Murder is Suicide

Amargosa Valley - Amargosa Desert
Amargosa Valley

Ted Hosung  was leaning against the counter of the Van Bresson Hotel in Daggett, one night, talking to the clerk, when Jack Duane, team superintendent of the borax company walked over to him.

” What you doing these days, Ted?”  he asked.
” Nothing,”  replied Hosung. ” Quit my job yesterday.”
” Looking for work?”
” Sure, what you got?”
” A 12 mule team starts for the Amargosa Valley in the morning, and I want a driver,”  Duane told him. ” Seventy a month and grub. Board and room in town.”
” Took!”  Ted put out his hand and  shook. ” but I haven’t got a swamper.”
” I’ll take care of that.  See you over at the corrals at five in the morning, ready to go.”

20 mule team
A 20 mule team — Much like a 12 mule team but with more mules.

Next morning a wagon and trailer, pulled by 12 mules, set out for the Amargosa Valley to get a load of borax.  Ted Hosung  was holding the lines  and his  swamper,  and old fellow named Bill, was sitting alongside him, rolling a cigarette. How they ever got into an argument, nobody knows, but when they got back to Daggett, they were not even on speaking terms. The hall was a hot pole and hard on the best man’s nerves, so it is not hard to understand how a pair could fall out with each other on the trip.  But these two must of had more than a friendly argument, because they quit their jobs, glaring at each other all the time.

Ted Hosung  went to the Van Bresson Hotel,  got himself a bottle of whiskey and proceeded to get roaring drunk. The guests listen to his shouting and cussing patiently; he would have done the same for any of them. Towards morning, Ted quieted down, and folks went to bed.

Stone Hotel – Daggett, CA.

Next day, about noon, old man Van Bresson went up to Ted’s room to take him an eye-opener. He found a gory mass that had once been a mule driver. Ted’s head had been bashed in with an iron wagon hub and his body beaten to a pulp by the heavy iron implement. Van Bresson would not have known him except for his clothes. Talk traveled fast in Daggett those days. By nightfall, swamper Bill was dangling at the end of a rope from a telegraph  cross arm.

A stranger writing into town stopped at the site of the hanged swamper,  and his eyes bulged out like door knobs.

” What did he do?”  he wanted to know.
”  Murder is suicide in this man’s town,”  he was told.

from :
Pioneer tales of San Bernardino County
WPA Writers Program – 1940