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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Puget Sound Herald, February 20, 1862.
 
The Counterfeit Detective
  commonly called “the Shooter,”and rumor said—and I fear with truth—that he had left many a good man and true to bleach upon the plains of Kansas. He had, also, a great reputation as a “shaver,” or counterfeit passer, and the constant flow of emigrants to that quarter offered him a rich harvest of profit in his favorite profession.

Watson had received his “walking papers” several times at Fort Leavenworth, which he always implicitly obeyed for the nonce, but soon managed to return whenever any public excitement was likely to detract attention from his presence.

It was on one of these occasions of party strife that a man was mysteriously shot down just at dusk, and no one could tell the author of the deed. It was soon reported, however, that the “Shooter” was in town, and the excited populace at once commenced a search for him. I was compelled to leave that evening for St. Louis on business, and left the town in the midst of the excitement. The Belle Britton . . .

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    In the spring of 1854 I was traveling Kansas correspondent for a Cincinnati paper, as well as an occasional jotter for the St. Louis journals. In my perambulations from one place to another—wherever there was excitement—and everybody will remember that it was exciting times—I became pretty well acquainted with all the desperate characters, thieves and gamblers—whose name was legion—that traversed the forests, or haunted the settlements.

As everybody in that unhappy territory in those times was of a migratory character—driven from one place to another by the political antagonism of the locality—these rough and dangerous characters were ruled by the same master—public opinion, and usually traveled with the tide.

One of them soon made himself conspicuous as a leader of a desperate band of marauders, who pillaged every poor emigrant party that fell into their hands, and evading every retribution by attributing their villainous deeds to the opposite party to which their victims belonged. This man’s name was Jack Watson; but he was

   

 

 


 

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