Authors: D. N. Bedeker
Copyright © 2011 by D.N. Bedeker
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, magnetic, photographic including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover design and illustration by Daniel C. Bedeker
ISBN 0-7414-6151-X Paperback
ISBN 978-0-7414-9475-7 eBook
For my grandson Dannis
May this book inspire him the way
my grandfather’s stories inspired me
The inspiration for writing this novel began with a visit to the museum in Buffalo, Wyoming. A section of the museum chronicles the history of the Johnson County Range War in April of 1892 when the largely Eastern based owners of the big cattle outfits invaded the area with an army of 22 hired gunmen from Texas. These self-proclaimed regulators compiled a hit list of rustlers they intended to eliminate. The “invasion” (as locals called it) was the basis for Michael Cimino’s career-damaging movie
. As I walked around the museum reading the information on the various dioramas, it occurred to me that Cimino’s interpretation missed the humorous aspects of the ambitious undertaking. While he had immigrant men and women being slaughtered in his version of the shoot out at the KC ranch, in actuality the only casualty was a Texan who died of an embarrassing self-inflicted gunshot wound to the groin. In describing various events of the ill-conceived invasion in this novel, little literary embellishment was necessary to provide comic relief.
While researching the Johnson County range war, I began to wonder what part Butch Cassidy, one of the area’s most famous outlaws, played in the proceeding. After all, the year before he owned a ranch near the “Hole-in-the-Wall” that was a suspected way station for a rustling operation. When I visited the “Hole-in-the-Wall” and crossed the famous passage (prudently on foot), I realized why the invaders did not want to attempt to breach the impregnable stronghold. Further research revealed that Butch Cassidy sat out the invasion in jail in Evanston, Wyoming, awaiting trial for stealing a horse. This was not a very satisfying answer to my question. Nate Champion, the only outlaw of note killed by the regulators, is thought to have been the one that first led Butch Cassidy through the “Hole-in-the-Wall.” It seemed only right that Butch should be involved in the events surrounding the invasion in some way. Thus the novel
The Cassidy Posse
was born. Robert Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, was well-liked and good for his word, which led to him being released from incarceration early on several occasions. It is on this precedent the novel is based. Our reason here is very plausible. He is secretly released until his upcoming trial to help guide a posse along the famous outlaw trail.
The historical linchpin for Cassidy leading a posse for a Chicago detective is the fact that in 1902, he and the Sundance Kid were actually accused of robbing a train on the outskirts of Chicago. As I stared at the pictures of the two famous outlaws in a
article dated July 6, 1902, I could not help but wonder if there was not some earlier connection to the windy city. It is commonly believed that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were in South America at this time. What could have brought them back for this brief visit to Chicago? It was a mystery crying out to be explained. Although my explanation is fictional, I can offer no conclusive proof that it is not true.
In writing this Western mystery, I tried to portray the historical figures in the novel as close to their actual personas as research available would permit. An effort was made to correct the impression of Cassidy as an amicable, good-natured bungler that was created by the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He was anything but a bungler. Although he conscientiously tried to avoid shooting anyone, he was an excellent shot with both pistol and rifle. He succeeded in avoiding life and death confrontations with excellent planning.
I would like to thank Gene and Sammye Vieh of the Willow Creek Guest Ranch at the “Hole-in-the-Wall” for their hospitality when I visited that area. I want to give a special acknowledgement to my brother Dan for providing his superb artwork for the cover.
Al Hanier brought his axe down hard upon another log at the Davis sawmill. He felt the moisture of perspiration spread from under his arms and across his back. It felt good to sweat again doing honest work. It was a needed change. Nothing he planned for the long run but on the frontier in 1892, you were expected to earn your keep. He and his partner had spent all their cash living it up in Rock Springs that winter. Gambling, whores and high living leads to empty pockets. They’d be back in the money as soon as it thawed out a little and they could sell off the horses they had hidden away in the mountains. Al took off his coat and stretched his arms up towards the spring sunshine. The snow capped Tetons loomed in the distance. He used his fingers as a comb to push back his dark, curly hair as he considered the landscape.
, he thought.
Lots of trees
. He had never been this far west in Wyoming before. He reached for his axe to thin out the forest some more when he heard a distinct and familiar metallic click. It was the sound of the hammer being pulled back on a single action Colt.
“Put them hands up, Hanier,” said a voice from the trees. “Just the way you had’em be fine.”
“Al Hanier,” shouted a sterner voice. “I have a warrant for your arrest.”
Al looked at his Winchester lying idle across two sawhorses. As he had been working, he had gradually put some distance between himself and his weapon. No chance. He reluctantly put up his hands.
Four well-armed men quickly closed in on him and firmly grasped his arms.
“Where’s Cassidy,” said the deputy, the one with the stern voice that Al recognized as Bob Calverly from Unita County.
“Little out ah your jurisdiction, aren’t you Bob?”
“Shut up,” commanded a short deputy. “I’m not.”
“Your rustling days are over,” whispered a tall man who now had a stranglehold around Al’s neck. “I wish that Winchester of yours had been closer and you’d have gone for it. We would have ended your thievin’ permanently.”