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Come hear my story neighbors, if the time you can afford,
Of the last man California let be killed for a reward:
Three hundred silver pieces sent him to the evermore,
In the county of Nevada, the year nineteen forty-four.

Hank Lewis was a hero, had been wounded in the war;
A quiet careful woodsman, he was only twenty-four.
His father and his brother and another named Fred Reed
Had sent him down to drive the deer to the place they had agreed.

They heard a rifle shot resound, Fred Lewis he heard two.
Fred waited for his boy but Hank never did come through.
His trail led to a tunnel which they were all positive
was the hideout of Bill Ebaugh, the phantom fugitive.

Now Ebaugh was a miner and he was the poor man’s friend;
He never cut his hair or beard, he never would pretend
That a man was something special ’cause of money or a star–
The stories of his feats of strength were known both near and far.

Now they wanted Bill for rustling but I’ve heard in his defense
That Charles Morandi’s cowhides were just planted evidence:
That friends’ in-laws acquaintances needed an alibi
For selling our war effort beef to rich folks on the sly.

They called Wild Bill the Casanova giant of the hills;
They said that only animals could match his forest skills.
The cattlemen used bloodhounds, but Bill Ebaugh got away
To be a forest outlaw there until his dying day.

All over Willow Valley Bill’s sweet love songs could be heard,
As moonlight bathed the forest there were many hearts he stirred.
While husbands locked their front doors, their wives unlocked the back,
For jars of home-canned food they say Bill Ebaugh never lacked.

So they buried Henry Lewis and his father said in tears:
I just can’t understand it, Bill and Hank been friends for years.
But Ebaugh had more enemies than many they have friends;
The Sheriff signed the murder charge that marked Bill for the end.

The Sheriff told the newspapers that, Bill deserved the worst;
That when they brought him in he meant to bring him in feet first:
The juries of his peers have set him free each time before,
And probably they’d find ham ‘not guilty’ one time more.

So Sheriff Carl Tobiassen with special deputies,
With airplanes, trucks, and horses searched the foothills thoroughly-
But Ebaugh knew the mountains more than any man alive,
And managed to escape from every trap they could contrive.

Now the Sheriff had in for Ebaugh since from many years before,
When he had sent three deputies to even up a score;
But Ebaugh snuck behind them and said boys drop your guns down,
And with a blown-out shotgun marched those deputies back to town.

Another time they jailed Ebaugh because they said he gave
A neighbor twenty dollars for his wife to be his slave;
So they framed him up for raping Edna Myers on her bed.
But the jury found they might have tried Edna Mae instead.

Now there were some on the posse who were trying to find Bill
To listen to his story, they did not wish him ill,
But a man named Irvin Davis brought their efforts to a stop
With a thirty-forty Krag that had a sniper scope on top.

The County’s leading citizens said that justice had been done,
That a man like Wild Bill Ebaugh weren’t no good to anyone.
But a man from Sacramento swore that on Lewis’s last day,
He’d been with Ebuagh hunting, forty miles away.

Bill Ebaugh fell at White Cloud, he died without a word,
He never had his day in court, his story wasn’t heard.
The Sheriff got his gold mine, a murderer went free.
Three women buried Ebuagh down beneath a cedar tree.

(c)Dale Pendell


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