Pike Peaked!

jews-jointDecember 27, 1894

Celebrating the holidays in Jacob “Jew Jake” Harris’ saloon in newly named Landusky, Montana, the town’s namesake, Powell “Pike” Landusky, is holding forth with his neighbors and friends at around 10:30 in the morning.

Melting snow has clogged the store/saloon’s stove pipe, and a young kid has been brought in to clean it out. Jew Jake hobbles around behind the bar on his one leg (the other was lost during a gunfight in Great Falls). He sets a bottle and glass on the bar in front of Landusky, who gets ready to take his first drink of the day.

Stepping in out of the cold, cowboys Lonie (pronounced LOne-E) Logan and Jim Thornhill, his neighboring rancher and partner, pass through the saloon into the clothing store. Their mission is to neutralize a gunman named Charles Hogan (a lunger). Thornhill orders 25 cents worth of apples as he and Lonie take up positions to handle Hogan when the fireworks start.

A few moments later, as planned, Harvey Logan, a.k.a. Kid Curry, comes in the front door. Kid Curry’s younger brother John stays outside and guards the front door with a Winchester. Kid Curry advances straight toward Landusky and aggressively slaps him on the shoulder, knocking the bottle out of his hand. When Landusky turns, Kid Curry punches the noted brawler in the face with all his might.

When the two clinch, both Lonie and Thornhill step forward, yelling out, “Fair fight!” Landusky’s friends, including Hogan, are intimidated and hold back from joining in.

As the men punch each other and scuffle, Kid Curry’s pistol falls out of his coat pocket onto the floor. Thornhill fetches the Colt .45 by the barrel so no one can accuse him of assault. (Landusky’s friends later allege Thornhill waved it at bystanders, warning, “The first man that makes a move will be killed.”)

Landusky is a grizzled, experienced brawler. He gets the advantage on Kid Curry, landing on top of the smaller man while trying to gouge out his eyes. Kid Curry manages to get on top, pummeling the much bigger man until Landusky cries out “Enough!”

A mining friend of Landusky, Thomas Carter, asks Lonie to intercede, saying that Landusky has clearly had enough. Lonie allegedly replies, “He has not got enough for what he has done to us.”

Thornhill finally convinces Kid Curry to let go of Landusky. The combatants stagger to their feet, and Landusky reaches in his coat and pulls out a semi-automatic pistol (an 1893 9mm Borchardt). As he does, he calls Kid Curry a coward for attacking him without cause. (Landusky doesn’t fire his pistol; one account claims he does, but either the gun misfired or he failed to chamber a round.)

Thornhill pitches the .45 to Kid Curry, who fires a shot in Landusky’s gut. Curry fires three times in all, with two slugs hitting Landusky and one going awry. Landusky falls to the floor and dies in about five minutes.

Brother John rounds up the cowboys’ wagon, and the four make their escape.

Probable Cause

When the time came for settlers to vote on a name for the fledgling community, the cowboys wanted Rock Creek and the miners wanted Landusky. The miners won.

The Logan brothers weren’t big fans of Pike Landusky, who had borrowed a plow from them and allegedly returned it broken. Irritated, Harvey and Lonie delivered it back, tossing the worthless plow in Landusky’s front yard.

Two months before the fight, Landusky stirred the pot. In October 1894, Harvey, his brother John and their brother-in-law Lee Self were arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon “without any considerable provocation.” Although James Ross filed the claim, Harvey believed that the charges had been trumped up by his neighbor, Landusky. While Harvey was held on the assault charge, a deputized Landusky allegedly “beat Harvey unmercifully” and urinated on him.

To make matters more complicated, Lonie, a known ladies man, was sparking Landusky’s stepdaughter Elfie.

The night before the fight, at a Christmas dance in John Logan’s Livery Barn, Harvey and Landusky had words and they both agreed the next time they met, one of them would die.

Aftermath: Odds & Ends

On May 14, 1895, a jury found Lonie Logan not guilty in the death of Pike Landusky. More than two months later, a bench warrant was issued and served on Jim Thornhill. His case was dismissed without trial on December 2. Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, having long fled the country, was never tried for Landusky’s murder.

Harvey soon joined George “Flatnose” Currie’s outlaw band, later merging with Butch Cassidy’s so-called Wild Bunch. A string of rustling and train robberies followed. Harvey was finally captured in 1901, but he escaped jail in Knoxville, Tennessee. After another train robbery near Parachute, Colorado, on June 7, 1904, lawmen surrounded the outlaw, and he killed himself rather than be recaptured.

Lonie apparently joined his brother at the Wild Bunch hangout, the Hole-in-the-Wall near the KC Ranch in Wyoming, and may have participated in the Wilcox, Wyoming, train robbery in 1899. In February 1900, Lonie returned to Dodson, Missouri, to visit an aunt who had raised him; a posse trapped and killed him there.

Jim Thornhill eventually sold his property in Landusky, Montana, and moved to Globe, Arizona, in 1916. He died there in the late 1920s.

Recommended: Tiger of the Wild Bunch: The Life of Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan by Gary A. Wilson  will be published by Globe Pequot Press in 2007

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