[From] Chapter VII. A Night in a Frontier
Sheridan compared very favorably with other plains towns. It contained a population of one hundred and fifty souls, and from accounts all were desperate characters. After the suspension of work on the railroad, the population, which at one time was much larger, suddenly diminished. Frequently the citizens were put to great straits to secure a maintenance. Many lived by poisoning wolves and selling the skins, for which they realized a dollar, or a dollar and a half, each, according to size. It was hardly the proper season for this work, although parties were engaged in it, and found no difficulty in disposing of their stock. I was told by one person that in the winter he could make from seventy-five to a hundred and fifty dollars per month out of the wolf skins he could secure. The wolf family is rather large on the plains, and a liberal application of strychnine evidently would not be seriously felt for some time to come.
Ten o'clock in the evening I discovered was the regular hour for the public entertainments to begin, which consisted of a skirmish with pistols, or a series of pugilistic encounters, in which it rarely happened that both parties come off with their lives, or at least without receiving a damaging and indelible remembrance of the contest. I had already heard fearful stories of the "quiet and orderly" town of Sheridan, and, as much as possible, kept clear of the streets from fear of some stray pistol ball, by mistake, finding a lodgment in my own person.
The week before, the Sheridanites, according to their own accounts, had had "a beautiful time." During that week six men had been shot in drunken brawls. On the Sabbath night the honor of two more specimens was brought into antagonism over the flowing bowl. Pistols were produced, and the "popular tragedy" opened. One was mortally wounded. The other set out with a view to escape. He was closely pursued. The pursuers fired repeatedly, which was responded to by the fugitive. After a lively chase and considerable firing the pursued was overtaken. He fought desperately, but without avail. A rope was procured; one end was fastened around the victim's neck, the other to a cross-tie in the tressel railroad bridge at the town. The victim was then forcibly ejected between the ties into space below, and was there left to shuffle off this mortal coil; which was more readily done than to shuffle off the coil which had been prepared for him by his peculiarly justice-loving fellow-citizens.