John Cole poured what was left of his coffee over the glowing embers of his fire. It was morning, and he had just finished up a plate of bacon and sour dough biscuits. He quickly broke camp, saddled his buckskin horse that he had already fed and watered. John was in pursuit of one last outlaw. The gang had robbed the bank there in the Queen City yesterday morning and took off. They were surprised that a posse was formed, so quickly, and in hot pursuit. This was because John had gone over this scenario with his men, and the citizens of the town before. With the growing need to have greater protection of its citizens the town had been vigilant in getting prepared. The threat was coming from Indian Territory which was a haven for the criminal element. This was the Fort Smith Indian Territory. Which after the Civil War grew into one of the deadliest places in America.
John Cole was the sheriff of the Mound City he had been for years. He was a tall man with salt, and pepper hair a white beard and mustache. He had brown eyes that twinkled when he was amused. John spoke softly but everyone listened to him. He was polite and well mannered, but he could be ruthless and relentless if he needed to be. He wore a brown wide brim beaver hat with a stamped string. He weighed about 200 pounds and was as hard as a rock. He was handsome, but rugged. He had weather worn wrinkles in his brow and a dimple on his right cheek when he smiled. He carried a double rig cross draw with two colt 45 peace keepers. He took pride in his guns, and they were well oiled and clean. He had walnut grips on them and they had been engraved with and elaborate scrolling design.
John was well liked by the citizens of the Mound City. Several of the women were after him and he let them catch him occasionally. He had been married before and it had broken his heart. He was in no hurry to be hurt again.
The Ben Walker’s gang had scouted out this community and decided to rob its bank because of the railroad payroll. The payroll was always delivered every week to the Mound City Bank. The town had the appearance of a peaceful unsuspecting town. The gang had been wrong dead wrong.
Ben Walker and the three other men had done this numerous time and had gotten proficient at it. These men lived in various areas of the country and would rob a bank about every six to eight months. Each man had a job to do they had served in the Civil War together and had learned to work well as a team. They would each take a turn picking a bank. Then they would take turns doing the research and recon work prior to the robbery.
It was Little Johnny Bentley’s turn to pick the bank. He had done this before and had thought it would be a piece of cake. Johnny hadn’t done his job well, or he would have known of the alarm system. He would have also known the town had a response plan.
The four men had decided to meet in Joplin Missouri sixty miles from there intended target. Some had arrived by train others by coach, or ridden in. Johnny presented the layout of the town. Everyone assumed he had checked it out thoroughly. Jonny had the maps and the getaway was planned. They would spend the night in Joplin. Those men without horses would purchase them and they would ride to the Mound City the next day. The gang would then camp outside of town the night before so the stock would be fresh. Leaving Joplin all four men rode out sitting astride a fine 16 hand Thoroughbred bay gelding. These riders looked confident and presented themselves as a formidable group of men. Well-dressed in long black coats with gray wide brimmed hats on fine horse.
This all went smoothly according to plan until they entered the bank. As always one man stayed with the horses as the other three went in. Two would hold the people inside at gun point while the third man collected the money. The Queen City Bank was modern it had electrical lights. It also had an alarm that was triggered under the counter. This alarm was directly connected to the sheriffs and the town constable’s office. It was silent in the bank. Both were trained well in what to do once a robbery occurred.
The employees of the bank were to be cooperative and give the robbers what they had come for after setting off the alarm. This alarm could only be turned off by the sheriff, his deputies or the city constable.
The men inside were thinking the job was going smoothly because they had gotten what they had wanted. “This is a robbery if you cooperate no one will get hurt,” said Ben Walker as he pointed his gun at the bank teller who pushed the alarm button.
“Okay sir,” replied the bank teller.
Ben Walker with his gun in hand made everyone but, the man getting the money get down on the floor. “Get on the floor and you will live.” It was Johnny Bentley that collected the money from the drawers and the safe along with the teller. Johnny then tied the people in the bank and gagged them. After that the three outlaws head out to the street. By this time the deputies, constable, and the sheriff had been alerted. Horses had been made ready to ride, and the exits from town were covered. Ben Walker, Johnny Bentley, Joe Clark, and James Brodie were now on the street. James hadn’t noticed anything unusual. He was the one holding the horses and the look out, so the men were unaltered that they were soon to be the targets of the Mound City posse. They had planned to ride out east together divide the money and separate off. They met death at the edge of town.
Without warning Johnny Bentley was shot through the back. He was shot from the top of a building by a deputy after he had mounted his horse and had given Ben the cash. He didn’t feel the bullet, but noticed the blood on his chest before he fell from his horse. This alerted the others and they started into a dead run, but Joe Clark toppled from his horse. He had been shot in the chest from a man that stood at the corner of a building that lined the street. Clark rolled under Ben’s horse and his now dead body was trampled. This made Ben’s horse stumble a little slowing him down and the noise from striking the body gave out a load thud. The thud was a sickening sound to those who could hear it.
Ben Walker and James Brodie ran hell bound from town bent low over the saddle. These two were leaving their dead friends in the dust. Looking back over their shoulder after the whistle of gun fire seemed to subside they saw that they were being chased by a posse of eight men.
James hadn’t realized it, but he now felt the pain in his back.” I’ve been hit.” He yelled over at Ben and tossed him his money bag. “I’ve been hit I won’t make it.” John then tuned off to draw off the posse. He knew he would soon be dead. He wrapped the reins around his hands and stuck his feet through the stirrups doing this so he would remain in the saddle after he died. He didn’t fire at the pursuers, but held on and ran trying to give Ben a chance to get away.
The posse split and half of them started after James. The others followed along behind Ben. Ben had a very fine horse, most outlaws did. He was soon way out in front of the posse. He hadn’t yet fired a shot, but he would if they got close. Ben rode his horse full out for miles until he no longer saw the posse behind him. He then walked him still not stopping. He was now in Missouri. He had crossed the state line. From here he would head south into the Fort Smith Indian Territory. Here he was out of the jurisdiction of the sheriff.
Unknown to Ben Walker, John Cole was not going to let him slide away. John headed out loaded with supplies he always stayed ready. He usually had just canned goods in his saddle bags, but decided to grab the bacon from his office this morning before he left.
After Ben saw how the trail was turning out he sent the other three men back to town. “You boy’s head back home this is going to take a few days and I’m going to have to slip up on him,” Ben told his men.
“Okay boss, but send us a wire if you can. If you’re not back in five days we will assume you’re dead,” said Deputy Luke James.
“You’re in charge like always Luke until I return.”
The men parted there in Missouri when the trail headed south. They were already out of Kansas and had no jurisdiction. John wasn’t going to pull them along with him while he technically was breaking the law himself, but no one was going to rob his town not on his watch.
Miami or Fort Smith Indian Territory.
Ben knew they had messed up. He was thinking that there had to be some way that the robbery had been tipped off, but he would never find out how.
They were getting too old for this. They hadn’t said so, but he had known. He did have a little supply with him, but only enough for some coffee and one meal. Ben didn’t have the coffee pot. This met he would have to eat out of a can and do without coffee, or make some in one of the cans he had once he emptied it. He had the bags of money and could buy what he needed, but that wouldn’t do him any good if he was dead. Ben had a bad feeling about this. Those men in town were prepared. He had a feeling they wouldn’t give up, and knew they had seen their faces.
Heading southeast he entered the town of Miami. Here he would try to buy another horse and supplies. Stopping at the stable he bought a nice sorrel gelding. Then he headed to the mercantile store to get supplies. He kept his old horse the nice bay and led him along with him. He paid the man extra to keep his mouth shut. He wouldn’t leave his horse to be recognized. If he was being tracked they would look here and maybe if they didn’t see the horse they would just go on. He wanted a drink, but the saloon would just get him caught. The tongues in there were way to lose just like the women. He just got his supplies and headed out. Hoping the stable owner would keep his mouth shut.
He had known his three friends a long time and they had always had a successful robbery. They had never killed anyone during one. They really hadn’t been bad men. Coming home from the war and having nothing left of their homes with their family gone or scattered. Then the reconstruction started. This was supposed to be the norths answer to rebuilding the south. All it did was make conditions worse. The carpetbaggers bought out the land for back taxes or, for whatever excuse they had and the law let them. This took away most everyone’s hope.
Ben and the other three men had lived in Poplar Bluff Missouri. They couldn’t get a loan from the 1st Bank of Missouri that had been founded by Rutherford Ward, so they robbed that bank. This had been their first bank job. From then on, they robbed as many banks as Jesse James; however, they had never killed anybody. They hadn’t received the popularity of the James gang and this was a benefit to them. They had lived longer and had robbed more banks and intern had become wealthy.
Like a lot of wealthy men, they became greedy and that was their down fall. They had more wealth than they could have ever had otherwise, but wanted this last big hall. The recon had been careless and now three of them were dead. Ben didn’t know it, but he felt that he was the pray of a dangerous predator.
John rode into Miami he felt like the man he was after was intelligent. If they were who he suspected. They had robbed numerous banks and gotten away with it. If they were who he thought they were they had been confederate soldiers, guerilla fighters. Before this robbery they had planned all their robberies well until now.
John and the town folks knew it was just a matter of time before they were the victim of a robbery. Their plan had worked for the most part except the outlaws had the money. John just couldn’t go back to a failed plan without the money from the robbery, or at least giving it a good try to get it back. The plan had almost worked, but like all plans it had its flaws.
John knew that the outlaw would need a fresh horse and maybe provisions. He also knew that the staple owner would lie to him and had probably been paid to do, so. John had supplies and wouldn’t need to stock up. This would keep him from spending a lot of time here. First going to the stable he saw a large man there. This man was the owner of the stable and was probably a horse trader too, many were.
The facial expression on the man’s face told his story even if he was a good liar when it came to trading horses. He knew the man had been afraid of the outlaw, but seeing John he could tell he was more afraid of him. The man had to decide. He knew he was in a bad spot when the sheriff rode his way. “How are you doing this afternoon sir,” John said in a warm friendly voice that didn’t match the way he appeared.
“I’m well, and you sir.”
“Well that depends I would like some good fed and fresh water, for my pony here if you have it.”
“I have plenty come on in and I will get him cared, for.”
“What’s your name?”
“It’s Rob Lewis and yours?”
“My name is John Cole I am the sheriff in the Queen City over in Kansas.”
“Your kind of out of your jurisdiction, aren’t you?”
“Yep, so what’s that tell you?”
“I understand,” said Rob.
“Yes, it means I am after someone that I plan to catch. He has a reward on his head. There would be some reward money, for someone who would help me.”
“I don’t know to talk to you might be dangerous.”
“Not near as dangerous as it would be not too, so I am going to ask nice once and offer reward money. Then I will no longer ask nice and still get my answers.”
“Well sheriff you didn’t have to put it that way.”
“Oh, I didn’t?”
“Naw not at all I seen that fella your looking, for come through here about two hours ago.”
“What did he say?”
“Not much, but I sold him a good line backed dun six-year-old gelding a fine horse.” The trader had lied about the horse. “I imagined he is all the way to Fort Smith by now.”
“Did he say he was heading to Fort Smith?”
“No Sheriff he didn’t say that he didn’t say where he was headed.”
“How about Muskogee there’s a railroad there isn’t there?”
“Yes, there is has been since 1871 the Missouri Pacific.”
“If I were that outlaw I would catch the train out of there and be long gone. How far is it and how long will it take to ride straight through.”
“It’s a way maybe two days.”
“Okay thank you I will remember you if I get him, and see that you are rewarded.”
“Thank you, sheriff I hope you do get him I would hate to see him back here again.”
“I bet you would.”
John headed straight south and kept his eyes peeled. He didn’t want to be ambushed. It could easily happen to him out in this rough terrain. This country was full of oak trees, briers, locus trees, and sand stone it was hard to travel. He knew why the government had given this land to the Indians because it was worthless. It was full of hills and gullies. A person couldn’t farm here if he wanted. It would be hard to ranch here too with this country being so rough. It would be hard to keep track of your livestock let alone round them up. John stopped and took his leggings from the pommel of his saddle and put them on. The traveling was rough and there were far too many thorns to ride without them.
He hadn’t ridden his horse hard and he was well conditioned. John didn’t need to change him out like the outlaw had. The outlaw had a thoroughbred they were fast but didn’t have the stamina his paint mustang had.
The town of Muskogee was first started several miles north of where it was now. The railroad had been built from the Mound City where John was sheriff to Muskogee. It took a while to complete a bridge across the Arkansas River so the first town was on the north side of the river. Once the bridge was completed the camp moved one and a half miles south. It consisted of boarding- gambling houses, liquor peddlers, loafers, outlaws and whores. It also had the rail workers and the mercantile store ran by Atkinson and Robb.
John felt like if the outlaw made it to Muskogee he would probably lose him. It was a good place to hide. He could change his identity, the way he dressed, and his appearance there. Then catch the train, or simple ride out with others. There was little law and order there.
Ben rode south as fast and as quickly as he could. He led the bay horse he had started out with behind the sorrel. He knew the sheriff would know his prints and hoped his old bay would help cover the sorrel’s tracks. He could also be used in case he needed to send the bay out as a decoy. He could use the old bay as something to help throw the sheriff off. Ben didn’t know how many were following, but with 50 thousand dollars he knew someone would be. If his gang had been together they would have split up making four trails to follow; now there was just the one. This made tracking him the one and only priority.
Ben rode until dark then camped back well off the trail. He had a dry camp. He wouldn’t risk a fire. He had canned meat and cold beans. He was dying, for a cup of coffee and a smoke. He wouldn’t risk a smoke for the fear that someone would smell it. These were some uncomfortable traveling circumstances. Ben had been cut by thorns while he rode he wasn’t prepared, for this type of riding. He was also covered with ticks that had dropped out of the trees onto him. Ben hated this he knew he had gotten soft living the good life. They should have just called it good and quit the life of crime while they were ahead. It was too late now and he would have to be very careful just to survive.
John followed the trail until dark he was tracking the man which took longer. He had to watch the sign of his tracks and watch to make sure he didn’t get shot by a waiting outlaw. Far too many lawmen had been ambushed while tracking a suspect.
Once it was dark John camped for the night. First, he cared for his horse. He had some oils and ointment that he applied to himself and his horse to repeal the ticks and other insects. He applied more to them both now. He brushed his horse and checked him, for ticks too. The care of his faithful horse was important to him and lifted each hoof and picked it clean. He then measured out some oats to feed him and applied the hobbles. John was ready to see to himself now and gather some dry dead fall to start his campfire. Once he had a small smokeless fire going he opened a can of canned meat, and some beans. He warmed these up over the small fire, and built a pot of coffee. Coffee was one luxury he didn’t like to go without. John sipped his coffee after eating lit a cigar and took a puff. Looking up at the stars it was clear night. He remembered back to when he was married and his first beautiful wife. The two of them would lie out along the beach naked and star gaze together. He knew the constellations and told his sweetie what they were. The stars were like a map and could help you identify were you were at during the night. They had been used, for years by sailors and travelers. A person keeping a watchful eye on the stars could keep from becoming lost. Those two would make love there under the stars listening to the tides of Lake Michigan. That was so long ago and Johns heart ached he still missed her. She had been his first love he still mourned her loss.
John had hoped he would have caught up to the thief by now, every mile further away made it more difficult. If he caught him out here away from any witnesses it would be easier to get the outlaw and the money. Once he was in town he would have more people to watch. The outlaw could always hire someone there to help protect his back and help him get away.
Ben had thought about ambushing is pursuer, but he didn’t know how many were following and it would be risky too. It would be better to reach Muskogee quickly and back-track on the train to St. Louis. He knew if he made it there he had a better chance to escape. For the first time it occurred to him that maybe he could return the money. Maybe leave it here along the trail. Once the posse had the money maybe they would head back. They still hadn’t killed anyone during their robberies. There was always the Pinkerton’s too; after all they had stolen railroad money. If he got away the Pinkerton detectives would still be after him. Ben was alone and he felt bad and starting to invent scenarios, for his defeat. He had to admit he was scared. He hadn’t been this frightened since the war. Back when he lay hidden from the union soldiers. His mind was indecisive and he didn’t like the feeling.
Muskogee Indian Territory.
Ben didn’t sleep well and was having a hard time going to the bathroom he was constipated and uncomfortable with all the cuts from the thorns and tick bites. He wondered if things could possible get any worse. He got up well before daylight. He feed his horse ate a little then headed out riding in the dark. He hoped some of that grease from the canned meat would go to work on his bowels. He was thinking it sure is a pain in the butt to get old. He hadn’t had a smoke or a good cup of coffee for a day now and wanted it.
Ben rode on until daylight then he turned the bay horse lose hoping he would be a distraction to those following him. They couldn’t risk it being him taking off in another direction they would have to follow. If he was being followed by more than one they would have to split off. If it was one man he would have to track both trails. He hoped if it were one man he would follow the bay first. He then rode down a creek bed that headed in the direction he wanted to travel. By mid-morning the grease had gone to work and he was feeling much better. Ben was tiered of running and now that he felt better he was ready to fight if he had too. As he rode along the creek he came up on a railroad trestle. He knew this was the Missouri Southern main line and he was still a day from Muskogee. His plans changed right here. He would flag down the train and head out with it no matter which way it went. This would be his escape.
Ben didn’t have to wait long and the train came steaming its way from the south heading north. His luck had changed. The steamer pulled to a stop as he flagged them down. He paid extra to be boarded. They provided a ramp and ran it out for his horse to be brought aboard. He would be in Kansas City by night fall.
Ben could get a bath in the luxury of the train. He washed off all the ticks and doctored his cut and bites. Then he changed clothe he had an extra set with him. He would leave the others there. The law would be looking for someone dressed in those clothes.
While on the train he had a good meal plenty of hot coffee and smoked his cigar. He was feeling hopeful now clean he felt like a new man.
He went to the club car and had a few drinks of southern whiskey as he smoked. He visited there with an Australian Aborigines man that served him his drink. The man was a bartender on the train. He was well dressed and spoke with an accent. Ben had regained his strength and confidence.
John knew his chances of apprehending the outlaw grew less with each passing day. He stood there in his camp and drank a black cup of strong coffee. At this point he felt there was little need to get in a hurry. Although the track had been straight and it was a strong possibility he was headed to Muskogee he still hadn’t caught him. It would be the Pinkerton’s job to do once he had given up. The Pinkerton’s would hunt him until they found him whether it took years or not. They had the time and the resources. Right then John decided just to ride on into Muskogee and spend the night. He would take the train back to Mound City. He would do all he could to track the thief until he got there, but after that he would be done. He would telegraph his office once he arrived at the Muskogee depot.
Riding on down the trail John saw where the horses had broken away from each other and decided to follow the bay he tracked him, for about an hour before he found him grazing in a small clover meadow. He whistled to him, and he came right up to John. He took the lead-rope and wrapped it around his saddle horn he was a good animal, and John would keep him. It would have been difficult for this fine horse out in the wild. John got off his horse and brushed the bay then applied the oils he had with him to repeal the ticks. He also removes the ticks that were on the poor animal. Remounting leading the bay with him John went back to the trail. He followed the other tracks until he saw where they had gone into the creek. He then decided to follow the creek the same as Ben had. Once John reached the railroad trestles he could see where Ben had waited on the train. He had gotten away.
John started south along the tracks he would either ride all the way to town or catch the next train. Maybe he could find out which way the outlaw had gone. This would be easy all he had to do is look at the train schedule once he got to Muskogee. If the outlaw went north like he believed he did, he could telegraph a head and possibly he could be abducted from the train.
Once on the train Ben got to thinking that the lawmen were not far behind. They would be able to tell that he boarded the train. The railroad schedule would let them know which one too. With the telegraph it would be easy to wire ahead and have a sheriff waiting for him at the next stop. Once the train reached Oswego Kansas he and his horse exited the train. He then rode off heading east to Joplin Missouri. There he sold his horse bought new clothes and boarded a train that would eventually take him to Chicago.
Ben would never rob anything again. He was glad to be home to his family and he had 50 thousand dollars that he didn’t have to split with anyone. He did however take care of the widows of the dead men. Sharing the money with the two women the other man had been alone.
John was tried as he rode south until the train heading that way stopped, and let him board. Once in town he sent out numerous telegraphs in hopes of apprehending Ben. Ben had gotten a way John knew who he was and that he and his gang had surprisingly never killed anyone during a robbery. He felt that Ben probably suffered enough with the loss of his friends and he would always have to watch over his shoulder for the Pinkerton’s.
John was a single man he would go into town and enjoy himself before heading home by train. First, he sent the telegraphs ahead hoping the outlaw would be apprehended. The next thing he did was have his horses stabled and cared for. Then he checked into a hotel and got a nice hot bath. After that he had a thick steak then he headed to the saloon. There he had a few drinks and some quiet company with a sweet saloon gal. He brought her back to the hotel with him and she spent the night wrapped up in each other’s arms. They had been a comfort to each in a lonely world. John kissed her good by that morning and loaded his horse on the train to head back north. They both knew they would never see each other again, but the night they spent together met a lot to both.
The wires had been sent and they had found that the man he hunted had gotten off the train in Oswego, and rode away. The Pinkerton’s looked, for him in Joplin and found a sorrel horse at the stable, but no lined back dun. They had started out just shortly after John had, for the 50 thousand dollars was railroad money and that was a lot to get away with. The wires had helped and they were still on his trail. Figuring he had changed his appearance, and taken a train out. The detectives circulated his poster. Someone had to recognize him.
Back Home the Mound City or Chicago
John arrived back at the Mound City where he was welcomed back. None of the citizens had been killed and they had not lost any of their own money from the robbery. The plan was gone over at the next town council and there were a few changes made in the response plan. However most everybody was happy with it because no one had been killed.
A few weeks later the Pinkerton’s contacted Sheriff John Cole. They had found a man in Chicago that fit the description of Ben Walker. They had pieced together information from different rail workers, and people who had rode the train. They knew John had seen the man’s face there in the Queen City after the robbery. The detectives wanted him to identify the man they believed to be Ben Walker. They would give him a reward, and pay for his expensive if he came to Chicago. They hadn’t, yet arrested him, but he was on constant surveillance.
Ben went by the name of Jerry Kemp. He and his wife and children lived in Chicago. His wife knew all that went on there were no secrets. They always had a backup plan and had money in the bank of Australia. Ben had noticed the watch on his place. One night he and his family pretending to go out went to the theater. They changed their clothes and appearance then slipped away in the middle of the night taking a train to the coast. There they boarded a ship bound, for Australia. The theatrical workers were paid handsomely for their assistance. They were provided with a change of clothes; their hair was colored and they were supplied with a new set of papers.
John Cole was on his way to Chicago to help the Pinkerton’s it somehow didn’t seem right to him. The man had gotten away and he wasn’t a killer. This man that he was going to go see was a family man that owned a small mercantile store. He and his family worked hard in it every day. They didn’t live too extravagantly. He had heard the story of their tale and it unwound to be one he sympathized with. Now John was arriving in Chicago to find that the family was gone. He did feel some happiness, or relieve. The family had been replaced by the theatrical actors who now owned the home. It had taken a day or, so to notice that the Walker’s had been replaced by the actors. The actors dressed like the Kemps and opened the store just like they had they followed their routine. When confronted by the Pinkerton detectives these actors claimed to have always been here it couldn’t be proven otherwise.
John was well compensated for his trip. The Pinkerton’s ate crow and felt foolish. They knew they had been had and hated to revel it to John who already knew Ben was elusive. John no longer felt foolish for losing the track a few weeks back now. Not that he really did, but the Pinkerton’s had belittled his efforts to apprehend Ben Walker.
John enjoyed his trip and the night life of Chicago. He had received a pretty good amount of money, for his trouble and his silence. The Pingeton’s didn’t want this to get out.
John Cole hadn’t been to Chicago since his folks had passed away. He was born here. His folks were now gone and he no longer had any family here that he knew of. When he had been married the first two times he had lived here. He had grown up here. They had lived along the lake. He and his father had worked as fishermen on fishing boats as they caught fresh water fish from the great lake of Michigan.
John’s first two wives had been girls he had known from school. Both marriages had only lasted a few years when his first wife died of consumption. He was broken hearted, but remarried. The second wife was drowned while fishing a few years later. John had been out on a fishing ship when this happened. The circumstances of the drowning were unusual and he suspected foul play. He believed she had been murdered. There were few leads and the police called it accidental drowning. He gave up his home, kissed his dad, and mom goodbye then headed west.
After John headed west he ended up in southeast Kansas only by chance. Kansas became a new state that had entered the union while the Civil War raged on. This happened after John had moved there and had been the sheriff, for a few years.
He moved there and liked the community. He started out working for the railroad. The town was rough and it needed a good sheriff and John had his name added to the ballot. He was well like and won the election.
One-day John met a union army office who had rode through on the train. The officer saw how John handled himself with the town’s folks and the problems that arose there. He wanted him to enlist knowing that he would make a good soldier, for men like him would be very useful. There was conflict out west with the Indians. Settlers would want to move out that way now that the war was over. John declined, and head back to Chicago. He had thought about enlisting it sounded like he would have been a grand adventure, but his folks were declining in health. He stayed there with his mother and father caring, for them until they passed away. After that he returned to Mound City, and he was reelected.
He only spent the night in Chicago this time. John had a good hotel and had found some company. The meals were good here and so had his company been. He had reminisced about his lost loves and his parents while here. He was glad to have the company of the whore he had met. Most of them knew how to comfort a man. They took care of lonely men all the time.
John caught the train back to the Queen City. He knew he and his deputies would have a good laugh over the wool that had been pulled over the Pinkerton Detectives eyes.
Ben Walker AKA Jerry Kemp AKA Walter Temple
The train arrived at the coast. The Temples boarded the freighter to Australia. Walter his wife Kay and his two twin daughters Jessica and Lynn would now partake in a new life. They would soon be ranchers in the outback. Ben now Walter stood with his wife Kay on the deck after dinner. The girls had gone to bed. He knew this had been a close call. He lit a cigar and took a pull off the brandy he held in his hand. Next, he kissed his wife and held her close. “I love you Kay with all of my heart.”
“I love you too. I am excited about this new life. I hear that Australia is an interesting continent.” Walter then took his wife’s hand and led her to their suite.
Kay pulled her dress over her head and now stood naked in front of her husband. She dimmed the Lamp and danced, for him in a very seductive way. Ben drew her close to him and they were soon locked in the passion of their love. The passion was one that had grown more intense with their narrow escape.
Back in America the Pinkerton Detectives continued their pursuit. They ran down every lead. Ben Walker would not disappear.
Sheriff John Cole returned by train to the Queen City after a nice visit to his home town. As the train pulled in he was met at the depot by his deputy Luke James. “Boss we got trouble. There’s been a killing out at the widow Scotts place. They found her dead out there yesterday. Some folks from church went out there looking, for her when she didn’t show up there.”
“Dam fine welcome home Luke.”
“I’m sorry sheriff. I did secure the scene. The widows body is at the undertakes now.”
“Well we better get started let’s head over to the funeral parlor. First do you have your notes with you?”
“Yes, Sheriff I do and I got a deputy out at the house.”
“You got any suspects?”
“No, I don’t I couldn’t pick up a track, for there were too many people out there for me to pick up the track of the killer. I’m not that good of a tracker. I’m glad you are back so you can trail him.”
“Luke let’s stop at the office and let me drop off my bag and get a cup of coffee.”
“That sounds fine with me sheriff, but you might want to see this on and empty stomach.”
“I’ve seen bad before Luke. I need a cup to get may brain back up to speed if that’s all right.”
“Well boss we always have it made in the office.” The two men walked silently to the sheriff’s office and up the three steps to the door.
“Anything else you want to tell me Luke?”
“No let’s get a cup and head over there. I know they want to lay her to rest tomorrow.” Opening the door, the sheriff stepped into his familiar surroundings. He reached up to the shelf and took his cup down, and he also grabbed Luke’s.
“You want a cup Luke?”
“I guess I might as well John.” John poured the cups full took a cigar from his breast pocket, and lit it.
“How long does the Doc think she’s been dead?”
“It probably happened Saturday night.”
“Then she has been dead two days then.”
“Who had been seeing her I know she likes her company.” John took a long pull off his cigar, and then blew a perfect smoke ring across the room. He tipped his cup up, and felt the hot coffee as he took his first sip. “Let’s head over.”
“Okay boss, but you’re not going to like this one bit. I know you have visited her out there before too. John that’s why I meet you at the train I didn’t want anyone else to tell you first.”
“Okay Luke we were friends that’s right I still went out there occasionally like a lot of the other boys. Go ahead and spit it out. What is it that’s so bad?”
“John, they raped her. They raped her and cut her up. She has been tortured.”
“Okay Luke thank you. We better go see her now so they can put her to rest in the morning.”
They started out the door and headed east down the dusty street. By the time they got there they had finished their coffee and cigars. Tossing the butts to the ground they crushed the ashes out in the street. The two men took one last look at each other then walked up to the funeral parlor door and knocked.
The undertaker came to the door and said, “It’s good to see you John. I hope you had a nice trip. I got to warn you this is bad. The doctor, and I examined her. She has been raped and abused badly. I can make her look better, for the funeral, but I left her as she was just washing her off as the Doc and I did the autopsy.”
“Luke can you fetch the Doc over here so we can review the body together. I want to hear what they have to say as we look the body over than head out to her house.”
“Okay John I will be right back.”
“Sheriff Do you want a refill on that cup while we wait?”
“Yes, I believe I will thank you Jim.” The undertakers name was Jim Bowels he and John had another cup of coffee, and his wife stepped in to say hello.
“Good to see you John I’m sorry you had to come home to this.”
“Thanks Kathie I appreciate that.”
“John, I would offer you something to eat, but I don’t think you would want anything right now. I will put you some cookies in a bag to take with you.”
“Kathie, you are too kind.” Kathie left the room, and came back with a sack setting it by the door.
“Now don’t forget these sheriffs.”
“I won’t.” Just then in walked Luke, and Doc Benson.
“Hello John, do you want to review our finds out here, or while we look over the body?”
“I believe it would be better if we did it while we look over the body”
John Cole had had some formal training in detective work. When he went back to Chicago to care for his folks in their last years of their life he had taken some training there from the Chicago Police department. They revisited the scene of where his wife had drowned. Even years later as a cold case they could discover that it hadn’t been an accidental drowning, but had been a murder. With the help of the police department the case was solved over a period of a few months even though it had been several years old. It had been a serial killer, and there had been numerous cases like it. With the more advanced technique of police work they could piece together all the evidence and find the man who was a doctor who lived along the lake. John had taught his deputies what he had learned while away, and they had become a better sheriff’s department, for it. They had solved numerous crimes that included murder.
The four men stepped in to the cool room that held the widows body, and everyone took out their note book. The autopsy results were reviewed starting at the victim’s head and working down to her feet. Every detail was gone over. John had sent these two men away to study at Chicago too. The county had surprisingly paid, for it. They had taken a course in early forensic police work and what was necessary to perform a complete autopsy.
The sheet was removed the beat up and tortured body of the widow lay naked before them on the table. What had once been an attractive woman no longer was.
Going over every contusion, laceration, and abrasion from head to toe the body was then turned over to revile the woman’s back. The lacerations from a bullwhip were very apparent; she had been raped, sodomized, and brutally attacked. When the review was completed the four men stepped outside of the exam room. “Have you seen anything like this before?”
“I’m sorry to say yes sheriff both the Doc and mortician,” said.
“Where and when was it,” asked John.
“It has been a few years back while you were in Chicago with your folks,” said Jim.
“Yes, sheriff we had several of these together than they stopped,” said Doc Benson.
“Were there any suspects then?”
“We had one fella that was working out west of town as a cowboy that had been visiting the whores that had been killed, but he left town without a trace,” said Luke.
“But it looks the same.” All three men agreed.
“Do you know what he looks like?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Has he been seen?”
“Not that we know of, but this just happened, and we haven’t been out looking for him yet.”
“I wonder if he is on any wanted posters?”
“Let’s all met at the office tomorrow afternoon, and maybe I can draw a picture from what you guys tell me. Then I can send out some wires. Right now, Luke and I will head out to the scene.”
It was getting on into the afternoon, but they still had plenty of day light left. Luke and John walked over to the stable and got their horses. They brushed them down carefully taking good care of them. Both men hadn’t spoken since they had left the Funeral home. Brushing and caring, for the horses soothed them. The ordeal they had just witnessed was difficult this was a woman they had both known. John use to go out and see her occasionally. The Widow Scott dated a lot of men. She didn’t work in a brothel, but her home was her own personal place to do business. This fact in its self-made her more of a target. Many people considered whores as worthless, and just flesh to be used without any rights. Mrs. Scott was a citizen of this town. She was actively engaged in all the community work and regularly attended church. After her husband had died she started seeing men at her home, and was making a good living at it. Everyone turned a blind eye to that and just said she was courting a suiter. Mrs. Scott had her regulars and never had but one man at a time at her home. If she was busy the porch light would be off if it was lit than she was receiving guest.
The men placed the heavy wool blankets on their horses, and sat the saddle astride. They then tightened the cinch, placed the bridle on, and led the horses from the barn.
“Are you read Luke?”
“Yes, John I’m ready.”
“Well let’s head that way then.” The two men rode about a ½ mile west of town and stopped at the Widow Scott’s home. They were met there by Deputy Shorty.
“Good to see you John.”
“You too Shorty.” John and Luke dismounted and tied the horses there to the rail and followed Shorty inside. No one spoke as Sheriff Cole examined the scene. Once the sheriff had gone over everything writing it down in his note book did he speak. “Is anything different than it was when you two first arrived?”
“We both examined the scene and left everything as it was the body was tied there. The torture devise remained with her and was removed but the Doc and the mortician. She was tied there in the door way with barbed wire and whipped, raped and sodomized then he used something on her.”
John was satisfied with reviewing the crime scene He then walked outside to look over the tracks. Thankfully not a lot of them had been disturbed. The women coming out after church discovered the body, and drove their buggy back to town. They told the deputies and they came out and secured the scene and brought out the doctor.
“Looks to me like you men have done a good job here. One of you still needs to stay here for another day and one of you needs to stay in town. I will start here after I get supplies and head out tracking the vermin. You two take turns here and in town.”
Shorty and John rode back to town and Luke stayed at the Widow Scotts. They made small talk as the rode in to town. Shorty had lived here longer than John he was a native of the Mound City he had gone to school with Mrs. Scott. He like many others had known her well.
The Widows name was Susan Royce before she married a man who had helped put in the railroad. The man had been one of the railroad officials, and had been an important man to the Missouri Pacific Rail Road. He not only worked for the railroad, but had also been a stock holder. She had married Tony Wright. He had come to the Mound City and had met Susan at church they were both quite smitten with each other. After courting for a short time, they married.
Tony had been killed in a train accident while trying to push the railroad on towards Texas. Soon Kansas, Missouri and Texas would be linked by one railroad. The railroad would be taking freight from the Gulf of Mexico to Kansas City.
This extension had some of the teamsters upset feeling the railroad would take away some or all their business hauling fright across country. There were a few river boat captains that hauled fright up the Missouri River from the Mississippi River that were also concerned that the railroads would take away their business. These circumstances put Tony in a dangerous position.
The widow was unaware that she had inherited stocks, and bonds and when her husband died she had thought she was penniless. She liked men, and took up doing what she had been doing when she had been killed.
The two lawmen made it to town in a short time. The sheriff got some more things ready to take with him. While he tried to track the man, who had been at the widow’s house. He always carried a few supplies with him, but he wanted a few more things to make his days out more comfortable. With plenty to eat and drink. It didn’t take him long and John was ready to ride out. He said good bye to Shorty and headed back out to the widow’s place. He was thinking he should have taken this stuff with him the first time. He must be getting old, but he knew the real reason was because her death had upset him. He had really liked her. She was one of the few women in town that he would visit with.
Getting back to the widows place he hadn’t really wasted a lot of time it was still day light. When he got there and there were still hours left in the sky. Luke gave him a cup of coffee he had fixed over a fire outside. They would not go in again until the sheriff said it was alright too. Preserving the scene if possible it could be that they may need to take a jury out there to see the place. That’s if they came up with anybody to put on trial. John thanked Luke and took a sip looking over the top of his cup after taking his first sip he noticed something unusual there in the yard why his deputies hadn’t seen it was a puzzle.
What John saw was an Indian talisman wrapped with leather and feathers nailed to the barn in plain sight. “Luke what is that on the barn door?” John pointed to the door, and Luke looked over to it.
“I don’t know John it was not there before, and we have not left this place unattended.” The two men walked over to the strange looking piece of Indian art work that hung from the door.
“I wonder what it means?”
“I have no idea, but it is a clue.” As they looked the talisman over they noticed it had also been decorated with the widow’s scalp and hair. She had been scalped. These men and those who had performed the autopsy were the only five men who knew of any of the details. John was sure that none of them would be leaked out. None of them believed this had been the work of an Indian.
“We are dealing with one sick bastard here Luke.”
“I think it’s that man that was here years ago.”
“What was that man’s name?”
“He was called Johnny Redfeather. He was a crazy half breed when he got on the whiskey.”
“Okay I’m going to try and track him from here. Shorty is looking through posters and sending out wires. We’re going to get this guy. Apparently, he thinks he can out smart us and is still around. Because he just left this nasty thing here.”
John led his horse behind him as he followed the few tracks that were left in the dust. The man had worn moccasins, and that made it more difficult to track him. Once he had followed the tracks to where his horse had been tied waiting on him he could see that the horse was shoed. A shoed horse was much easier to follow. The man had waited here and smoked there were cigar butts crushed out in the dirt.
The rider after leaving had made efforts to conceal his tracks, but John was a skilled tracker. To be a lawman worth your salt you had to be. Being a lawman consisted of lots of foot work. Reading lots of reports being accurate with a gun and being able to track.
John had followed along until almost dark when he smelled the smoke. This was no Indian. Indians were far more careful than that. John tied his horse and slipped off his boots putting his moccasins on. He didn’t want to be heard. Very carefully he would make his way to the fire. He would have to be watching to make sure it wasn’t a set up to draw him in. It took him hours to move up close to the fire he could see the man setting by the fire he was staring into the flames that’s nothing an Indian would do or anyone who wanted to be able to see at night. Staring into the fire would prevent you from seeing anything at night. With your peripheral vision a person could see more in the dark. The next thing John saw was the bullwhip lying next to the man on the ground. John felt some rage in himself, for just a moment. He could put it down, but he hated these types of sick bastards. The man was dressed like any wrangler. Only thing was he had a Red feather in hat. He did have some bead work on a necklace that he wore. His six guns were in there holster next to him. The man had been working on another talisman it was beside him too, but right now he just stared into the fire. John could see scalps in a saddle bag he had next to him the flap was left open and he could see the hair sticking out of several different colors. John thought other victims. He also thought why is this dumb son of a bitch just sitting there like that. John crept closer, and was behind him he had lain down to sleep. John hit him in the head with his Colt 45 to knock him unconscious. The man gowned as John tuned him over and cuffed him.
John went through the man’s things finding enough evidence, for him to stand trial. The saddle bags were full of scalps. The material used to make the talisman was there too. The bullwhip lay there beside him and it had blood on it. John saddled the man’s horse and tossed the unconscious man over the saddle tying his hands beneath. He gathers up all the evidence, and attached it to the saddle and led him to where he had left his horse. John mounted up, and headed back to the Widows place to Let Luke go home. They would lock the place up and board it up tomorrow.
Luke was surprised to see John riding in after dark. He was glad he had caught the bad guy. Sometimes it worked out that way. Usually if you were going to catch them it would be quickly. Those you chased for weeks often slipped away.
As john rode up Luke could hear the man groaning, and knew he was alive he had expected John to kill this one.
“Let’s go Luke we can board this place up tomorrow.”
“Alright sheriff give me a minute to get ready.”
“I will give you a hand.”
“You going to haul him in like that all the way to town?”
“Sure am. The district judge will be here in a week, and we can hang him on a fine Saturday morning.”