My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
They got so strong that the “big ranchers” went to Texas and hired a lot of “bad men” to come and weed out those nesters as they called them, and they had a real war. The further it went, the worse it got. This boy I roomed with, Bob Moore, at least that is what he went by, told me that those “bad men” would in some cases build a fort on two wagons with logs crosswise fixed on those wagons. They would fire at the house and wait for them to come out. Then they would shoot them. Of course, it was a two-sided fight, as those nesters were quite capable of taking care of themselves, so there was killing on both sides. I never heard just how it was settled.
Well, Bob never went to bed without putting his six shooter under his pillow. He was quite grey headed, and as he was only about twenty-five years old, I asked him the cause of his grey hair, and here is his story:
He and his sister lived on a ranch in New Mexico. One day he went to town, and on his way home he stopped at a spring about six miles away to take a drink. Upon getting up from the spring, he saw a Mexican between him and his horse. The Mexican started at him with a knife. Bob left his horse and started running home, the Mexican after him. He said he knew this Mexican was dead for sometime, but how long I didn’t find out. He said he knew this Mexican and that he had a scar on his face. Well, the Mexican chased him home. Sometimes it seemed the Mexican was gaining on him, and sometimes he seemed to be gaining. Anyway, when he got home, he fell in the house unconscious and was sick for six weeks. When he came out of it, he was grey headed.
That is Bob’s story. Draw your own conclusion. I believe Bob knew how this Mexican came to die and possibly his conscience bothered him.
Well, several years after this, I came into Shelby, Montana looking for horses to buy. A hotel man there was going to take me out to look at some of his horses. He took me into his saloon before we started. The bar tender asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted beer. He said, “Isn’t your name Joe Wegley?” I said, “Yes, and this is Bob.” He said, “Yes.” We were in a hurry so I said, “We will see you tonight, Bob.” He replied, “All right.”
I came back in the evening and went into the saloon to see Bob. Another man was there, and I said, “Where is Bob?” He said, “Bob who?” I said, “Bob Moore, the man in here this afternoon.” He said, “You mean Tom Jones?” I saw the point. He had two names at least. There was a dance in town that night, and I went there to see Bob, but Bob didn’t come.
Well, we spent the winter together and had a nice time. He was a very quiet boy with no bad habits, seemingly.
One morning in the hotel where we were eating breakfast, a smart traveling man finished his breakfast and asked the waitress if she had a finger bowl, which was something not used there. She knew her business and brought him one. He asked her to hold it till he washed his hands. She did. When he was through, a cowboy across the table had a six gun pointed towards him and said, “Drink that!” The smart boy did and seemed to like it. The cowboy said, “I’ll teach you to be smart with ladies.”
One evening, two boys got drunk—Billie Allen and Billie Ball – and proceeded to take the town.
In Glendive there were no police so the sheriff acted as a peace officer. The sheriff was out of town and the deputy couldn’t handle the boys, so he deputized several cowboys, but no one would do it. I told him he was paid for that job. The boys hadn’t harmed anything, and I thought if they got any fun out of it, it was all right with me as both boys were friends of mine.