February 21, 2018:
1915 Tales From Old Timers #8 – Horse Thieves – As in all western states, horse stealing was a crime punishable by death. Since it was a profitable business, many people took “chances”. Some fell by the wayside while others came through without a scratch, and went on to become prosperous and well respected citizens.
Two individuals, Ravenwood and Bates were part of a band of reckless outlaws who invaded eastern Montana and western North Dakota. In 1885 the two men arrived in the settlement with several head of horses and went to work for J.L. Colton. All was well until a party of 16 men and 32 horses arrived from the west and camped just below Jim Johnson’s farm. Word circulated that they were trading so Ravenwood and the blacksmith, McDonald, went to the camp to make a trade. When they saw the brand on his horse he was ordered to throw up his hands and he was made prisoner. The group was a Vigilante Committee and then went after Bates. ….In the meantime, Bates heard of the fate of his partner and barricaded himself into an old shack, preparing to resist arrest. After a fierce gun battle, Bates was captured and made prisoner and the camp moved south. Bates was a large man and had the reputation of wearing the largest boots of any man in the settlement. A few months later a pair of size 12 boots was found in Snake Creek. The assumption was made that Bates and Ravenwood met the fate of all horse thieves who were caught with the goods.
Mr. A. McDonald settled in Minot in 1884 and was appointed Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Coleman in 1887. His duty was to transport prisoners to Burlington and lodge them in the county jail. They were transported in an open wagon and a pair of horses. Only the worst characters were handled in this manner. Of course they did have an armed escort also.
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