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Doc Standley’s First Arrest, 1866 (Part 3)

The deputy mounted, shook himself down into the saddle, then stood in the stirrups. 'Raise the blind,' Standley called. The mule took on his favorite jackknife position. Doc described it this way, “With little resistance, I could force my saddle either direction and at once commenced to use my whip and spurs (I have learned from experience that it is better to surprise a mean bucking animal than to be surprised yourself) which served to change his position into that of real hard earnest straightforward bucking. He aimed for the sky and then he would zigzag all over the place like a worm fence. Having had experience, I grew confident I could ride this mule in spite of anything he could do just as long as he stayed on his feet. Giving him some rope, he raced along for about a hundred yards when I applied a light touch on my spurs and the lash. Each time he lunged off the ground I would catch him up behind the shoulders with the spurs and at about the same time. I used my whip in a sharp crack around his flank. This was exciting him and he began to run all out once more.  I slowly pulled him back to a slower gait, then to a slow comfortable gallop, and then checked him to a stop. With the blind down, I dismounted and slackened the cinch to let him blow and cool off. In the meantime I rubbed his nose, his neck and his shoulders and within fifteen minutes, which served to cool him down properly, we were again on the road. From that time on that mule and I were the best of friends. I had no need for the spurs and whip and he in turn had changed from a wild bronco to a decent riding mule... By the time we reached Cottoneva, a distance of eighteen miles, he was perfectly gentle, easy in gait, kind and obedient to the rein, something quite unusual for a mule.”

Near Cottoneva Creek Doc took his two dollar winnings and sent the guide back to Whipple's ranch. At daylight Doc reached the mouth of the creek where he stopped at the home of Bill Frasier, a friendly acquaintance, who let the deputy nap and then fed him breakfast.

Frasier took a skeptical view about the chances of one man riding into Usal and capturing Jerry Bailey. Nevertheless, he gave detailed instructions on the necessary route and how to best approach the ranch there without being detected. Frasier also provided recent intelligence that four men had been seen around the house at Usal. Local Indians had confided that Bailey was indeed being supplied food by Alexander Campbell, but Bailey's exact hideout was unknown. Frasier's opinion of Campbell, Grizzly Bill, and Cherokee Bill rang a similar tone to the description given by E.J. Whipple.

Despite Frasier's pleas that Doc gather a full posse, he rode on alone. He passed a brand new homestead, gleaning further information that Jerry Bailey had ridden toward Usal, in the company of Alexander Campbell, a day or two after the stabbing of Mamalcoosh.

Another eight miles on the mule would get Doc to the Usal Rancho, as he termed it. His main obstacle was that from the Usal house anyone approaching down the steep grade to the south could easily be seen. Fortunately, just before the point that a rider would be spotted, the bluff had slid downhill some distance to a place where the landslide formed a gradual bench that led to the beach below. From there man and mule could walk through the sand to the mouth of Usal Creek without notice.

The deputy searched along the bluff top for the best approach. “I located an area that was much less steep than the rest. I led my mule to this point and gently attempted to guide him down... When I got to the end of the rope the mule was still standing up on the crest looking down at me very intently, putting first one ear forward then the other. I tried pulling with all my might, but he was obstinate and stronger, having planted his front feet very firmly in the dirt. The mule was winning the tug-of-war so I looked around for something permanent to use as an anchorage. A few feet to my right was a good sized stone projecting out of the cliff. I made fast the end of the rope halter to the rock then pulled again with all my strength, but this mule held his position. Using the rope halter, I climbed back up to where the mule stood and attempted to drive him down the slide from behind. I tried to use a small brush as a whip but he had a powerful kick straight back which prevented getting close. I sat on a rock to rest and set my brain to work as to how to get this mule down the cliff to the bench... I spied some hazel bushes with sprouts. These I could use to entice him down... He finally lost his purchase and slid down the hill past the rock to which his halter was tied. This pulled him up short still on the steep part of the cliff above the bench. I slid down after the mule, cut the rope halter with my knife and the mule and I fell/slid the remaining distance to the level bench. From there we progressed along the bench in a northerly fashion until I found a good place to get on down to the beach. I was now completely out of sight until I came to the mouth of Usal Creek.”

In a grassy spot surrounded by tall brush Doc dismounted, pulled off the saddle, wrapped his six-shooter and handcuffs inside the saddle blanket, then tied the bridle reins around the saddle and hobbled his mule. When Standley took on the job of tracking Jerry Bailey he had just recovered from a fairly lengthy illness. By the time he reached Usal Creek he resembled a pale, if not ghostly, tramp more than any kind of lawman.

With his saddle blanket, and its contents, thrown over his shoulder, Doc walked parallel to the creek until he came into an opening with a fenced garden and beyond the house of the Usal rancho. The house proved more of a cabin. Standley strode to the front door and knocked. A tall man with black hair and eyes answered.

Doc said, “Good morning,” and told him he was on his way north to Shelter Cove, but thought he should stop and ask specific directions. From previous descriptions of a man who spoke with his teeth clenched together, Doc took this man, who claimed no knowledge of the northerly trails, to be Cherokee Bill.

Cherokee Bill seemed sympathetic to Standley's gaunt condition and invited him in to eat. It was nearing noon as Doc finished his repast. The two men headed outdoors and sat on a log, where the host asked Doc, “Do you come from around these hills?”

Standley responded, “No sir, I have been working over near Sacramento for the summer when I was attacked by chills and fever and the doctor told me a change of climate would be good for me.”

The other man asked Doc if he was capable of work and the pale young deputy said, “Any work which can be done on horseback.”

“We will be rounding up cattle in the next six weeks. We have ten head of horses and three or four are 'bad hombres.' If you can ride one of those, you can earn good wages and have a steady job.”

Soon two men Doc took to be Alexander Campbell and Grizzly Bill came into sight near the garden fence. At first Campbell took Doc to be another deputy named Witt, but Cherokee Bill recounted Standley's tale of illness and travel as well as his abilities with horses and Campbell invited Doc back inside the house.

Doc told them he was exhausted from hiking all morning and asked if he could lay down somewhere with the warm sun shining on him. They allowed him to rest near the open door. With his head on his bedroll and hat over his face Doc fell asleep for a short while. As he woke he heard Campbell saying, “Poor fellow, I feel sorry for him. Appears to be a nice young chap and this tramp life does not agree with him. He needs rest before he attempts hard work.”

Out the corner of his hat Doc spied Grizzly Bill finish his meal then grab another plate and walk outside. It sounded as if Grizzly Bill headed into the thick brush beyond the garden. In a short time Campbell went outside as well, then Cherokee Bill, yawning from his big lunch, headed to a back bedroom, presumably to nap.

Doc gave him time to settle down to sleep, shoved his pistol and handcuffs inside his vest, then headed outside to follow Campbell and Grizzly Bill's trail into the brush. Their boot prints seemed to disappear into a dense thicket of alder and willows, but the deputy grabbed hold of a small alder and pushed it aside. It served as a door that led into a kind of brush shack fifteen feet wide. Standley walked in as nonchalantly as possible, coming nearly face to face with Jerry Bailey. Behind Bailey, Grizzly Bill sat, perched on a dried beef hide, playing cards with Campbell.

Bailey held a Bowie knife with which he was shaving a piece of rawhide, hooked to a firm limb. Doc recognized the wanted man from a description of Bailey's two upper front teeth that were significantly shorter where they came together, forming a swallow tail indentation.

Campbell and Grizzly Bill motioned for Doc to join them at a game of Seven-Up. The cards ran Doc's way like he'd never experienced before and Bailey appeared almost gleeful that Campbell and Grizzly Bill were losing. He remarked on how many times they both had taken him in the same game.

Campbell, Grizzly Bill, and Bailey were all armed with revolvers and knives, so Standley needed some sort of distraction to get the drop on all three at the same time. He left the card game and stepped near the opening of the brush shack, chatting with Bailey then instructing him on the best methods for working the rawhide before plaiting it into reins.

A yellow-collared hummingbird lighted on a tree above their heads. The hum and the fluttering of its wings caused Campbell, Grizzly Bill, and Bailey to stare up at the bird long enough that they lost sight of Standley drawing his six-shooter and cocking it a foot from Jerry Bailey's face. The deputy announced himself with a shout that he possessed a warrant for Bailey's arrest.

Bailey dropped his Bowie knife and raised his hands above his head. Standley yanked out the handcuffs, passing the shackles with his left hand, keeping the room covered with the revolver in his right. As ordered, Bailey unbuckled his belt which not only caused his pistol to hit the ground but a hidden knife as well. Campbell took a step toward that knife, but Standley waved his firearm and commanded the other two to raise their hands. Grizzly Bill complied immediately, but Campbell hesitated. Doc took a step toward him pointing his six shooter directly at Campbell, “Do as I say or I will pull the trigger.”

Campbell reached for the sky and took a step back. “Don't shoot.”

Standley had them turn their backs to him while he lifted their individual collections of revolvers and knives. The disarmed trio lead the way out of the brush. Doc inquired about saddle horses for himself and Bailey. Campbell asked what the charges were against he and Grizzly Bill. The deputy responded that the charge would be aiding and abetting a wanted criminal. Campbell took umbrage, but the deputy explained the crime Bailey had committed and that hiding and feeding Bailey equaled “aiding and abetting.”

Campbell turned defensive and apologized for questioning the young lawman, saying that if Doc knew all the facts connected with Bailey's attack on Mamalcoosh he might not blame Bailey either. Standley decided to leave Campbell, Grizzly Bill, and the still sleeping Cherokee Bill in Usal, uncharged.

Campbell supplied a horse for Doc. Fortunately, Bailey was familiar with the mule from Whipple's ranch and even in cuffs was able to sit astride the beast. Standley did not bother to chain his charge to the saddle after Bailey declared in earnest that he was determined to stand trial and take the consequences.

(Part Four)


  1. George Hollister April 4, 2018

    Well written. How much is writer’s discretion?

  2. Mike Williams April 5, 2018

    Really good account of just one of the legendary lawman’s exploits. Wondering what is the source?

    Standley’s great grandson, a grape grower in Ukiah on Ruddick Cunningham road, can’t remember his last name, first name is Mike…..he has a journal of Standley’s and a six shooter that was his.

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