......November 2008 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
A stranger comes to Chimney Rock by Prof. Fuller Bullspit

Afternoon clouds danced along the tops of the mountains above the peaceful town of Chimney Rock offering some relief from the too-warm-for-Fall weather and the promise of much needed rain. That evening, flashes of lightning could be seen and the rumble of thunder was heard all through the valley and rain fell on the town. One of the bright flashes struck a tree high on the open face to the West of town and started an avalanche of rocks and debris that was noticed by several people in the town. Even closer to the bolt of lighting was Clayton Reese, an old miner working a worn out claim. Noting the lighting had hit near the edge of his claim he planned to visit the area the next day. Little did he know that what he would find there would one again turn Chimney Rock into a bloody cauldron of hell.

Sunup found the old miner scrambling his way over the rock slide at the South of his claim to see what the lighting had done. “Getting too old for this rock climbing” he thought to himself with a smile. As he rested his mind drifted to the old thoughts of striking it rich and arriving back in St. Louis in fine style. He thought too of his only kin, a daughter whose letters still came monthly full of big city notions and concern for him living out in the Wild West. “She should see me today,” He thought, “I bet she would scold me for being out here on this loose  rock.”

By midmorning  Reese had found the lighting strike, a gnarled old tree with roots deeply planted in the rocks. But even more interesting was the cavern entrance that had been exposed by the rock slide. An experienced hard rock miner, Reese could tell that despite pains taken to hide the fact, this was no natural cavern. This space had been hewn from the solid rock and then hidden. And it could have stayed hidden forever if an act of nature hadn't exposed the secret. In the freshly exposed rock Reese could see strange symbols that had been painstakingly chipped into the granite surfaces. Among these was a box with a cross above it and a triangle within a circle.

Fishing a candle and matches from his vest pocket Clayton Reese crawled into the small entrance. He lit the candle and noted by the candle flame that there was a strong current of air flowing from the small entrance he was in towards the inky blackness of the tunnel. For that was what this surely was.  The candle flame bounced crazy dancing shadows on the tunnel walls as he crawled forward until after about 10 feet the tunnel opened up into a tiny room, carefully constructed and well braced with timbers. 

In the middle of the space was a raised bench with a strongbox atop it. Reese wasted little time investigating each wall of the small room, noting still more strange symbols and a clever vent hole that was responsible for the airflow. Taking the very heavy strong box down from its pedestal Reese heard the jingle of gold coins within.

It took the old miner the rest of the day to drag and carry the strongbox to his cabin where he used his mining tools to break the locks. Inside he found gold, a lot of gold and a few baubles that were no doubt worth plenty. He also found maps, a journal and a pistol. Reese had a problem. The strongbox held treasure, and maps that hinted of still richer rewards, but Reese couldn't read them nor the journal. Having chased the golden dream his whole life Reese knew what gold could do to a man. But that didn't stop the greed from rising in him.

Hiding the strongbox with most of the gold, Clayton Reese took a few coins, the journal and the gun to town the next day to see if the most educated man he knew, a dentist by the name of Thomas Francis Shelby could help him puzzle out the meaning of the pages of neat print and the strange symbols on the smallest map. 

The next morning, in Shelby's back room, secure from the gaze of others, Reese revealed the journal and the small map. Being a well connected Southern man, Shelby immediately recognized the symbols on the map as those of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a semi-secret organization of the South committed during the recent war of Northern Aggression on expanding the South's reach into Mexico and other regions. While the map was interesting, Shelby's attention was captured by the journal. Could it really be a journal written in Jesse James's own hand?

Rumor had it that many KGC, including the James brothers had been and some were still active in trying to put together enough money to support a rising of the South. If so the map and the journal might be the path to part of the fortune that the James Younger gang had stolen but that had never been recovered. Perhaps even more treasures were to be found because it had been said that in the waning days of the war Jefferson Davis himself had worked to put much of the South's gold in the hands of the KGC for safekeeping. 

“Have you shown these to anyone else?” Shelby inquired?

“No, I was careful not to show them off, didn't show off this neither.” said Reese, holding a large gold coin in his hand for Shelby to see. “I found this stuff and came straight here so you could help me sort out the writin’. Course, I'll share anything we find that comes of this.” 

Thinking of the hidden treasure box, the old Miner mused to himself that he wouldn't share that, just anything else they found. This moment of introspection caused the old miner to miss the flash of greed in Shelby's eyes. “I should show you where I found it because they is more scratching like on that there map.” 

Shelby and Reese left town quickly, but without attracting attention. The sun was getting low in the West when the old miner and Shelby made it to the now exposed tunnel. “This is amazing!” said Shelby as he examined the KGC symbols. “There is more like this inside?” asked Shelby.

“Could be” was the cagy reply. As the old man stooped down to enter the tunnel Shelby slipped his .32 from his pocket and shot Reese in the back. As the old miner laid shuddering in pain Shelby searched him quickly, finding several pieces of gold but missing the pistol secreted in the miners belt. With contempt Shelby then rolled the still breathing old man off the narrow path they had been on to tumble out of sight down the face of the rock slide.

Shelby was incensed when he found the small treasure room empty of riches, and felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he investigated the pedestal in the center of the room and the large, but empty, rectangular spot that was clearly outlined in the fine dust that had settled on everything in the room. “That old man fooled you.” He drawled to himself. “But there is a treasure out here and I'm going to need help in finding it now that that old man is dead.

Reese knew he was hurt bad, but he wasn't dead yet. All he could think of was to get to his cabin and the treasure box hidden so carefully nearby. As Shelby picked his way carefully down the mountain in the darkness, the old miner dragged himself towards home. 

Two days later….

“Hoss, it's getting near dark and we ain't in Chimney Rock yet. I won't hold it against you, even though you promised me we would be there tonight. I guess we had better find ourselves a spot to camp for the night. I sure do wish for a hot bath and a meal I ain't cooked my ownself though.”  The horse flicked his ears back to listen to the man; he was used to the sound of his voice as the two had been traveling the lonely trails together for several years.

>From the top of the ridge the rider surveyed the terrain in the limited light of the setting sun. Spying a green bench that at least promised some food for his horse about ¼ mile away the stranger and his horse headed down in that direction. The horse alerted the lone rider to the old man trying to drag himself towards that same grassy bench. Dropping from the saddle the stranger tended the bullet wound in his back and made him comfortable. Through the night the man's feverish ranting kept the stranger awake and puzzled, but with some periods of lucidity the story began to become clear. 

The next morning the old man, sensing his time was near told the stranger the story of the treasure, revealed the location of the treasure box and maps. He wrote a note on the back of an envelop the stranger had ceding ½ of the treasure on his claim to the stranger an anyone else who helped him. He gave Jesse James's pistol to him and made the stranger promise that he would try to get the other half of the money to the old miner's daughter in St. Louis. After promising, and then burying the man properly high up in the mountains in the green bench, the stranger traveled the short distance to the old man's cabin and located the treasure and the maps. He placed Jesse James's pistol back in the box and after examining the remaining maps and coming to grips with the enormity of the treasure they promised he took the maps but left the box and the rest of its contents where the old man had hidden it in order to hurry down to Chimney Rock. He knew he was going to need help finding the treasure, and dealing with the troubles that Thomas Francis Shelby was going to cause. For the stranger knew of Shelby and understood like no other what the man was capable of doing. Little did he know that Shelby had already wired for help and the first of the gunmen he had contacted had begun to arrive in Chimney Rock.

The stranger drifted into town unnoticed and wanted to keep it that way. To any who saw him he was just another drifter passing through. He went to the saloon and listened and learned enough to know that Shelby was starting to call in some bad men. Many of these had been in Shelby's irregular unit during the war and most hadn't learned a trade beyond thieving, robbery and murder after the war ended. There was talk of treasure, and trouble and the town was getting worried. The stranger also learned that Shelby had disappeared from town and nobody knew where he was to be found.

After his long awaited bath the stranger went to the general store and stocked up on ammunition, some jerky, salt, flour, writing paper and a few airtights of peaches and other staples of the trail. Considering the enormity of the task he had to do, the promise he had to keep, the stranger knew he needed the help of the good people of Chimney Rock. While these folks had become accustomed to living in town, many had served in the war and knew their way around guns and wouldn't shy from doing right. Taking paper in hand he carefully spelled out a dozen handbills and posted them around town:

A Promise, I aim to keep.

Good men of Chimney Rock! I need your help to keep a promise I made to an old local miner I found shot in the back. I'll explain on Nov. 30th in front of the Chimney Rock Depot.

On the 30th the stranger saddled his horse at the livery and began leading him to the depot as a crowd gathered. Just then a shot rang out. The stranger felt the breeze of the slug as it passed with a sound like an angry bee. Rolling out of the line of fire as he drew his gun the stranger answered in kind. Then as suddenly as it started the gunfight was over. No blood was on the ground, yet, and no sheriff seemed to care so the stranger quickly made his way to the depot. 

As he mounted the platform he felt all eyes on him and some of those eyes didn't feel too friendly. He had no doubt that the man who attempted to kill him was in the crowd but the stranger doubted that he would try anything where there were witnesses. As the crowd fell quiet the stranger spoke.

“You all don't know me, as I'm a stranger around here. But let me tell you about a man you all know, and how we can help him now that he is dead.” And with that the stranger told all he knew of the discovery that Clayton Reese had made, and the treachery that lead to his death. 

As is the way with most towns like Chimney Rock, most who had gathered that day decided it was none of their business, and in fact that it might even be bad for business and they left murmuring to each other after the stranger had said his piece. A few others stayed but they had gold lust in them and the stranger clearly told them that they had no part to play in helping him keep a promise to a good old man. Still others were sound and they agreed to help the stranger recover the gold that was surely hidden in the hills and make sure that the old miner's daughter in St. Louis got her fair share. 

The group of good folks, with the honest stranger in the lead wasted no time in heading out towards the old miner's claim. The stranger planned to find the tunnel and now empty treasure room for the maps seemed to indicate this as a starting point for the search. As the group rounded a bend near an old bridge leading out of town shots rang down from the hills above! The group scattered and returned fire with rifles hastily grabbed from scabbards. A few good man were wounded trying to flank the ambushers but soon the good guys got into position and the bad guys were routed out of their perches in the rocks.

With wounded to care for the stranger led the good guys back to town. Arriving there they found the doctor who related some interesting news as he tended the injured. This very afternoon, Persephone Reese, the miner's daughter had arrived by train from St. Louis. The stranger thanked the Doctor and went to the hotel to meet the girl so he could explain the situation to her for according to the Doctor she had planned on surprising her father with her visit. 

After explaining the situation to her as best he could Persephone asked to be taken to her father's burial site. The stranger tried to explain that it wouldn't be safe, but she was a headstrong woman and wouldn't be dissuaded. She said that all the money Jesse James had stolen wouldn't return her father to her, and she didn't care the least for it but she wanted to pay her last respects to her father. The girl explained that she loved her father, but hadn't seen him in 10 years. She had grown tired of the city life and had decided to travel to the Wild West to see it for herself. As the stranger left he agreed to take Persephone to her father's grave in the morning. 

The stranger left the hotel to go to the livery to arrange for a horse and buggy for the trip. As he rounded the corner into the alleyway he sensed a presence, and then saw the badge of town sheriff glinting in the lamplight. Just as he was about to greet the lawman the big sheriff hit the stranger aside the head with his Colt. The stranger slumped to the ground only to be dragged to the jail by the big corrupt badge wearer. 

The next morning the stranger awoke with a headful of pain and a hat that wouldn't fit anymore. The sheriff laughed at the stranger's plight and told him that Shelby would be back in town soon and he would get the fun of killing the stranger, in return for a healthy share of the gold of course. The sheriff also indicated that Persephone had been tricked into thinking that she was to meet the stranger out at the grave and had been accompanied out of town by a couple of Shelby's men. She was now a prisoner, and a pawn in this treasure hunting chess game.

As she rode in the surrey driven by the foul smelling man who said that he was sent by the stranger, Persephone wondered about the story she had been told. She trusted the stranger, but these men seemed a different sort. However, once they arrived at a sunny meadow at the base of the mountain far below her Father's claim she met Thomas Francis Shelby who charmed her with his Southern Gentleman's manners. He told a vastly different story about her father's death, implicating the stranger and assuring Persephone that it was he, Shelby who had found her father after the stranger had killed him. He continued to win her trust by explaining that it was he who had read all of her letters to the old man, and it was he who had penned the infrequent responses that arrived with the money her father had sent her. He knew so much about her father, and the letters that she had to believe that her father and this man Shelby had indeed been friends. He showed her a gravesite in the meadow and prayed with her as she mourned the father she had never really known. 

Back at the jail the stranger was busy with the lock. He had worked a bit of metal out of the bed frame and was about to break out. With a muffled squeak the last tumbler turned and the cell door opened. The stranger crossed the space to the sheriff's desk on cat's feet. He grabbed his gun while the sheriff looked out of the window. With his gun in had the stranger told the dirty sheriff to put his hands up. The sheriff instead turned faster than a big man should be able to move and drew his own gun. The stranger had no choice but to shoot the man dead. Alerted by the shot some of Shelby's men in the street rushed the jail only to be dealt a hand of hot lead by the stranger. 

Reloading his gun on the run the stranger found his horse, saddled it and rode out of town following the only pair of buggy tracks he could find. They led him at last to a meadow where he could see a group of men preparing the evening meal. The stranger made a quick plan and settled down to watch the camp until night fell. He found it strange to see how friendly Persephone was with the men who had obviously kidnapped her. In fact, he feared that she might not be who she claimed to be at all and might instead be one of Shelby's gang. A couple of times the stranger thought he saw Shelby himself, but it was only a glance as the man entered the largest tent in the camp. 

When darkness came and the camp settled down into slumber the stranger made his move. Creeping to the string of horses secured at the edge of camp the stranger took up a tomahawk that had been used to split some kindling for the fire and used it to cut the horses free. The horses milled about as the stranger turned to the camp just in time to see a man drawing a bead on him with a rifle. The tomahawk flashed through the night air striking the man down just as the shot echoed through the night warning the camp. 

The stranger ran toward the camp to save, or at least grab Persephone when he saw her running towards him with bad men shooting past her towards him! Yelling at her to stay down or out of the way the stranger shot at the men until his gun was empty. Just as this happened he saw Shelby mounting a big black horse that had been tied by the tent and ride off into the night. The stranger ran to the rifle of the man he had killed with the tomahawk and taking it up dispatched still more of the gang as Persephone came up to his side. Grabbing her he turned to the horses still milling about and threw her up on one and jumped on behind her. After quick ride to his hiding place, with the rest of the camp's horses following along, he mounted his own horse and the pair made their way carefully to the only place the stranger thought might be safe, the old Miner's cabin. Along the way the stranger convinced the girl that he was in the right by showing her the real grave of her father. She insisted upon seeing the body and after a short digging spell was satisfied that the stranger was indeed telling the truth. He also filled the girl in on the type of man Shelby really was.

Due to the time spent at the grave it was midmorning when Persephone and the stranger reached the miner's cabin. But they were not there alone, the big black horse was tied to a nearby tree and smoke rose from the chimney. “Shelby, in the cabin” called the stranger. A rifle boomed from the window in answer. “Shelby. You may be my brother but I will kill you!” yelled the stranger from behind a rock well house. 

“You will never get me out of here brother and my men will be riding to the sound of gunfire so you had better clear out or die!” Shelby yelled from the shelter of the solidly built cabin. 

Investigating the well house the stranger found a supply of dynamite and an old civil war cannon ball that the old miner probably recovered powder from to use in his mining pursuits. The stranger positioned himself and then began throwing lighted sticks of dynamite at the cabin from the shelter of the well house. Shelby held out as long as he could but as the risk of the cabin being turned into his tomb he bolted from the door firing his pistol as he ran. The stranger's gun bucked in his hand as he returned fire and he saw dust rising from Shelby's black overcoat at the impact of his rounds. Shelby stopped and opened up with a shotgun and a second pistol before falling to the ground. 

Knowing they weren't safe at the cabin the stranger and Persephone rode quickly to the giant hollow tree where Reese had hidden the treasure box. They planned to take the box and ride to town to get help from the good people of the town. As the stranger knelt down to uncover the box he heard a thud and turned to see Persephone fall to the ground, struck in the head by a pistol barrel. He heard that pistol being cocked and the cool voice of Shelby. “You might want to see this journal brother.” And with that Shelby tossed the journal of Jesse James onto the top of the now exposed treasure box. “My friend Jesse wrote quite eloquently about my little adventures in the war. Seems he thought I was a bit brutal when I went with Quantrill to Lawrence, but we got the job done and that is what Jesse cared about. I enjoyed killing our dear stepfather that day. He always loved you more than me anyway.”

The stranger was puzzled. How was Shelby still alive? He had seen the bullets hit him there by the cabin. Shelby continued as if reading the stranger's mind, “Yes, you shot me, but I learned a little trick or two along the way. This silk coat stops bullets quite well don't you think? Now drop your gun belt.”

The stranger, Richard Henry Shelby was desperate. His mind raced, but keeping outwardly cool he asked as he unbuckled his gun belt and let it fall to the ground. “What else is in the journal Brother Thomas?”

“Funny you should ask brother, there isn't much else about me, but the part you would like the best is the information that our Cousin Jesse wrote down about our family history and the real events of that night in Kansas City. It would be quite enough to clear your name back home, if you were still alive.”

Just as Thomas Shelby was bringing his gun in line to kill his brother the stranger's horse blew a warning snort. This distracted Thomas just long enough and the stranger threw open the treasure box and with Jesse James's own gun shot his brother right between the eyes. As his brother fell dead at last, the stranger, Richard Henry Shelby made sure Persephone was alright as he patted the journal that would allow him to return home. 

The men of Chimney Rock, having been alerted to what was going on by the gunfight at the jail had formed a posse and were riding up the trail. The leader of the band called out. “We caught the rest of Shelby's men. Most are dead, the rest are headed back to town and since most have paper they will be headed to prison or for a long trip on a short rope. Are you two well?

“Just fine my friends,” said Richard Shelby. “We have part of the treasure here; I suspect that you will find the rest hidden in a room under the pedestal in the first treasure room. Cousin Jesse was always good at hide and seek; I was just always a bit better. Go get it and let me bury my brother here where he fell. He wasn't a good man, but he is kin and deserves a few words spoken over his grave.

Later that night, as they divided the treasure, with the stranger giving his half to the town of Chimney Rock and the other half to the old man's daughter Persephone, the town seemed brighter than it had ever been before. Richard didn't think it was just the gold and other treasures. Persephone’s eyes sure did shine. The were especially bright in fact when she turned to thank the stranger with a big kiss and a whispered invitation to take her home with him to meet his family. 

Get to Chimney Rock!  November 30th.

"Thunder Valley" 2008 an all black powder match 

Details have been finalized . . . . . . the 6 stages are ready. All the information can be found here. Category Requirements & Entry Form

Remember at this match you can choose to enter two categories if you really want to do a lot of shooting.  12 Stages of black powder! 
The main match will cost you $30.00. If you pre register by Nov. 22nd., it will include your lunch. For $15.00 more you can shoot two categories.  If you decide to just show up on match day, Come on, you'll be Welcome. Lunch will cost ya an additional $5.00.

Pan Lubing and Sizing Boolits by Howdy Doody

I thought some might be interested in my method of lubing and sizing my bullets. It doesn't take long and results are good. I'll add as I have time.

I shoot BP and I use a mix I make myself of equal parts of mutton tallow, that I get from Dixie Gun Works and beeswax that I get from Michaels craft store. To that mix I add crisco to suit. In the winter I add to my mix a good portion of around 10% of the crisco and cut back to about 5% on the summer. I also add a dash of Thompsons 1000. It probably doesn't do much, but it smells good and gives the mix a yellow tint.

I'll grant you that there must be a thousand recipes and maybe some work better at different temperatures than others, but for my neck of the woods, this recipe really keeps the fouling soft and not just while you are shooting either. I go days before cleaning my guns after shooting true BP and they clean up in a jiffy. Let that fouling harden and you are in for some scrubbing and elbow grease. All this soaking in hot water and all the stuff I have read of, is pretty intense and those that do it are welcome to their methods, but I like running a couple patches, lubing and sticking my guns back into the safe. No crud, no rust, no problems. I learned a while back from experience that there is no better lube for my guns than Breakfree. That is what I use for lubing the mechanisms and barrel bore protection too. Like I mentioned there are a lot of products out there. Use what you like. This is just how I do it.
Over the years, I have learned a lot about BP shooting. I thank some great pards for helping me along. Folks like Papa Bear, Rowdy Yates, Cactus Cris, Gatofeo and others. They share and so do I.

Uh oh, I got about 40 bullets loaded for this coming weekends local match and found that I had no more lubed and sized bullets ready to go.

No big deal really, since I have a big bucket full of cast bullets from a weekend of casting a couple months ago. 

So, I will just lube some up real quick and size them. Here is how I do it.
I round up my plastic trays that spaghetti dinners came in, but I saved a plastic ammo tray from a box of factory ammo that was .357. 

I then take and fill that ammo tray with bullets, nosed down. Then I cover the ammo tray with the black plastic food tray and flip the works over. I then carefully remove the ammo tray and end up with some nice rows of 50 bullets.
Take the old lube from previous sessions that once again are in some kind of food container that I saved and reuse. 
Doesn't everyone have a microwave in the shop? Well, I do. I was going to give it away, but figured I better keep it, when we bought a new one some years ago. Into the microwave goes my lube scraps and I set the timer for a few minutes and end up with a melted container of lube. 
Then I carefully pour lube into the black trays with the bullets lined up and fill to just over the lube cavities of the bullets and let sit for a bit. 
After a while a cake of the lube forms. I judge when they are ready by touching the bullets. When the feel about the same temp as my body temp, then they are ready to free from the lube cake. more later.
Then I remove the cake of lube with the bullets and set it once again onto the ammo tray. The bullets set into the holes, since they are lined up. 
Then with the eraser end of a pencil, I just push the bullets through the cake and into the holes in the ammo tray. 
They are lubed fully in the lube grooves and near done. 
Now I use my Lee sizer and with the Lyman single stage turret press I also have mounted on my bench, I run the lubed bullets upward into the catch housing at the top. They are now lubed and sized. 
Now that was what I was after, a full tray of bullets and I can now resume loading. Time? Well, it was about an hour to lube and size 200 bullets. 
That is how I do it, you might have variations of my pan lubing method, but I have tried a bunch of them and found this is fastest for me. BP shooting is more than just lighting off a round or two at a target and letting off billowing clouds of wonderous smoke, some flames and hopefully some hits on target.

yer pard,
Howdy Doody - Notorious BP shooter

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
The Brimstone Pistoleros are not responsible for any accidents which may occur from use of  loading data, firearms information, or recommendations published on the Brimstone Pistoleros web site.