Slaughter is shot
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The following telegram came through from the stageline station agent Isaac H. Gray in Deadwood to Supt. Luke Voorhees in Cheyenne, last night:
"Deadwood, March 25 Road agents attempted to rob the coach about 2 1/2 miles from here tonight. They killed Johnny Slaughter and wounded Mr. Iler. We start after body now Notify Johnny's father. Gray"
Voorhees notified City Marshall J. N. Slaughter of the incident immediately after receiving the telegram. The Marshal, father of the murdered driver, left for Deadwood on the next stage.
This morning a second dispatch from Gray came through with the following message: "Deadwood, March 26 Coach got in at 12 J. Slaughter was shot throught the heart with fourteen buckshot, about 2 1/2 miles from here. We have been out and brought him in. We found him lying in the road. He looked as if he never knew what hurt him. The team ran about one half mile and stopped. Iler was shot in the arm, a flesh wound. Smith was shot through the coat on shoulder but not hurt. There were five masked men who did the deed. They were seen by two men who say they went up over the hill near the timber. Johnny dropped twenty feet I have him in the hotel and the sheriff offers $500 reward for the murderers. Gray."
At first many thought that the holdup was the work of "Persimmon Bill" Chambers. Later evidence pointed to the Joel Collins-Sam Bass gang possibly also including Frank, Towle, "Reddy" McKemma, Heffridge, and Jim Berry.
Johnny Slaughter had been assigned in the dangerous, mountain division south of Deadwood by superintendent Voorhees because he considered Johnny to be his most outstanding six-horse driver, a fearless and dependable young man. Slaughter had lived in Cheyenne for several years and was popular, held in high esteem by his many friends. He had also gained a large number of friends in the Deadwood area although he had been driving that section of the stage route for a short time.
March 27, 1877: Funeral services for Johnny Slaughter were held this evening in the Grand Central hotel in Deadwood with Rev. Mr. Norcross officiating. A large number of women attended the services in addition to the men.
Noe: Johnny's body was then returned to Cheyenne for burial and a second funeral on April 4. Luke Voorhees provided six white stage horses to draw the hearse, it was followed to the Lakeview Cemetery by more than 40 carriages, the largest, such procession in Cheyenne.