The genealogist’s discovery

An amateur genealogical researcher discovered that his great-great uncle, Rufus Starr, had been hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. The only known photograph of Rufus showed him standing on the gallows, moments before his execution. On the back of the photograph was this inscription: “Rufus Starr, horse thief. Sent to Montana Territorial Prison in 1884. Escaped in 1887. Robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives. Convicted and hanged in 1889.”

In a family history subsequently written by the researcher, the photograph is cropped so that only the head can be seen. The accompanying biographical sketch reads: “Rufus Starr was a businessman well-known throughout the Montana Territory. His business empire grew through the acquisition of valuable equestrian assets, and also included extensive dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1884, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. He was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Rufus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing suddenly collapsed.”

5 Responses to The genealogist’s discovery

  1. 49erDweet says:

    The genealogist was only being fair. Great-great uncle Rufe was probably as honest as the politicians of the era – and our age too, most likely – and was simply mimicking the glowing terms etched into their tombstones.


  2. Freedom, by the way says:

    Love it, Blue!


  3. Bob Mack says:

    Which brings to mind a famous Old West inscription:

    Here lies Lester Moore.
    Four slugs From a forty-four.
    No Les No More

    –Boot Hill Cemetery, Tombstone, Arizona


  4. thebardofmurdock says:

    An amateur? I don’t think so;
    I see right through his false tableau.
    He runs the world’s sole PR firm
    For residents of Boot Hill’s berm.


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