Do not go where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Friday

Hoodoo Brown - The First in a Series About Old West Outlaws

From High Noon


Hoodoo Brown was a man from Missouri named Hyman Neill who had left home on a frieght train as a teenager. He led an adventureous life and was among other things, a buffalo hunter, gambler, con-artist and conjure-man.

Following what seems to have been a mostly good time running an opera company in Mexico with a friend, he drifted to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. He soon ruled the place, already notorious as the most lawless in the West. By 1879, by means natural and/or supernatural but none of them honest, Hoodoo was Justice of the Peace, Mayor and Coroner of the place.

He recruited the baddest of the bad and soon commanded a formidable band of outlaws who enforced law and committed crimes as they saw fit. The group, known as the Dodge City Gang, included men with some of the most colorful names in the West like "Mysterious Dave Mather" and "Dirty Dave" Rudebaugh. Acting as Hoodoo's Coroner’s Jury, they decided which murders, including ones they committed, were homicide and which self-defense. Rudebaugh later rode with Billy the Kid and is said to have been the only man he ever feared. Other gang member, Joshua Webb, owned a saloon with Doc Holiday at one time and rode with Bat Masterson.

They were obviously and rampantly corrupt. Not only that, but at least one of them turned to the 'black arts' when the broad range of other methods at his disposal failed. Hoodoo's trickery must have been fairly successful and fairly frequent, considering his nickname.

Ultimately, the gang was run out of town. Hoodoo left for Houston but was arrested and jailed upon arrival for the robbery and killing of a Vegas deputy. The deputy's widow came to see him soon after his arrest. "The meeting between the pair is said to have been affecting in the extreme, and rather more affectionate than would be expected under the circumstances." (Parsons Sun)

Another newspaper, the Parsons Eclipse, added "The offense committed at Las Vegas, as near as we can gather the facts relating to it, was murder and robbery, and the circumstances connected with the arrest here would indicate that the lesser crime of seduction and adultery was connected with it."

Hoodoo hired two local attorneys and was released. The Chicago Times soon reported, that Brown and the widow who had visited him "have been skylarking through some of the interior towns of Kansas ever since."

Descendants say the pair had one son and moved to Torreon, Mexico. When he died, relatives brought his son and his body back to Missouri.

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