The William Fairweather band of miners were on their way from Bannock to Yellowstone when they stumbled upon a band of Crow near present day Ennis. They fled into the Alder Gulch area where on May 26, 1863 they discovered placer gold before returning to Bannock. Shortly thereafter towns such as Nevada City and Virginia City were born. Over 30 million dollars in gold was taken out of the surrounding area.

Gamblers and road agents became plentiful, to relieve miners of their hard earned dust. Town Vigilant Committees were the only known form of law in this rugged Montana country. Vigilante Justice became almost as big as the gold rush.

Jack Slade, the former Overland Stage division superintendant and commonly referred to as the 1st Gunfighter, was hung in Virginia City on March 10, 1864 for “disturbing the peace” while on a drunken spree. His body was placed in a paupers field in Salt Lake City, Utah when his widow ran out of money trying to return his body home to Illinois.

Boone Helm, who’s “manner…was unbalanced” and self admittedly ate part of a man during the Idaho winter of 1859 and then again in 1863, was caught with some of the Henry Plummer gang of road agents and hung February 15, 1864 in an unfinished building in downtown Virginia City, Montana. Helm’ grave lies on a hill overlooking the town as a reminder of the turbulent gold rush days.

Check back often because I have more stories to tell and will be posting here regularly.

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