In The Lawman, I’ve a chapter where Will and his family are going up to a cabin owned by their church for a small getaway. All the cases he’s been working has been wearing him down, and Jewell, his wife, his pastor and his wife, thought it high time that they unplugged for a bit, and got away from it all. The cabin is located above Creede, Colorado.
Now, Creede is probably one of the most beautiful and charming towns you’ll ever have the pleasure of visiting. It’s a real, live relic of the Old West that now has electric lights, and indoor plumbing. Those were two luxuries sorely missed when it was founded in the late 1800s following a rather large silver strike.
When the town was founded, it attracted some rather interesting characters, most of whom sound like they walked right out of a novel. One of them, of course, was a guy name Bob Ford. History records him as the most famous back shooter of all times, the man who shot and killed Jesse James. The deed was recorded in an old song that immortalized how many viewed him. They lyric went “That dirty little coward, who shot Mr. Howard. And laid poor old Jesse in his grave”.
It would seem that when he arrived in Creede, Bob began running with a rather bad crowd. One of these individuals was another bad man known in Old West lore as Soapy Smith. I’d heard the name before. In cartoons! I hadn’t really realized that he was a historical character as well. He was the consummate con man who had maneuvered his way by manipulating not just the general populace, but buying political influence and so on.
Some say that Soapy Smith may or may not have had something to do with the killing of Bob Ford. Some suggest that he planted the idea in the head of the man who ultimately did. Others say that it was done because the guy who did the killing was a fan of Jesse James and it was a revenge killing. Either way, on June 8, 1892, Edward O’Kelley walked into the tent saloon Ford was running. He was carrying a double barreled shotgun. Ford had his back to the entrance when O’Kelley walked in. O’Kelly is alleged to have said, “Hi, Bob”.
As Bob Ford turned, O’Kelly emptied both barrels of the shotgun into him. Bob Ford was dead before he hit the ground.
Ford was buried on the hill overlooking the town.
I’d learned that Bob Ford’s grave was up there in the 4th grade. We were shown it in the 8th grade when Coach White arranged a big tour of the historical sites in the valley. Years later I would show it to an AmeriCorp team and tell them the whole story.
Now, here’s what I found out in my research.
Bob Ford’s grave in Creede, Colorado is empty!
It seems that the body was exhumed and moved to the Richmond Cemetery in his native Ray County, Missouri. A marker identifies his grave there.
And here, all along, I was thinking there was someone in the grave. The things you learn when trying to get the details right!
Learn more about Bob Ford at this link: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-robertford.html
Learn more about Creede, Colorado here: http://www.creede.com/