Crawford, who was appointed Sheriff at the trial of Moore and Reeves, tendered his resignation on two or three different occasions; but was induced to continue in office by the strongest representation of his friends. They promised to stand by him in the execution of his duty, and to remunerate him for his loss of time and money. The arms taken from Plummer, Reeves and Mitchell were sold by Crawford to defray expenses.
Popular sentiment, is shifting and uncertain as a quicksand. Shortly after this "Old Tex," one of the gang, collected a miners' meeting, and at it it was resolved to give thieves their arms, Plummer and Tex claiming them as their property. The Sheriff had to go and get them, paying, at the same time, all expenses, including in the list even the board of the prisoners. For his services not a cent was ever paid to him. Popular institutions are of divine origin. Government by the people en masse is the acme of absurdity.
Cleveland had three horses at the time of his death. One was at a ranch at Bannack, and two were down on Big Hole. Crawford called two meetings, and was authorized to seize Cleveland's property and sell it, in order to reimburse himself for his outlay, which was both considerable in amount and various in detail, and repay himself for his outlay and expenses of various kinds. He went to Old Tex who said that Jack Cleveland had a partner, named Terwilliger (another of the gang) who was absent, and that he had better leave them till he came back. One day Crawford wanted to go to Beaver Head* and wished to take one of the horses to ride. Tex said it would be wrong to do so. In a day or two after, Crawford saw the horse in town and asked Tex if it was not the animal. He said, "No, it was not;" but Crawford, doubting his statement, inquired of a man that he knew was perfectly well informed on the subject, and found that it was as he supposed, and that the ranchman had brought it in for Tex to ride during the journey he contemplated, with the intention of meeting of Terwilliger. Crawford ordered the horse back, and desired that it should not be given to any one. The man took it as directed. When the men were banished, Plummer went to the ranch, took the horse and rode it, when escorting the culprits out of town. He then brought it back. Crawford, who had charge of the horse, asked Hunter if Tex had taken it. He said "No."
* Down into Beaverhead Valley, 25 miles from Bannack.
The next evening, Crawford and some acquaintances went down to the bakery to take a drink, and there met Plummer, who accused him of ordering the horse to be kept from him, which he denied, and said he never mentioned his name. Hunter being called by Plummer confirmed the statement. He also observed, that be thought that, as Plummer had killed the man, he need not wish to take his money and his goods also. Plummer then remarked that Bill Hunter did not stand to what he had said, and left the house. He had dared Crawford to remain and face Hunter's testimony, expecting to raise a row and shoot him. Crawford accepted the challenge, and, surrounded by his friends, with their hands on their six-shooters, awaited his coming. If he had moved his hand to his pistol, he would have died on the spot, and knowing this, he cooled off. The next day he sent word to Crawford, by an old mountaineer, that he had been wrongly informed, and that he wished to meet him as a friend. He replied that he had been abused without cause, and that, if he wanted to see him, he must come himself, as he was not going to accept of such apologies by deputy. Plummer sent word two or three times, to Hank, in the same way, and received the same reply; till at last some of the boys brought them together, and they shook hands, Plummer declaring that he desired his friendship ever after. In a few days, Hank happened to be in a saloon, talking to a man who had been fighting, when a suspicious looking individual came up to him, and asked what he was talking about. He replied that it was none of his business. The man retorted with a challenge to fight with pistols. Hank said, "You have no odds of me with a pistol." The fellow offered to fight with fists. Hank agreed, and seeing that the man had no belt on, took off his own, and laid his pistol in, on the bar. The man stepped back into a dark corner, and Crawford going up, slapped him across the face. He instantly leveled a six-shooter at Crawford, which he had concealed; but Hank was too quick, and catching him by the throat and hand, disarmed him. Plummer joined the man, and together they wrested the pistol from his hand, and made a rush at him. Hank and Harry Flegger," however, kept the pistol in spite of them. Harry fetched his friend out, saying, "Come on Hank; this is no place for you; they are set on murdering you, any way." He then escorted him home. The owner of the saloon told Crawford afterwards that it was all a plot. That the scheme was to entice him out to fight with pistols, and that the gang of Plummer's friends were ready with double-barreled shot-guns, to kill him, as soon as he appeared.
Every thing went on quietly for a few days, when Hank found he should have to start for Deer Lodge, after cattle.** Plummer told him that he was going to Benton. Hank asked him to wait a day or two, and he would go with him; but Plummer started on Monday morning, with George Carrhart, before Hank's horse came in. When the animals were brought in Hank found that private business would detain him, and accordingly sent his butcher in place. The next day Plummer, finding that he was not going, stopped at Big Hole*** and came back. Hank afterwards learned that Plummer went out to catch him on the road, three diferent times, but, fortunately, missed him.
** He was a butcher.
***The river at a point below Brown's bridge, and near the mouth of Birch Creek.
During the week Bill Hunter came to Hank, and pretended that he had said something against him. To this Hank replied, that he knew what he was after, and added, ''If you want anything, you can get it right straight along." Not being able "to get the drop on him" (in mountain phrase), and finding that he could not intimidate him, he turned and went off, never afterwards speaking to Hank.
On the following Sunday, Plummer came into a saloon where Hank was conversing with George Purkins, and addressing the latter, said, "George, there's a little matter between you and Hank that's got to be settled." Hank said "Well, I don't know what it can be," and laughed. Plummer observed, "you needn't laugh, G d d n you. It's got to be settled." Turning to Purkins, he stated that he and Crawford had said he was after a squaw, and had tried to court "Catherine." He commenced to abuse Purkins, and telling him to "come out," and that he was "a cowardly son of a b h." He also declared that he could "lick" both him and Hank Crawford. George said that he was a coward, and no fighting man, and that he would not go out of doors with anybody. Plummer gave the same challenge to Hank, and received for a reply, that he was not afraid to go out with any man and that he did not believe one man was made to scare another. Plummer said "come on," and started ahead of Hank towards the street. Hank walked quite close up to him, on his guard all the time, and Plummer at once said, "Now pull your pistol." Hank refused, saying, "I'll pull no pistol; I never pulled a pistol on a man, and you'll not be the first." He then offered to fight him in any other way. "I'm no pistol shot," he added, "and you would not do it if you hadn't the advantage." Plummer said, ''If you dont' pull your pistol, I'll shoot you like a sheep." Hank quietly laid his hand on his shoulder, and, fixing his eyes on him, said slowly and firmly, "If that's what you want, the quicker you do it, the better for you," and turning round walked off. Plummer dared not shoot without first raising a fuss, knowing that he would be hung. During the altercation above narrated, Hank had kept close to Plummer ready for a struggle, in case he offered to draw his pistol, well knowing that his man was the best and quickest shot in the mountains; and that if he had accepted his challenge, long before he could. have handled his own revolver, three or four balls would have passed through his body. The two men understood one another, at parting. They looked into each other's eyes. They were mountaineers, and each man read, in his opponent's face, "Kill me, or I'll kill you." Plummer believed that Hank had his secret, and one or the other must therefore die.
Hank went at once to his boarding house, and taking his double-barreled shot-gun prepared to go out, intending to find and kill Plummer at sight. He was perfectly aware that all attempts at pacification would be understood as indications of cowardice, and would render his death a mere question of the goodness of Plummer's ammunition. Friends, however, interfered, and Hank could not get away till after they left, late in the evening.
By the way, is it not rather remarkable, that if a man has a few friends around him, and he happens to become involved in a fight, the aforesaid sympathizers, instead of restraining his antagonist, generally hold him, and wrestle all the strength out of him, frequently enabling his opponents to strike him while in the grasp of his officious backers? A change in the usual programme would be attended with beneficial results, in nine cases out of ten. Another suggestion we have to make, with a view to preventing actual hostilities, and that is, that when a man raves and tears, shouting, "let go," "let me at him," "hold my shirt while I pull off my coat," or makes other bellicose requests, an instant compliance with his demands will at once prevent a fight. If two men, also, are abusing one another, in loud and foul language, the way to prevent blows is to seize hold of them and commencing to strip them for a fight, form a ring. This is commonly a settler. No amount of coin could coax a battle out of them. Such is our experience of all the loud-mouthed brigade. Men that mean "fight" may hiss a few muttered anathemas, through clenched teeth; but they seldom talk much, and never bandy slang.
Hank started and hunted industriously for Plummer, who was himself similarly employed, but they did not happen to meet.
The next morning, Hank's friend endeavored to prevail upon him to stay within doors until noon; but it was of no avail. He knew what was before him, and that it must be settled, one way or the other. Report came to him that Plummer was about to leave town, which at once put him on his guard. The attempt to ensnare him into a fatal carelessness was too evident.
Taking his gun he went up town, to the house of a friend -Buz Craven. He borrowed Buz's rifle, without remark, and stood prepared for emergencies. Ater waiting some time, he went down to the butcher's shop which he kept, and saw Plummer frequently; but he always had somebody close beside him, so that, without endangering another man's life, Hank could not fire.
He finally went out of sight, and sent a man to compromise, saying they would agree to meet as strangers. He would never speak to Crawford, and Crawford should never address him. Hank was too wary to fall in the trap. He sent word back to Plummer that he had broken his word once, and that his pledge of honor was no more than the wind to him; that one or the other had to suffer or leave.
A friend came to tell Hank that they were making arrangement to shoot him in his own door, out of a house on the other side of the street. Hank kept out of the door, and about noon, a lady, keeping a restaurant, called him to come and get a dish of coffee. He went over without a gun. While he was drinking the coffee, Plummer, armed with a double-barreled gun, walked opposite to his shop door, watching for a shot. A friend, Frank Ray, brought Hank a rifle. He instantly leveled at Plummer, and fired. The ball broke his arm. His friends gathered round him, and he said, "some son of a b h has shot me." He was then carried off. He sent Hank a challenge to meet him in fifteen days; but he paid no attention to a broken armed man's challenge, fifteen day ahead. In two days after, while Hank was in Meninghall's store, George Carrhart came in. Hank saw there was mischief in his look, and went up to him at once saying, "Now, George, I know what you want. You had better go slow." Stickney got close to him on the other side, and repeated the caution. After a while he avowed that he came to kill him; but, on hearing his story, he pulled open his coat, showing his pistol ready in the band of his pants, and declared at the same time that he would be his friend. Another party organized to come down and shoot Crawford, but failed to carry out their intention. Some of the citizens, hearing of this, offered to shoot or hang Plummer, if Crawford would go with them; but he refused, and said he would take care of himself. On the 18th of March, he started for Wisconsin, riding on horseback to Fort Benton. He was followed by three men, but they never came up with him, and taking boat at the river he arrived safely at home.
It was his intention to come out in the Fall, and his brothers sent him money for that purpose; but the coach was robbed, and all the letters taken. The money, unfortunately, shared the fate of the mail. Crawford was lately living at Virginia City -having returned shortly after his marriage in the States.
The account of the troubles of one man, which we have given above, has been inserted with the object of showing the state of society which could permit such openly planned and persistent outrages, and which necessitated such a method of defense. Crawford, or any of the others, might as well have applied to the Emperor of China, for redress or protection, as to any civil official.
The ball which struck Plummer in the arm ran down his bone, and lodged in the wrist. After his execution, it was found brightened by the constant friction of the joint. His pistol hand being injured for belligerent purposes, though the limb was saved by the skill of the attendant physician -Plummer practised assiduously at drawing and shooting with his left; attaining considerable efficiency; but he never equalled the deadly activity and precision he had acquired with the other hand, which he still preferred to use.