Historical Details

Hat Creek Dateline: 1879/04/11

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 11/13/1991

Killer of two ladies for money and jewels is never caught
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer

Two women have been murdered south of here near Raw Hide Buttes within the last year. Both of the women were killed for money or valuables they were known to keep in their homes. Both of them were apparently shot by a man (or men) named Davis, in each case the killer fled and was not apprehended.

Mrs. McMullen, who lived at here Hawkeye Ranch, six miles south of the Buttes, was evidently killed and robbed of some $2000 cash, which she was known to keep at her ranch. John Davis, alias "Desperate Davis," the suspect in the April 1878 killing left the country and has not been seen nor heard of since that time.

The Coroners Jury report, on file with Laramie County Coroner, Goldeaker, shows that at Raw Hide Buttes in Laramie County, Territory of Wyoming, on April 8, 1878: "We the under Sign Jurroy Being Duly Summoned and Sworn to Investigate when where and By what Means The Person Knowing as Mrs. McMullen came to her death By a gunshot Wound Entering the Left Side of her Breast near the heart and by the Evidence do Believe one John Davis allias Desperate Davis did Wilfuly Miliciously Then and there with a gun Loaded with Powder and Lead Kill Said Mrs. mcMullen by firing the same." (sic).

The other recent murder was discovered by Mrs. O.J. Demmon, the wife of a ranchman who lives at Silver Springs, a few miles north of Raw Hide Buttes on the stage road. Mrs. Demmon had decided to visit "Old Mother Feather Legs" at her dugout between there and the Buttes since she was the only other woman that lived nearby.

Upon her arrival at the dugout, Mrs. Demmon was horrified to find the "Old Woman" had been murdered. She had apparently been shot while filling a bucket of water at the spring. There were many tracks in the soft soil nearby. Many of these tracks were made by moccasins - the type of footwear always worn by "Dangerous Dick" Davis. The murderer had fled, taking with him the $1,200 or $1,500 and any jewelry that the "Old Woman" was thought to have had.

The old woman had the nickname "Old Mother Feather Legs" given to her by local cowboys. They said that the long red pantalettes she wore tied about her ankles when she was riding horseback fluttered so in the wind, reminding them of a feather-legged chicken.

She had opened her place of "entertainment" for travelers in the dugout in 1876. Rot-gut whiskey and a couple of tin horn gamblers were part of her equipment. The place soon became a hangout for road agents and other outlaws with the old woman serving as a go-between.

A year later Dick Davis, called Dangerous Dick because of a certain hang dog and evil look, came to live at her place. The two seemed well acquainted and to have known each other in the past. He posed as a hunter and trapper, but spent most of his time loading in Old Mother Feather Legs' dugout.

(Information source: "The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Agnes Wright Spring. Documents of Wyoming by Pat Hall.)

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Davis, John (06/16/1898 - 04/22/1967) View Record
Obituary Davis, John (02/05/1900 - 10/21/1966) View Record