Grocery Clerk vs. Bad Man
Elko, Nevada - 1870s
In the early 1870s, when Elko was a rootin'
tootin' frontier town and gun toting was the rule rather than the exception,
a grocery clerk bested Elko's resident badman.
Mose Haynes was a local saloon owner with
a bad reputation. It was said he was a former highwayman who operated between
Virginia City and the California state line. After squealing on other gang
members when they were apprehended, he had to leave for a healthier climate.
He chose Elko where he soon gained the dubious title as the most dangerous
man in town.
Jack Whipple, a young clerk at Green's Grocery
Store, had a friend who came to Elko in hopes of curing his consumption
(tuberculosis). He was a mild, inoffensive person who had the misfortune
to argue with Mose who promptly killed him.
Whipple fretted over the needless killing.
His irritation turned to hatred that shoved caution aside. Jack often declared
that he wasn't afraid of Mose. His comments reached the ears of Haynes
and he wasn't going to have his title as "boss of the town" besmirched
by a pipsqueak.
Haynes marched into the grocery store and
pulled his pistol on Whipple who was waiting on a woman. He order Jack
from behind the counter and was ignored. Enraged, Haynes started around
the counter. Whipple dropped to his knees and crawled to the end of the
As the gunman came around the counter, Whipple
leaped to his feet, wrested the gun from Mose and proceeded to pistol whip
the badman. He would have killed him but people in the store pulled the
clerk away. Haynes shuffled away, beaten and humiliated.
That evening, still flushed with victory,
Whipple stopped by Haynes' saloon where he was told to get out. The clerk
asked Mose if he sold drinks and received a grudging, affirmative nod.
Whipple announced, "I'm buying, boys! Set
up the drinks."
As reported in the Elko Independent,
it was another victory for the fearless grocery clerk. Haynes was no longer
king of the local badmen.
A bit of trivia: In the 1880 US Census, Jack
Whipple is not listed but Moses Haynes (Mose was his nickname) still lived
October 1, 2001
©Copyright 2001 by Howard Hickson. Permission to
use is given but, if any portion or all of this article is quoted, proper
credit must be given.
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