Home -> Miscellaneous Books -> Reminiscences of a Pioneer -> Chapter 20 - Passing of the Mogans

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Chapter XX.

The Passing of the Mogans.

A few years previous to the occurrences before given, two young men arrived in the county and gave their names as Tom and Frank Page, being brothers. I gave one of them, Frank, employment on my cattle ranch, but soon became satisfied that he was not the right kind of a man, and discharged him. Both remained in the section, accepting such employment as they could obtain. One day a man came along and recognized the Page brothers as men he had known in Nevada under a different name. Hearing of this, they admitted that the name first given was an alias, and that their true names were Mike and Frank Mogan. They were a quarrelsome pair and posed as bad men, and were not long in involving themselves in trouble and were shunned by the better class of citizens. In a case against the younger of the two, Frank Mogan, a young lawyer, C. W. Barnes, was employed as opposite counsel. This seemed to embitter both men against Barnes and some threats were made against him. No attention was paid to the matter by Barnes, but he kept a watch on them when in their company.

Finally in the fall after the last lynching Mike came to town and in order to pick a quarrel with Mr. Barnes, began to abuse his younger brother, a boy of about 17 years. The boy went to his brother and told him of Mogan's conduct. He was told that if he associated with such men as Mogan he must suffer the consequences. The boy then went home, and securing an old cap and ball revolver, came back to the street. Mogan began on him again, and after suffering his abuse for some time, drew the revolver and shot him through the chest. Mogan ran a short distance and drawing his revolver, started back. Seeing that young Barnes was ready for him, he turned off, walked a short distance, sank down and died the next day. The affair created some excitement. The boy was arrested but subsequently came clear.

At the time of the homicide I was out of town and knew nothing of the shooting until late that night. The other Mogan brother, however, affected to believe that I had given the revolver to the boy and had told him to use it. I explained to him the absurdity of the charge, proving to him that I was out of town. This appeared to make no difference, he still holding a grudge against me for discharging him. He made many threats against my life, all of which were borne to me. He declared he would "kill me if he had to lay behind a sage brush and shoot me in the back." Still I paid no apparent attention to the threats, being satisfied he would never at any rate face me.

One evening I was called to the store of Hahne & Fried to attend to some business. It was just after dark and while I was there I was notified by a friend that a daughter of Judge Nichols had overheard Mogan tell one of his friends that he had come to town to kill me and would not leave until he had accomplished his purpose. This was going a little too far, and I determined to settle the matter one way, or the other at our first meeting. The test came sooner than I anticipated. On seeing me he attempted to draw his gun but was too slow, and fell with more than one bullet: through his body.

I sent for Sheriff Geo. Churchill and surrendered myself as a prisoner. He told me to go home and if he wanted me he would send me word. The committing magistrate, at my request, placed me under bonds to appear before the Grand Jury. The announcement caused an uproar among the throng with which the court-room was packed, and I was compelled to go among them and explain that it was done at my especial request. I wanted the matter to come up in the Grand jury room and so told the people. The Oregonian published distorted and untruthful statements regarding the affair, and attorneys from every part of the State volunteered their services to defend me free of charge. I wrote to them, of course thanking them, but told them I had no use for attorneys, as the matter would never go beyond the Grand jury, and there it ended, the District Attorney, Mr. McBride, proving my strongest witness.

I have gone somewhat into detail in this matter through no spirit of bravado, for no one could deplore the necessity of my action more than I. But to show to those who have never experienced frontier life the dangers, difficulties and hardships through which one must pass. It may be said that I should have had Mogan arrested for threatening my life. To such I will say that under all the circumstances such a course would only have still more embittered the situation and made the end inevitable. Another thing, among frontiersmen the man who goes to law for protection of that kind, makes of himself a pusillanimous object for every vagabond to spit upon and kick. I was not "built: that way."

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