Poem of Murder
the dark early hours of Friday, October 30, 1896, Cherokee Charlie Snead
(rhymes with dead, no pun intended) was brutally murdered outside the Commercial
Hotel. Not much is known about Charlie. He was a cowhand with "Hoc" Mason
out at Deeth who reported that Charlie was a half breed Cherokee who came
to Elko a couple of days before his deadly rendevous with the Grim Reaper.
He had a good bit of back pay in his jeans.
He rode into town on Wednesday afternoon and
put his horse up at Nelson's livery stable. He walked to the Commercial
and, reported a writer in the Elko Independent, got comfortably full and
remained in that condition up to the time he was last seen alive around
one a.m. on Friday.
He had been on a 24 hour binge when he visited
G.S. Garcia's harness and saddle shop where he bought a $35 saddle. After
paying for the gear he pulled $75 from his pocket, took out five dollars
and asked Garcia to hold the rest of the money until he was ready to leave
town. Snead left to continue work on his drinking.
Dave Powell found him lying near the rear
gate of the Commercial about five a.m. Cherokee Charlie was face down in
a pool of blood. One hand was on his head, his boots and one stocking were
off, and his clothes were unbuttoned. Powell called for help and Charlie's
almost lifeless body was taken to the hospital where he died. He had been
beaten with a railroad coupling pin, seriously fracturing his head several
times. It was a brutal murder for a few cents if Snead even had any money
left after his earnest drinking.
A fruitless investigation followed. The Independent
reported that the Elko County Commissioners had ordered a $250 reward for
Snead's unknown killer. With that small notice buried in the middle of
the newspaper Cherokee Charlie's murder is forgotten. Officially forgotten,
but remembered in a poem by "Broncho Jack" Mulcahy, a cowboy poet and evangelist.
Taken from a copy of the original poem, Broncho
Jack's work is reproduced as he wrote it in his own words and style. The
piece was probably written some years after the murder, he is one year
off on the date and a few of the facts.
Death of Chorokee Charlie Snead at
Elko Nev. (1897)
Poem, by "Broncho Jack" Cowboy Poet-Evangelist.
In the silver State Nevada, in the Village
As I held a little service, though the
ground was white with snow.
The cowboys gathered around me, by the
camp fire burning red,
One cowboy played the fireman, his name
was Charlie Sned.
The Boys were all good-natured, and listened
to my talk,
But one "chapp" he got noisy, the Boys
made him walk.
Right here we'l have good order, the "Outfit"
Pile on more wood there fireman, he would
order Charlie Sned.
I spoke of the last great round-up, and
how the "Rider Pale,"
Would soon come from his home-ranch, A
drifting down the Trail.
The Boys paid good attention, one of them
hung his head,
And tears started down the cheeks of Cowboy
I'd like to be a Christian Pard, my mother
she was one,
I mean to keep the right Trail "Pall",
but still I wanted fun.
I've rode Nevada over Jack, often wished
that I was dead,
I well remember now the words, my poor
old Mother said.
We bade good night to Charlie, and kind
advice I gave,
My wife a prayer she offered, for that
Cowboy young and brave.
We little drem't from his "home-ranch",
that rider grim and pale,
Was drifting from head-quarters then, Yes,
"Milling" down the Trail.
Next morning very early, sad news came
to our ears,
It made my heart feel heavy, it filled
our eyes with tears,
A man had been found Murdered, in the Sage-Brush
We rode and there we found the Corpse,
of the Cowboy Charlie Sned.
Last night he was so happy, came rideing
Upon a bucking Bronch, to do the place
But Alas! the "pale grim Rider" as the
book of Books has said,
It "cut" him from the main-Herd, there
the Cowboy Charlie Sned.
So Cowboy pay attention, give heed to what
Just keep in with the Trail-Herd upon the
For the Round-"Up" time is coming, Lifes
sun is turning red.
You'l be "cut-out" to right or left, Like
Chorokee Charlie Sned.
John C. "Broncho Jack" Mulcahy was born December 13, 1867, in New York
City. He was orphaned at age five and he was forced to live with a relative
who neglected and mistreated him. Jack hawked newspapers on street corners,
shined shoes and did just abut any job that would put a few cents in his
pocket. At the tender age of ten he moved to Chicago and was on his own.
Around 1884, he traveled west with a wagon train.
From then, until his death in1938, he rode
the west. He was a steeple painter, cowboy, preacher, and poet. Jack took
time off in 1898 to join the First U.S. Cavalry in the Spanish-American
War. The unit was the famed Roughriders commanded by Colonel Leonard Wood
and Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.
After spending almost four months in the Veterans
Hospital at Fort Whipple, Arizona, Jack died September 9, 1938. He is buried
Photograph from his family's collection
August 27, 2001
Notes: This story
comes from an article I wrote in the Northeastern Nevada Historical
Society Quarterly, Number 87-1, Winter 1987. Research came from two
of Jack's grandsons, Thomas and John Mulcahy, both of Las Vegas, Nevada.
My sincere thanks to them for sharing their grandfather's life. They sent
poems from Jack's original poem book, news clippings, a couple of letters
written by Broncho Jack, and a photogrpah. Additional information was from
the Elko Independent, November 1 and 7, 1896.
"Broncho Jack's" story should
be told. He remembered a friend who would have been forgotten if a poem
had not been written about him, a friend who died with his boots off on
a dark street in Elko instead of out on the range with his boots on. Jack's
life will be remembered and two of his poems will be appear here
©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.
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