Finders Keepers, Volume 8, Numbers 3 and 4, 1991 Page: 101

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101

by J'Nell L. Pate
Ever heard of a fellow who had

the presence of
account of a
shoot-out in
which he was
participating?
In an article
about the
Johnson Coun-
ty, Wyoming
range war of
1892 between

mind to write an
Iri' a

cattlemen and rustlers, I found such
an account. It was written by Nathan
D. Champion, an alleged rustler.
One account of the war claims that
it wasn't between ranchers and
rustlers at all but between organized
large ranchers who wanted to drive
out the small ranches. They used
rustlers as an excuse. Some existed,
obviously.
The cattle owners hired an army
of 50 hired guns from Texas with the
intent of driving the rustlers out. On
April 6, 1892, they began their
sweep through Wyoming. They got
word that there were rustlers at the
K.C. Ranch on the Powder River at
the foothills of the Big Horn Moun-
tains. Consequently. they sur-
rounded four men in a cabin. Most
of the cowboys of the ranch were
away on a roundup.
One man came out of the cabin for
a bucket of water and was captured.
Another came out and was captured
a!; well. Then a fellow named Nick
Ray came out and was hit. "Nate"
Champion rushed out of the house
and carried the wounded Nick back
inside.
Nate barred the doors and win-
dows and prepared to defend him-
self. The men knew he was a dead
shot. He fired from all sides of the

cabin, tended his wounded comrad,
and wrote an account of the long day
with a pencil that he had. This is
what he said:
"Me and Nick was getting break-
fast when the attack took place. Two
men were here with us - Bill Jones
and another man. The old man went
after water and did not come back.
His friend went out to see what was
the matter and he did not come back.
His friend went out to see what was
the matter and he did not come back.
Nick started out and I told him to
look out, that I thought there was
someone at the stable and would not
let them come back.
"Nick is shot, but not dead yet.
He is awful sick. I must go and wait
on him. It is now about two hours
since the first shot. Nick is still alive.
They are shooting and are all around
the house. Boys, there is bullets
coming in like hail. Them fellows is
in such shape I can't get at.them.
They are shooting from the stable
and river, and back of the house.
Nick is dead, he died about 9
o'clock. I see a smoke.down at the
stable. I think they have fired it. I
don't think they intend to let me get
away this time.
"It is now about noon. There is
someone at the stable yet. They are
throwing a rope out at the door and
drawing it back. I guess it is to draw
me out. I wish that duck would get
out further so I could get a shot at
him. Boys, I don't know what they
have done with them two felllows
that staid here last night. Boys, I feel
pretty lonesome just now. I wish
there was someone here with me so
we could watch all sides at once.
They may fool around here until I
get a good shot before they leave.
"It is about 3 o'clock now. There

was a man in a buckboard and one
on horsebck just passed. They fired
on them as they went by. I don't
know if they killed them-or not. I
seen lots of men come out on horses
on the other side of the river and take
after them. I shot at the men in the
stable just now. Don't know if I got
any or not. I must go and look out
again. It don't look as if there js
much show of my getting away. I ee
twelve or fifteen men. One looks like
(here a name was scratched out). I
don't know whether it is or not. I
hope they did not catch them fellows
that ran over the bridge toward
Smith's. They are shooting at the
house now. If I had a pair of glasses
I believe I would know some -of
those men. They are coming back.
I've got to look out.
"Well, they have just got through
shelling the house like hail. I heard
them splitting wood. I guess they are
going to fire the house tonight. I
think I will make a break when night
comes, if I am alive. Shooting again.
I think they will fire house this time.
It's not night yet. The house is all
fired. Good bye. boys if I never see
you again. Nathan D. Champion"
The gang had rolled a wagon
loaded with pitch, pine wood and
hay onto the side of the cabin and
caught it on fire. Nate ran out of the
house toward a gulch with a rifle in
his hand and a revolver in his belt.
Blinded by smoke. he ran directly
toward two of the best shots. One
bullet hit his arm and the other his
heart. They found the diary on his
body.
Pate, an Azle resident, teaches history
and government at TCJC. She is the
author of the book, Livestock Legacy:
The Fort Worth Stockyards

CHAMPIONS
Felix Hights
Jim Champion
(Norydke). Lee
and Cecil.

daughter by Sara Jane Horton, Martha Jane married
Their children Lee, Frank, Della (Scott), Anna
Champion married , their children Calvin

Also Price Davis and Epsey Hights daughter in law was Elizabeth
Champion. Who was married to Howell Davis in 1843.
J. H. Hight married Eliza Champion 22 Feb. 1866.
Richard Hite
P.O. Box 732
Godley, TX 76044

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Johnson County Genealogical Society (Tex.). Finders Keepers, Volume 8, Numbers 3 and 4, 1991, periodical, 1991; Cleburne, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth355101/m1/46/ocr/: accessed October 30, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Johnson County Genealogical Society.

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