Monday, July 27, 2015

The Wild West

This bit of family lore is true to the best of my knowledge. I have seen newspaper reports of both events.

I stayed in Coleville a couple of nights ago because of its connection to a grisly part of my family's history. Coleville is situated at the foot of the eastern slope of the Sierra in a narrow valley where the West Walker river drains the eastern slope of the the Sierra into Topaz Lake. The brother and sister of my great grandmother both suffered bloody deaths in that region.

Samuel J. Schooley was the first to go. He lived with his brother Henry just over the state line in the Smith Valley of Nevada. In an almost cliched series of events, he was shot by a man only identified by the name of Smith in a fight over a bottle of whiskey. The bullet hit an artery in his arm and he bled to death on September 6, 1874.

His widowed sister, Adeline Schooley Eggleston, died March 7, 1894 at the age of 65. She lived alone on her ranch near Coleville. Her body was found in her kitchen, with her severely battered face and head under a milk pail. The newspaper reports of the day said it must have been Indians because no white man was capable of such a savage deed. My great grandmother, Amanda Schooley Blair thought otherwise. She was convinced the villain was a neighbor who had been involved in a property dispute with Adeline. Although Amanda hired detectives and lawyers, she was never able to convince the local authorities of the neighbor's guilt and he got away with murder. 

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