriboo.
He was brought back; but the main witnesses were away when the trial took place, and the civil authorities were suspected of having substantial reasons for letting him escape. He was considered a prominent desperado, and was never known to follow any trade for a living, except that of road agent, in which he was thoroughly versed.
Helm was a man of medium size, and about forty years old; hard-featured, and not intelligent looking. It was believed at Florence that a relative, known as "Old Tex," furnished money to e]ear him from the meshes of the law, and to send him to this country. If ever a desperado was all guilt and without a single redeeming feature in his character, Boone Helm was the man.
His last words were: ''Kick away, old Jack; I'll be in h---l with you in ten minutes. Every man for his principles -hurrah for Jeff. Davis! let her rip." George Ives.
We have only a few words to add to the account already given of this celebrated robber and murderer. He was raised at Ives' Grove, Racine County, Wisconsin, and was a member of a highly respectable family. It seems that life in the wild West gradually dulled his moral perceptions; for he entered, gradually, upon the career of crime which ended at Nevada, M. T. His mother for a long time believed the account that he sent to her, about his murder by the hands of Indians, and which he wrote himself. It is reported that sorrow and death have been busy among his relatives ever since.
followed gambling as his regular calling, at Lewiston, Idaho, in the winter of 1861-2. In the summer of 1862, he shot a man named Daniel Cagwell, without provocation. There was a general fracas at a ball, held on Copyeye Creek, near Walla Walla. Bunton was arrested, but made his escape from the officer, by jumping on a fast horse and riding off at full speed.
The first that was afterward heard of him was that he turned up in this country. In person, Bunton was a large, good-looking man, about thirty years of age, and rather intelligent. He had been for some years on the Pacific coast, where he had lived as a sporting man and saloon keeper. He was absolutely fearless, but was still addicted to petty theft, as well as to the greater enormities of road agency and murder. His dying request, it will be remembered, was for a mountain to jump off, and his last words, as he jumped from the board, "Here goes it."
Of Johnny Cooper we have already spoken. A word is necessary concerning the history of
which forms a strong contrast to the others. It appears that for several years this eminent member of Plummer's band bore an excellent character in the West. He was a native of Ohio, but followed the trade of a packer in California and Oregon, maintaining a reputation for honor and honesty of the highest kind. Large sums of money were frequently entrusted to his care, for which he accounted to the entire satisfaction of his employers. He left the "other side" with an unstained reputation; but falling into evil company in Montana, he threw off all recollections of better days, and was one of the leading spirits of the gang of marauders that infested this Territory. It is sad to think that such a man should have ended his life as a felon, righteously doomed to death on the gallows.
was a saloon-keeper in Idaho, and always bore a bad character. His reputation for dishonesty was well known, and in this country he was a bloodthirsty and malignant outlaw, without a redeeming quality. He was the main plotter of Magruder's murder.
Probably not one of those who died for their connection with the road agent band was more lamented than Hunter. His life was an alternation of hard, honest work, and gambling. That he robbed and assisted to murder a Mormon, and that he was a member of the gang, there can be no doubt; but it is certain that this was generally unknown, and his usual conduct was that of ~ kind-hearted man. He had many friends, and some of them still cherish his memory. He confessed his connection with the band, and the justness of his sentence just before his death. His escape from Virginia, through the pickets placed on the night of the 9th of January, 1864, was connived at by some of the Vigilantes, who could not be made to believe that he was guilty of the crimes laid to his charge.
was a graduate of a college in the States; and, though a road agent and thief, yet he never committed murder, and was averse to shedding blood. He was wounded in attacking Forbes' train, and his feet were so far mortified by frost when he was captured that the scent attracted the wolves, and the body had to be watched all night.
Concerning the rest of the gang nearly all that is known has already been related. They were, without exception, old offenders from the Pacific Coast. The "bunch" on Ned Ray's foot was caused by a wound from a shot fired at him when escaping from the penitentiary at St. Quentin, California. This he told himself, at Bannack.
This criminal, the last executed by the Vigilantes, it should be generally understood, murdered a Frenchman in Tuolumne County, California, and chased another with a bowie-knife till his strength gave out. In Helena he killed Gartley, whose wife died of a broken heart at the news; threatened the lives of the witnesses for the prosecution, and had drawn his knife, and concealed it in his sleeve, with the intent of stabbing Hugh 0'Neil in the back, after the fight between Orem and Marley at the Challenge Saloon. He said he "would cut the heart out of the -!" when an acquaintance who was watching him caught hold of him and told him he was in the wrong crowd to do that. Daniels renewed his threats when liberated, and was hanged; not because he was pardoned, but because he was unfit to live in the community.