Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vigilante X For Western Wednesday...!

Have you heard of the man that went by the name "Vigilante X?" He prefered to be called just "X"!

His story is one of those interesting but little known bits of Montana's history. His story is the type of history you can find at Really interesting things can be found there!

Aug 14, 1831:
Montana "Vigilante X" is born

John X. Beidler, one of the best known of the notoriously secretive Montana vigilantes, is born in Pennsylvania.

Beidler, who preferred to be called simply "X," had little formal education and tried his hand at a variety of trades. Initially a shoemaker, he also worked briefly as a brick maker and then traveled to Kansas where he took up farming. A supporter of John Brown's radical abolitionist movement, he left Kansas for Texas after Brown was captured and executed for his abortive raid on the Harper's Ferry armory in Virginia. From Texas, Beidler wandered northward, eventually joining the Gold Rush to Montana Territory in 1863.

When Beidler arrived in Virginia City, the area was plagued by marauding bandits who roamed the isolated roads of the region robbing and killing. The bandits were led by a charming psychopath named Henry Plummer who had managed to con the citizens into electing him sheriff of the nearby town of Bannock. Frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the local law enforcement, the citizens of Virginia City and Bannock formed a highly secretive vigilance committee and began systematically hunting down and hanging the road agents, including Sheriff Plummer.

Not long after arriving in Virginia City, Beidler joined the vigilantes and became one of the group's most active members. Unlike most of the members, who took pains to conceal their identities, Beidler welcomed attention. Numerous legends arose around the so-called "Vigilante X," and Beidler did little to discourage exaggerations—in fact, much of the Beidler lore was true. He was the principal hangman for at least five of the vigilante's victims, and he survived several narrow escapes in his relentless pursuit of dangerous men.

After helping rid Montana of crime, Beidler became a stagecoach guard and deputy U.S. Marshall. He appears to have been highly effective in these roles, though he was criticized for sometimes overstepping the bounds of his authority. Apparently, the former vigilante still liked to take the law into his own hands.

As an old man, he fell on hard times and became dependent on the charity of Montanans who remembered his previous service. When he died in Helena, Montana, in 1890, his death certificate listed his occupation as "Public Benefactor."

So many of these guys started off as just wanderers looking for adventure. Looks like our man "X" found it! Best part, he managed to survive it and live a long and peaceful life! That's better than most, I think!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Fresh macaroons anyone?


Gorges Smythe said...

We had a local ne'er-do-well pass away about 35 years ago whose obituary listed him as a philanthropist. Who's to say? :-)

linda m said...

He was a "colorful" figure to say the least. At least in the end the local folk took care of their own. 49 degrees here this morning, supposed to warm up to about 72. Coffee on the patio is calling my name. Save me a seat on the swing.

JO said...

Great story this morning. I need to expand my history further north.

Coffee on the patio sounds great.

Rob said...

That was a great piece of history! Thanks for passing it along, "Public Benefactor."

Dizzy-Dick said...

I would have loved to have lived back in that time period and in the west. But probably wouldn't have survived being born since my Mom had some trouble and I was had a cesarean section.

Anonymous said...

Macaroons are my favorite!

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Guess like most things, it all depends on how a person is viewed. Funny how that works.

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda...
Guess the colorful ones are the ones that stand out the most!

Those temps are not bad compared to Houston! Your swing seat is reserved!

Thanks for the visit!

Hey Jo...
Never know what you might find, that's for sure!

Thanks, sweetie, for dropping by today!

Hey Rob...
Funny how those "titles" can change a persons outlook! Glad you enjoyed the story!

I'm happy you could come by today!

Hey Dizzy...
We sure have made some advancements since those days! At least in medicine!

Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!

Hey Herlander...
They sure are hard to beat and go good with coffee, milk, or just about anything!

Thanks for the visit today!