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Doc Standley’s First Arrest, 1866 (Part 4)

Once they were on the trail a ways south from Usal, Standley, however, did unlock Jerry Bailey's right hand and fastened the left cuff to the pommel, making it more comfortable for Bailey to ride. They made it to Whipple's Ten Mile ranch in eight and a half hours, with a food and water stop at the Frasier place along the way.

It was 10:30 p.m. but the Whipple ranch cook prepared what Doc described as a sumptuous supper for the lawman and his prisoner. They talked long into the night with Whipple. Bailey did most of that talking, trying to explain his reasons for attacking Mamalcoosh. The next morning Doc left Bailey shackled to a fence while Whipple pulled the deputy aside to tell him, “Standley, I owe you an apology for talking and acting as I did toward you, yet I felt your youthful appearance was not sufficient to accomplish what you have done and I certainly bow to you and your quick businesslike manner in accomplishing your daring errand.” Whipple further retracted his critical remarks about Sheriff Warden and added this observation, “I want to say... that I was somewhat concerned over Bailey's statements about Mamalcoosh killing Johnson Heacock, and that if this were true, I would like to know more about Jerry's reasons for behaving, as he does, about the killing. If Jerry would only tell the truth about everything, for as he was a very close and intimate friend of Heacock's, he should know more about him than any other person. But then I suppose, we will never ever know now that we have Jerry in custody and on trial for an offense that will beyond any doubt send him to San Quentin.”

They walked back to where Jerry stood by the fence. Doc told Whipple he intended to take Jerry to Big River and that he (Whipple) would have to testify there at a trial. Standley further thanked Whipple for his hospitality and then lawman and prisoner mounted up and were on their way southward.

They traveled some distance before Standley brought up the subject of Heacock's death and cautioned Bailey that the statements he'd made the previous night to Whipple could be used against him at trial. He also reminded the prisoner that being hidden in a brush shack did not suggest an innocent man.

Bailey admitted to Doc that he'd stabbed Mamalcoosh because he was certain that the Yuki had murdered Heacock. Jerry also confided that he knew it may have been a mistake to tell his story to the deputy and Whipple the night before, but he had reconciled himself to whatever fate lay ahead.

They rode on a bit in silence then Bailey turned abruptly on his saddle. “Standley, I am without means to hire a good lawyer, and as a comparative stranger in this section, and having been in trouble with the law before, I don't know what to do. Will you advise me?”

After some thought, Doc responded, “I can put you in a position to help yourself, if you are willing to tell me all the facts in your possession about the killing of Johnson Heacock. I am certain I can formulate a course for you to pursue that will bring the best results possible under the circumstances.”

The ride south continued with Jerry detailing every bit of his recollections about Johnson Heacock, back to his arrival in Leggett Valley, the early trades with the Yuki, and so on right through to Agnes Stokes Heacock's taking over the household, with Lillie, Ellen, and Katy Coltash being sent away.

When Bailey finished with his account of finding Heacock's decapitated head and the grief that overcame him on his ride back to the coast, followed by his resentment at Whipple's sympathy toward the Yuki in general, Doc then outlined a plan that might help the prisoner. He told Jerry to go into the court at Big River and tell the Justice of the Peace to waive examination so that he, the accused, might appear before a Grand Jury convened at the county seat in Ukiah three months or so later. Standley said that he believed the Justice of the Peace would most likely admit him to bail. While out on bail Bailey should hasten back to Whipple's ranch, tell him the absolute full story, volunteer to work for free until the value of the horse beaten and slashed to death was paid off. Doc explained that this might cause Whipple to be more lenient towards Jerry, that he might even be persuaded not to appear against him before the Grand Jury.

The pair of riders reached Mendocino City around 9 pm. and fortunately for Bailey a bail bondsman he actually knew, Fred Heldt, happened to be in town. Fred Heldt was also a stockman, with a ranch on and around Bald Hill, north of Noyo. Heldt had visited Heacock's place several times and agreed to front Jerry's bail (Heldt dealt in some of the finest racing horses around at the time. It is likely that he may have sold to E.J. Whipple the very horse that Jerry ran to death.).

The next morning Jerry Bailey appeared in court. The Big River Justice of the Peace read the complaint against him. Jerry plead not guilty. The judge asked when he could be ready for trial. As instructed, Jerry waived an examination and requested appearance in front of a Grand Jury. Bail was fixed, Bailey was released from custody pending the Grand Jury appearance, and Doc turned over the pistols belonging to Grizzly Bill and Campbell as well as the borrowed horse, stating that it should be returned to Usal.

Readers may judge for themselves why Standley worked so steadfastly to capture Jerry Bailey only to turn around a day later and assist the man in preparing a defense. In Doc's written account of this entire matter, he grants what would now be seven pages, single spaced, to what he called “Bailey's Confession.” Jerry's account is seemingly the only record of this very early part of Indian-white interaction in the northern part of Mendocino County. A century and a half later we can take sides as we might; however, the details related by Bailey about the saga of Johnson Heacock, Mamalcoosh Ishoma, et al provides ample motivations for most of the major players involved.

While Standley appeared to be sympathetic, in 1866, to the actions of whites like Jarboe's Rangers in the killing of Indians in and around Round Valley (it remains to be seen if Standley knew the full dimensions of those massacres as his early 1860s activities were mostly confined to the Sanel and Ukiah localities), Mamalcoosh's brother worked for the deputy on his ranch. It must be noted that the federal government already had in place laws that required the forcible removal of Indians to reservations like the problematic one in Round Valley. California law allowed Indian adults to work under indenture for a white citizen. The white person did not have to pay any salary to the Indian beyond basic room and board, but in return the indentured Indian laborer did not have to be removed to a reservation. Standley like several other well-meaning whites in Mendocino County (see accounts about Helen and A.O. Carpenter) used the indenture law to save Indians they knew from the reservation system. To this writer's knowledge there exists no definitive documentation regarding payments made to these Indians, but there are oral history accounts that verify Doc Standley did pay Mamalcoosh's brother, known to the lawman as Mack.

Further evidence of the friendly relationship between Mack and Standley comes some two decades later in something of a two-sided exchange. Mamalcoosh had been tried and found guilty of an 1880s homicide. His brother asked Doc Standley to accompany Mamalcoosh to a safe installation at Folsom Prison. For his long ride with this prisoner and an overnight stay in state prison, Doc spent the following morning in deep discussion with a despondent Mamalcoosh in a small private room.

Mamalcoosh held onto Standley's hand as he told him his version of events at the Yuki village and Johnson Heacock's ranch in 1866. The details were much the same as “Bailey's Confession,” with the additional information that after Heacock sent his Yuki wives away, Lillie, Ellen, and Katy Coltash asked for half Heacock's estate. In trade for that they would leave him to live in peace with his new white wife, Agnes. Heacock refused the offer, making a much lower counter offer. The rest of the Yuki conferred and agreed with the proposal of the three wives. Heacock again refused. The matter was turned over to a group of Yuki warriors while the remainder of the Yuki moved down river. Mamalcoosh sent a messenger to establish a date for Heacck to meet with the warriors to discuss a settlement.

Mamalcoosh confided to Standley that this fixing of a meeting date was merely meant to give the Yuki warriors an opportunity to seize Heacock and torture him to death. Mamalcoosh reminded Doc that Heacock had ruined the life of Katy Coltash and two of his sisters, leaving them with “half-breed” children who could never marry with a true Yuki.

At the appointed date six warriors arrived at Heacock's house, dropping in one at a time to ask a final time for him to grant half his estate to his Yuki wives. Heacock continued to refuse. The Yuki men caught him by his arms and quickly bound his feet and hands. Outside they stretched him to stakes driven into the earth. They told him they would burn him if he would not tell them where to find the keys to his trunks, store houses, bureaus, and the other outbuildings.

Heacock offered up no keys or the location to their whereabouts. He screamed at them that if he was harmed the government would hang each and every one of them. A search of the house turned up no keys or money, but they did find several bottles of alcohol, which were promptly consumed. The Yuki badgered Heacock about his hiding places and the need to give over half his property to his Yuki wives.

After a while the alcohol took hold and the Yuki men built slow burning fires at Heacock's hands and feet until he finally told them where to dig for three sacks of hidden money. The fires were withdrawn, the money and all Heacock's worldly possessions discovered, but, as Mamalcoosh told it, the Yuki warriors were afraid to set Heacock free with his hands and feet burned because they were certain he would go straight to the authorities. The Yuki decided to finish Heacock and Mamalcoosh was selected to do the killing.

Mamalcoosh told Standley that at this moment he was consumed with revenge for all the unkindness Heacock had shown his sisters and his sweetheart. The liquor in him only served to seal Heacock's doom. A razor sharp broad ax was handed over to Mamalcoosh. He raised it eye high then brought it down with all his strength.

Afterwards, they divided things they could use from Heacock's house and the money, mostly $20 gold pieces. No one stopped long enough to count anywhere near the exact amount until a week later. They killed a fat beef from the nearby pasture and helped themselves to food from Heacock's pantry. Other Yuki arrived on the scene and something akin to a grand feast took place. Some of the older Yuki men asked for Heacock's head to be displayed and that was how it came to be atop the pole stuck in the ground. Many Yuki danced around the gruesome sight, signifying a great victory. Mamalcoosh stated that it was tradition to keep something like a scalp of an enemy in public view for three days and nights. The dancing and rejoicing went on for a week. A celebration marking the death of a man who had once gained their confidence, and in so doing grew wealthy; a man who turned his back on the Yuki after fathering eight children. 

At last there were only four Yuki left at Heacock's place, Mamalcoosh among them. They placed the headless body of Heacock inside his house then burned it. After setting the livestock free they burned all of his outbuildings and storehouses. A newly hired foreman rushed onto the scene, but he was killed with a blow to the head from the broad ax.. His body was tossed down Heacock's well, with wood and burning boards thrown in on top of the corpse.

Mamalcoosh estimated Heacock's total goods to be in the neighborhood of ten tons. A rough count of the gold coins came to about $20,000. Half of that was given to the three wives and their children. The other half was sent on to the Modoc, of northeastern California, who were engaged in a defensive war against white settlers. The goods that were preserved were divided equally between the Leggett Valley Yuki.

Near the end of their visit at Folsom, Mamalcoosh told Doc Standley that many years passed before he discovered that one of the men who had gone with him to Heacock's ranch on the day of the killing, a warrior known as Shemia, had found some of the gold coins the three wives had cached away and kept it for himself. Discovering this injustice had caused the two Yuki warriors to become bitter enemies. It was Shemia's death Mamalcoosh was put on trial for. There in that private corner of Folsom Prison, Mamalcoosh gazed at Doc and said, “I was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence.”

Mamalcoosh also confided to Standley that he had been told that Indians did not last much more than three years as a prisoner before they die. As Doc rose to leave, so, too, Mamalcoosh stood and gave the lawman a hearty handshake. The Yuki added that it was time for a final confession. “Tell my brother that it is true, I killed Johnson Heacock and murdered Shemia in cold blood.”

Barely three years passed before Mamalcoosh died in prison.

Back in 1867, Jerry Bailey did appear, as scheduled, at his Grand Jury hearing. Not a single witness came forward to testify to the assault. He was discharged, a free man, from the custody of the law. There is no record of him committing further crimes.

Much of the information presented here is based on the first hand account of Doc Standley. Many decades later, Mrs. Marion Wincote Elliott, great-granddaughter of Jeremiah “Doc” Standley, privately printed copies under the title, The Arrest of Jerry Bailey at Usal, Mendocino County, California, 1866, Charge: Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Commit Murder.

(Other accounts concerning Doc Standley at:

One Comment

  1. David Heller April 29, 2018

    Having read the original document many years ago, you did a great job of re-writing an account that needed much editing. I am horribly envious of your fine writing style. Can the “Murder on Strong Mountain” be far behind?

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