Friday, July 30, 2010

Lawman David J. Cook & Outlaw Lee H. Musgrove.

David J. Cook.

Birth: 1840 or 1842.
Death: Apr. 29, 1907, Denver, Denver County, Colorado.

David J. Cook, was a lawman although not as famous as Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp and other legends of the Old West, David Cook attained prominence in his own right, for arresting more than 3,000 outlaws. Cook was born near La Porte, Indiana. Growing up, he worked as a farmhand before moving to Kansas in 1855, and then in 1859 to Gilpin County, Colorado, looking to prospect for gold. In 1861 he joined the First Colorado Cavalry, company D., he spent the war years hunting down Confederate spies, and smugglers. In 1866, Cook was appointed city marshal of Denver later worked as a federal marshal and private eye.

His success led him to found the "Rocky Mountain Detective Association", a freelance, volunteer-only group of Colorado troubleshooters, similar in character to the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Although its offices were in Denver, its cases took him all over the west. From 1866 to 1869. In 1867 & 1868, he started tracking down the dreaded Musgrove-Franklin Gang. Cook finely caught up with Lee H. Musgrove, in 1868, and put him behind bars. Cook lived by one simple credo: “Never hit a man over the head with a pistol, because afterwards you may want to use your weapon and find it disabled.”

He was absolutely fearless, an expert horseman, a master marksman with both rifle and handgun and had few pears. He never struck without cause and never hesitated to kill when necessary. A true peace officer of the Old West.

In 1882 Cook published a memoir titled Hands Up! or Twenty Years of Detective Work in the Mountains and on the Plains, either writing it himself or dictating it to another. It is rumored to have been ghostwritten by Thomas F. Dawson, editor of the Denver Times and personal secretary to Senator Henry Teller. Although a purported autobiography, it is written entirely in the third person. It remains the sole major source of knowledge about Cook's life and accomplishments.

Lee H. Musgrove, was a Mississippian, and ran a gang of road agents and livestock thieves noted for their barbarity. Musgrove settled in the 1850s in Napa, Calif., where he developed a reputation as a tough gunfighter. He was forced to flee California in 1863, after killing a man who disparaged the Confederacy. In Nevada, where Musgrove journeyed to next there he killed two more men. His next stop was Idaho Territory, where he operated as an Indian trader and dealer in stolen goods. While there he killed another man and was forced to move again. This time he headed for the Wyoming Territory, there he organized a gang of thieves and rustlers who ranged from Texas to Kansas, the gang was credited with at lest twelve murders.

David Cook came after the Musgrove gang and whittled their numbers down one by one, killing or arresting them. In 1868, Cook finally caught Musgrove in the Wyoming Territory, Musgrove was jailed in Denver Colo. Cook had took Musgrove to Denver in the hope he could lure Franklin, Musgrove’s partner in crime, an that Franklin would try and spring his partner from jail. Cook’s planed had work, Franklin did come to Denver, where Cook finally cornered Franklin in his room at the Overland Hotel. When Franklin reached for his gun Cook drilled him through the heart.

Musgrove had predicted that he would soon escape, words which ignited the community. On Nov. 23, 1868, a vigilance committee of some fifty citizens encountered no resistance from the prison guards as it removed Musgrove from confinement. Musgrove was stood on a wagon, a noose was placed about his neck, and the driver pushed away the wagon to bring about the execution. Before the wagon was removed from under Musgrove's feet, he was allowed time to write some letters, and he was permitted to finish his cigarette, which said one source he "did in the most nonchalant manner. "Another source says that Musgrove "calmly puffed a cigar to its bitter butt."

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