where the wild west comes alive
George W. Pike
(? - 1908)
Pike attracted attention with his gun handling ability by shooting the buttons off a man's vest from the length of a saloon. Initially, George made a few dollars gambling and lived in a shack on the outskirts of town. His first caper involved the next door neighbor - Will Reid. Will briefly left his meal cooking to get some potatoes at the local market. Ten minutes later Reid returned to his tent to find his stove missing. Storming back outside, Reid saw smoke exiting the previously stoveless residence of Pike. Fuming he entered Pike's tent demanding the return of the stove. Innocently Pike showed Reid this stove had no legs while Reid's did have supports. This stove had three top lids while Reid's had four. Reid tried to prove ownership, but could not. Word of this outlandish caper spread fast and kept people laughing.
George Pike favored gambling and periodically lost large sums of money in his addiction. His watchful eye could spot the shellman. It is known he prevented some greenhorns from getting duped by these shysters. One night Pike was cheated and merely left the game. Minutes later a bandit dressed in hobo style clothes with a hat pulled down held up the poker game and took $500. The smartly dressed Pike returned and offered his sympathy. The victim never knew the bandit dressed in rags was Pike.
He married and established a ranch outside of Douglas, WY. His ranch was stocked with other people's bovines and horses. Thievery was George Pike's new calling. The owners complained and took Pike to court, but in each case he had an alibi. George was hearing the gavel so often he placed a local attorney on retainer. Credit has to given to the lawyer with his eloquent plead of the cases. In one case Pike was arrested for stealing a horse and saddle. His attorney, Fred Harvey, argued finding the saddle at Pike's residence did not prove he stole the horse since the horse could not be found. On the stand Pike declared someone had placed the saddle to get even with him and he was set free.
The cattle baron Bob Carey stormed into a saloon accusing Pike of stealing cattle. Carey stated if Pike was seen on CY ranch land his cowboys were ordered to shoot and kill him. Pike thought for a moment and said "I'll tell you what I'll do, Bob. You give me a twenty dollar bill and I'll forget the whole matter." That was George Pike - bold, comical.
Will Reid (see stove incident above) decided to play Pike's game - against him. Reid stole a number of Pike's horses. When Pike had him arrested, Reid produced a fake bill of sale. One attorney turned down his case, but Fred Harvey, who had recently been released by Pike, took Reid's case. Part of Harvey's closing statement sent the courtroom into laughter, "Once Pike told me that if he ever had a horse in his pasture that he had come by honestly, he would shoot it so it would not contaminate the rest." Wiping tears of laughter, the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty" for Reid.
Pike sold his ranch and hired out as a cowboy. He had many offers since the ranches felt if he was employed with them, their stock was safe.
When George Pike died in 1908 a hat was passed around to construct a suitable marker. Fred Harvey was one of the contributors.
The verse on his headstone reads:
Sleeps the wildest one of the wayward West
He was a gambler and sport and cowboy too
And he led the pace in an outlaw crew
He was sure on the trigger and staid to the end
But he never was known to quit on a friend
In relations of death all mankind is alike
But in life there was only one George W. Pike
George Pike was buried on hill east of Douglas, WY, but moved to the Douglas Cemetery in Douglas, WY..
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