Friday, 18 May 2012 16:00

Lynch Law in Las Vegas - 1882

Contributed by
Rate this item
(2 votes)

This poster is no joke.  The law was sparse and none too effective in the Territory during the 1880s and vigilantes often took justice into their own hands.  The following is from Miguel Antonio Otero's autobiography "My Life on the Frontier."

"On the same day that witnessed Judge Prince's resignation (June 9, 1882), James McHan, a good-natured half-wit employed on the railroad at the Pecos River crossing, was being mercilessly ridiculed by a fellow employee, John Graves.  Graves, as well as other section hands, had become accustomed to tantalizing the ignorant McHan on every conceivable occasion.  Probably they derived some kind of imaginary amusement from seeing the poor imbecile writhe under their tongue lashing.  McHan, aroused to the point of insanity,  suddenly drew a gun and fired point-blank at Graves, who dropped dead at his feet.

McHan immediately struck out for the mountains, followed by twenty members of an impromptu deputy sheriff's posse.  He was captured and placed under guard.  Shortly before midnight of that same day a mob of forty enraged section hands, who had been friends of Graves, made an armed attack upon McHan's protectors, wresting their victim from them.

Half dragging, half carrying the seventeen-year-old McHan to the railroad trestle east of the Pecos yards, they strung him to one of the cross-ties.  Once again, a man had gone to oblivion via the 'Rope Route.'"

Read 3060 times Last modified on Saturday, 19 May 2012 15:24
Mike Lord

4th generation Santa Fe Gringo.

More in this category: « Espanola 1920 Chama, New Mexico »
Login to post comments

Additional information