Mile 1835: Dry Creek

“[W]hen Streeper was ready to return, two prospectors traveling toward Salt Lake City, asked him if they could accompany him, to which he replied that they could if they were not afraid of Indians. They fared forth and saw no Indians or anything else out of the ordinary until they neared Dry Creek station. They saw no signs of anyone about and a herd of cattle was moving away from it.

Riding on in Streeper dismounted, walked to the door of the station and looked inside. Years later he said that what he saw caused his hair to stand on end. Before him lay the scalped, mutilated body of Ralph Rosier, the station keeper. John Applegate and Lafayette (“Bolly”) Bolwinkle were not there. Later, he learned what had happened.

A day or so before, after he had passed on his westward way, Rosier and Applegate rose early as usual to begin the days work. ‘Bolly’ was enjoying an extra forty winks before joining them. Applegate started to make a fire to get breakfast while Rosier went to the spring for a bucket of water.

Suddenly a rifle shot rang out and Rosier screamed. Applegate leaped to the door, looked out, saw his friend upon the ground dying, and turned back. Another shot, and Applegate fell to the floor, a horrible wound in his hip and groin. A moment later McCandless who was alone in his trading post, dashed across the road and took refuge in the station.

‘Bolly’ leaped from his bed in his stocking feet, and seized his gun. For some minutes he and McCandless worked like beaver piling grain bags in the doorway and making other preparations to defend the place to the last ditch. Applegate, who was suffering intensely, urged them to abandon him to his fate and attempt to reach the next station. When they refused he asked for a revolver. They gave him one, thinking he wished to take a shot at an Indian. Instead he shot himself through the head.

After the first two shots the attackers seem to have remained quiet, for nothing is said about ‘Bolly’ and McCandless having fought them. At length the trader declared they had to make a run of it to the next station. When ‘Bolly’ objected on the grounds that the Indians would certainly cut them down in the open, McCandles assured him such was not the case. They were not after him, he said, and since he had always treated them well they had a friendly feeling for him. If ‘Bolly’ would stay close to him they would nut dare shoot for fear of hitting him.

‘Bolly’ at length agreed co make the attempt. When everything was ready, the grain bags were removed from the door and they leaped outside. As they dashed down the road McCandless kept between ‘Bolly’ and the Indians. A few gave chase on foot, but the fugitives outdistanced them. Being satisfied with the blood they had already shed, they turned hack to loot the station.

‘Bolly’ and McCandless reached the next station in safety where they found three or four men ready to defend it. Having covered the ten or twelve miles without boots ‘Bolly’s’ feet were so cut by stones and filled with cactus thorns that he was laid up for some time.”