Yeager’s List

The story so far:
Led by James Williams, a group of 24 or more men rode out from Nevada City on December 23, 1863, to track down Aleck Carter, whom George Ives had accused from the scaffold of being Nicholas Tbalt’s murderer. Although they did not find Carter (see January 27, 2017 issue of this newsletter), they returned with proof that an organized gang was responsible for about 100 murders in the region.
This proof is known as “Yeager’s List.”

It has been controversial almost from the start.

Yeager’s List*
Perhaps with his death immediately upon him, Erastus (”Red”) Yeager wanted to square himself with other men, and with God, before he died. We’ll never know for sure.
In any event, he seems to have made a full and complete confession. His list not only names the gang members, but defines their roles in the organization.

    I have added the crimes they were convicted for, as far as I have found them up to now, and the dates and places of their hangings.
  • Henry Plummer, Chief. Attempted armed robberies of Samuel T. Hauser and Nathaniel P. Langford, November 14, 1863, and of young Henry Tilden; murdered Jack Cleveland, ordered Dillingham murdered. Hanged at Bannack, January 10, 1864.
  • Bill Bunton, second in command, co-owner of Rattlesnake Ranch, stool pigeon. Deer Lodge Valley, January 19, 1864.
  • Frank Parish, roadster** and horse-thief, co-owner of Rattlesnake Ranch. Hanged with four others at Virginia City, January 14, 1864.
  • George Brown, secretary. Hanged at Laurin’s with Erastus “Red” Yeager./li>
  • Hayes Lyons, roadster. Helped murder D. H. Dillingham, June 30, 1863. Hanged with four others at Virginia City, January 14, 1864.
  • Sam Bunton, roadster. Left the country. His fate is not known — to me, at least.
  • Cyrus Skinner, roadster, fence, spy. Murderer of Bannack Indian named Old Snag, uncle of Robert Dempsey’s wife. Hanged at Hell Gate (Missoula) January 25, 1864.
  • George Ives, roadster. Murderer of Nicholas Tbalt. Armed robbery of Samuel T. Hauser and Nathaniel P. Langford, November 14, 1863; recognized during robbery of Leroy Southmayde. Hanged at Nevada City, December 21, 1863.
  • Steven Marshland, roadster. Attempted robbery of Milt Moody’s wagon train, early December 1863. Hanged at Big Hole Ranch, January 16, 1864.
  • Dutch John Wagner, roadster. Attempted robbery of Milt Moody’s wagon train, early December 1863. Hanged January 11, 1864.
  • Aleck Carter, roadster. Accused of Nicholas Tbalt’s murder by George Ives. Accessory before and after Nicholas Tbalt’s murder. Hanged at Hell Gate (Missoula) January 25, 1864.
  • Whiskey Bill Graves, roadster. Recognized during armed robbery of Leroy Southmayde. Hanged at Fort Owens, January 26, 1864.
  • George Shears, roadster and horse-thief. Hanged at Frenchtown, January 24, 1864.
  • Johnny Cooper, roadster. A “lieutenant of the gang” (Dimsdale). Wanted for murderer and escaping arrest. Hanged at Hell Gate (Missoula) January 25, 1864.
  • Buck Stinson, roadster. Helped murder D. H. Dillingham, June 30, 1863. Attempted armed robbery of Samuel T. Hauser and Nathaniel P. Langford, November 14, 1863. Hanged at Bannack January 10, 1864.
  • Ned Ray, council-room keeper at Bannack City. Attempted armed robbery of Samuel T. Hauser and Nathaniel P. Langford, November 14, 1863. Hanged at Bannack, January 10, 1864.
  • Mexican Frank, roadster.
  • Bob Zachary, roadster. Refused to participate in Magruder murder, but did not warn Magruder. Recognized during attempted robbery of Leroy Southmayde. Hanged at Hell Gate (Missoula) January 25, 1864.
  • Boone Helm, roadster. Hanged with four others at Virginia City, January 14, 1864.
  • Club-Foot George Lane, roadster. Spy, marked stagecoaches for targeting. His ride to Bannack to get Henry Plummer also implicated him as one of the gang. Hanged with four others at Virginia City, January 14, 1864.
  • Bill Hunter, roadster and telegraph man. Hanged at Gallatin Valley, February 3, 1864.
  • George Lowry, roadster. Tried, convicted of murder of Lloyd Magruder in Idaho, on evidence of Billy Page. Hanged March 4, 1864, in Lewiston.
  • Billy Page, roadster (turned state’s evidence in the Magruder murder). Cowered in his blankets while Magruder and his men during the murders.
  • “Doc” Howard, roadster. Tried, convicted of murder of Lloyd Magruder in Idaho, on evidence of Billy Page. Hanged March 4, 1864, in Lewiston.
  • Jem Romaine, roadster. Tried, convicted of murder of Lloyd Magruder in Idaho, on evidence of Billy Page. Hanged March 4, 1864, in Lewiston.
  • Billy Terwiliger, roadster.
  • Gad Moore, roadster. Banished winter 1863. Fled the country again.

Next time, March 15, 2017. Yeager’s List, part II. Why it remains controversial.

Notes:
* Montana Post, November 25, 1865, page 4. Thomas Josiah Dimsdale’s The Vigilantes of Montana was first published as a serial in the weekly Montana Post from August 26, 1865, through March 24, 1866. Its publication in pamphlet form was announced on October 6, 1866, two weeks after Dimsdale’s death at age 35 on September 22, 1866, from tuberculosis. Its publication as a book was announced on December 8, 1866, by D. W. Tilton & Co. The price per copy was $2.00 in dust or $2.25 in greenbacks. The Vigilantes of Montana is the first book to be published in Montana.
** “Roadster”: a man who held up travelers on the road, a road agent, or outlaw.

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