(From an interview with Gustav Becker in September 1938, as told to his son Alvin Becker)

Click "Newspaper Articles - 1877 " or choose from the menu above
to read newspaper accounts of
The Blanton Gang in 1877.

           When Pete and Sam Blanton drifted into Round Valley, about 1877, they were fiery "Gun Toters" with a record back of them.

     Sam didn't last long.  Gus Becker had a horse, which when saddled, would start off at a run the instant a foot was put in the stirrup.  Sam, who was still in his early twenties, boasted that he could ride that "dammed horse" bareback.  Bets were placed and Sam jumped on the "critter," which started off on a run towards the log granary completely out of Sam's control.  Within a few feet of the building, it plowed it's feet and whirled, throwing Sam against the logs smashing out his brains.

     Pete was a daring fellow and a good outlaw leader.  So he quickly drew others around him, often having a band of seven or eight.  They did little stealing here, usually going away on foraging trips, north, south, east, or west, and often coming back with bands of horses or the proceeds from selling bands they had stolen.  They would lay around here, drinking, gambling and carousing.

     There was a young kid in the band who was a cold blooded devil and Pete was afraid of him.  So on one of their return trips, stopping at Baca Flats (Reserve) over night, Pete agreed that if the Kid started an argument with him, one of his henchmen, Overstreet, was to stab him in the back.

     Drinking that evening in the saloon, the Kid began to get mean and tried to pick a quarrel with Pete. Then Overstreet sneaked up behind and stabbed him in the back.

     1877, 1878 and 1879 were hot years.  Individual or outlaw bands passed through here continuously, some who felt they had lost their posses, staying over, others staying just long enough to get enough to move on with, and keeping ahead of their posse.  Posse's passed through on the pursuit and passing back through announced that they had gotten their man, or men, but they never fooled with them.  They just dropped them and either buried or left them in the open, taking his saddle and guns back as evidence.

     In 1877, Pete and friend were carousing in a saloon in St Johns when Pete shot a Mexican.  A Mexican posse chased him and partner to a granary where he barricaded himself.  They finally agreed to let the partner out of the room to go on, but refused to give Pete any quarter.  A half-breed French-Mexican, crawled up in the rear door over some grain sacks, and yelled at Pete to put them up.  But Pete merely whirled and shot him through the heart.  Another Mexican crawled up on the roof and worked loose a board, through which opening, he saw and shot Pete.

     The rest of Pete gang stayed around Round Valley, raising hell, until in 1877 the Government sent in a troop of cavalry and declared martial law.  After staying a couple of weeks and holding a Court of Inquiry, they arrested Overstreet and Snyder (who belonged to another gang) and turned them over to Deputy Sheriff Milligan to take to Prescott, the County Seat.

     The soldiers left at noon and Milligan started for Prescott just at sundown, apparently an agreed upon time.  A group of men were waiting for them at the "hole" (now Becker Lake) and as they drove up, poured a bunch of lead into Overstreet and Snyder.  Overstreet fell over dead, but Snyder, jumped and ran to the bottom of the "hole" before he fell.

     This scared a number of the other outlaws in the county and they moved away, one at a time some giving up their land.  New ones soon drifted in however, but the balance of the Blanton gang was busted up.

Back to top

Other Blanton Gang Anecdotes

     Blanton worked on other bands. One of his gang Pike, a big six foot six devil, worked with him hand and foot.  Late in 1877, a Californian, coming back from the gold fields, took up a house near Horse Head Crossing (Holbrook).   He was reputed to have some money, which he had, apparently.  Pete and Pike went down to see about it and riding up onto him demanded that he give up his money.  The Californian merely laughed and walked towards the house with his hands in his pockets.  As Pike yelled "put them up or we'll shoot", he whirled, pulling a pistol out of his pockets, and shot Pike through the lung.  Pete, also quick on the draw, got him before he could shoot twice.  Pete and Pike took all of the money they could find and came home where Pike gradually recovered.


     When the Godfrey Boys came through with a fine band of horses they had gotten somewhere.  Pete admired them a great deal.  One day while Gus, Pete, Julius and the Godfrey boys were sitting in the log store in the flat, at a poker game, Pike came in feigning drunkenness and began to cuss out Pete, accusing him of everything under the sun and telling him that he, Pete was trying to get rid of him; if he wasn't he could easily have killed that Californian before he shot him (Pike) through the lungs.  Pete sat there and did nothing, and said nothing.

     When the party broke up, the Godfrey horses were no where to be found.  Pete spoke up and said "I know who got them.  It's that damned Pike and he will head for Utah with them sure as the devil.  I'm through with him and I'm gonna get even with him for what he called me in the store this afternoon.  I'll go with you."   So, off they started north for Utah that next morning.  That afternoon, Pike came out of the willows with the horses.  Pete was gone over a week and when he came back, he was alone.  From information dropped unintentionally, later on, Pete got them out of the country and dropped them along side of the road.  

     When he came back, Pike and Pete divided the horses.  Their game had worked without a hitch.


     Gus never would throw in with the outlaws so they were always trying to get him.  A few months before the soldiers came in, John O'Neil, one of the Blanton Gang got drunk and that night walked into the office, where Gus Becker was posting the books, with the announcement, "well Gus, I've decided not to worry about you any longer.  I'm going to kill you now." "Fine and dandy" said Gus, who knew of O'Neil's rumored record as a killer, "but sit down a while first and let's have a smoke together."  "All right," replies ONiel, "I'll smoke one with you but then I'm gonna kill you, and I mean it."  They smoked a cigar and talked a bit, O'Neil keeping his gun across his knees, cocked and pointed at Gus all the while.  Once or twice he started to raise it with a remark such as "here goes."  Gus countered with "what's the rush, the evening's still early, have another cigar."  By midnight O'Niel had gotten over the notion.

     When the soldiers came in he left the country; but a number of years later he passed through here again, pressed for money and in a hurry.  Gus gave him a bunch of groceries and as pay, asked for the old carbine with which he had tried (or had planned to kill Gus that night).  This he got.  A few days later a posse appeared looking for him on a warrant for having killed a man in the Rio Grande.


 Back to top