Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Jeff was not happy when Sam arrived back at Little Rock and reported about the events of the past few days. But he didn’t have much time to dwell on it, because Jeff got the word, two hours later. The Pulaski County Court announced the verdict -
Brooks is the winner of the Gubernatorial Election, and the rightful Governor of Arkansas.
Fifteen months had passed since the election. Armed with this decision, along with many of his followers, Brooks entered the State House and ordered Baxter out. He was refused. Supporters of Brooks then removed him by force. On the way out, he stopped, and slowly said, “You will hear from me – soon.”
Baxter and his followers moved into Anthony House, a popular hangout for politicians, and only a gunshot away from the State House.
Legally, Baxter had authority over the Negro Militia. But they were under the control of Clayton.
Brooks and Baxter both were busy wiring the President, but he failed to lend his support to either side. It was beginning to play out like olden times, when two Popes excommunicated each other.
Brooks, at the State House, had three hundred guards, who were mostly Blacks and partially armed. He was from the North, but was unable to get guns through northern Governors. Instead, he wrote out an Arkansas purchase order for $50,000, getting two thousand rifles, and thirteen thousand rounds of ammunition. He bought boxes of pistols from St. Louis, plus three railroad cars full of provisions for a long siege.
US Captain Jeff Rowe refused to supply guns to either side. Federal troops were still few in number, and would not be a major force in settling this thing down. Again, he requested more troops. Hundreds of armed men were arriving in Little Rock from all over Arkansas, mostly in support of Baxter. Baxter forces cleaned out three gun merchants, and ordered more guns from Texas.
A cannon, which had been dug out of the river sand, was cleaned up, dubbed the Lady Baxter, and was pointed toward the enemy from Anthony house.
Baxter flatly refused to take orders from Clayton. Realizing Baxter was a man who intended to make his own decisions as Governor, Clayton changed sides, bringing the Negro Militia under his control over to Brooks.
Original Brooksites, mostly from hard feelings toward Clayton, but also realizing Baxter was an honest, good man, swung over to join the ever-widening circle around Anthony House. Now, the original forces were exactly reversed.
The most colorful character of the war, a swashbuckler named Hercules King Cannon White, of Morgan’s Raiders fame, was always spoiling for a fight. He notified Baxter he was bringing in one thousand fighters to reinstate him. He couldn’t swing all that, but he did show up aboard the Mary Boyd with three hundred field hands, mostly Blacks, who marched through town, singing what became known as the Baxter Song all the way to Anthony House.
Another boatload of troops, also mostly field hands, were brought in from Pine Bluff for Baxter aboard the Kitty Hegler. But the enterprising ship owner, with visions of becoming rich hauling troops, had his ship stripped of whisky and most everything else to the tune of one thousand dollars on the way.
Little Rock was indeed now a powder keg. In 1873, there were forty-seven Saloons in Little Rock, compared to sixteen churches. The population was about fourteen thousand. Bands played for both sides, vendors hawked their wares, and the saloons were doing a booming business.
Monday, February 27, 2017
Some of the men were running for the hills now, gun or no gun. Lafayette and Ross let them go, as long as they were no danger to them. LaFayette hollered, “Run fer th’ hills, without yore gun, and we won’t shoot ya. We got fifty men surrounding you. You got a day to clear out, an don’t stop till you hit th’ Arkansas state line. Then we’ll be back.” The remaining men took him up on his offer. As soon as all was clear, as best they could tell, LaFayette and Ross grabbed Slim by his good arm, and were half carrying, half dragging him toward the horses, still hidden back in the bushes. Sam saw Mama Dolly run out to Slim, falling as she wrapped her large arms around Slim’s leg, crying and screaming. LaFayette pulled her loose, and they continued on with Slim. Mama Dudley stiffened suddenly, holding her chest, and was rolling about.
“Stop pullin’ on ma dang shoulder!,” Slim hollered. “I can walk!”
Sam knew her duty now was to stand guard, in case any of the Dudley’s returned, but their screams were receding in the distance. Sam could not help herself. Crying, she ran to Mama Dolly. She knelt, holding her in her arms as she cried. She knew Mama Dolly had a bad heart condition….
Speaking in a whisper, Mama Dolly said, “What have you done to us, Sam?”
Then she drew her last breath in Samantha’s arms.
Mama Dolly had done a lot of bad things, but she had been nice to Sam. Bad as she was, she was the nearest thing to a mother Sam had. With tears in her eyes, she Lay Mama Dolly gently down, and did her duty. Sam gathered up the buffalo guns lying around. It took two trips to the horses to load them all. Then she stampeded the Dudley horses, sent them high-tailing it toward Atkins. Sam went back to Mama Dolly, crying still.
LaFayette said, “Sam, if she’s dead, we gotta leave her! These woods are full of dangerous men, and when they realize it’s just us three, they may come back. We gotta go now!”
Once on the horses, they all headed, at as fast a pace as Slim could stand, in the direction of Atkins. Once there, the town doctor sewed Slim up. He had lost a lot of blood. LaFayette would have to hire extra guards at the jail, until Slim could ride. He could not risk having the remaining Clan men coming in and breaking Slim out of jail. Once recovered, Slim faced a long ride back to Taladega County, and Taladega justice. Taladega wanted Slim so badly they agreed to send two Marshals to bring him back. The Dudley clan was no more. An inspection of the Clan site two days later revealed heavy wagon tracks going in all directions. Ever which way, as Ross reported. But this time, they had left in panic. But the Clan did bury Mama Dolly before they left. Not because they particularly loved her, but because if Slim ever came back, and found her unburied, he would chase them down. One at a time.
Sam put up a marker she had brought, and insisted they say a few words over her grave.
So, I guess it would be fair to say, quite correctly,
Sam ran the Dudley Clan plumb out of Alabama and Arkansas, and into total oblivion – Forever.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
It was a long hard ride for Samantha. She was torn. They were going to destroy this violent, evil, Dudley Clan. These were the people who most likely destroyed her sweet family. Though she never witnessed it, common sense told her they were all dead. The Dudley’s never leave any survivors to tell the tale, she knew that now. Yet, the Dudley’s had become her family when she was four years old. Mama Dolly would be there, who had been the only mother she could recall. What was she about to help do to the only family Samantha could remember? Tears became her constant companions as she rode.
On the other hand, how many innocent lives would they save by their actions today? This is a good thing; It should be cut and dried for Samantha. But somehow, it was not. Sam reconciled herself; think of her sweet, dead family each time she pulled the trigger today. Hopefully, she could remain strong, and do what she had to do.
Half an hour before good daylight, they were in their places. Sam checked over both loaded and ready repeater rifles. She laid out all the ammunition she had within easy reach. She placed a log to brace her rifles. There was no wind stirring in the cool early morning air. She took a deep breath and measured, as accurately as possible, her shooting distance. She was ready.
Once it was light enough to shoot well, Sam put a ball through the metal shovel leaning by the doorway of slim’s house. Sorta, ringing the bell to open up the party. He rushed out, his gun ready. Sam bounced a .50 caliber ball off the barrel of his buffalo gun, knocking it out of his hand. He dropped it, then quickly picked it up and stepped back behind the unfinished wall. Others were stirring now, diving for their guns, some still half asleep. As soon as a man brought his gun to bear, Sam put a ball through his hat or in the stock of his rifle. Women and children were running for the hills. Everybody was screaming. Slim stepped out of the back of his house, saw LaFayette, and drew a dead bead on him. Ross had no choice. He put a ball through Slim’s shoulder. Slim dropped, rolling on the ground, and was carrying on something awful, cursing loudly.
Sam, LaFayette, and Ross were pouring a heavy stream of lead toward the cabins now, to make it seem like the cabins were surrounded by a large posse. Ross and LaFayette wounded two men who were brave enough to try to return fire.
Things settled down, somewhat. But there were still more men, and guns, hidden inside the walls of those unfinished cabins. Every time a man dared raise up to shoot, Sam zinged a ball by his head. Or through his hat. The Dudley’s were shocked by the accuracy of the incoming fire. Whoever was out front was shooting from at least one hundred yards away. Nobody they knew could shoot like that, except maybe Sam, and she had been gone from the Clan for a year or better. To peek over their log wall meant one would get a face full of splinters. One man was heard to holler, “Whoever that feller out front is, he’s jest playin’ with us! He can kill us whenever he pleases! Nobody can shoot like that! We gotta get outta here before he stops playin!”
Friday, February 24, 2017
The plan worked perfectly. Sam stayed hidden in the bushes, while Ross approached. As luck would have it, Slim himself walked out to talk to Ross.
“Look like you folks gotta lot of work goin’ on here. I could sure use a job.”
Slim was cautious. “Well, right now, we’re jest settin’ up. Ya might check back later, couple of weeks. Might have a place fer ya.’”
“I’ll do that. Shore am obliged.”
Two days later, a plan was in place. LaFayette explained carefully.
“These folks at Atkins don’t know me well yet. They would argue that they hired me to police the city of Atkins. So, a large posse is out of the question. I really have no authority up in those hills. But if we could hit them at daylight, make them think we do have a large posse, maybe we can handle this ourselves. Only you and I, Samantha, realize the danger if we let them get established. No telling how many men they will have in a month. We have to hit them now.”
“Ross, we’ll both carry two pistols, an our repeater rifles. Sam will have two repeaters, locked an loaded.”
“We’ll move in before daylight. They have no reason to think anyone up here knows them yet, so I doubt they will have guards out, but they might. I’ll be on the left, Ross on th’ right. Close enough to shoot well. Sam will be out front, 100 yards out, but good shootin’ range for her. Sam only shoots to scare. A ball through a hat, or bouncing off their rifle barrel, has a way of takin’ the fight right out of a man. Only Sam has the ability to do that.”
“Ross, our job will be to get Slim, capture if possible, which is unlikely. Hit him if we have to. Sam will kick th’ party off at daylight. Hopefully, most will still be asleep. Kick up a big fuss with that repeater, Sam, close enough to scare um up good. We watch for Slim. Once he’s out of th’ picture, th’ others will likely head back in th’ hills, with us shootin’ from three sides. Pour in a constant stream of lead. They won’t know but what we have fifty men surrounding em’. Watch out fer th’ kids and women, don’t shoot close ta’ them. But remember, everybody big enough can handle a buffalo gun. Then, we high-tail it back ta’ th’ hosses, an get back ta Atkins fast. We’ll have an extra horse, in case we capture Slim. I’ll leave um a note, tellin’ um ta’ git out of Arkansas fast, cause we’ll be back, and nobody will be spared. If they decide to stay and fight, I’ll have to round up a posse, or however much of one that I can, and try to clean um out. Not sure I can get much of one. Anyway, that’s th’ plan. Now let’s ride.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Once, Samantha got a bit of a shock. She saw a really large woman on the streets, a couple of blocks down. Before she could get a better look, the woman was lost in the crowds. But she had looked a lot like Mama Dolly! Samantha watched that area closely the next week, but it never happened again. It didn’t make much sense, Mama Dolly up here alone and all. Maybe Samantha was just overthinking this again.
After weeks of watching the Homestead claims, she found a good prospect. Two sections of land, up in the hills near Atkins, filed one week ago.
She talked to Jeff.
“Samantha, I think you’re spending too much time worrying about this. And you know I can’t be sending troops off on what probably would be a wild goose chase. That court decision could come at any time, and I don’t have a single man to spare, anyway.”
“I know you’re in a tight, Jeff. But this claim is set up just like the Clan did it in Alabama. Everything fits. And two whole section of land? Now who else would want two whole sections of land, in those rough hills? That land is not totally free, you know. Somebody put a lot of money into this. And it will be under a fake name. Slim wouldn’t risk filing under his own name. I understand your situation, Jeff. I’ll telegraph LaFayette. He mentioned he knows the Governor, who might send in the Militia. I know he was probably talking about Governor Hadley, who’s now out of office. But maybe he can check it out.”
Samantha heard back from LaFayette in three days.
POSSIBLE STOP 8 CABINS STOP NO ID YET STOP
“I’m going up there, Jeff. Most likely, I’m the only one who could identify the Dudley’s. I’ll be back soon.”
Jeff was a bit put out, but the next day she was on the stage to Atkins. Jeff had learned long ago that Samantha had a strong will of her own. That was part of the reason he loved her so. She carried her pistol, and her new long gun. She didn’t have a plan, but she had to know.
Lafayette would like to help more, but his connection to the Governor’s office went out the door when Hadley left office.
“I’ve just got to go up there, and try to make an ID, LaFayette.”
“I would not advise that. But if you just have to go, I’ll send my deputy along. They might recognize me. You don’t need to get close. They might recognize you, even with your black hair. Your dimples are hard to hide. Even if we do get an ID, the new Governor is keeping the Militia close to Little Rock, in case things erupt here with the political situation. We can’t expect help there.”
“LaFayette, you know how bad those people are. And you know this has to be nipped in the bud. Slim is the one to stop. Without him, those other folks would soon disappear. They totally depend on Slim to tell them every decision they should make. How many kids, like me, have they taken, while destroying their families? How many lives have been lost? I only have one reservation. I won’t shoot a man. No matter what. I’ll never use my skill that way. But I will help in any other way possible.”
LaFayette introduced her to Deputy Ross Williams. “Ross, maybe you could get someone to come out to talk to you. Ask about getting’ a job, or somethin’. Get im close enough for Sam to recognize. Whatever you do, keep Sam hidden.”
Monday, February 20, 2017
Sometime later, Slim and Dolly disembarked from a river boat at Little Rock. He set Dolly up in a nice hotel in Little Rock. He headed out on horseback to find the right place.
He soon found out that most all the prime river bottom homestead land to the north and west was taken. It didn’t matter, the Dudley’s did not farm. They only sowed. Death. The hill country, west and north of Little Rock looked better for their purposes, and few wanted that type of homestead land, except Slim. It was located within half a day’s riding distance from a small town, Atkins. A good place to get their supplies. Nobody was claiming the land near this section, one mile square. Just in case more land would eventually be needed, he filed claim on two sections. The Arkansas River Valley was rich farm land, stretching on up the river far to the west, and far down river. Good customer prospects were quickly grabbing up that rich river bottom land, well past two days ride from their choice spot. Another match made in Hell for the Dudley’s.
Now, he could go to Little Rock and file a claim on that land. Under an assumed name, of course. Greasing a few of the right palms in Little Rock would speed up his claim. In the meantime, he could buy a team and wagon, load up all that money, and pick up Dolly. Afterwards, they would head up to the claim, and start building their cabin. Other clan members should start showing up in a few days, anxious to get their share of all that money. He well knew, not all of them would make it. Many were not smart enough to find Little Rock. And, some were tired of their life with the Clan, and would go elsewhere. Oh well, that would be no problem. Just more money for him.
In the end, eight families showed up. It didn’t matter. Nobody knew of them in Arkansas, and they didn’t need all that many men until they got set up, ready to do business. They could start out slow, and build. When the money started coming in, all sorts of scummy people would want to join the Clan. Then he could pick and choose.
While Samantha was busy keeping her business going, keeping a low profile, and building her skill with her new gun, she was also busy thinking. Samantha’s smart, remember?
The Homestead Land Office was right here in Little Rock. She knew what kind of situation the Clan would be looking for, so she decided to check at intervals to see if any large claims were filed on land that would be ideal for the Clan’s needs. Many large claims were being filed in the Arkansas River Valley. Few were filed up in the hills north of the river, which she considered to be the best location for the Clan. So far, all those claims had been too small. Probably by small hill farmers. None large enough for the Clan were yet on the books. But she would keep at it, week after week.
Jeff was keeping a close eye on the political situation. Little Rock people were still at it, still choosing sides, with a lot of conflict back and forth. But not a lot of violence as yet. The only way Jeff could see this maybe turning into a shooting conflict was if, for some strange reason, the Courts chose to side with Brooks. But nobody thought there was any chance of that happening. Baxter still seemed to have control at the State House, while the case continued to slowly make its way through the courts. But Jeff was not ready to count Brooks out. Brooks lambasted Baxter daily, and he was really good at it. Baxter just quietly went about the business of running the State Government.
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.
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Just tonight finished the book, but it's still an open manuscript. Leaning toward Dead eye Samantha. What to you think?
Samantha had a lot to think about as she walked back to the hotel. She must not overdo this. She was a stranger to Tenny’s mother. Tenny was still just a child. Probably not more than eleven or twelve years old. If her parents think I’m stalking her, they will just cut me off. For now, all I can do is get to know her and her family. After she’s older, I will see her again. Then, we can be sweet sisters. Forever.
The luncheon went well. Samantha had insisted that the hotel put out their very best china and silverware. It was a huge success. Sara was impressed.
Samantha hugged Tenny one last time. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow on the 9:30 stage. So nice to see you again, Tenny, and meet your nice mother. To tell you the truth, I was worried about you, after all you have been through. But I won’t anymore, now that I’ve met most of your wonderful family. Someday, maybe I will drop by and see you again. I travel a lot.”
After another round of hugs, they parted. Samantha would love to stay around and see Tenny again, but she knew that would be too much. But she suspected Tenny, somehow, would see her again before she left tomorrow. And when she did, she would have a small package waiting for her.
Samantha had been right. At 8:30 the next morning, Tenny knocked on her door. They talked for a while. Tenny told her all about their trip to Arkansas. “We met Mr. LaFayette Gillum’s family at the Mississippi River, and came up together to Atkins. I’m sure you remember him. He was the Constable at Taladega. He’s the lawman at Atkins now. Then we moved on up here to Dover. That trip was so much fun, but part of it was scary.”
Author’s note: LaFayette was, actually, the first Constable of Atkins, Arkansas. He is buried there. Due to a series of mistakes, he had two different tombstones, two hundred yards apart, for many years. I helped correct that situation two years ago. But then, that’s another story. My book, Forever Cry, carries all the details.
“Since we are secret sisters, Tenny, take this package. If you ever get into trouble, and need me, there’s directions inside for finding me in Little Rock. Also, travel money. Keep this secret package hidden away where you can find it if you ever need me. I’ll always love you, Tenny. You will always be welcome, if you ever get into any kind of trouble. I will be there for you, no matter what. Maybe when you grow up, we can be together more.”
“Goodbye, Samantha. I will always keep our secrets. And I hope I can see you again, really soon. I love you so much!”
Two days later, Samantha again stopped overnight at Atkins. She was glad Tenny happened to mention that Marshal Gillum was now the law at Atkins. He had saved her life back in Taladega, and she wanted to look him up and thank him again, and let him know she was not one of those bad Dudley girls; that she was a nice person.
He was not hard to find. As they talked, she was surprised to learn that the Dudley Clan no longer lived in Taladega County, and that it was suspected they now were in Arkansas, maybe close to Little Rock.
Lafayette explained. “I captured one of the Clan members before he got completely away. He was carrying a map to Little Rock. I suspect the Clan plans to move their deadly operation up this way. Things were getting a little too hot for them in Taladega County.”
This was shocking news for Samantha. She explained to him how she had ran away from the Clan using money Slim had given her. How she had dyed her hair and came to Little Rock to keep Slim from finding her, and about her situation now at Little Rock.
“Samantha, I always knew you were not really one of those bad people. That’s why I worked so hard to get you away from that potential lynch mob. As I’m sure you know, Slim holds grudges a long time. If he thinks you did him wrong, he will never stop looking for you. I’ll keep my ears open. If they ever show up near here, I’ll send you a telegram. I suspect they will try to operate like they did in Alabama, once they get settled. Send me a telegram if you ever hear of or see any of them. I know the Governor personally, and I will notify him of their situation. Maybe the Militia can deal with them before they get established up here.”
“In the meantime, I suggest you keep a low profile. Maybe go back to that black hair. Try to see them before they see you. And a restaurant with your name on it? That won’t work. I’d suggest you change the name as soon as you get home.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gillum. I had thought I was completely done with the Dudley’s, but maybe I’m not. Again, I want to thank you for saving my life. I want you to know I had nothing to do with that killing in Alabama. I was so shocked when it happened, I cried for days. I’ll do anything I can to help you stop those horrible people, except using my skill to hurt or kill somebody.”
Saturday, February 11, 2017
“I know how strongly your feelings are about that, Samantha. I respect that. And I love you, too. Maybe, we need to get back to the coffee.
Right now, with all this trouble I expect to come up here about the elections, I’m not really free to look too far ahead. After you get back, and things are settled down, we can make plans. Then we can be together forever.”
Right now, with all this trouble I expect to come up here about the elections, I’m not really free to look too far ahead. After you get back, and things are settled down, we can make plans. Then we can be together forever.”
Soon, Jeff turned to her and smiled. “I think it’s about time I go. I don’t think I can stay much longer and remain a gentleman.” He smiled at her, reluctantly pulling away.
Samantha walked him to the door, holding his arm with both of her hands. “Stay safe while I’m gone, Jeff. Hope you get lots more troops real soon.”
“ Me too, Samantha. And you be careful in your travels. Carry that little pistol I gave you while you travel. Things are dangerous everywhere in Arkansas right now.”
“ Me too, Samantha. And you be careful in your travels. Carry that little pistol I gave you while you travel. Things are dangerous everywhere in Arkansas right now.”
They kissed, sweetly this time. She closed the door behind him, then threw her arms into the air. “He loves me!”
Sam had long ago planned out this trip, and she knew it would take two days to get to Dover by stagecoach. The first night she would spend at Atkins. It was a small town, but she knew there was a small hotel there.
She arrived in Dover late the next afternoon. Dover was larger than she had expected, a bustling town. She found a nice hotel, and decided to rest up, starting her search tomorrow.
She inquired at several businesses the next day, but the search was beginning to seem fruitless. Nobody knew a family named Thacker. Late in the afternoon, she stopped at a small bar to rest. Here, she hit the jackpot.
The barkeeper, Kade Connor, was friendly. Perhaps a little too much so. But he did know the Thackers. He even knew Tenny. He was helpful, and within half an hour she was knocking on a door. A pretty, middle-aged lady opened the door.
Samantha smiled, and was attempting to explain to the nice lady what she was doing there, when Tenny walked into the room. Tenny squealed, and ran to Samantha. They hugged, and both had tears in their eyes, which further confused this nice woman.
“Mama! I met Samantha on the train from Taladega! We rode together for two days! I was so sad, after all that had happened. But Samantha was nice – she made me feel much better. I just love her!” Tenny hugged her again.
Sara smiled. “James told me about you, and how you and Tenny became such good friends. We really appreciate you helping Tenny. We were worried so about her, and I was surprised when she got home. She was happy. Now I know why. I have a fresh pot of coffee brewed. Would you like a cup?”
“Thank you, that would be nice.”
After a nice long visit, Samantha rose to leave. “I’m staying at the hotel down the street. I’d love for you and Tenny to come down for lunch tomorrow. About 11 o’clock?”
Sara hugged Samantha and smiled. “Yes, that would be nice. We’ll be there.”
Tenny just couldn’t seem to let Samantha go. “Mama, could I walk with Samantha back to her hotel? Could I?”
Samantha hugged her tightly and laughed. “Tenny, your mother does not really know me yet. I’ll just see you tomorrow, OK? I’m so glad I found you. I own a restaurant in Little Rock now, and I wanted to tour around Arkansas for a few days. When I got to Dover, I remembered you told me you were moving here. So, I just decided to look you up. I’m so glad I found you so easily! See you tomorrow!”
Thursday, February 9, 2017
But even more importantly, she had caught the eye of a very handsome young Captain in the US Army, Jeff Rowe. Jeff had watched Sam shoot, and was totally fascinated by her. How could any beautiful woman, like Samantha, develop that sort of skill with such a big gun?
Sam had never had a boyfriend. She had not grown up like a normal girl. Her life with the clan had been pretty grim. She was forced to focus more on keeping body and soul together, than on anything else. As she got older, she was beautiful, could shoot a flea off a squirrel at one hundred yards, but she was wary, and never learned to play and laugh without constantly having to look over her shoulder. Her Mama and sister at the Clan were nice to her, so she clung to them. But as she grew, Samantha realized, more and more, that their love was not unconditional, not no matter what, but was designed, in some way unknown to her, to benefit the Clan. But Samantha was a loving child, and she needed somebody to love. So, she directed that love to those who were nice to her. Yet as she grew older, a feeling grew inside her that her love was being used. Why, she did not know. This produced insecurities, and she built a wall around her loving heart. She never learned to totally and unconditionally trust.
Jeff never had a life of privilege, either. But he had an important thing that Samantha lacked. He had a real honest-to- God family that loved him. No matter what. That family included a mother and sisters.
Jeff, although he was a loyal soldier and a really tough guy, was a gentle and fun loving man. Samantha knew she could trust him with her life, but could she trust him with her heart?
Jeff dedicated himself to helping Samantha learn to play, to laugh. So…..flirting, watching the stars, picnics, word games, going to a dance or two, became commonplace. Often, Jeff was busy keeping other guys away from beautiful Samantha, as much as possible. But by this time, Samantha had begun to love him and trust her heart to him. A measure of gentleness came over Samantha, and she was no longer just a beautiful girl who could shoot a buffalo gun with deadly accuracy. She and Jeff had began to long for a deeper relationship.
US Captain Jeff was the commanding officer of the US troops in Little Rock at the moment. Jeff and Samantha spent time together on the shooting range, and she even helped raise the skill level of a career officer in the US military, though he was slow to admit that. After all, he was a man, but what a man he was!
Samantha was saving her money. Before long, she bought her own business. A restaurant and bar. Dead eye Sam’s Restaurant and Bar finally, at long last, came to be. Over the next month, it was running smoothly, pretty well on its own. About all Samantha did was visit with the customers, most of whom were admirers of Samantha. She had never taken a vacation, but now she could. She knew she could trust her employees. It was time for her to find Tenny.
The night before she was scheduled to leave, Sam and Jeff ate a nice meal together at Dead eye Sam’s, as they often did. After the meal, Jeff suggested they go to Samantha’s apartment. Samantha was already going over thoughts in her own mind, hoping to bring this about. Samantha had hoped they could spend a little time together before she left. High quality time, but not too good.
Jeff had a lot on his mind. The election was coming up. But when with Samantha, the election, mostly, faded into the background temporarily, and he could think mostly of her.
“The democrats don’t even have a candidate. Course, there’s really no need. The Federal Government is not about to allow a Democrat to govern. But the Republican Primary is beginning to heat up. Lots of hard feelin’s. The governor right now is not running, he’s moving up to the Senate. But I’m afraid there’s going to be trouble in the primary, and I don’t have near enough troops to keep things under control. I don’t want you coming back right in the middle of trouble, could be dangerous. Please, Samantha, be back well before the Primary. You’re too important to me, and I may be too busy to help you much about then.”
Samantha smiled. “You’re so important to me, too, Jeff. I worry about you, not having enough troops.”
Samantha had a nice apartment on the second floor at Anthony House, one of the nicest buidings in Little Rock. It had a great view of the river area, also of the Governor’s State House, just a block away.
Once inside, Samantha asked, “Want some coffee, Jeff?
“Sure, Samantha. But don’t be long. I’ve got plans for tonight,” he said as he smiled at her.
With the coffee perking, she returned. Jeff pulled her to him and kissed her tenderly. Samantha placed her arms around his neck and pulled him close. They kissed again, more seriously.
Samantha noticed Jeff was getting, maybe, a little too romantic. She pushed him to arm’s length, gently, and said, “The coffee. I was about to forget it. Be right back.”
Jeff took only a sip, and returned with even more excitement to the business at hand. After a few minutes, Samantha pushed back. “Jeff, I’ve got to tell you something. Before I forget it myself, and we get too carried away, you need to know. I’m saving myself for the man I marry. I don’t want to lead you on, with all this kissing. I love you more than life itself. But I just needed to let you know that before we go too far. This is difficult for me, because I really don’t want you to stop.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
“All right now. We will most likely be invaded by the dern Militia any day now. I have a sheet of special directions for each family. Ever body, pack all yer belongin’s. We’re leavin’ Alabama. Day after tomorrow. We won’t be leavin’ together. Each family has their own special directions fer getting’ outta here. We’re goin’ to more fertile money and riches huntin’ grounds. We split up like this, who they gonna chase, Huh? Once yer clear of this area, make your way to th’ big river, go upriver to the mouth of th’ Arkansas river. I got a map in there fer ya. Three months from today, all meet up near Little Rock at th’ place I tell ya in th’directions. We will have at least a section of Homestead Land secured by then. We’ve got a lotta money now from our business we did so profitably and so well during th’ war. We’ll live well on our new land, while we get organized to start business as usual up there, with a lot less problems facin’ us that we have here. Yer share of th’ money will be passed out ta’ each family when you arrive. You don’t wanta come, that’s fine with me. You can start over on your own, if that’s what you want, no skin off my back. Up ta’ you. Jest means, more money for th’ rest of us.”
Slim then passed out a small travel allowance for each family.
That’s all. Now git ta’ packin’!”
When the Governor’s Militia arrived at the Clan’s compound four days later, they found, to their surprise, absolutely no resistance. The place was deserted. The Militia celebrated. Most had expected that at least half their number would die there, because everybody knew the clan were all experts with their buffalo guns. Even the kids. Scouts reported twenty or more fresh sets of wagon tracks, all going in different directions. “Ever which way,” as one scout reported. Not really much way to follow them. So, they camped that night and had a big party. The Dudley’s shacks made a great bonfire. They were going to get home alive, after all. Then they went home. Quickly. The Governor was happy, telling all who would listen that he had run the Dudley Clan out of Alabama. And, he still had all of his Militia, intact. A win-win situation.
But on the down side, the Dudley Clan would live to kill another day. In Arkansas. Another plan made in Hell, for all their Arkansas victims-to-be.
So I guess, after everything is said and done, it could be said;
Samantha ran the Dudley Clan clean out of Alabama.
Samantha had proven in Little Rock what a fine waitress she was. She worked for some time at an upscale restaurant in Little Rock. Though word had spread slowly across the South of her prowness with the big gun, she was not as well known here as she was in Nashville. She never forgot the success brought to her when her skill became well known in Nashville, and Samantha dreamed of owning her own restaurant. She worked hard to maintain her skill in her spare time. Word of her skill soon spread among those who spent time at the shooting range, and she was approached about entering a local shoot. Sam did, and won easily, and she slowly saw an increase in her tips at the restaurant, and more people requesting her as their waitress. But it was not like Nashville.
Samantha reasoned that surely, Slim was not still looking for her, after all this time, and so far away. So, for the next shooting contest coming up, well down the line, she let her red hair grow, and worked at washing out all the black. So, at the next event, she again blew away all comers. But this time, she had allowed her hair to blossom; Long, bright red curls fell across her shoulders. There just seemed to be something magical about hair such as Samantha’s, along with her beautiful dimples. The fact that it was common knowledge now that she could outshoot any man in Little Rock, hands down, didn’t hurt any, either.
Almost immediately following the second contest, the tips and increased business from the restaurant began to once again roll in. Over time, she was getting rich. Now, her dream was beginning to seem reachable.
Monday, February 6, 2017
Author's Note; For any of you readers who came into this story late, Dead eye Sam is my current book I am writing. Samantha is a spin-off character from of my last book, Forever Cry. It is set during The Reconstruction. Forever Cry is a mixture of fiction and non fiction, inspired by the early life of my grandmother, Martha Jane "Tennessee" Tucker. We are approaching the 100 page mark. Lead in's to all previous posts of Dead eye Sam can be found on my Twitter wall page. Thanks for reading!
She must go to Little Rock, but in a round-about way so she could not be followed.
At daylight the next morning, she slipped a note under the office door at Wilson’s Family Restaurant. She thanked the Wilson’s, told them she loved them. Then she explained she had to leave Nashville. She left no forwarding address and mentioned no destination. She could not keep from crying, all the way back to her room. Then she settled her account. She once more put on her brown wig. She did not plan to wear it all her life, but she could wear it long enough to get out of Nashville unnoticed. At nine o’clock, she boarded the train to St. Louis. After losing herself in that big city, she boarded a train and traveled in a round-bout sort of way to Madison, Arkansas. In the late 1860's, the tracks westward ended at that point, at the St. Francis River. They picked up again at DeVall’s Bluff, then continued on to Little Rock. The section in between included crossing three good-sized rivers. The St. Francis, the Cache, and the White. It was not completed until up in the 1870’s. This very difficult stretch of track was completed by RC Brinkley, whom Brinkley, Arkansas is now named after.
She was convinced nobody could ever follow her. She had changed her name three times during her travels.
Her wig was gone. Now she had short black hair. That was not hard. As early as 100 AD, Galen, the Roman doctor, had a formula for black hair. Even as far back as 3400 BC, women changed their hair color to black. During Samantha’s time, women were bleaching their hair with hydrogen peroxide, ushering in many years of broken strands and burned scalps.
Samantha was a skilled waitress. She could find a job here. She would build a life. She was less that one hundred miles from Dover. When the time was right, she would find Tenny.
During The Reconstruction, the Governor of Alabama was a Northern Republican, as was the case with most all the Confederate states. Initially, the Governor really had almost no military power. As time went on, it was decided to form a Militia to be at his disposal. This would consist of Southern Blacks and Whites alike to handle civil disturbances. It was attractive to freed Blacks, because so many had no way to feed their family. And the pay, similar to a regular soldier, was attractive.
Southern Whites were not so anxious to join. They did not take well to the idea of maybe having to take orders from Black officers. So, many units were almost totally black. Eventually, all these militias were referred to as Negro Militias, even if only a single Black was involved.
The Governor had bad memories of being forced to listen to Slim’s threat against his family, and being forced to give Samantha a pardon.
Once the Governor had the power of the Negro Militia behind him, he was determined to settle the score with the Dudley Clan. Wiping out the Dudley Clan was needed and well deserved, most people knew by this time. The days of the violently horrible Dudley Clan in Taladega County were numbered. Slim, with informers here and there, knew this. He called the Clan together for a very special meeting.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Announcing the birth of Tennyson, the first baby named in honor of Tenny, my grandmother, after his parents read Forever Cry. He will be called Tenn. Worth selling a hundred books!
Carson Tubbs was a well-dressed, well spoken, very nice man. He came into the restaurant one day, placed his order, then asked to speak to Sam. She came over with her friendly smile. He asked her to be seated. He had something to tell her.
“Sam, I travel the South a lot in my job. Last night, I heard people talking about you. About your beautiful red hair, about you skill with a buffalo gun. It got me ta’ thinking about something that happened in Taladega County, Alabama, some time back.”
“They was havin’ a big trial goin’ on. She was a pretty red haired girl, like you, and she was charged with the murder of several men. They said she shot people, jest fer fun, and she killed them from far away, before they ever saw her. With a big buffalo gun, like you. I never saw her up close, but I was there the day she was hanged. I did see that. So, I knew it couldn’t of been you.”
Samantha was in shock. But she kept it hid. She wanted to cry.
“Well anyway, last night I got to thinkin’ about what a coincidence this was. I knew it made a good story, and that you would like to hear it.”
Samantha smiled. “Yes, Mister Tubbs. It does make a very interesting story. Well, you know, they say everyone had a double, like themselves, somewhere in the world. Guess she was mine.” Sam stood up. She smiled. He loved her deep pretty dimples. “Be sure to try our apple pie. It’s one of our favorites. Hope you are enjoying our town. Lots of wonderful people here! Goodbye, Mister Tubbs.”
Sam had to get out of here. She was fighting tears. She knew if they ever started coming, she would fall completely apart. She sent word to Mr. Wilson she just had to go home. She had a bad stomach ache. Which was, actually, totally true.
Twenty minutes later, Samantha was in her room. She cried and cried. Then cried some more.
Samantha was just beginning to realize what a gullible person she had always been, back when she was with the Dudley’s. She never suspected Millie had been hanged. And she had known nothing about any killings, except the one she witnessed, the one that had almost gotten her hanged. Mama Dollie had told her Millie had moved to live with relatives. She had totally believed it, never questioned it. While Samantha had realized Millie had a mean streak, she had never known just how mean. And, Millie had always been nice to her. Without Millie, Samantha’s childhood would have been one long, horrible nightmare. In spite of everything, she had dearly loved Milly.
Samantha had always had a sister who was kind to her. First her real sister, who was lost to her now forever. Then Millie. Now Millie was lost to her forever also. She had no one. She didn’t even know what her last name was. How could she live in this world without a sister to love? Maybe life was just not worth it, totally alone like this. Everybody liked Samantha, but now she had nobody to love, and be loved by.
Then she thought of Tenny. She had only known her for two days, but she knew she was kind and loving, just like her real sister. And she had no doubt that Tenny loved her.
Tenny was probably in Arkansas by now. Dover, at that time, was the best town between Fort Smith and Little Rock. Samantha could find it. And she then could find Tenny, who was still only a child. But she could locate her, make sure she was all right, help her if she needed it. Then, as Tenny grew older, they could be sweet, loving sisters forever. Tenny was all Samantha had left in this life to love.
But that was all way down the line. She had more immediate problems. She had left the Clan on Slim’s money. He expected her to come back. Right about now. If that salesman could find Samantha, so could Slim. She was famous. Finding her would be no problem for Slim. Samantha had been really stupid, connecting her skill with a buffalo gun to her bright red hair. Again. She might as well have put her face on a big sign, saying, here I am. Come get me. Samantha must leave here. And she must do it now. She started making plans.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: 28 -Dead Eye Sam: Forever A Hillbilly: 28 -Dead Eye Sam : Sam was getting angry, and nobody had ever seen Sam angry. Sam, herself, did not understand thi...
The next post will not be until Saturday night - going out of town.
“Sam, we’re gonna give you a raise. We’re gonna make you a hostess. Just move around, try to meet as many people as you can. Your raise will more than make up for any tips lost. We’re gonna add a new room on, and add more cooking staff. You’re the hottest item in Nashville right now.”
Samantha was in Heaven, she thought. This was wonderful. As the days passed, more and more customers were pouring in. Other businesses tried to hire Samantha away from the Wilsons’, but Samantha had no desire to make a move. She was a loyal person by nature; the Wilson’s had given her a job when she needed it, so she would hang with them. The Wilson’s appreciated that, and, just in case, they doubled her raise.
The weeks flew by, and things just got better and better for Samantha. She thought she was making more money than she would ever need.
She thought about sending back to Slim all the money he had given her, but she was a little scared about doing it. That would tell Slim where she was, and he was just mean enough that he might show up here one day and take her back to the Clan, money or no money.
Once again, Alvin and Lorna Wilson called Samantha in. “Sam, we have an offer for you. We want to get your name out there on our front sign. Dead Eye Sam’s Fine Foods, or something like that. Dead eye Samantha might even sound better, but of course, everybody in Nashville already knows you as Sam, so maybe not. Anyway, we will pay you fifteen percent of the take for using your name. After six months, we will re- evaluate, and consider cutting you in as a full partner. How do you feel about that?”
Samantha was flabbergasted. She smiled. “Gosh, I don’t know what to say. To be honest with you, there’s things about my past you don’t know. And I’m not sure yet how long I will be in Nashville. If it’s OK with you, I need to think about this a few days. Thank you so much for your offer. You’ve been so wonderful to me, I just love both of you.”
“ We just love you, too, Sam. That’s good. Sleep on it awhile. But if it’s a money thing, we could adjust that a little bit.”
“No, the money is more than fair. Give me a couple of
weeks. Nobody knows for sure how long this Dead eye Sam popularity thing will last. I want to feel like I’m worth all that to you. I’ll give you an answer in two weeks.”
Sam knew she had an awful lot to think about in the next two weeks. She would not make this move until she felt like this would be a permanent thing. Was she far enough from Slim? Should she move farther away? And, Samantha was determined to find Tenny, someday, and if things worked out, maybe she could live closer to her. Considering her past, would she be doing the right thing as far as the Wilson’s were concerned? She would think about all this.
Things continued to just get better and better for Samantha. She loved this life, and all the interaction with so many wonderful people.
Then, one day, a friendly salesman came by to see Samantha, and changed her life completely.