Grocery Clerk vs. Bad Man
Elko, Nevada - 1870s

     In the early 1870s, when Elko was a rootin' tootin' frontier town and gun toting was the rule rather than the exception, a grocery clerk bested Elko's resident badman.
     Mose Haynes was a local saloon owner with a bad reputation. It was said he was a former highwayman who operated between Virginia City and the California state line. After squealing on other gang members when they were apprehended, he had to leave for a healthier climate. He chose Elko where he soon gained the dubious title as the most dangerous man in town.
     Jack Whipple, a young clerk at Green's Grocery Store, had a friend who came to Elko in hopes of curing his consumption (tuberculosis). He was a mild, inoffensive person who had the misfortune to argue with Mose who promptly killed him.
     Whipple fretted over the needless killing. His irritation turned to hatred that shoved caution aside. Jack often declared that he wasn't afraid of Mose. His comments reached the ears of Haynes and he wasn't going to have his title as "boss of the town" besmirched by a pipsqueak.
     Haynes marched into the grocery store and pulled his pistol on Whipple who was waiting on a woman. He order Jack from behind the counter and was ignored. Enraged, Haynes started around the counter. Whipple dropped to his knees and crawled to the end of the counter.
     As the gunman came around the counter, Whipple leaped to his feet, wrested the gun from Mose and proceeded to pistol whip the badman. He would have killed him but people in the store pulled the clerk away. Haynes shuffled away, beaten and humiliated.
     That evening, still flushed with victory, Whipple stopped by Haynes' saloon where he was told to get out. The clerk asked Mose if he sold drinks and received a grudging, affirmative nod.
     Whipple announced, "I'm buying, boys! Set up the drinks."
     As reported in the Elko Independent, it was another victory for the fearless grocery clerk. Haynes was no longer king of the local badmen.
     A bit of trivia: In the 1880 US Census, Jack Whipple is not listed but Moses Haynes (Mose was his nickname) still lived in Elko.

Howard Hickson
October 1, 2001

©Copyright 2001 by Howard Hickson. Permission to use is given but, if any portion or all of this article is quoted, proper credit must be given.

[Back to Hickson's Histories Index]