I don’t believe the Montana Vigiliantes can be called illegal. There was no law at all in Montana in 1863. There was a governor, but no governmental framework. There was the civil war going on back in the ‘states’ and no money from anywhere for the territories.
It is incorrect for modern writers to scribble about those times without understanding how those people lived.
Perhaps I have a better sense because my great grandfather Louis Hershfield arrived in Virginia City in 1863 with 11 wagons and sold them all for gold dust and rode those stages to Salt Lake and was held up on those stages. He knew the bad guys and he knew the vigilantes and the founders of same were life long friends.
When there is no law the bad guys start gangs and the good guys repsonse was to start a vigilance committee. You can’t call one illegal if you don’t call the bandits, killers and highwaymen illegal that caused the reaction of a vigilance group.
Because I am descended from Virginia City and later Last Chance Gulch/Helena I have read all the books written by all the players in those days. There was nothing illegal about what they did. There was no law and when you find yourself in that situation you have to make your own.
William Guy Levy
Meeker, CO 81641
amen and amen. well said.
great story Mr. Levy: you might want to leave whatever oral or documented history you have on Wikipedia or elsewhere for posterity…………..or the stuff you know will be lost forever.
Shades of Ken McElroy, W.D. French, (and company).
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