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31 CHAPTER 4 Pay Back T here was a light snowfall the morning of December 27, 1894, and the cold was keeping several men inside the Clothing Store and Saloon run by Jake Harris. Harris’ left leg had been amputated close to the hip after a gun battle with City Marshal Geor ge Treat of Great Falls in November 1891.1 He used a shotgun for a cr utch if he expected any trouble in his saloon. Har ris and Landusky were friends, and Landusky had put up the mone y for the building with the status of silent par tner. There was a counter in the back of the saloon where cheap clothing and some food items were sold. Harris had sent to Anaconda for a friend of his named Charles Annis, who went by the name Hogan, to be his clerk. Despite being frail and tubercular, he was reputed to be a gunman. It was understood that, besides minding the store, another duty of Hogan’s was to keep the wild cowboy element, such as the Currys, in line.2 Ed Skelton, a friend of Landusky’s, was present that morning: “I met Mr. Landusky at Jake Harris saloon about ten o’clock on the 27th day of December A. D. 1894. We sat there in the saloon about two hours; he got up to go home, goes out on the stoop and meets Bill McKinzie [McKenzie ]. They had a talk out there quite a while and went back in the saloon and I went with them. We steped up to the bar to take a drink or smoke. I went over to the card table and left them talking at the bar.”3 Jacob Harris , George S. Allis, Thomas Smith Carter, and one other were at the card table playing whist. The time was about two o’clock. Lonie Curry and Jim Thornhill entered the saloon at this time and walked past the bar to the back counter . They called Ho gan over to weigh a quarter’s worth of apples, after w hich they stepped toward the back door. Kid Curry then came through the front door of the saloon and walked up to Landusky who was leaning over the bar talking to miner friend William McKenzie. Curry tapped Landusky on the shoulder with 32 Chapter 4 his left hand, then grabbed him, pulled him around , and struck him in the face with his right hand. He then str uck Landusky repeatedly, who appeared to make no defense e xcept to keep Curry off. Pike’s famous fighting ability may possibly have been hampered by old injuries, rather than by physical limitations of advanced age as many writers assert. It is often stated that he was in his fifties at the time of the altercation, but he was actually only forty-five years old. At the start of the fi ght, Lonie and Thornhill told Hogan he was to take no hand in the fight. Hogan agreed, and in his testimony at the subsequent coroner’s inquest, he stated that there had been no guns drawn.4 Lonie and Thornhill then shouted to the onlookers “fair fight, fair play.” At this time the combatants w ere scuffling and went into a clinch, and then they both fell to the fl oor with Curry on top. This was also when Curry’s gun fell out of his pock et onto the floor. Thornhill stepped out and picked the gun up and said “No one shall interfere, ” followed by “See gentlemen, I don’t draw this pistol, I pick it up on [of f] the floor.” Not one witness stated thatThornhill pointed the gun at anybody.5 Meanwhile Curry was sitting astride Landusky’s chest with his knees on his arms. For the next few moments he was furiously striking Landusky in the face, until Thornhill finally told Curry to let him up. Curry got up off of Landusky and told Thornhill to “give me my gun.” Landusky got up from the floor and wiped the blood from his face with his hands.6 About half of the witnesses had gone out the back door b y this time; however, those remaining all saw Landusky pull a gun from his right-hand overcoat pocket. He stuck the gun at Curry’s abdomen and held it there for a second or tw o, attempting to fire. This is when Landusky’s revolver may have jammed or malfunctioned for some other...


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