Saturday, February 18, 2017
Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Dead eye Samantha - 37: Forever A Hillbilly: Dead eye Samantha - 37 : US Captain Jeff Rowe, the commander of federal forces in Little Rock still had, in his es...
Slim pulled up his team at a fork in the road. One trail went east, the other trail turned west. Toward Arkansas. He was well clear of Taladega County now. He had a major decision to make. And, he needed to do some thinking. Dolly was getting tired of riding in this big wagon anyway, so while she cooked up a little food, Slim would decide.
Slim had sent the other Dudley families west, with their eventual goal to be near Little Rock. His big wagon carried nearly all the Clan’s money. He did give each family travel money, with the understanding that all the Clan’s money would be divided up between them when they reached, and gathered up again, near Little Rock. Slim was well known for keeping his promises, so nobody doubted they would eventually get their share, if they could just get to Little Rock.
Slim sat on a log, with a big chew of Red Bull, while he smoked a long Cuban cigar. (Oh well, maybe I exaggerated a bit. Maybe it was just a long cigar.) And, thought about the situation.
Going east meant Slim and Dolly would get all that money, and a life of leisure somewhere in the far eastern part of the country. Maybe as far as Georgia, or North Carolina, places he had heard of but never visited. He and Dolly would never have to work a day in their lives again. The easy life.
Going west meant keeping his promise. Eventually dividing all that money up. Up to this point in his life, keeping his promise had always meant, keeping the the Clan in line, or Intimidating his enemies.
This was different. Now, it meant, starting the Clan’s business all over again, in Arkansas. Ending the lives of a lot of people in Arkansas, like they had in Alabama.
By the time Dolly had a good lunch of squirrel soup and cold biscuits ready, Slim had made his decision. West it would be. Not really because Slim was particularly honorable. Honor was not even in the equation. It was mostly because Slim just loved this business of ruining lives and robbing people.
Actually, sharing all that money turned out to be the most honorable decision Slim had ever made. And, the worst.
Friday, February 17, 2017
US Captain Jeff Rowe, the commander of federal forces in Little Rock still had, in his estimation, far too few troops on hand to handle civil disturbances. But things were seemingly settling down, so his superiors saw little need to be in a rush to fill his constant pleas for more troops.
All this was happening soon after Samantha returned to Little Rock, so there was little for Captain Jeff to do. For the time being.
So, Samantha had her man back once more. For now.
After their wonderful reunion, Samantha discussed her other problem, The Dudley’s, with Jeff. There was nothing he could do. No Dudley’s had been spotted in Arkansas yet. He recommended Samantha follow LaFayette’s advice, and he kept a wary eye out for Samantha. And he worried a lot.
She wasted no time in getting a short haircut and again dying it black. As bad as she hated to, since Dead Eye Sam’s was still doing a booming business, the name of her restaurant must be changed. Fine Dining at the Rock came to be. For the time being, Samantha was forced to go underground. She spent her business hours at the Restaurant in her office, for the most part. The business suffered, since Sam was such a popular public figure. But it could not be helped.
Sam knew that she was most likely the only person in Little Rock who could recognize Slim or other key members of the Dudley Clan. More and more, she began to realize it was up to her, and her alone, to identify Clan members and contact Constable Gillum, should they show up in Little Rock.
But, as Samantha thought further about this, she realized that living in a large city was not the way the Clan operated. At least, not in Alabama. They most likely would look for isolated land, maybe up in the hills, to establish their compound. They would only come into a city for supplies. Their potential victims would live far away. At least two day’s ride.
A third possibility: the Clan had enriched themselves during the war. Possibly, they didn’t need or wish to operate as they had in Alabama. Maybe they just wished to take it easy, living off their ill-gotten gains. Who knows? Nobody but the Clan itself, that’s who. Maybe Samantha was over-thinking this.
In the end, she decided to follow LaFayette’s suggestion. Just lay low, see them before they see her, and handle problems when they arise. Go on with her life, otherwise. Jeff was worried sick about her, but he had his hands full with his own problems. She left word with her employees that if anybody showed up in the restaurant asking about her, or acting strange, tell them nothing. Notify her immediately.
Sam decided to take one more defensive step. Her big rifle, which Sam loved so much, was pretty slow. Put in one shell at a time. She noticed, at the gun store that day, the latest thing in big rifles. It was a repeater, which was developed during the last days of the war. It was expensive, but she could see that it might someday make all the difference for her. She was torn; sick about even the thought about having to use this gun against another person, but her life was on the line.
She bought it, along with lots of ammunition, and spent time each day shooting that gun at the range. Nobody from the Clan were likely to be there. They were already experts. Sam continued to shoot each day. Being an expert was not enough for Sam. She planned to be the best in the world, and was constantly improving.
Soon, she was as accurate with it as with her old, single shot, .50 caliber Buffalo gun. Might come in handy someday. As it turned out, it came in handy pretty quickly. You see, Sam was smart. She never considered herself to be smart, she was far too humble for that. But most everybody else around her knew that well.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Samantha had a lot of thinking to do on the way to Little Rock the next day. Not only was she worried about Jeff being right in the middle of the political situation that was about to boil over in Little Rock, but suddenly, she needed to go back to short black hair again, maybe even change the name of her restaurant. She just generally needed to go underground to keep Slim from finding her, right here in Little Rock. Everything she had worked so hard for was slipping away. She had worked so hard to get her own restaurant. Her skill with the big gun, and her unique red hair, had helped her do that. Those very things that had helped her so much, now threatened to destroy her, now that Slim and the other Dudley’s may well be right here. What she wanted most right now was to get back to Jeff, so he could hold her tightly in his strong arms, and she could have a good, long, cry.
The Stage Coach Station for Little Rock was right there on the lower floor of Anthony House, so she was delivered right to her door. She immediately noticed things were different. Things didn’t seem normal on the street. Something had gone wrong. She could sense trouble, and she could find no sign of Jeff. She stowed her bags in her apartment, and walked over to Dead-eye Sam’s, only a few blocks away. There, she was filled in about the strange things going on in Little Rock.
Authors Note: Information here about the Brooks-Baxter war in Little Rock, near the end of the Reconstruction, is true, except for a couple of fictional characters I added. This was the largest conflict during that period, and as a result, the credibility of the Republican Party in Arkansas was destroyed. The Republicans are only now recovering from that war. They never totally dominated Arkansas politics again until our most recent election.
Powell Clayton came to Arkansas with the Union army, and decided to stay. He was, by definition, a carpetbagger. He was also, by definition, a Republican. He won the Governorship. When he became Governor, Arkansas was welcomed back into the Union with a fifteen-gun salute. This was very fitting, since this state in turmoil heard much sporadic gunfire for several more years.
Clayton then decided to try to increase his fortunes by becoming a Senator.
Clayton arranged for his friend, OA Hadley, to finish out his term as Governor. Clayton remained in control of the Negro Militia, and planned to control Arkansas politics. Arkansas, more than any other state, made good use of the Negro Militia.
The state Republican Party split wide open during Hadley’s term, and he was too inept to heal the split. This was not completely Hadley’s fault, but was part of a Union-wide split in the Republican Party.
When the primaries rolled around, the powers-that-be chose Elisha Baxter as the favored Republican candidate. He was a Southerner, but he had endeared himself to the Republicans by being indicted for treason by the Confederacy. And, he seemed to be untainted by problems with the Powell administration. So he was, by definition, a Scalawag. But he was an honest, good man, though not a powerful speaker.
Joseph Brooks came to Arkansas from the North as Chaplin of a Black regiment of US soldiers. He was a black-bearded, heavy-set, sullen looking man. He showed reckless fury against his opponents. He had a singular ability to make campaign denunciations. He was the liberal candidate of the splinter group in the Republican primary.
The Democrats fielded no candidate. There was no need to; the North would never have allowed a Democrat to govern in the South during the Reconstruction. So, they sat back and watched the show, giving the Republicans ample rope to hang themselves, which they proceeded to do in splendid fashion.
Brooks began an all-out war against the Clayton group, declaring he would fill the County jail full of Clayton followers until arms and legs were hanging out the doors and windows.
The Militia, controlled by Clayton, kept many people from voting who most likely would have voted for Brooks, and many other irregularities were reported. The ballot boxes from four counties were thrown out.
So, Brooks’ supporters set up their own polling places. The official total was 41,681 to 38,415 in favor of Baxter. But by the Brook’s count, Brooks won by some 1500 votes. Two winners from two sets of ballot boxes.
Baxter took control of the State House. Brooks attempted to get an injunction, but failed. He appealed to the Legislature, but was turned down. He then filed suit in the Pulaski County Court, which would be a long, drawn out thing. Most people assumed this would go nowhere.
They were wrong. This was the largest miscalculation ever in Arkansas politics. While the suit was moving slowly through the legal system, there was little to do but wait, except argue back and forth, which they did, again in splendid fashion, as politicians tend to do; they did it very well.