THE KILLING OF CHARLIE STONE

Charlie Stone and two friends, John Sabastian and Turk Weatherstone, drifted into Frisco, Utah one hot afternoon after a long ride on horseback up from Silver Reef in Washington County. They were looking for work as cowboys, but so far they hadn’t found much.

Where they came from nobody knew. They had arrived in Ogden on a west-bound train. They stepped down to the platform outfitted in what they considered appropriate cowboy togs, but their choices were more comic than authentic. They wore canvass pants, boots and chaps, but the boots were Mexican style with pointed toes and angled heels – not the style most ranch hands wore. Their chaps, designed to protect their legs as they rode through the manzanita and scrub oak, were not the traditional thick cowhide to cover their legs, but cheap horsehide decorated with tin star ornaments. By the time the three had reached Frisco the chaps were badly scraped and torn. They had purchased three horses, saddles and bridles in Ogden.

They had also bought revolvers back east with holsters and gun belts. They were cheap guns with chrome handles and barrels – 25 caliber bullets filled the belt loops. Charlie wore his gun belt slung low on his hip. He had practiced his draw and thought he was fast enough. Most real cowhands wore their holster on their pants belts – if they had a holster.

The three had failed to purchase the wide-brimmed hats that most cowhands wore but retained their eastern derbies.

They were tired when they rode into Frisco. The ride had been hot and dry across the Escalante Desert. They stopped at the first saloon they came to – Frogie’s place on the south end of Main Street. After a few drinks all three were asleep at a corner table.

As the afternoon turned to dusk, the miners from the Horn Silver and the Carbonate drifted in. They met at their usual table near the end of the bar and joined each other in a libation. As usual a heated discussion about which of the mines was the best soon generated. Mike Reilly, a large Carbonate miner, defended his mine. Mike had a tendency to become dominant in his defense. Pop Clements, a much older and wiser miner, usually took on the role of mediator in such discussions. As the whiskey flowed the debate became louder and louder.

Charlie Stone was aroused by the noise. His mind was still a bit blurry from the drinks he had consumed, but he stood and walked to the bar, facing the confab of miners. “Bull!” He shouted.

Mike spun around. “You say somethin’, son?”

Charlie drew his pistol when Mike confronted him. “There’s not a mine in this district that can match Leadville.”

“Why, you ..” Mike moved forward, but Pop Clements was quicker and stepped in front of Mike facing him. He put his small hands on Mike shoulders to try and push him backwards.

In the blur before him, Charlie only saw the sudden movement and he fired his gun. Pop stiffened as the bullet struck his back and he fell.

The crowd of miners converged on Charlie. They pushed him into the street and as a mob backed him up the road. Charlie was sober now and he could see the gun barrels pointed in his direction. He tried to explain, but the crowd advanced.

There was a hail of gunfire and Charlie fell dead on the street.

Charlie King, editor of the “Southern Utah Times” came out of his office and asked an observer what had happened. “A slight execution” was the reply. King made a mental note to headline the event: “Frisco should change its name to Necessity, because it knows no law.”

 

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