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143 CHAPTER 16 Death of the Rustler King F latnose George Currie did not accompany Sundance and Kid Curry to southern Colorado after the Wilcox train robbery, but it was too risky to remain in the area of Hole-in-the-Wall. By December 1899 he was rustling cattle in the Green Ri ver country of Utah, and had thro wn in with rustler Tom Dilley. While working for the Webster Cattle Company on Hill Creek above Thompson, Dilley had got into a fight with the manager named Fullerton, and Sam Jenkins, a co wboy. All that winter Dilley and Currie built up a herd b y blotching brands, particularly on Webster cattle. In April 1900 Cur rie was caught in the act b y an employee and ordered off the ranch. The man went for the authorities after Currie warned him off with his six-gun.1 Grand County Sherif f Jesse M. Tyler and Uintah County Sherif f William Preece combined posses, and set out to capture the r ustler or rustlers. They discovered a deserted camp not f ar from the McPherson Ranch on the Green Ri ver. The posse searched through the hills until, about noon the ne xt day, they came upon Cur rie on foot, looking for some stray horses. He answered the command to sur render by firing at the posse with his Winchester and retreating toward the Green River. He reached the river by dark, and either swam across or built a crude raft for the purpose. The morning of April 17 found Currie settled among some boulders on a hill near the ri ver, ready for a sie ge. Sheriff Preece and his men tried to pick of f the outlaw from across the river, while Sheriff Tyler’s posse had crossed over and was coming up behind Currie. Some time in the afternoon the answering fire from Currie had ceased. He was found dead with a bullet in the back of his head , leaning against a rock with his cocked rifle across his knees. Another bullet had gone through his cartridge belt and exited his back.2 144 Chapter 16 At the time, the la w officers did not kno w it was Flatnose George Currie they had just run to ground. They thought he was just some smalltime rustler, and his body w as taken to Thompson for identification.3 Over the next few days several people identified him as George Currie, one of the Union P acific train robbers. These included a pre vious employer named Mr. Bissell of Central City , Nebraska, and one William Story.4 Relatives in Casper were notified by wire, who presumably noti- fied Currie’s family in Chadron, Nebraska. The Union Pacific Railroad sent two men from Wyoming, Uinta County Sheriff John Ward, and John C. DeVore, who both said the body w as that of outlaw George Currie.5 The result of “Flatnose” George Currie’s shootout with a posse. (Courtesy of Mike Bell) Death of the Rustler King 145 DeVore was the sheepherder who fed Currie and Kid Curry in his camp when they were on the r un after the Wilcox train robber y. Pinkerton Detective Frank Murray, who knew Currie, also made positive identification . A coroner’s inquest held in Thompson on April 21, returned the verdict, “[H]e George Currie came to his death by gunshot wound while resisting officers.”6 Currie’s father, John Currie, did not ar rive until May 9 to claim his son’s body. By this time the body w as badly decomposed and made identification very difficult. Still, the father took George’s body home to Chadron where, according to Mur ray, the rest of the f amily confirmed his identity before burial.7 Controversy soon arose concer ning whether the body was indeed really that of the Hole-in-the-Wall bandit of Wyoming . Contemporary news accounts reported the possibility of a scheme between detectives and Currie’s relatives to recover the $6,000 re ward offered by the railroad and e xpress companies, by identifying the dead rustler as one of the Union Pacific train robbers. In 1974, Currie’s niece stated that she and her cousins “have serious doubts that the g rave with the headstone for George is the actual g rave where George is buried.”8 However, like other major outlaws that have not...


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