Tom Daly and I worked together for several years and I liked him very
One time we went from the DHS ranch at Rocky Ridge close to the main
range of the Rocky Mountains to the ranch the outfit owned at Malta,
which was in the eastern part of Montana. We had two strings of horses,
which was about twenty head. We had our beds packed on two horses on
that trip. One day Tom’s pack slipped and got down on the horse’s side.
We roped him and fixed the pack, but while we were doing so we turned
our saddle horses loose with the bridle reins on the ground (which is
the way Montana horses were broke to stand). Mosquitoes were very bad
that day and was worrying the horses, and when we turned the horse loose
that we had been fixing the pack, we turned around to get on our saddle
horses—they both run off and into the loose bunch, which got scared and
away they all went, leaving us both afoot and I think it was at least 20
miles to any ranch and the day very hot. I never saw Tom excited before
as he was very easy-going, but when I looked at him and asked him, “What
are we going to do now?” his lips trembled and he said, “Damned if I
Well, a lucky thing I had my rope that we had caught the pack horse
with. So I picked it up and we started after the horses on foot. They
run about a mile and stopped and went to feeding—but when we caught up
with them, one of our saddle horses would drag his bridle reins around
some of the horses’ legs and scare them—and away they would go again.
Finally we got the bunch in between us and one of the pack horses had
his head down feeding—I made a run at him and when he put his head up to
run I throwed my rope and caught him. We unpacked him and I got on him
bareback, with a rope around his nose, and rounded up the bunch and
brought them back to where Tom was. He had made a loop in the pack rope
and caught his saddle horse. And after a good many trials of roping, we
caught my horse.
When we got our horse packed again and on our way, we were sure a couple
of happy boys. Tom told me I sure made a lucky throw when I caught that
In my younger days as a cowboy I had a hobby on saddles. I always wanted
a light saddle with as little leather on it as possible. I used to use a
Clarence Nelson saddle, made in Visalia, California, which was about the
smallest and lightest stock saddle made in those days. Then after I had
got it, I would trim and cut off all the leather I possibly could get
along without. Tom Daly always rode a double rig saddle and wanted it
quite heavy. He was always making fun of my saddle and said I might as
well ride bareback.
One time a big prairie fire broke out and the best thing we used to have
to fight those fires was a “green” or fresh cowhide. We could tie a
couple of ropes to it and with our saddle horses drag it along the fire
line. If the blaze wasn’t too big, it would smother the fire out
completely. This fire broke out close to our roundup, and we had a big
jaw steer in our roundup and he wasn’t any value as a beef steer. So the
boss told the boys to catch him and kill and skin him and use his hide
for a drag to put the fire out.
Everybody got their ropes down in a hurry. Tom roped the steer by the
head and I caught him by one hind leg. He weighed about 1,500 pounds and
Tom was riding a big strong horse, and when he saw I had the steer by
the hind leg he never looked back but was spurring his horse and pulling
on the steer to try to throw him down so we could cut his throat, as
nobody had a gun. My horse wasn’t too well broke to roping, but I got my
rope fast to the saddle horn and Tom was pulling so fast and so hard, it
must of hurt my horse and he went to bucking. I couldn’t get my rope
loose from the saddle horn and I hollered at Tom—but he kept right on
going and pulled me—saddle and all—off the horse. The boys joshed me
plenty about my little saddle. I asked Tom why he didn’t stop when I
hollered. He said he didn’t know I was riding bareback or he would.
Another time Tom and I were gathering saddle horses for the spring
roundup. When we left our camp in the morning we went different
directions and I got back to camp quite a while before Tom did. I had
loosened my cinch and tied my horse to a post and went in the cabin to
cook dinner. I heard someone holler and looked out and saw Tom coming
with a bunch of horses. Those horses were sometimes very hard to corral.
So I run out and got on my horse but forgot to tighten my cinch. Those
horses came by me pretty fast and I run my horse in ahead of them to try
to turn them. They dodged by me and when I turned my horse to head them
off my saddle turned and, of course, I hit the ground and my horse got
away and went with the wild bunch.
I got Tom’s horse and followed them. After a little distance he quit the
bunch and took off across the country by himself. I followed him about
ten miles and finally run him into an old roundup corral and caught him.
The saddle was under his belly and there wasn’t a thing left of it—only
the saddle tree and the cinch—he had kicked it all to pieces.
When I led him back to camp I felt like crying and called Tom out to
show it to him. In place of sympathizing with me, he smiled and said he
didn’t see any difference in it than it was before.
I had to ride 40 miles to town to order another saddle. I tied a rope on
each side of the saddle tree to use for stirrups and rode that distance.
Tom went with me—I think he had the time of his life that day laughing
at my rig.
We worked together on the roundup that year and slept together. We
worked pretty late that fall and the nights got very cold. We were
holding quite a bunch of cattle and, of course, that meant we had to
guard the cattle at night. Each man guarded three hours and then woke up
another cowboy. One night was very cold. When I came off guard my feet
felt like chunks of ice and I had noticed Tom’s underwear was wore out
where he had been sitting in the saddle. I pulled off my boots and went
out in the frost—then slipped into bed with Tom. He was asleep and
didn’t hear me. I got into bed easy and found that bare place on his
body and planted both feet right on it. He hollered and went clear out
of the tent. He said afterwards he thought somebody had burned him with
a hot iron. I think I got even with him for making fun of my saddle!
Most of the big Montana cow outfits moved their herds north of the
Missouri River between 1888 and 1894. The point of crossing on the
Missouri was an old steamboat landing called Rocky Point where Jim
Norris had a saloon.
When I crossed the river there in 1889, there was no one living there
but the little old man. He had an old hand ferry boat that he took
people across the river with. The night I stayed with him, he told me he
had some fine gin and gave me a drink, which I found out was straight
alcohol and the one drink nearly strangled me, but old Uncle Jim, as he
was called, drank it like water and seemed to do quite well on it. Every
little while he would go to the bank of the river and holler at the top
of his voice, “Do you want to bring your wagon over?” There would not be
anybody in sight, but he seemed to get a great kick out of make-believe.
I worked with Kid Curry that summer on the roundup. He worked for the
Diamond outfit and I worked for the DHS. Both outfits worked the range
together. Kid was a fine fellow at that time and a good cowboy—that was
before he became an outlaw. I have read where some writers told what a
cold-blooded killer he was and where he had held up banks and so forth,
and I know from some of the dates given that he was blamed for a great
many things he did not do.
I am not trying to make a hero out of the Kid or say that I approve of
some things he done, but the public at large does not know all the
circumstances leading up to where he first got into trouble.
Charlie Russell knew Kid Curry and has given me his analysis of his
character (and he seldom made a mistake in the reading of human nature).
Charlie figured any normal man might have went the route the Kid did.
I am going to set down some of the facts regarding the Kid’s becoming an
outlaw. His name was Harvey Curry. He had an older brother, Henry Curry.
They had a little ranch in the Badlands of the Missouri River and ran a
few cattle and horses. Both the brothers were fine boys at that time and
would give anyone the shirt off their back if they were in need.
Now there was a little mining town sprung up in the Little Rockies not
far from the Curry Ranch. The outstanding character in that town was a
man by the name of Pike Landusky, a prospector who had found some fairly
rich prospects, and as there was some excitement about the find quite a
lot of people went to the mining camp and Pike being about the first one
on the ground, the town was named Landusky.
The town was about fifty miles from the railroad and farther from the
Sheriff’s office, so Pike was appointed a Deputy Sheriff. Now Pike was
not a bad sort of a fellow as a rule, but had a reputation as somewhat
of a gun-fighter and was rather proud of it—he didn’t have much
education and very little intelligence—but was proud of his authority as
a Deputy Sheriff.
The Kid was in town one night with some friends, having a few drinks and
celebrating in the ways of the early West, when Pike decided Harvey had
violated some law and arrested him, and not having any jail in the camp,
handcuffed him for safekeeping. During the time he was handcuffed, the
Kid said Pike abused him shamefully and cast reflections even on his
mother, who was dead and whom Pike had never known or seen, which burned
very deeply into the Kid. During the abuse the Kid told Pike, “I won’t
always be handcuffed, Pike, and when I get out of this trouble, you are
going to get a licking you will remember.” Pike said, “I will be ready.”
Some time after this incident Pike and the Kid met in the saloon in
Landusky and had a fist fight. Of course the Kid started it and Pike got
a bad licking. When the fight started both men had guns on. Neither one
knew the other had a gun. Pike’s gun was in a holster under his arm.
Kid’s gun was fastened to his pants. In the fight, the Kid’s gun fell on
the floor. A friend of the Kid’s picked it up and when the fight was
over handed it to him. Both Pike’s eyes were pretty well closed, but he
raised up on his knees and was trying to get a bead on the Kid—so he
shot Pike and killed him.
Of course this was a very serious offense as he had killed an officer of
the law, and the sentiment of the people was divided—and the Kid did not
know whether to give himself up or not. Anyway, he and a few of his
friends went to the ranch and talked the matter over and decided it
would be best for the Kid to cache himself in the Badlands for a while.
And his friends would bring him food—and, of course, the longer he
stayed a fugitive, the less chance he had of getting acquitted if he did
give himself up. So after dodging around for a while and having lost his
older brother, Hank, as he was known, who had died and was always the
leader and adviser, the Kid and a couple of his friends held up the
Great Northern Railroad train which had a shipment of currency—they got
away with it all right and got the money, but it was new money and had
not been officially signed, so of course it was not much good to them.
However, they did pass some of it. The Kid had two half brothers who
come to Montana from Missouri. Their names was Lannie and Johnny Logan,
and they tried to pass some of the money without much success. Lannie
was caught in Kansas City and killed with $10,000 of it on his person.
Johnny was killed in the Little Rocky country in a gun fight with
The Kid was caught in Tennessee after several years and sent to the
Knoxville pen—I believe for life. However, he didn’t stay there very
long. The papers said he roped a guard and tied him up and got away. My
personal opinion is he got help in some other way. I was told by a very
reliable party that he went to the Argentine country. Anyway he has
never been heard of since. If he is alive now, he would be about 70
Fred Reid was one of the old time deer and elk hunters in the early days
of Montana. He told me the first bear he ever killed when he was a young
boy, that he was so scared he didn’t go near it after he shot it until
he saw some flies flying around its mouth. He said, he knew then it was
Fred hunted for the market and said he often followed elk all day on
foot until they got tired, then he would make the kill.
After his hunting days were over, Fred went to work as a cowboy and took
charge of quite a big outfit. The man wanted a new range and sent Fred
out to locate one. Fred found what he wanted and moved the outfit to the
Judith Basin. Then he located his headquarters down in the Badlands of
the Missouri River. It was surely a tough country, to get in and out
of—had to pack in everything on pack horses.
I asked Fred one time why he picked out such an ungodly country. He said
he wanted to be alone where nobody would bother him and he sure found
the ideal place for that.
During the winter of 1891 he hired me to go there and ride what he said
was some half-broke horses—about twenty head. He wanted them for the
Spring roundup so he could use them to work cattle. Those horses were
like Fred—plenty tough. I don’t know how he got so many mean ones in one
I never saw so many mean horses—they would buck, strike, kick, bite, or
run away. Shortly after I went to work for Fred, very cold weather set
in and I sure had a tough time with those horses. There was snow and ice
everywhere and it was hard enough for a gentle horse to stand up. These
broncs didn’t care whether they stood up or not when they made up their
minds to buck or run away. The camp was on a ridge with very rough
gulches and canyons on both sides. The ridge averaged about a mile wide
and a good many miles long, and when I would get one of them lined out
on this ridge I would sure speed him up and didn’t give him any time to
think of his tricks. I had to dress pretty heavy in that cold weather
and a lot of clothes on don’t go very good with riding broncs. But the
worst trouble of all was, I would get two or three of them going fairly
good and the weather would turn so cold I couldn’t ride at all,
sometimes for a week and those horses would get bronco again and I would
have all my work to do over again. I rode most of them with draw reins
and I could always double or pile them up in a snow bank before they
would get to a cut bank or a gulch, but one day I was out riding one
without draw reins and the horse stampeded heading for a cut bank. If
one went over it he would land in the Missouri River. I couldn’t stop
him and that bank looked to be a million feet straight up and down, so
when I saw I couldn’t stop him I quit him and that’s a hard thing to do
when a horse is running away. I just let all holts go and fell off but
he didn’t go over the bank as soon as I quit him. He turned and went to
camp which was about four miles that I had to walk.
One morning one of those horses bucked pretty hard. Fred was there and
saw it. He said, “I saw a lot of daylight between you and that saddle.
Looked to me like you was about gone.” I told him, “Oh no, that’s the
way I ride, kind of loose.” I don’t know if he believed it or not but
the fact was I was just about thrown off.
The headquarters consisted of a dugout for a home, no floor in it and a
couple of bunks made out of cottonwood poles, and a corral. We melted
snow to make coffee and cook with as the water hole was frozen and about
all we had to eat was sour dough bread and black coffee. Of course, Fred
being a great hunter, we had plenty of deer meat. Soon after I came
there the sugar was all gone so we didn’t have any sweetening the rest
of the winter. As soon as the weather broke so I could get out I quit
Fred and left that part of the country.
Some time afterwards I was back in that locality and went to his camp.
There was nobody home. It looked like nobody had been there for some
time. I looked around and found some grub. It was a very warm day in the
summer so I picketed my horse and laid down on Fred’s bed in the dugout
to take a rest before getting something to eat. While I was lying there
I saw a snake’s head appear out of a hole in the dugout. It looked as
big as my hand and when he got his whole body out he was a monster. He
was about four feet from me and saw me. He stuck his tongue out at me a
few times and crawled across the dugout to where there was a grub box
and got about half of his body in it and stopped. I raised up on my
elbow to see what he was doing. He had his head in the sugar sack. I was
twenty-five miles from where I could get anything to eat. I saddled up
and beat it out of there. That was a bull snake (Gopher Snake) but he
sure didn’t look good to me and he took all of my appetite, eating out
of the grub box. I saw Fred some time afterwards and told him of my
visit and of my leaving without eating. He seemed very much surprised
that that should bother me any. He said the big fellow had been with him
a long time and that they were great friends. He also said the big
fellow didn’t allow no rats or mice to come near the camp.
I had quite an experience with another couple of old timers—two brothers
that had a ranch and quite a large bunch of cattle. They had this ranch
for some forty years, did their own cooking and washed their clothes, in
fact, lived in real pioneer style. Their names were Frank and George. I
was working for an outfit several miles from where those old timers
lived. They sent my boss word that we had some cattle strayed on to
their range and he sent me over there to help them gather the cattle and
bring them home, and while working with them I took a very bad cold. One
night when we got home I was quite sick and went into the room where
they slept and laid down on one of the bunks. Later George and Frank
came in and started getting supper. Now, they had a kind of an old box
fastened on the wall of the cabin. They called it their medicine chest
and in there was every kind of a bottle and little pill boxes imaginable
and they were so old and dusty that the description and contents of each
bottle was unreadable. While I was lying down I heard George say to
Frank, “Con is pretty sick,” Frank said, “Why don’t you give him some
bromo quinine?” George said, “Where is it?” “Why, it’s in that thar
medicine box.” So George went looking for it. Pretty soon I heard him
say, “I think this is it.” Frank said, “Yes, I think it is.” George
started in where I was, but Frank stopped him and said, “Wait a minute,
let me look at that again.” There was a little pause and I heard Frank
say, “Hell no, this is coyote poison, don’t give him that.” “All right,”
George said, “I’ll go back to the medicine box and look again.” Soon he
came into the room with several different kinds of packages but I told
him I didn’t think I needed anything now. In fact, I felt much better.
He was very much disappointed that I wouldn’t try some of the medicine.
But, oh boy, he couldn’t have gotten any of that stuff down me with a
ten foot pole.