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Friday, March 7, 2014

ELLIOTT JOHANSON STORY Chapter one


There are some things that will cause a boy to turn into a man overnight - - This was one of those terrible times.  Our Next Continued Story begins - - -
 
 

Here are a few curt statements to introduce our main character.

This is a story about a boy who was called upon to grow up faster than he aged.  His name was Elliott, but his family called him El.
 
From the time he could remember he was fond of his uncle Sid.  His uncle was his mother’s brother and gone much of the time because he worked for the army.  
 
Sid was a part time scout and when he wasn’t out on a patrol he was a wrangler.  He had to watch over the horses that weren’t being used by the soldiers at present.  

There were a couple of other full time wranglers that worked at the fort but when Sid was available one or the other would get some time off.
 
Their hours were full of things to do. Their main responsibility was to break the horses and get them ready for the military drills they would be rode in.
 
On an almost daily basis, Sid would check the horses over that were being used by the soldiers.  The soldiers were responsible for the conditioning of the horses but Sid still liked to check them out whenever possible.
 
If he spotted something he didn’t like about the horses condition he had the power to exchange the horse for another and try to heal the ill one. 
 
This didn’t set too well with some of the soldiers for they wanted to keep their usual mount.  Some had ridden the same horse for years and didn’t want to give them up.
 
The time was coming when the army no longer would go out on long patrols and most of the duty was to maintain a presence across the country.  Forts were scattered everywhere in the nation.  

The forts were to keep the white man from encroaching onto Indian property as much as to protect the white settlers.  
 
They had to oversee the Indian affairs department should there be a threat of violence due to dissatisfaction with what Washington was sending to the Indians.  They would have to ultimately be involved, and need to settle the problem.  Usually it was not always settled to everyone’s satisfaction.

When things were quiet Sid would bring El to his quarters at the fort and let him “help” with his duties.
 
El liked to doctor any of the horses who were acting poorly.  He helped put out the feed both hay and grain and when he was around the horses at the fort, they were well fed.  But when on patrol that was another story for they could only carry a limited amount of feed.  
 
During the night, they had to have someone keep and eye on the horses to prevent them from being stolen.  On occasion there would be some new horses added as replacements for the older ones.  Some would just get old and others would get hurt or wounded during a fight.
 
El enjoyed watching the new horses be trained.  When the army got them they were supposed to be broke, but usually they were still pretty wild.
 
Then it would be up to Sid or one of the other wranglers to finish breaking them.  El would try to get Sid to let him ride one of them but Sid knew he wasn’t quite ready for these were near wild broncos.

Ever since El was almost four, he had been riding calves and as he grew so did his rides.  At almost nine he could now ride a full grown steer and it was always bareback with just a rope around the belly.
 
By now he figured he could handle some of the horses at the forts corral for not all of them were that hard bucking.  One day when Sid was away a couple of the wranglers ask El if he thought he could ride a new horse that just arrived and he said sure but Sid wouldn’t let him.  
 
They kept after him saying Sid wasn’t there and wouldn’t find out about it. These guys were full of devilment and wouldn’t stop teasing him till later in the day he finally said okay but don’t tell Sid.

What the guys didn’t say was the horse had thrown them and every one of the wranglers they brought in more then once.  Plus he was mean too boot.
 
He would go after them with his teeth and paw them after he threw them off.

The wranglers said they would saddle him up for El and then he could break the “Wild One” as they had named the horse.
 
El knew he had never tried to ride anything like this animal and that he was no doubt going to get beat up pretty good trying to stay on him.
 
He had seen about a thousand horses broke and had a pretty good idea what this horse was all about.  He told the men not to saddle him, just put a rope around his neck.
 
They tried to talk him out of that idea, but he said he wouldn’t try him with a saddle on him.  He figured the saddle was too big for him and he would be bounced around on the horn pretty badly.  
 
Another thing there wasn’t anyway he could keep the horse’s head up with the hackamore they wanted him to use so he was going to give him his head and let him do his worst.
 
There were three guys holding the horse down while another put him on.
 
El yelled out, “Hold him until I get a grip on his mane and then let me have him.”
 
For the next few minutes El hung on with both hands intertwined in the horse’s mane. He was off the horse’s back most of the time hanging on the side and then he would bounce back onto his back. His hands were bleeding and he was bruised all over but the horse finally stopped bucking but then he tried to reach around and bite El.
 
Since the horse settled down, the guys went over and helped El get his hands loosen from the horse’s mane and he jumped down with a groan.
 
They asked how he was and he answered, “Pretty beat up. That horse is one mean piece of horse flesh.”  He said, “I like him for he does have a lot of spirit.”
 
All the men in the fort were talking about El riding “That Wild Horse.”

Later when Sid found out what had happened he took each of the men in the barn who had taken part in El’s ride and put a whup on them.
 
Everyone at the fort knew what happened and thought the men had done a wrong thing to El, but admired the fact he stayed on the horse.

It took El three weeks before he was healed up but being young he was as good as new.  Sid said to him, “I guess you think you are a top hand now after your ride, don’t you?”
 
El said, “I knew I had done a wrong thing after the first buck but I had my fingers twisted in his mane and couldn’t get them out so all I could do was to try to hang on.”  
 
El continued, “I sure like that horse and wish he was mine.”
 
Sid said, “Another of the wranglers tried to ride him yesterday and got his self broken up so the Cornel said for me to get rid of him because he don’t want anymore men broken up by him.”  
 
He told me to get what I could for him.  
 
El said, “I will give you fifty cents for him.  That is all I have right now but I don’t think no one else will give you more if they saw someone try to ride him.”

Sid said, “What are you going to do with him?  But first before you tell me give me the fifty cents before you back out.”

El said, “I’m going to ride him what do you think?”
 
Sid said, “Are you crazy he will kill you.  He has bitten everyone who has come near him.”

El said, “He don’t do that to me anymore.”

Sid said, “Why not?”
 
El said, “The first time he did it I picked up a club and gave him a bloody nose. Then the next time when he didn’t try to bite me I gave him an apple. It looks like he wants an apple more than a bloody nose.”
 
Sid said, “It looks like he is a one man’s horse and now you own him.”

A couple weeks later the Cornel saw El riding Buck (El named him that because he bucked so hard and so much) and the  Cornel wondered if he somehow had been taken advantage of.
 
El had to watch him for he would still reach out and bite someone if they got close.
 
With the crops all in El spent a week at the fort with Sid but upon his returning home he discovered his mother, father and his siblings had been shot and killed.
 
His father lived long enough to tell him it was done by four men who rode pinto horses.  El covered them up and went to see the sheriff who set about looking for the men on the Pintos.
El went to fetch his uncle Sid and they went to the farm where they buried the folks. El found their dog under the house. The men had shot the dog, but he lived through the event.
 
When they returned to town the sheriff said they had got away and were in the hills somewhere.  Sid told the sheriff he would take care of it.

El took his dog to the doctor and said for him to fix him and keep him until he returned.  The doctor started to protest but knowing El had just lost his folks he said, sure I’ll be glad to.  He will be here when you return.
 
Sid and El went to the fort and got enough food to last a few days.  El insisted that he go with Sid for they were his folks that were killed.  
 
He got a carbine from one of the wranglers and plenty of ammunition although El said he would only need one shell for each man.  
 
In days past, El had plenty of practice shooting and was a crack shot, hunting rabbits and squirrels and he never missed.
 
Sid told him hunting men was different than hunting for varmints.
 
El said, “It would be easier because varmints had more sense than humans and were smaller.  It took them a day and a half for Sid to track them down and when they found them they were half drunk.
 
Sid positioned El in a safe place while he was on the other side.  He told El the men were going to die right there for they were evil.  
 
El insisted that he get the first shot so Sid finally gave in.  By the time Sid got in position to get his first shot off three of the men lay dead so he finished the last of them.
 
When he met up with El where the men lay he asked him how he was.
 
El said, “Fine, they shouldn’t have shot the dog.”  He never mentioned his folks so Sid never asked him about them.
 
It was a finished issue except he saw El off by himself weeping later.
 
From that time on El was hardened and no longer the fun loving kid he was before he found his family murdered.  
 
They found a sink hole into which they threw the men.  Sid said they weren’t worth burying.
 
He stripped them of their goods before throwing them in the hole and it turned out they had a lot of money between them.
 
Sid said they must have been robbing a lot of folks before they got to El’s place but they had done their last job. 
 
To be Continued
 

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