October, 2018

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Issue #109

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
You're at the right place.


Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

Roses in the Snow
by Maggie DeMay
Life can be awfully hard for a young woman on a ranch. A bouquet of flowers would certainly help to lighten her mood, but who ever heard of red roses surviving a Montana winter?

* * *

The Baptism of Dirty Dan Smith
by Chris Jay Becker
The placer miners of Spud Creek, Colorado are amused when the original settler, an old trapper named Dirty Dan Smith, finds religion. Some say Dan did it to impress his new wife, Methodist Maggie. But will he hit pay dirt?

* * *

White Revenge
by Mickey Bellman
Two killers finally meet on the high plains of Montana, but the outcome is something neither planned nor expected!

* * *

Last Call at Fremont Hill
by Tom Sheehan
When an elder brother enters a town on its last legs to enact revenge for his lone kid brother, doom joins the party.

* * *

The Chestnut Kid and the Mail Order Bride
by Jim Weeks
When two wicked men kill a storekeeper and kidnap his mail-order bride, Teasdale residents are shocked. The marshall is too far away to catch them, so word is sent to a reclusive gunfighter, asking for help. But how can one man prevail against two hardcases who know they're going to be hunted?

* * *

A Western Christmas Miracle
by Brandon Cracraft
Small-town marshal, William Walcott, decides to take his two children on a dream vacation to the California beaches for Christmas. Things become complicated when the train that they are on is robbed, but the marshal is a man with a solution for everything.

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

The Baptism of Dirty Dan Smith
by Chris Jay Becker

Dirty Dan Smith.

The name had a certain ring to it.

They say that Daniel Webster Smith had lived more lives than a one-eyed, three-legged cat.

Dirty Dan died a few deaths, too.

And then there was that nickname . . . Dirty Dan. It stuck with him like, well, a bad smell.

Dirty Dan was what you might call the accidental founder of Spud Creek, Colorado.

I knew Dirty Dan well and had interviewed him a time or two for The Spud Creek Sentinel.

My name Benjamin Franklin Boswell, but you can call me Benjy. I'm the owner, editor, and sole reporter for the Sentinel.

Dirty Dan was an old fur trapper and Indian trader who came from Virginia. He built himself a cabin here on the banks of Spud Creek back in 1845. He lived there with his new wife, a Shoshone woman whose Shoshone name translates to Red Moon Woman. Dirty Dan called her Rebecca. Rebecca Red-Moon Smith died of typhus twenty years after she married Dirty Dan. That would have been in 1865, right when the War Between The States was winding down back East.

Dirty Dan sold his land to a pair of Eastern developers, Charles Portis and Theodore Van Ness. The partners platted-out Spud Creek City in 1860. They envisioned it as the Metropolis north of Denver and south of Cheyenne. Then, in 1875, a passing prospector struck gold in Spud Creek.

But back to my tale, which happened about the time of the 1875 Spud Creek Gold Rush.

Fair Spud Creek City is where we make our scene, as The Bard might say. That was the year that Dirty Dan Smith found religion. Or at least that's what he told the younger woman he married. Dirty Dan was 30 years old in 1845 when he built that first cabin on Spud Creek. In 1875, he'd have been 60 years old, and this new woman, Miss Margaret Simpkins, alias Methodist Maggie, was 40. Dirty Dan was in love. To please old Methodist Maggie, he was willing to sit through some sermons, sing a few hymns, and whatnot.

Methodist Maggie decided that Dirty Dan needed his sins washed away by the Saving Blood of Jesus. And by total immersion via the Holy Rite of Baptism, in Spud Creek, of course.

The Methodists don't stress baptism by immersion, nor do they teach that baptism washes away sins. But the pastor, the Rev. Malcolm Goodrich, was a former Baptist, who kept some of his old Baptist leanings.

On a warm Sunday in April, the Methodist Army of Spud Creek, Colorado Territory, marched to the creek. The creek was in full spring flood. Placer miners lined the creek in their hip-waders. They worked with pans, cradles, rockers, sluices, pickaxes, and shovels. They cursed as the Methodists marched by. The Faithful Flock sang a hymn composed by Charles Wesley, "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today."

"Christ the Lord is ris'n-to-day-ay . . . "

Bam, crash, "Get that shovel over here to the sluice."

" . . . A-a-a-a-all-lay-ay-loo-oo-yah . . . "

"Dig, you sons-of-bitches."

"Sons of men and angels say,"

"Who're you callin' a son-of-a . . . "

" . . . A-a-a-a-all-lay-ay-loo-oo-yah . . . "

"I'm callin' all you sons-of . . . "

"Raise your joys and triumphs high,"

"Aww, shut yer trap and dig, James!"

" . . . A-a-a-a-all-lay-ay-loo-oo-yah . . . "

"Tell me to shut up? I'll murder ya!

"Sing, ye heav'ns, and earth, reply,"

"You gonna kill me, Jimmy? Then try to explain it to our ma . . . "

" . . . A-a-a-a-all-lay-ay-loo-oo-yah . . . "

The baptismal party reached a wide pool downstream. The deep water formed a swimming hole of sorts and was too deep and wide for mining.

"I'd say this here's the spot, boys," Rev. Goodrich said.

The Reverend removed his gun belt from beneath his white baptismal robe. He motioned for Dirty Dan to do the same.

Dan unhitched his .44 Colt Army from around his hips.

They placed their gun-belts at the foot of Sister Rose Madigan.

"Brother Homer, Brother Earl," the Reverend said, "you boys keep your Colts at the ready. In case we're beset upon by ruffians or hostiles."

"We'll keep a weather eye out, Reverend," Brother Homer said.

"I'm not so much concerned about hostiles," the Reverend said, "as I am about the armed band of thieves. There's been a band of roughs robbing the miners at gunpoint, taking their nuggets and gold-dust and such."

"What's this world coming to?" Brother Earl said.

The Reverend led Dirty Dan Smith out to the deep water. The creek was about waist deep on the Reverend, and about chest high on the shorter Dirty Dan.

The Reverend straightened up. "Daniel Webster Smith, do you renounce the works of Satan and turn away from your sins?"

"Yes, sir, Reverend," Dan said, "I repent of all my abominations and my iniquities."

"Well, then, with that confession of faith, I hereby baptize you . . . in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!"

And he dunked him clean under. And I do mean clean under.

Dirty Dan was Dirty Dan no more.

Right about then, there was a ruckus upstream. Miners yelled, there was shooting, and there was a great crash.

The deacons and elders on the creek bank pulled their Colt .45s. They pointed them upstream toward the fracas.

Then a rocker went sliding by as Dan Smith came out of the water, and it was the dangdest thing, the water began to sparkle.

Dan Smith came out of the baptismal water all glittery.

Dirty Dan Smith was washed by the Blood of the Lamb. He was also covered in gold dust.

Not enough to make him rich, mind you, but enough to cause the parishioners to declare it a bonafide miracle.

The Miracle of Dirty Dan Smith's Baptism in Gold.

Daniel Webster Smith donated that gold dust, worth about $16, to the First Methodist Church.

No one called him Dirty Dan again. He's remembered as Immaculate Dan Smith. He was long-time Deacon of the First Methodist Church of Idaho Creek, Colorado.

The town shed the Spud Creek moniker and incorporated in 1890 as Idaho Creek, Colorado.

I changed the name of my paper from the Spud Creek Sentinel to the Idaho Creek Intelligencer.

The Intelligencer.

The name had a certain ring to it.

The End

Chris Jay Becker is a 59-year-old native Californian, from a pioneer family. He now lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has published one Crime novel and a few short stories. He studied the Old West since he was a child. His Western writing influences include Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Elmore Leonard, and Dusty Richards. Chris is currently writing his first Western novel.

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