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Ol Smoke

My great Uncle Red and the wild west days...

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It was around 1922 when my great Uncle went to Montana to find work in the mines there.

It was not like Arkansas, in Montana, he found out very soon.  There were more horses in

town than cars.  There were at least 8 saloons and poker palaces.  There was only two jobs

you could find then;  mining and cattle.  Red started out in the mines around Butte but found

he had no love of deep, dark holes.  So he hired on with a large cattle company near there.

The work was tiring, dirty, and long.  No 8 hour days or 5 day weeks.  It was 6 am to 7 pm

everyday except for Sunday.  There was all kinds of work to be done and he was a roustabout.

He did all the dirty low end jobs because he didn't know anything about horses or cattle.  But

after a while he got better jobs and better pay.  Now, Red was a moonshiner back in Arkansas

as was his brother, Charlie, (my grandpa).  So it wasn't long before he saw a real need for

some shine in them thar hills.  He found two buddies that were willing to go into this adventure

with him, and they started with a 30 gallon still.  After a couple of months they had to quit

their jobs so they could make shine all the time.  Well, it became knowledge around the town of

Butte that they was doing this.  It soon came to the attention of one of the local barroom owners,

that their sales was way down.  They put 2 and 2 together and now something had to be done about

them boys and their stills.

So in the summer of 1923, the tavern owners got together with a posse of cattle regulators and

swooped down on my uncle and his band, and destroyed their 3 stills.  Then one of the shiners

made a mistake of drawing his weapon on an old friend of his who had turned him in.  He let

go a shot from his pistol, hitting his friend dead in the center of his chest.  The man fell dead.

It turned out that this guy had LOTS of friends and they all drew their weapons and put over

80 holes into the shiner.  When the smoke had cleared, the regulators suggested they hang the

other two.  But instead, one of the tavern owners, befriended them and put them on the next

train headed somewhere else.  Well, Red wound up back in Arkansas, and worked the stills with

my grandpa until he died.  The other guy wound up in Oklahoma where he was hanged by some

town folk for trying to sell illegal alcohol in a dry county.

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Great story and history there Smoke. Not the usual romantic wild west stories out of the movies. Thanks for the post. I'd love to know if they had many dealings with natives and their feelings towards them. :drunk moonshine +1

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