Monday, June 26, 2017

Ben Cravens -- After The Blackwell Shootout

Ben Cravens
In my last article, The Blackwell Shootout 1896, we talked about how Dick Ainsley and Ben Cravens were shot up because they robbed a store in a nearby town -- and that Ainsley was thought to be someone else.

Prior to the Blackwell Shootout, all that's known about Ben Cravens is that he was born Benjamin Crede Cravens around 1864. While a teenager, it's said he wrecked havoc on the schoolhouse he attended. He was arrested and jailed, but escaped and ran away to Missouri. And yes, that would be his first escape with many more to come from jails and prisons.

In 1890, supposedly he drifted to Chatauqua County, Kansas, where he is said to have found stealing much more profitable than working a job making wages. One of the things he was known for at the time was that he joined a band of horse thieves. And believe it or not, after stealing horse, he worked as a bootlegger in southern Kansas counties. In fact, he was known to bootleg whiskey to the Osage, Kaw, Otoe, Ponca and Pawnee Indians in the Cherokee Outlet.

He was arrested in December of 1894 for bootlegging and selling whiskey to Indians and jailed at Guthrie, Oklahoma. And believe it or not, he escape on July 5th, 1896. But this time with four other prisoners including Dick Ainsley. And yes, soon he and Ainsley were in Kansas stealing cattle.

In the spring of 1896, they needed cash and supplies. So they broke into the store and residence of Ira Stout in Elgin, Kansas. They also robbed the store of P.W. Craig in Waunette, Kansas. After that they robbed the "Hopper and Tweedy" store in Hewins, Kansas. By November 18th, 1896, the two were out of cash and returned again rob P.W. Craig’s store in Waunette and the "Hopper and Tweedy" store in Hewins. During these robberies, one of the two stole a black horse in the process.

As I stated in the other article, the robbery of the Tweedy store netted the two $50.00 in cash and $300.00 in merchandise, including some shirts at $1.40 each. So yes, moving up to bank robbery in Blackwell, Oklahoma, would have definitely been moving up to the big time for the both.

Sadly for them, but luckily for Blackwell, they were shot and captured. After Dick Ainsley was shoot dead and positively identified by U.S. Marshals as not being the outlaw that Sheriff Deputy Cox thought he was, Ben Cravens was taken back to Kansas under the custody of U.S, Deputy Marshal Powell. That was December.

By January of 1897, Cravens was sentenced to 20 years at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing. Yes, Cravens got 20 years for highway robbery near Elgin, Kansas. But believe it or not, on November 16th, 1900, Cravens escaped from Kansas State Penitentiary after using a fake gun made out of a piece of wood covered with tobacco and package foil.

Now for all of you who think this story sounds familiar. Well, it should. The infamous gangster John Dillinger used a wooden pistol to break out of a jail in Indiana in 1934. Yes, doing the same thing as Cravens. And no, I don't know if Dillinger took a page from Cravens escape book or just thought of it by himself. Either way, after his escape, Cravens loses the posse chasing him, steals a horse and is soon in the Osage Nation committing crimes.

So now Cravens escapes Lansing in 1900, he flees Kansas and heads to Indian Territory, the Osage Nation to be exact. It's said that there he reconnected with Bert Welty who he had met while they were in prison together. Six weeks later on March 18th, 1901, Cravens and Welty robbed a general store at Red Rock in Otoe Country.

Believe it or not, it is said that Cravens dressed himself to look like a farmer. And yes, Welty dressed up to look like his wife by wearing a dress and sunbonnet. Yes, that's how they held up the store. They robbed the store and the patrons. And supposedly they two stole $1,000 in cash, and took a bunch of store merchandise.

Frankly, I really would be surprised if a general store in 1901 kept $1,000 on hand. Or if what the store had on hand and what the patrons had on them amounted to $1,000. The only reason that I say that is that $1,000 in 1901 was a lot of money. In fact, $1,000 in the year 1901 is worth about $28,000 today in 2017. But with or with that amount of money, it was this robbery that through Ben Cravens into the big league of being a criminal.

During the robbery, Alvin Bateman, the store manager and assistant postmaster in Red Rock entered the store. Bateman was immediately told to put his hands up. Bateman was doing just that when Caravens and Welty saw that he had a pistol in one hand. It was then that Cravens and Welty shot Bateman several times.

The two killers escape in a wagon but when it overturned. It was then that Cravens tried to kill his partner. It's true. Cravens figuring that he can keep all of the loot and make his escape faster, he shoots Welty in the face with one barrel from his shotgun. Then he simply left him for dead, and rides off.

To the amazement of quite a few people, Welty’s injuries were not fatal and he walked around 10-15 miles to Black Bear Creek and the home of C.N. Herthington. That where Welty was was arrested. So he survived being shot in the face with a shotgun, he was arrested, and later received a life sentence in prison for the death of Bateman.

As for Cravens, he fled to the home of a friend, Isom Cunningham, just was a few miles south of Pawnee. Not knowing that Welty lived to tell the law where his no good partner was hiding out, Cravens was said to be shocked when a posse soon surrounded the house. But then, according to witnesses, "in a perfect hailstorm of bullets" Ben Cravens escapes. But no, not before he mortally wounded Deputy Sheriff Tom Johnson.

Deputy Sheriff Jack Murray later stated "The rapidity with which he (Cravens) worked his artillery was such that the firing made a continuous sheet of flame." It is said that Cravens would empty his rifle, fall to the floor, reload, came back up again and empty it again, then follow it up with his revolver.

After his getaway, the reward for "Bad Ben" Cravens went from $1,000 to $10,000. And that, well that made him one of the most wanted outlaws in the territory. Then, he simply disappeared from sight for a while.

Of course he was accused of robberies and murders in the surrounding states, but in actuality he was living in Missouri as farm hand. There he was considered a hard working recently married man. His was living under the alias Charles Maust. He and his wife worked a farm together.

But then, in Jefferson City, Missouri in November of 1908, he was sentenced to 4 years in prison for stealing either a horse or a couple of hogs. Either way, around 1911, near the time of his impending release, a barber at the penitentiary recognized Charles Maust as actually being Ben Cravens.

The barber there recognized him because the barber worked at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas, when Cravens was a prisoner there. He told his superiors. Then using the "Betillion System of Criminal Identification and his Kansas State Penitentiary records, fingerprint and photo records of the time, Charles Maust was positively identified as Ben Cravens.

Oklahoma authorities were notified of his whereabouts and Cravens was transferred to Guthrie in November of 1911. His new trial was held in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Tried and convicted for the murder of Alvin Bateman of Red Rock, Cravens maintained that he was really Charles Maust and not Ben Cravens.

So now, because Cravens refused to give his real name, the authorities began assembling witnesses who may have known him. Among the witnesses was Deputy U.S. Marshal Alfred O. Lund, who was days away from retiring. And soon, witness after witness was brought to the trial to identify Cravens. It was said to have been an "outlaw reunion" of sorts since around 50 of the nearly 200 witnesses called were known outlaws. And yes, Bert Welty was brought from his prison cell to testify in the case. He looked directly at Cravens and positively identified him. Not as Charles Maust, but as Ben Cravens.

Cravens was defended by attorney Al Jennings, who himself was a reformed outlaw who was pardoned by President Theodore Roosevelt. As amazing as it sounds, Al Jennings tried to introduce evidence to show that it has been a simple case of mistaken identity. That didn't really mater because on January 29th, 1912, Ben Cravens was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of Alvin Bateman. Mostly because of Lund and Welty's testimony, Cravens was sent to the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

But no, that's not the end of the story. Cravens was once again in court in April of 1921. He still maintained that he was really Charles Maust, and not Ben Cravens. Then in a writ of habeous corpus presented in Kansas City, Kansas Federal Court, he maintained that he was Charles Maust and was illegally arrested and punished.

The writ also stated that Bateman's murder took place in 1901 when Oklahoma was still a U.S. territory, making the case fall under Federal Government jurisdiction. In 1907, when Oklahoma became a state, a provision was made stating all pending cases involving felonies in the Indian Territory should be tried by the new Oklahoma state courts. Cravens was tried in a Federal Court in Guthrie in 1908. His petition read that he should have been tried under state laws and not federal. So while he thought he was going to get out on a technicality, that didn't work and he stayed in prison when his petition was denied on April 6, 1921.

By the 1930s, his health began to fail. Because he didn't seem to have long to live, on October 17th, 1936, he was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. Then after spending an additional eleven years in prison, he was finally paroled in 1947. Yes, paroled after killing a man. So if you're wondering, yes it even took place back then.

Three years later, on September 19th, 1950, he finally died of old age. And believe it or not, it's said that even up to the time of his death, he still maintained that he was Charles Maust and not Ben Cravens.

If you remember from my first article The Blackwell Shootout 1896, I mentioned that Dick Ainsley and Ben Cravens were thought to be outlaws planning to rob the Blackwell bank.  I also talked about how Sheriff's Deputy Cox formed a posse. Alfred Lund was part of the deputized posse that initially went after Dick Ainsley and Ben Cravens.

After that shootout, Alfred Lund later served as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He then became a Special Officer for the Santa Fe Railroad. That lasted for 12 years, before taking on the job of a Detective for the Santa Fe Railroad stating in 1913. He stayed in that position until 1921. On April 23rd, 1946, Marshal Alfred O. Lund died at the age 79.

And as for the last bit of trivia regarding this story, it is said that Alfred O. Lund's involvement in Ben Cravens' final conviction means that Lund is the first lawman in Oklahoma history to have both begun and ended his career confronting the very same criminal. Imagine that.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Country of Followers

By Terry McGahey

First off let me say, I realize that I haven't written anything lately, having a wife that passed away as well as having back and neck problems which haven't allowed me to sit at the computer for a very long period of time has been the main cause of this.

Even though it is not comfortable sitting here, I have had enough of what's going on with many of our citizens within this country and can no longer keep silent about it.

Anyone who has read my articles in the past knows that I am not a Democrat nor a Republican, I am an independent Constitutional Conservative who firmly believes in our forefathers vision of this country, the law of our land as written in the Constitution, and not in the word twisting attorney's versions of this fine document. This document was written in plain English, and one can see that if one has any common sense what so ever.

Normally in my articles I would address our politicians and their policies, but in this article I am addressing the subject of many of our own people who have become nothing but followers and believers of anything said by our politicians on both sides of the aisle as well as the media. Many politicians today make accusations against the other party without fact or proof, and many of our citizens buy into what they say no matter if they are right or wrong.

So many people today have become nothing but followers instead of getting off their lazy butts and researching things for themselves. With the computer age we live in, it is very simple to research the voices and views of our politicians in order to actually realize if their opinions fit within the parameters of our Constitution. Many people just believe the rhetoric that spews out of the mouths of politicians and hate mongers rather than think for themselves.

Just a short time ago a politically motivated nut shot one of our representatives at a baseball practice. Why, because of the hate that has been fueled by politicians and hate mongers which has seeped into the minds of people who just believe in what they hear without question. People such as the shooter at the baseball practice have violent tendencies within their heart in the first place, and the hate which we see today by our own people just fuels their desire into committing violence upon others.

Much of the problem stems directly from the people because our chickenhearted politicians are so afraid of loosing their jobs. Rather than do what's right, they have a tendency to keep it going or not stand up and say enough is enough.

Just take a look at protesters who have been paid to protest by the likes of George Soros who is nothing but a Socialist/Communist who would like nothing more than to see the downfall of this country. Those people, like sheep, go along with it because it's easy money. Not because it's right or wrong, but because it's easy money and they believe whatever they hear.

No, I am no longer putting the blame on all of the politicians. Some yes, but I am now putting the blame on the people themselves who are willing to believe anything they hear rather than research it for themselves.

Like the lambs being led to the slaughter the ignorant followers are jumping off the cliff into Socialism which is only one small step into Communism. If you are a follower, no matter which side you believe in, and you are reading this, it's time for you to understand, you are the problem and not the solution.

Terry McGahey

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Abe Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley

Have you ever wondered what was President Lincoln's priority during the Civil War? Whether it was saving the Union or ending slavery? This letter speaks to his priority. And yes, it is very clear what he wanted.

This is one of Abraham Lincoln's most famous letters written during the Civil War. It was written to Horace Greeley who was a very influential editor of the New York Tribune. This letter was in response to an editorial penned by Greeley to Lincoln.

Greeley's editorial was called "The Prayer of Twenty Millions." In it Greeley attempts to make the case that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve.

Researchers say that President Lincoln wrote his response while a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was already in his desk drawer. His response revealed his concentration on preserving the Union. By his own words, that is Lincoln's paramount goal. No, it was not to end slavery.

The letter, which received acclaim in the North, truly stands as a testament to how President Lincoln saw his Constitutional responsibilities.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. 

What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

A. Lincoln.

As amazing as it sounds, a few years after President Lincoln's assassination, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley wrote a critical article stating that Lincoln did not actually respond to his "The Prayer of Twenty Millions" editorial. Greeley stated that President Lincoln instead used his response as a platform to prepare the public for his "altered position" on emancipation. Yes, Greeley bashed President Lincoln right after he was shot dead. Image that.

Very active in politics,Greeley served briefly as a congressman from New York. He was also was the unsuccessful candidate of the new Liberal Republican party in the 1872 Presidential Election. He ran against incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant and lost in a landslide despite having the additional support of the Democrat Party.

Just prior to election day, Greeley was said to have been devastated by the death of his wife who died five days before the election. He himself died three weeks after the election. 

If Horace Greeley's name sounds familiar, that's no surprise. He urged Americans to go West and settle there. Though rightfully so or not, today he is credited with coining the phrase "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country."

Tom Correa

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Battle of Liberty Place 1874

The "Louisiana Outrages", as illustrated in Harper's Weekly, 1874

In the shadow of the Civil War, during the Reconstruction Era, the Battle of Liberty Place took place on September 14th, 1874. Make no mistake about it, it was an uprising, an attempted coup d'état of a state government. Yes, an armed insurrection all planned out by the Democrat Party wanting to overturn Republican control of the government, the Reconstruction government, there at the time.

A coup d'état is the violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. In this case the attempted insurrection pit the Democrat Party's Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction Era Louisiana state government in New Orleans which was the capital of Louisiana at the time.

How big was it? Well, it is said that 5,000 members of the White League targeted the New Orleans Metropolitan Police Department and Louisiana state militia which combined only numbered about 2,000 members.

So why did this take place? Well, it had a lot to do with the election of 1872 which was a disputed 1872 gubernatorial election. The dispute started after which Democrat John McEnery and Republican William Pitt Kellogg both claimed victory.

In that election, John McEnery, a Democrat, was supported by a coalition of Democrats and anti-Grant groups which included some Republicans. Among those Republicans not happy with President Grant was Louisiana Governor Henry C. Warmoth. Warmoth's opponents in the Republican Party remained loyal to President Grant, and supported the Republican Party nominee, William Pitt Kellogg. Warmoth didn't. Today, we would call Warmoth a "Republican In Name Only."

Kellogg had charged election fraud because of the violence and intimidation that took place at and near the polls, because Democrats tried to intimidate Black voters in an effort to suppress Black voting. But no, that didn't stop Warmoth from appointing a State Returning Board which administered elections. That politically appointed board declared Democrat McEnery the winner. But, another election board declared Kellogg the winner. In fact, both McEnery and Kellogg had inaugural parties and certified lists of appointed local officeholders.

Then, believe it or not, stating that he was attempting to "stealing" the election, the Louisiana state legislature voted and impeached Warmoth and removed him from office.  Lieutenant Governor P. B. S. Pinchback became Governor for the last 35 days of Warmoth's term.

The Democrat Party's paramilitary arm of the party known as the White League entered the city with a force of 5,000 to seat Democrat McEnery as governor. Immediately fighting broke out and the White League launched attacks against the 3,500 man police and state militia for control.

Some say it all started when self-proclaimed Lieutenant Governor D. B. Penn made a proclamation calling out the militia of the state to assemble "for the purpose of driving the usurpers from power".  But frankly, that was at 4pm.

Earlier at 3pm, armed men of the White League were already stationed at the intersection of all streets on the south side of Canal Street from the river to Clayborne street.

The self-proclaimed Lieutenant Governor D. B. Penn then appointed Frederick Nash Ogden of the White League as "Provisional General" of the "Louisiana State Militia". After that, Penn issued a statement to Blacks in Louisiana stating that their rights and property would not be harmed.

At 4pm, a body of New Orleans militia, known as "Metropolitans," consisting of the police and cavalry having a small artillery piece, arrived at Canal Street. They immediately ordered the armed citizens to disperse. Some say the New Orleans forces were commanded by former Confederate General James Longstreet. When General Longstreet tried to stop the fighting, he was pulled from his horse, shot by a spent bullet. Some say he was taken prisoner by the White League. General Longstreet and Governor-elect Kellogg ended up taking refuge with the Federal troops in the Custom House.

As for the Metropolitans, it's said that once the shooting started, they broke and the White League captured their cannon. The White League then captured City Hall, the armory, and the fire alarm telegraph. From there they built a barricade along Poydras Street from there to the canal.

During this time, a company of Federal troops protected the custom house, but were not involved in the initial conflict. This is all while the White League held the portion of the city above the canal. They massed at Jackson Square and the St. Louis Hotel. Their barricades were made with overturned street cars.

Who was the White League? Well if you've never heard of the White League, like the Ku Klux Klan, they were a paramilitary organization of the Democrat Party. Yes, they were fully sanctioned and supported by the Democrat Party. And like the KKK, the White League was made up largely of Confederate veterans.

The Democrat's White League used the excuse that the Republican government was corrupt and illegally in place after the war. And when they decided to take action, they held the statehouse, the armory, and downtown New Orleans for three days. They actually only retreated just before the arrival of Federal troops which were sent there by President Grant to restore the elected government. And surprisingly, no one was ever charged in the action.

The White League defeated the state militia, and occupied the state house and armory for three days. In the meanwhile, Kellogg wired for Federal troops to assist in restoring order. And within three days, President Ulysses S. Grant sent Federal troops there to do just that. The White League retreated from New Orleans before the federal troops arrived. Under Martial Law, the Federal government certified Kellogg as the governor and C. C. Antoine as lieutenant-governor.

It's true, by September 17th, Federal troops arrived and the situation reversed itself. The unit's commanding officer General William H. Emory met with Democrats and their paramilitary leaders of the White League. And surprisingly, no one was ever prosecuted. Even though during this conflict the White League inflicted at least 100 casualties, they were assured that prosecution would not take place even though lives were lost. All if they would stop their insurgency. Imagine that.

In exchange with blanket clemency, with not prosecuting those involved in the killings, General Emory demanded the restoration of the state government, the return of arms taken from the state armory, and the resumption of peace in New Orleans. The Democrat Party leaders agreed insisting that no show of force from Federal troops was necessary since it was just a protest.

But even though Democrats agreed to General Emory's demands, as a cautionary measure, President Grant ordered the 22nd U.S. Infantry to proceed to New Orleans under General Irvin McDowell. and the USS Colorado, the USS Kansas, and the USS Shawmut under the command of Admiral James Robert Madison Mullany be sent to New Orleans. President Grant also ordered the 13th Regiment under the command of General Philippe Régis de Trobriand to take a position in the city to protect the state government from another attempted coup.  

And believe it or not, a few months later on January 4th, 1875, Louisiana Governor Kellogg was forced to request the aid of General Trobriand to eject Democrats from the legislature. The eight democrat decided to proclaimed themselves legislators and decided that they had the right to be there even though they had not been certified as legitimately elected. Trobriand entered the state house with some men at the governor's request, and escorted the eight Democrats after each gave speeches of objection.

Those Democrats did not returned, instead, believe it or not, they actually set up an alternate state legislature which held their meeting at the Odd Fellows Hall in the city. Because of the tensions, General Trobriand and his 13th Regiment stayed in the city until January of 1877.

Because of President Grant's swift actions and taking the threat seriously enough to send both the U.S. Army and Navy warships to New Orleans, by September 21st, the surrender was complete and the temporary police force in the city was replaced by the regular forces.

Once the Democrat Party regained political control, they brought about many changes including Jim Crow laws, segregation, disenfranchising both Republicans and Blacks including attempts to stop them from voting and holding office. Of course continued violence and intimidation from the Democrat's paramilitary groups the White League and the Ku Klux Klan was a way of life at the time.

Then in 1891, the city of New Orleans actually erected a white marble obelisk on Canal Street to commemorate and celebrate the insurrection known as the Battle of Liberty Place. And while we've all heard the old adage, "history is written by the victors," well this is proof that's not always true. In fact, the losers were glorified.

It's true, the Battle of Liberty Place monument was inscribed with the Democratic Party's version of what took place. No, not those who were the victims or the victors which was ultimately the Federal government as they restored order and put a stop to the attempted overthrow of a state government.

There is no surprise that the Democrat Party would have the monument say what they believed it should, even if the truth is omitted altogether. Fact is, by the 1890s, the Democrat Party was in total control of the city and state politically. And yes, they would remain in control of that state for years to come.

The "Battle of Liberty Place" is also known as the "Battle of Canal Street." It is considered an attempted insurrection by Democrats. Yes, an attempted coup. It was a violent uprising all because an election didn't go their way. All because Democrats lost an election.

Sound familiar?  Imagine that. But aside from the obvious look at what happened back in 1874, we should recognize something that came out of this. The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era forced a great number of Americans to go West. This article points to one of those reasons. People were tired of the hate and wanted new lives. They found it out West.

Tom Correa

Monday, June 5, 2017

Harry Tracy -- The Pacific Northwest's Most Vicious Killer

His real name was Harry Severns, but he went by and is still known today as Harry Tracy.  To many, he was a lot worse than John Wesley Hardin. And yes, certainly worse than Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Some say he was Satan himself. Yes, the Devil in human form.

On July 3rd, 1902, The Seattle Daily Times wrote, "In all the criminal lore of the country there is no record equal to that of Harry Tracy for cold-blooded nerve, desperation, and thirst for crime. Jesse James, compared with Tracy, is a Sunday school teacher."

His date of birth is put on October 23rd, 1875. And while some like to call him an outlaw in the Old West, the "Last of the Hole in the Wall Gang," and talk about him as if he were just an ordinary Old West outlaw, they misrepresent the true evil that he was.

He is said to have run with Butch Cassidy, and by the time he'd reached adulthood, he was actively taking part in acts of robbery and theft. But as many who've read about him know that he was a killer who enjoyed killing.

His first known murder was done on March 1st, 1898, when Tracy and three accomplices engaged in a gunfight at Brown's Park, Colorado. In that gunfight, Posseman Valentine S. Hoy was killed. Hoy was a well-respected cattle rancher, and soon a posse was out eagerly trying to find the man who killed him.

Browns Park was originally known as Brown's Hole. It's an isolated mountain valley along the Green River in Moffat County, Colorado, and Daggett County, Utah. As early as the 1870s, the area had gotten the reputation of being a haven for cattle rustlers, horse thieves, and other outlaws, the same as Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming and Robbers Roost in Utah. During its heyday, it's said that the outlaws at the time actually had an ethic that allowed for most "outlaw deeds" except for murder. Frankly, I don't believe such myths. 

After the Brown's Park killing of Posseman, Hoy, Tracy, and his partner-in-crime David Merrill were captured in Routt County, Colorado. Then in June of 1898, both escaped from the Routt County Jail. Some say Tracy beat the sheriff on his way out even though he was in a hurry.

Harry Tracy married the sister of his crime partner David Merrill. Her name was Rose, and not much is known about her. It's believed they had no child together. While married, Tracy and Merrill committed numerous robberies in downtown Portland, including robbing saloons, banks, trolley cars, a drug store, and other various businesses. That took place from 1898 and into 1901. In most of those felonies, they were known to have bound and gagged their victims at gunpoint. Their two-year spree ended in 1901 when they were recaptured. 

Tracy went to trial and was convicted of the murder of Posseman V. S. Hoy and sent to the Oregon State Penitentiary. A little over a year later, on June 9th, 1902, with fellow convict brother-in-law David Merrill in tow, they escaped. This escape was different because, on his way out of the Oregon State Penitentiary, Tracy killed 6 men. The six were Corrections Officers Thurston Jones Sr., Bailey Tiffany, Frank Ferrell, and three civilians. 

Their escape made headlines in newspapers of the time. It's said that the size and scope of the manhunt was considered unprecedented for the times. In fact, it is considered the largest manhunt of the early 20th century. It was the most intense manhunt in the Pacific Northwest. Some called it "electrifying."

In the days following the escape, the two escaped cons headed north, stealing horses, food, and clothing along the way. Tracy and Merrill traveled over fifty miles to Portland. From there, the two men rowed by boat across the Columbia River into Vancouver, Washington. Vancouver Sheriff John Marsh was already alerted and had formed a posse of over 60 men to hunt for the escapees. They wanted to bring them in, and it didn't matter if it was dead or alive.

On June 16th, Deputy Bert Biesecker and Posseman Luther Davidson were positioned along the Salmon Creek about seven miles from the Washington state line when they spotted the two escapees just after dusk. After a standoff and trading gunfire, Tracy once again got away.

On June 28th, an argument broke out between Tracy and his brother-in-law David Merrill. Some say Tracy suggested a duel, that they shoot it out. Others say Tracy simply shot his brother-in-law in the back of the head and went on with his business. Merrill's dead body was found later.

About now, you're thinking, he sounds like a bad hombre but not as bad as some. So what makes me say he was the Devil incarnate? Well, that has to do with what he did in July of 1902. You see, unlike most prison escapees who want to get as far away from the law as possible, that wasn't the case for Harry Tracy. In fact, he did the opposite and actually set up an ambush just to kill more lawmen.

Yes, it's true, on July 3rd, 1902, he set up an ambush near Bothell, Washington. It was there that he surprised and killed City of Everett Police Detective Charles Raymond and wounded King County Sheriff  Deputy John Williams.

Detective Charles Raymond was one of six lawmen shot and killed by Tracy. Detective Raymond had served with the City of Everett Police Department for ten years and was survived by his wife and five children. It's said Deputy Williams suffered physically and mentally from the trauma of the incident. He is said to have committed suicide later as a result of what took place at that ambush.

After his ambush of the two lawmen, Harry Tracy fled the scene and invaded a house where he took the occupants as hostages. He is also known to have simply sat down to eat dinner while contemplating killing them all.

As Tracy was leaving the house, he encountered other lawmen and soon started shooting. In that shootout, Tracy killed Seattle Police Officer Enoch Breece and Posseman Neil Rowley of the King County Sheriff's Department.

On August 3rd, Tracy came upon a ranch located in Creston, owned by brothers Lou and Gene Eddy. He was there for a few days when Harry Tracy's reign of terror came to a halt on August 6th, 1902.

That was the day when lawmen had him cornered in a wheat field in Creston, Washington. He was shot in the leg during an ambush by a posse from Lincoln County. Knowing that Tracy was seriously wounded in the leg, Sheriff Gardner had the field that Tracy had crawled into surrounded.

Knowing that there was no way out and a hanging was waiting for him, Harry Tracy committed suicide by shooting himself with his .30-30 rifle to avoid capture. A $4,000 reward was paid to the wheat farmers.

It is said that souvenir seekers descended on him and tore clothes from his remains, ripped hair from his scalp, and someone even stole his shoes. Harry Tracy's body was returned to Salem, where it was buried in lime outside the prison walls. His burial spot is now unknown, as nobody knows for sure where his remains are.

Harry Tracy was tracked down by several posses, Sheriffs, and City Police, for 58 days. He killed without hesitation. He was 27 when he died and was responsible for the deaths of 7 lawmen who left behind 6 wives and 19 children. He is also known to have killed at least 5 civilians and his crime partner.

As for the rest of his story, well, some have tried to say he was brave and cunning, a master at eluding the law. For me, I see Harry Tracy as just another murderer who died a coward. All bluster and no sand, he was too afraid to face a judge and jury. He was too afraid to walk-up thirteen steps to dance on the end of a hangman's noose.

Tom Correa