Captured!

Enter now to win a copy of

Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.

 

James squirmed uncomfortably in the saddle and slowed his horse from a fast trot to a walk. The renegade’s attention was fixed on the countryside that unrolled before him. There were miles and miles of open range as far as he could see. The sky directly above was clear with fuzzy pinches of cotton-like clouds scattered here and there, but dark thunderheads were piling up a few miles out. He led his ride around the bones of a buffalo that had fallen some time prior to his passing through the area, and the horse balked and snorted. The mount was apprehensive about moving forward. James strained his eyes over the rugged trail, but failed to see anything that warranted the horse’s obstinate behavior. He poked the animal with his spurs, and the horse continued on.

Bat peered over the mound of earth he and the other posse members were positioned behind and watched the fugitive they’d been pursuing draw slowly nearer. “We’ll stop him out here,” Wyatt announced. “I don’t think he’ll make a fight. Most likely he’ll run for it.” “If he does… I’ll drop him,” Charlie promised. “Kelley wants Kenedy alive,” Bill reminded the men.

Charlie looked around for their horses and noted that the animals were scattered about the vicinity – too far away for the lawmen to reach without being seen. “Damn-it,” Bat spat under his breath realizing along with Wyatt and Bill the location of the mounts. “I’ll attend to the man,” Bat told his fellow riders after contemplating the distance a bullet would have to travel to hit James. “If he runs, shoot his horse,” Bat ordered Wyatt.

James rode on lost in thought. The closer he got to the acres of pastureland outlining the sod house, the more nervous his horse became. The animal raised his head and neighed. James surveyed the region and again saw nothing out of the ordinary. He kept going, but stopped every few yards to make sure the way was clear. Seventy-five yards away from the posse’s location, James brought his ride to a stop. He could hear only the cold wind blowing over the withered grass.

He scrutinized the prairie for a third time and noticed four rider less horses milling about. Anxiety swelled to fear and broke out on him in a cold, clammy sweat. A charged silence descended on the spot as the outlaw and the posse held their positions like graven images, waiting for someone to make a move. James’s face was bloodless and in one quick simultaneous motion, he removed his gun from its holster and swung his horse around.

Wyatt, Bat, Charlie and Bill jumped up and leveled their weapons at James. “Halt,” Bat shouted, cocking his weapon. James was defiant. He fired a shot at the same time he dug his spurs into his mount’s sides. The animal launched into a hard gallop. “Halt,” Wyatt warned the killer again. James refused. “Last chance, Kenedy,” Wyatt warned, “Halt!” James raised his whip to strike his ride and urge the horse to go faster, but a bullet fired from Bat’s .50 caliber rifle struck his left arm and he dropped the quirt. Thoroughly spooked by the violent exchange, the horse hurried to escape the scene. The lawmen let loose a volley of shots. Wyatt took careful aim and fired at James’s horse. Three bullets brought the animal down. James fell out of the saddle just as his mount received the fatal blow and the horse landed hard on top of him, crushing the arm that had just been shot. Horse and rider lay motionless on the ground.

 

Thunder Over the Prairie

I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Please fill out this form and I will get in touch with you if you are the winner.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

To learn more about the posse that tracked down

Spike Kenedy read Thunder Over the Prairie.

 

 

 

Waiting for a Killer

Enter now to win a copy of

Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.

 

 

A cold morning broke in rose and gold colors over the vast Cimarron grassland. James Kenedy tumbled out of his rocky bed tucked under a long, narrow mesa and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He hauled his weary frame to a depression in the earth, turned his back to the frigid, biting wind, and began relieving himself. His tired horse meandered behind him, alternating between gnawing on bits of brush and drinking from deep puddles made by the rain that had assaulted the region.

James finished his business and dragged himself to the saddle and bit he had removed from his mount the night before. The horse gave the outlaw a disapproving look as he approached him with the harness. Dried lather from profuse sweating beaded across the animal’s backside and his unshod hooves were tender and chipped.

The idea of riding on wasn’t anymore appealing to James than his horse, but it was necessary. The downpour from the previous evening had no doubt raised the level of the river further, but James was hopeful that the water had crested and would begin receding by late afternoon. If that happened, the ford would be passable and James and the cowboys he was sure his father had sent after him, could make it across.

No matter what trouble James had ever managed to get himself into, he knew there was sanctuary in Texas. His father had recently purchased Laureles Ranch; a one hundred thirty-one thousand acre spread 20 miles from Corpus Christi, and had hired a team of ranch hands to fence in the property. Mifflin Kenedy planned to build up his herds, raise a better quality of livestock, and isolate his rebellious son from persistent police or vengeful gunslingers.

For a brief moment in time Mifflin believed his spoiled boy had a future with the Texas Rangers. In November 1875, James joined a company whose main objective was to reduce the raids on cattle ranches by Mexican bandits. His knowledge of the wild territory made him a valuable asset to the troops, but his term of duty lasted only five months. In April 1876, he voluntarily left the Rangers earning a mere $59.72 for his time served.

Law and order was not in James’s nature. He thrived on misdeeds and violent confrontations with competing ranchers outside of the Texas Panhandle. He relished indulgencies of every kind and came and went at his sweet will. He could not conceive of a single circumstance where he would not ultimately be rescued from the consequences of his vicious actions.

 

Thunder Over the Prairie

I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Please fill out this form and I will get in touch with you if you are the winner.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

To learn more about the posse that tracked down Spike Kenedy read Thunder Over the Prairie.

 

 

 

This Day…

1862- Utah- the Holladay Overland Mail wagon train near Split Rock station is attacked by 30 Indians. Six of Nine people in the train are wounded in a four-hour battle. The Indians partially destroy two wagons and make off with nine mules.

Beyond the River

Enter now to win a copy of

Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.

 

 

Fog and a heavy morning mist danced across the wet scrub and brush grass that stretched toward the sun. The posse rode through the somewhat eerie scene without speaking. Their faces a study of relentless purpose, their every senses alive and straining. Their keen eyes searched for vegetation that had been trampled, twigs that had been broken, ground that been packed down, remnants of clothing, any sign that a desperate rider had passed through the area.

Wyatt Earp leaned slightly out of his saddle to study the terrain and the crude path they were following. His expression was resolute and competent. He sniffed at the wind that began to rise and coaxed his horse into a trot beside Charlie Bassett’s and Bill Tilghman’s roans. The men rode three abreast spurred on by an unspoken belief that they were headed in the right direction.

Bat Masterson lingered behind the others, glancing back over his shoulder at someone he felt was following them. Wyatt caught a glimpse of Bat bringing up the rear and pulled back on the reins of his mount, turned the animal around and rode towards the lawman. “Bat,” Wyatt said, scanning the surroundings cautiously. Bat smiled at Wyatt, but behind the smile was a look of uneasiness. “Remember when we were hunting buffalo?” Bat asked. Wyatt nodded. “We’d find a spot up wind of them and pick them off one by one,” Bat continued. “They never even stampeded when members of their herd began dropping. Not so long as they didn’t get a whiff of the hunter. All we had to do was make sure we stayed out of smelling range and drop each animal with one shot.” Wyatt peered warily into the distance they’d traveled. The significance of Bat’s memory resonating in his head. Bat walked his horse past Wyatt’s animal. “All we had to do was stay out of smelling range,” he repeated as he rode by. Wyatt gave another guarded look over the countryside then fell in after Bat.

In the two years Wyatt and Bat had served together as lawmen in Ford County, they’d had numerous run-ins with rowdy Texas cowhands. Both men knew any of those vengeful drovers and their crew could be just out of sight waiting to gun them down.

There were most assuredly rogue Indian braves, either Cheyenne or Comanche, keeping a watchful eye on the posse, but the policemen didn’t believe they were a threat. The bulk of the Plains Indians had been confined to reservations and generally would not launch an attack unless provoked. If there were anyone lurking beyond the tall grasses and iodine bushes, anyone following the lawmen using the crevices in the earth for cover, it was presumed to be the cowpunchers from the Kenedy family ranch. “They’re on their way,” Bat said, referring to James Kenedy’s fellow drovers.

After eight years in law enforcement, Wyatt Earp knew the risks and sacrifices that came with keeping the peace. Many of his friends and acquaintances insisted he was born for the job. One of the men who hunted buffalo with Wyatt recalled that he had “absolute confidence in himself that gave him an edge over the run of men.” Bat Masterson regarded him as someone who was “absolutely destitute of physical fear.”

Thunder Over the Prairie

I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Please fill out this form and I will get in touch with you if you are the winner.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

To learn more about the posse that tracked down Spike Kenedy read Thunder Over the Prairie.

 

 

 

This Day…

1867- Fort Larned Kansas- General Hancock tells Cheyenne Indians to abide by the treaty of 1865 and stay on their lands south of the Arkansas River, or risk war.

Caught In A Storm

Enter now to win a copy of

Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.

 

A pile of coal black thunder clouds unleashed a torrent of cold rain on the posse’s crude camp. The canvas lean-to tied to boulders jutting out of the bank of a stream, sagged with the weight of the water. Lightening pulsated, reflecting off the faces of the four lawmen waiting out the storm. They were tired, but resolute. A turmoil of wind blew rain into their poor excuse for shelter and splashed off their hats and slickers. “If any of you know where that ark is tied up, you might want to make your way for it now,” Bat said jokingly, his voiced raised over the weather. His fellow riders chuckled politely as he removed a soggy cigar from the breast pocket of his coat. He played with the wet stogie for a minute trying to convince himself that it could be lit. All at once any attempt to fire it up seemed foolish, and he threw the cigar down on the ground beside him. “Damn it all,” he said folding his arms across his chest.

None of the men were surprised by the water-logged conditions. The hot, dry Kansas summers could blister the paint off any building and the wet, cold winters that came behind it could scour it down to raw timbers. Prairie fires ignited by lightening scorched everything in its path and flash floods carried it all away. Members of the intrepid posse had experienced all the harsh seasons the territory offered. The forces of nature had shaped them and made them more resilient. They drifted in and out of a fitful sleep, hoping each time they opened their eyes the relentless rain would have stopped, and they could be on their way.

“The Lord sure must have pulled the cork,” Bat said noticing everyone was struggling to drop off. “I rode in rain like this for six days,” Bill said after giving Bat’s comment a decent moment of thought. “I was driving a herd of cattle for Mart Childers through Cheyenne country.” The conversation was a welcomed distraction from their attempts at slumber. Charlie, Wyatt, & Bat focused their attention on Bill. “The prairie sod was a quagmire,” he continued.

“The horses hooves sank ankle-deep in the mud. Heading north in the sloshing rain was slow going…and then we spotted Kicking Bird and his braves watching us through the rain.”

Charlie coolly scanned their immediate surroundings remembering that the Plains Indians could have their eyes fixed on them at the moment as well. Bill told the men about his riding partner, Hurricane Martin. He and Hurricane stood alone against fifty warring Cheyenne. The braves attempted to flank the cowboys on either side by dividing them into two groups. Bill and Hurricane urged their horses into full gallops to try and out run them. The rain soaked terrain made fast travel close to impossible not only for Bill and his friend, but for the Indians as well.

 

Thunder Over the Prairie

I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Please fill out this form and I will get in touch with you if you are the winner.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

To learn more about the death of Dora Hand and the posse that tracked her killer read Thunder Over the Prairie.

 

 

 

This Day…

1865- Fort Dodge, Kansas- the fort was established to protect the Santa Fe Trail from Indians. The post was designed to protect the U.S. mail and emigrant wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail, and to serve as a base of operations against hostile Indians. It was located on the left bank of the Arkansas River on the “Long Route” of the Santa Fe Trail a few miles southeast of the present Dodge City. The site lay near the intersection of the “wet” and “dry” routes on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1867 Fort Dodge was relocated and rebuilt in stone buildings. In 1868 Comanches and Kiowas attacked Fort Dodge killing four soldiers and wounding seventeen. Fort Dodge was abandoned October 2, 1882.

Hell Rides With Them

Enter to win a copy of

Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.

 

 

A crowd of Texas trail hands watched the prairie hurry past them as they pressed their rides into a full gallop. A whistle from a train racing in the opposite direction issued a long blast that floated over miles of grassy fields. Dr. Henry Hoyt, part-time cowboy and physician for the King Ranch, was out in front of the riders, an unlit cigar was clamped tightly between his jaws. Like the others on horseback beside him, he was dressed in rough clothing of the cattle trail. His tall hat was pushed back from his sunburned face. When he and his cohorts left Dodge City, they had in mind to intercept the posse pursuing James Kenedy and give the wealthy cattleman a chance to get out of the territory safely. Shortly after they started on their way, it was decided they should return to the ranch in southern Texas and inform James’s father about the incident involving his son.

The King Ranch, located between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, sprawled across six Texas counties. Hundreds of hands worked the more than twelve hundred and eighty mile spread. Dr. Hoyt suspected when Mifflin Kenedy learned about the trouble James was in, that he would dispatch a legion of dutiful men, indignant over the harsh treatment of a fellow Texan. Hundreds of discontented cowboys who believed their occasional, illegal actions deserved a free pass because of the hundreds of dollars they spent in Dodge, would go to great lengths to champion one another. Dr. Hoyt knew this and knew that Captain Kenedy was aware of it as well. Mifflin’s organized efforts on behalf of his son would be more effective than 25 or 30 rogue hands acting independently. It was with that thought in mind that Dr. Hoyt and friends headed off in the direction of the Chisholm Trail towards home.

A cold wind hissed through the cracks of the walls and doors of a sprawling, dilapidated mud and wood store near a place called Mulberry Crossing, 27 miles south of Dodge City. With the exception of an inebriated trail hand, the dusty stretch in front of the business was deserted and still. A weathered sign over the entrance read, A.H. Dugan, owner. Dugan, a heavy man who had sagging jowls and thinning black hair combed across his sweaty scalp, ran the stage stop which was a combination mercantile and saloon. He was wiping a mop rag over a rugged wood table when Bat Masterson and Bill Tilghman entered. Three riders with the look of seasoned cattlemen and the sound of Texas in their voices, were seated in the back of the room and looked up from their poker game at the police officers. The tension in the air seemed almost visible.

The cowboys continued on with their game as Bat and Bill meandered over to the bar. “It’s two bits for a bucket of water for your horses,” Dugan said, blowing the dust off a can of peaches and putting them back on the shelf. “We’re looking for someone who might have come by here,” Bat stated. “It’s still two bits,” Dugan replied unimpressed. The lawmen politely explained who they were looking for and described James Kenedy. Dugan told them no one that looked like Kenedy had been through. “And I would know,” he added. “I know every teamster, trail hand, and stage driver that passes by.”

Bat turned his attention to the men playing cards. The cowboys were too engrossed with their hands to care. Dugan told the officers that the ranchers were part of a nearby spread that had come in to load up on provisions and decided to stay for a game and a bottle. Satisfied with the response, Bat and Bill turned to leave. “What did this fellow do?” Dugan asked before the men reached the door. Bill told him that he’d shot a woman in Dodge. “She was a singer,” he elaborated. “Her name was Dora Hand.”

Dugan’s expression fell. He removed a bottle of cheap liquor from under the counter and poured himself a drink. “Damn shame,” he said sadly as he lifted the glass to his lips. “My sister dragged me to the Union church some months back,” Dugan confessed. “Miss Hand sang a solo. Prettiest thing I ever did hear.” The gruff businessman hummed a bit of the hymn he was recalling before asking Bill if he had known Dora. “Yes,” Bill kindly answered, “I knew her.” Before exiting the building, Bat warned Dugan and his patrons not to say anything about their passing through. “When you find the murderer, I hope you kill him,” Dugan snapped. “It may come to that,” Bat promised.

Wyatt and Charlie, who had been surveying the area around the primitive store, hopped aboard their horses at the same time Bat and Bill mounted up. Charlie let them know they hadn’t had any luck finding Kenedy’s tracks. “I think we need to get a wire to the Sheriff of Cheyenne,” Bat said adjusting himself in the saddle. “We’ve been through this, Bat,” Charlie announced. “Kenedy’s talk about Wyoming is a blind,” Bill added looking over the landscape. “He followed the Arkansas River way west and is going to cut across the Texas Trail and rejoin the Jones and Plummer Trail to get to the shallowest spot on the Cimmaron.” Bat resisted arguing with them further and led the riders back onto the wide-open plains. “Kenedy’s caught in his own loop,” Charlie interjected. “That’s about all there is of him. He doesn’t have none of his old Daddy, that’s why he’ll run home to him.”

Bill brought up the rear of the posse, his mind on the pursuit, the lateness of the day, and Dora Hand. “Half the population (of Dodge) were gamblers or prostitutes…,” Bill wrote to his wife Zoe, in 1877. “The prostitutes were painted up like a present day respectable woman, and looked mighty pretty in their satins and laces.” Dora was among those “painted ladies” he found appealing drifting across the stage in her stylish fineries. There were some Dodge City residents who suggested she was a soiled dove, but female entertainers west of Independence, Missouri were often viewed as harlots by the general population.

 

Thunder Over the Prairie

I'm looking forward to hearing from you! Please fill out this form and I will get in touch with you if you are the winner.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

To learn more about the death of Dora Hand and the posse that tracked her killer read Thunder Over the Prairie.