Shorty was telling folks that there were some graves of prospectors killed in ambushes up in Echo Canyon. Everybody was buying him drinks and he thought he was lying, but he wasn’t. Bob Black was up there killing away, He’d make a deal with a greenhorn to show them where gold would be found, lead them up the canyon, then rob and murder them. Shorty had no idea really.
Bob had done so much killing and rampaging for awhile now, and everybody had that feeling things would take care of themselves and Bob would be just another example of an Indian gone renegade and murderous. Of course, Bob may have had some pretty good reasons for his anger with all things considered.
I think it was the Vanderbuilt mine, south of Ivanpah, that Bob first discovered. He became partners with a couple white men and they quickly ran Bob off once the paperwork was filed. Indians couldn’t be partners in mines, and that was that. Bob was cheated.
From what I remember, Bob found the Confidence mine in southern Death Valley. Bob Montgomery promised to pay him, but in script to trade for goods in the company store. But the store manager refused time after time to honor the script. Bob killed him first.
So after Bob killed the storekeeper he high-tailed it over the mountains to somewhere near Ash Meadows or what is now Shoshone. There, I heard he caught his wife in bed with his brother. Bob killed them both, promptly and brutally and made his way off into the night.
A couple days later the bodies of two prospectors were found camped in the mesquite near a spring about a mile away from the house. These two had been dead about the same length of time as the now deceased lovers. The bludgeoning here was as bad as any other that could have occurred in the area though, so there was no evidence linking the crimes together.
After his five first killings in 24 hours, Bob, then began services as a guide. Hopeful prospectors would give him $50 to find gold and Bob would happily lead them off into the wilderness. Of course, Bob, would be the only one coming back.
It didn’t take long for Bob to find it necessary to hide out somewhere. His sister, Fanny, took him in.
Fanny was Bob’s family, and she would take him in no matter how many people he had killed, even if two of the killings were her brother and sister-in-law.
It was a good hideout. There was good cover as well as the home being remote and relatively inaccessible. The main advantage was Jack, Fanny’s husband. Jack was known to go with either side of the law. The local authorities would have asked Jack to look for Bob, but, Jack would have refused to go on a manhunt for Bob. Nobody would dare to ask to look on his ranch, Jack wasn’t the kind of man that anyone would pry into the business of.
It must have been love at first sight between Fanny and Jack. They first laid eyes on each other up in Rhyolite, Fanny come flying out of the door of a shack followed her former husband hitting her and kicking her as she rolled in the dirt.
Jack, riding into town for supplies, saw this, got off his buckboard and commenced to beat this gentleman; and beat him, and beat him, and beat him. A beating that bad in Indian tradition meant Jack and Fanny were now married. That was how Jack and Fanny met. They were together ever since.
Jack, if that’s who he really was, came to the country as an old man already. He must have been well into his fifties when he just sort of showed up. Folks remembered him, and they remembered that one day Jack crossed the river into no man’s land. The strip–a god-forsaken land-locked barren and dry badlands that a few damned men went into and damn fewer came out of. Jack learned the languages of the Paiute and Shoshone, he slept with their women when offered to him. Jack and the Indians learned to trust each other.
Nobody knew of Jack’s origin for a fact. There was speculation of course, and there definitely was a story there. This was evidenced by a cropped ear hidden under his long hair. Hacking away a piece of ear, some felt, was a better punishment than hanging, and was done when somebody got killed that wasn’t all that important; or for stealing horses. Hanging was downright punitive while clipping the top of an ear could be considered rehabilitative.
Jack had seventeen notches on his gun handle–or maybe just eleven. I’m certain Jack did what he had to do regardless of the number of men he had killed. On his deathbed he told folks he had killed in self defense just about every time.
to be continued …