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Doc Standley’s First Arrest, 1866 (Part 2)

A party of men, including Bailey rode to Leggett Valley where they found Johnson Heacock's severed head still stuck to the long pole thrust into the ground on the dead man's property. They took it down and buried the head nearby. A search of the premises found no trace of Agnes Heacock.

To the white men a nearly perfect, well-beaten circular path around the pole suggested the deed was the work of the neighboring Yuki. Jerry Bailey described the recent history of Heacock and the possible motivation for the killing became fairly clear to his companions. The men rode the few miles to the closest Yuki encampment, but the place was deserted.

On the spot, they formed something of an informal inquest, deciding that extremely hostile feelings between the Yuki and Heacock lead to the killing of the latter. The Indians, they surmised, had beheaded and burned their victim then friends and relations of the aggrieved parties must have danced around the pole for some time in a death ceremony. The vast majority of the white investigators concluded that this had been a matter between Heacock and his former friends and neighbors, and as Heacock had seen fit to mix with Indians, these same Indians had sought retribution as a personal vendetta toward him for his attitude toward the Yuki, in general, and especially for his taking of their Indian women as his wives and subsequent abandonment.

A lone rider was dispatched to find the home of Agnes' parents to ascertain whether she was with them or had possibly be taken captive by some of the Yuki. Because they were so distant from the county seat the men saw no need to contact the civil authorities. They reasoned that if any of the Yuki were intent on further carnage the military would deal with them. With this the rider went on his way, in search of the Stokes home. The rest dispersed, returning to their houses and work places, all but one unconcerned about punishment for the Indians. Jerry Bailey, however, rode back to Whipple's ranch in tears over the loss of his friend, Johnson Heacock.

Bailey told Whipple about the scene he and the others found at Heacock's ranch. Whipple seemed to him to be more sympathetic to the Yuki, and no wonder, the woman he lived with, whom he called Annie, was the sister of Lillie, Ellen, and Mamalcoosh, the third daughter of Ishoma.

Jerry Bailey felt nearly certain that Mamalcoosh was the responsible party at the center of Heacock's killing. At the same time Bailey understood Whipple's position. He lived with a Yuki woman. He was a businessman who had sold tons of beef, pork, hay and grain and other products to the soldiers stationed around the county. And breaches of the local peace could be bad for business.

A week after parting company the men who had ridden over to Leggett Valley convened again on the coast. The rider reported that Agnes Heacock was safe and secure at the Stokes home. She had told him that she'd left Leggett Valley to visit her parents at the suggestion of Johnson Heacock. She was happy to comply and he accompanied her to her parents' house, telling her that he would return in two weeks. After the two weeks and more passed she grew increasingly distressed. The rider would not tell her the details of what had transpired at the ranch until her father, Mr. Stokes, stood beside her in the same room. The rider recounted how Mr. Stokes appeared moved by the account of Heacock's death. He thanked him with a handshake and bade him farewell.

The white investigators parted once again convinced that their earlier summation of events had been correct: Johnson Heacock had been the cause of his own death or at the least, had provoked his demise. The men made a final pact not to further divulge the details of Heacock's death or any of his personal information and secrets

Jerry Bailey returned to work at E.J. Whipple's ranch, keeping his feelings to himself so as not to upset his boss or his Yuki wife. Whipple, on the other hand continued to speak casually about the killing though he did not ask for more on the story from Jerry. This made the ranch hand seethe. He was sure Whipple had learned additional details about the most gruesome aspects through a grapevine that lead back to the Yuki in Leggett Valley.

Bailey he held his temper in front of Whipple, but on his next day off Jerry rode one of the boss' prize colts, a racing horse worth $300, down to a trading post at Noyo, a ride that could take three to three and a half hours. At Noyo he drank to the point of barely regaining his mount. About three miles along his journey northward, riding on the sand, he met up with a group of Leggett Valley Yuki, with the very one he blamed for Johnson Heacock's death, Mamalcoosh, standing by himself.

Bailey slid off his horse then raced toward Mamalcoosh with a hunting knife in hand. Catching Mamalcoosh off guard, Bailey stabbed the six foot, 180 pound Yuki several times. Mamalcoosh dropped to the sand, motionless. Bailey stood over him a moment, wiping the knife clean then jumped on his horse, spurring and whipping it north while Mamalcoosh's friends ran to the fallen warrior.

Bailey lashed his horse to a frenzy, north up the coastline. The colt dashed on for five miles through wet sand until it slowed to barely more than a walk. Jerry slashed it across its hips with his knife. The horse faltered and Bailey responded with a slash across its neck. The cut hit the main artery, the animal's head drooped to the sand and Bailey was left afoot.

Mamalcoosh recovered from the stab wounds, which Jerry had aimed erratically in his drunken fever. When E.J. Whipple, Mamalcoosh's brother-in-law, heard about the attack he traveled down the coast to find the closest Justice of the Peace to sign off on a warrant for the arrest of Jerry Bailey on a charge of attempted murder. The warrant was forwarded to the county seat in Ukiah.

Mendocino County Sheriff L.M. Warden then sent it on to acting Deputy Sheriff Jim Cunningham who lived at Abalobadiah Creek (about a mile north of the mouth of Ten Mile River). Cunningham had been a friend of Bailey, so he returned the warrant to Ukiah along with his resignation as an acting deputy.

At the time of Jerry Bailey's knife attack on Mamalcoosh twenty-one year-old Doc Standley was attending school to become a teacher himself. The sheriff called for Standley, who had done some work for him during school vacation, to come to his office. It was now November and Warden asked Doc what he was doing for the next ten days. Doc responded that he would be essentially idle. The sheriff told the young man he had a job for him on the other side of the county, informing him that he was about to be deputized, “The entire community over at the coast is aware of the existence of the warrant and Bailey has evidently gone into hiding.”

Warden further stated, “Standley, since you are a stranger to the area and the people involved, I'd like you to go and locate this Bailey and make the arrest. Bailey is known to be a man of bad reputation and you must not take any chances bringing him in.”

From the under-sheriff Doc took possession of the official warrant as well as expense money and a department issue revolver. At dawn the following morning he set out on his own horse for E.J. Whipple's ranch. The ride to Ten Mile took him two days, purposely slow on the second day so he could arrive under cover of darkness, lest any of Bailey's pals be on the lookout for strangers.

Doc reached Whipple's house around 10 p.m. Whipple invited him inside to eat, but ranted about the county sheriff sending a mere boy to go after Bailey, going so far as to call the sheriff a coward for not coming in person. The young deputy told Whipple he didn't care about his opinions of himself or the sheriff, but, instead, needed whatever insight Whipple had as to the whereabouts of Bailey and the use of a relief mount.

Whipple informed Doc that Bailey had presumably holed up among sympathetic characters at a ranch near the mouth of Usal Creek, a ranch owned by a man named Spencer Hill, who was a butcher in Mendocino City. Another man named Alexander Campbell, of English or Lowland Scots descent, was the acting foreman at Hill's ranch. Whipple further informed Standley that Campbell employed at Usal two noteworthy characters known as Grizzly Bill and Cherokee Bill, both of whom had criminal backgrounds.

At this point Doc spoke bluntly to Mr. Whipple, “I am constrained to believe, from your remarks, that you would like to be relieved of the trouble and annoyance of prosecuting the case. You seem to discourage every effort in the direction of his [Bailey's] capture.”

Whipple called in his foreman who walked Doc Standley out toward a corral and barn. Doc repeated his request for a relief mount and also asked for a guide as he would be traveling over relatively uncharted territory in the dark.

The foreman supplied the guide in the form of a youthful ranch hand who was at least in part descended from the indigenous folk of the area. In other words a part Yuki guide. The mounts for Doc and the guide turned out to be mules. Faced with this choice, Standley opted to stick with his own horse.

He described what ensued by lantern light with the mule. “The guide appeared... leading a nice trim built mule. The foreman began to prepare the mule for the trip. His first step was to put on a blind by placing a strip of leather just above the mule's eyes, so that when it lowered a little, it would fit closely over the mule's eyes and exclude every ray of light, after which the saddle was put in its proper place. After putting on the bridle, the blind was raised above the eyes and the mule was given a little slack rope and given its head. It humped up his back and moved around the corral in rather an awkward position, assuming the appearance of a half-opened jackknife with the butt end of the handle and the point of the blade both touching the ground – the saddle seemed to be sitting on the apex of the mule's back...

“The foreman lowered the blind on the mule and ordered the boy to mount. The Indian did so willingly, and the blind was then raised. The mule squatted with its body near the ground, as if it would shrink away from some unpleasant feeling or object, then it reversed position and assumed the 'jackknife' attitude, with the poor Indian in the saddle sitting on the apex of the mule's back. The mule made a turn of his head, caught sight of the rider and with all the force and strength in him gave one tremendous bound toward the lantern the foreman held.”

The foreman flopped to the ground, dropping the lantern and it flickered out. Doc lost sight of the foreman, rider, and mule in the dark. The beast stood stock still for a half minute or more before kicking at the ground and bucking as hard as it could, over and over.

A thud followed, then a groan from the Indian by the side of the barn that enclosed one section of the corral. Doc re-lit the lantern and threw a hat full of water from a nearby trough onto the Indian boy's face to revive him.

The mule had backed into a corner, pointing one ear then the other forward while snorting its most furious snorts, one after the other. Eventually, the foreman and Standley lassoed the creature. Doc mounted the saddle on his horse and rode alongside the recalcitrant beast, then took hold of the mule's rein, leading it outside the corral.

Another ranch hand approached Standley, saying he would guide the deputy if he could ride his horse. The moon had risen over the eastern hills, shining its own lantern on the countryside, when Doc, who had worked with mules from boyhood on, took up the challenge of riding Whipple's mule.

The new guide bet Standley two dollars that the mule would throw him before they got to Cottoneva Creek. Doc called the bet and requested the blind be dropped over the animal's eyes.

(Part Three)


  1. Jim Armstrong March 29, 2018

    “(More on Doc Standley’s wild ride later.)”

    Soon, please.
    These are great stories.
    The ride would have been tough even at two days.
    About an hour Code 3, today.

  2. George Hollister April 2, 2018

    Johnson Heacock had it coming. Mamalcoosh may have killed him, maybe not. But Heacock took a bride, and the confidence of her father, then abandoned his wife and children for another woman. I will avoid being sanctimonious, as any man should. But the timeless and culturally transcending practice is for the man to make sure his son-in-law is fit, and responsible. Heacock did not fit expectation.

    I would not want to be Heacock, but we would be better today with the supposed attitude of the Indian Mamalcoosh. Make sure your daughter has children with someone who can and will take responsibility, or else it’s bad news for him.

    Malcolm, good writing.

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