Neil Howey made his mark in Montana during the gold rush days of the 1860s. He started off seeking the precious metal—but he found a calling in law enforcement. It started in early 1864, when he interrupted a trip from Salt Lake City by taking alleged robber “Dutch John” Wagner into custody. When they returned to the Bannack area, Howie turned the prisoner over to the Montana Vigilantes—who hanged Wagner on January 11.
Howey soon became a sheriff and a deputy U.S. marshal. He continued to work with the vigilantes through that time.