Hat Creek Dateline: 1876/04/24

Last updated: January 3, 2014

The Lusk Herald
November 22, 1989


Brown dies from wounds
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer


Three men from the Hat Creek Stage Station left this morning looking for an overdue Cheyenne and Black Hills "fast freight" wagon. They found the superintendent of the northern division of the Stage and Express Co., H.E. "Stuttering" Brown, badly wounded on the prairie several miles northeast of the station, with a mule standing by his side. Brown was begging to talk to Stage Line Supt. Luke Voorhees before he died. One of the men rode hastily to Fort Laramie and sent a telegram to Voorhees in Cheyenne, informing him of Brown's condition and request.

Voorhees immediately wired back to the commander of Fort Laramie requesting medical aid for Brown. Then he jumped into the saddle and spurred his horse northward out of Cheyenne. By changing mounts every 10 miles, the sturdy stage man reached Fort Laramie in nine hours. Stopping only long enough to obtain a fresh horse, he headed across the Platte River in the direction of the Hat Creek station.

About one o'clock in the morning, in the shadow of Raw Hide Buttes, the stage official met a solemn column of cavalry, escorting a blanket-wrapped form. Brown had lived only 24 hours, although acting Assistant Surgeon Petteys had done all that he could to save the man's life.

What had Brown wanted to tell Voorhees? Did he surmise that Persimmon bill had shot him? No one ever knew. Voorhees turned back with the escort. From Fort Laramie he telegraphed for Graves, a Cheyenne embalmer, to bring a coffin up on the stage and take charge of Brown's body.

Charlie Edwards and a man named "Curly," who were with Brown at the time he was shot, told Voorhees that they were making a night trip in one of the company's fast freight wagons. About 18 miles northeast of Hat Creek station, a shower of bullets suddenly rattled about the wagon. Brown told his men he was mortally wounded and urged them to save themselves.

The team ran away, but the men helped Brown mount one of the mules they had been leading behind the wagon. The men then mounted other mules and rode into the night.

As in the case of the Metz murders, it was generally supposed that Indians had made the attack. A few men were of the opinion that it was not the work of Indians, as the red men seldom attacked late at night.

Investigation showed that Brown had been having a good deal of trouble with thieves who were taking the stage stock. On his way down from Custer city, he discovered that a fine team which he intended to use on the run north through Red Canyon, and which he had left at the Hagers ranch on Cheyenne River, had been stolen. Being quick of temper, Brown was incensed at his loss. He accused Persimmon Bill of the theft and threatened to kill Bill if he did not quit the stage road.

Bill went away at once with the remark that he would get even with Brown. Hagers tried to persuade Brown and his men to stay at the ranch all night, but Brown insisted on pushing along. It seems logical to believe that he met his death at the hands of Persimmon Bill.

The Cheyenne Leader said of the death: "Cheyenne owes H.E. Brown a heavy debt of gratitude. He has worked night and day for the past two or three months in getting a stage line established from this city to the Black Hills, and by so doing aided inestimably in our city's advancement. His personal friendship and influence with men of large means, and his willingness to invest his own money in the enterprise, his arduous labors in the establishing of the route, the completion of which was on the eve of attainment at the time of his murder, show that he was deeply interested in the welfare of Cheyenne...."

(Information source: The Cheyenne and black Hills Stage and Express Routes by Agnes Wright Spring)




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