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Hoy Family

Valentine Hoy


As early as 1872, J. S. Hoy brought in a herd of cattle to Brown’s Park, and in 1875, he established a cattle ranch in Colorado, near the mouth of Lodore Canyon, where he was later joined by his brother Valentine Hoy.

Within thirty days of capture, Dave Lant, Harry Tracy, W. H. Brown, and Frank Edwards hatched a plan for escape from the state prison near Salt Lake City. On October 7, 1897, the men escaped from a prison work crew while working on a water ditch. They were chased by a posse for over a month, but were never caught. They returned to the Vernal area and from there went on to Wyoming and the Hole-in-the-Wall. They stayed for just a short time before moving on to Powder Springs. They stayed there a short time before moving on to Robber’s Roost. With the help of friends, Lant and Tracy made it over Diamond Mountain to Brown's Park. Here they were surrounded by passes from two states, having been joined in their flight by one Patrick Louis Johnson, who was also on the run for killing a ranch hand, 15 year old, Willie Strang, at Valentine Hoy’s spread at Brown’s Park.

On February 28, 1898, Colorado sheriff Charles Neiman, led a posse after them. They caught up with the outlaws near Douglas Mountain. The posse found the outlaws’ camp, but they were not there, having run off with just their weapons. The posse took their horses hoping to flush them out of their hiding place. They followed their tracks until they led into a narrow defile, an easily defendable spot. The following morning, March 1, 1898, while sneaking up on their hiding place, Valentine came almost face to face with Harry Tracy in the rocks. Valentine talked to him and said that he was only interested in getting Pat Johnson, as he wanted him to pay for the death of Willie Strang, but Harry Tracy shot and killed  Valentine where he stood. The death of the prominent rancher brought more lawmen and posse members into the chase. The outlaws continued to elude the posse for several days through blustery cold weather. John "Judge" Bennett, one of Tracy's friends who attempted to bring them supplies, was caught and hanged from the gatepost of the Bassett ranch.

The posse thought they could wait them out since the outlaws had no food. They finally caught the outlaws when they surrendered after a short shootout.

 The citizens were very vocal about such a wasteful loss of life, leading to several cries for justice on the murder of Hoy and Willie Strang (whom Johnson killed). Lant wasn’t guilty in either case, just guilty by association.

Lant and his friends were taken to Lodore, Colorado, where a hearing was held before Justice of the Peace, James (J.S.) Hoy. He concluded that there was enough evidence for all the outlaws to be tried for Hoy’s murder, although it was Tracy who pulled the trigger.

 Hoy’s funeral was held in Fremont, Nebraska. Due to being a member of Fremont's Masonic Lodge, Valentine's body was accompanied by Masonic member's during the entire trip from Colorado to Nebraska. Valentine's final resting place is located in Ridge Cemetery in Fremont, along side his infant son and daughter,

and his niece, Winifred M. Davis Chamberlin, the young daughter of his sister,

 Emily (Hoy) Chamberlin.

Harry Tracy's Final Demise

Harry Tracy Escapes From Captivity Once Again...

On August 6, 1902, Harry Tracy (1877-1902), takes his own life rather than surrender to authorities, after being wounded in a gun battle in a Lincoln County wheat field. Beginning with his escape from the Oregon State Penitentiary on June 9, 1902, Tracy killed a total of six men throughout the Northwest, and in the process became known as One of the Last Desperados of the Old West.

Timeline: July 1902

On July 5, 1902, escaped convict Harry Tracy commandeers the Johnson home on Bainbridge Island, demanding food and clothing. He had crossed Puget Sound the night before aboard a hijacked fishing vessel. After eating two meals, and reading about his exploits in the newspaper, he ties up the family and kidnaps a hired hand, John Anderson, whom he forces to row a small boat back to Seattle. Tracy had escaped from the Oregon State Penitentiary one month earlier, and had been evading a region wide manhunt ever since.

Harry Tracy arrived in the early morning near Port Madison on Bainbridge Island. The night before, he confronted a Japanese fisherman at Meadow Point, two miles north of Ballard. At gunpoint, he forced the man to take him across Puget Sound.

After landing on Bainbridge Island, Tracy sent the fisherman back, and went into the woods to sleep. Upon arising, he approached a home owned by John Johnson, a stump farmer. Tracy watched the house for more than an hour. He saw a man, his wife, their young son and daughter, and what appeared to be a hired hand.

Near the beach, he approached the hired hand, John Anderson, and made him accompany him to the Johnson home. It was 2:00 p.m., in the afternoon. He rapped on the door, which Mrs. Johnson opened. As soon as Tracy told her that he was hungry and being pursued by other men, she knew exactly who he was. Tracy told her that he meant her no harm, and she ran screaming from the house.

Tracy yelled at Anderson to call her back. Anderson shouted out that Tracy would shoot her if she did not stop running, and Mrs. Johnson stopped in her tracks. Nearly breathless, she returned to the home. "That was a foolish thing to do" Tracy scolded her. "I told you that so long as you acted sensibly you would not be hurt and I meant it." They entered the home. Mr. Johnson was out working in the field, and the children were inside the house. Tracy paid little attention to the boy and girl, and ordered Mrs. Johnson to cook him a big meal. She started to fix bread and cheese, but Tracy demanded meat. The ritual was the same as at other homes Tracy commandeered. He ate with his rifle over his knee, and would stand at the ready whenever he heard a dog bark in the distance. He slammed back cup after cup of coffee, and told illustrious tales of his pursuit by various lawmen.

After eating, he asked to see some recent newspapers. Mrs. Johnson handed him three copies of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, in which the Tracy story was covered in great detail. Tracy carefully read every word.  He then embellished his side of the story to Mrs. Johnson, comparing his version to the newspaper version. According to Tracy, he never wanted to kill anybody, he just wanted to escape. And if someone got in his way, so be it. "Why, if I were the blood-thirsty villain the papers make me out, I could have killed twenty more men," he rationalized.

By this time, Mr. Johnson had returned home to find a killer chatting with his wife, while handyman Anderson sat silently in a chair. After introducing himself, Tracy took the two men into one of the bedrooms, where he picked out another new set of clothing. He swiped all the gold pocket watches in the house, as well as some provisions. As he pinched a few blankets, he remarked that sleeping in the woods without bedding, "wasn't what it was cracked up to be."

But now it was time for the evening meal, and Mrs. Johnson spread the table again for Mr. Tracy. He pointed out that everyone needed to be fed, and that they should all sit at the table. When Mr. Johnson pointed out that he needed to milk the cow, Tracy let him go to the barn, but told him not to sound an alarm, lest he kill his wife and son. The family and uninvited guest feasted on eggs, potatoes, fried ham, brown beans and stew, as well as some preserves. Tracy questioned Mr. Johnson about the Hood Canal region and told the family that he would leave after dark.

He forced Anderson to bind the family, but told him not to tie the mother and daughter to tightly. Tracy then bound Anderson, and took the hot water off the stove. He wanted to shave before his trip.  His tonsorial task completed, he unbound Anderson, telling him that he would be accompanying him. Anderson was told he would be bound to the oars of a rowboat owned by the Johnsons, so that he could not escape or fight back. The two men left the house.

Within the hour, Mrs. Johnson was able to release her bonds, and untie the rest of the family. Mr. Johnson ran to the home of the local Deputy Sheriff, who in turn secured a boat to get word to the posse in Seattle. The next day, King County Sheriff Edward Cudihee chartered the tug Sea Lion and brought his men over to Bainbridge Island. The next few days were spent patrolling the waters of Puget Sound, looking for any clues as to Tracy's whereabouts. Unbeknownst to the posse, Tracy had slipped right through their fingers again. While policemen and bounty hunters were searching as far north as Deception Pass, Tracy and his kidnap victim landed once again in King County.

Heading East ...

In late July, Tracy crossed the Cascade Mountains after a week-long crime spree in King County. He was seen near Wenatchee on July 31. Two days later he was seen aboard a ferry crossing the Columbia River, and following that he was seen near Coulee City. He appeared to be heading for Spokane.

On August 3, near the town of Creston, 18-year-old George E. Goldfinch was hailed by a dark stranger riding a bay horse, and leading a sorrel. “I’m Tracy, the convict,” the stranger stated. “Who are you?." In reply, Goldfinch told him his name, and said, “Pleased to meet you -- I think.”

Tracy asked the whereabouts of the nearest ranch. Goldfinch told him that the Eddy ranch was nearby, run by two bachelor brothers. Tracy told him to go there, and let them know he was coming.

Closing In ...

Once Tracy arrived, Goldfinch introduced him to Lou and Eugene Eddy. Tracy looked around and decided to stay at the ranch for a few days. He let the boy go, warning him that he would kill the Eddy's if the authorities were alerted.

Over the next few days, Tracy tended his horses, shaved, and took a bath. He even showed off his gun slinging prowess to the Eddy brothers by pegging a knothole in a pine board, 60 yards away. They were impressed.

Meanwhile, Goldfinch had disobeyed Tracy’s orders and had phoned the Sheriff in Creston. He also offered to act as a scout and advisor in the capture of Harry Tracy. A posse was formed, and on the morning of August 6, it approached the ranch.

Going Down ...

The posse met up with Lou Eddy who was mowing hay in a pasture. As they conversed they saw a man step out of the barn. “Is that Tracy?” they asked. Lou said yes, and was ordered to drive to the barn, followed by the posse men.

As soon as Tracy saw them he asked who they were, “Hold up your hands!” yelled policeman C. C. Straub, “We are constables of the law!” Tracy bolted back into the barn for his rifle and started firing. He ran from the house with the posse in hot pursuit.

He reached some rocks, and leapt behind them. The deputies hid behind nearby rocks, and shots were exchanged. The lawmen began jockeying for better position. Tracy ran towards a wheat field, but in doing so got hit, and fell to the ground.

The End ...

Two bullets had ripped through Tracy’s leg. One caused a flesh wound in the back of his thigh, but the other had hit mid-calf, shattering both bones. Tracy wrenched himself forward by his hands, and took cover in the waist-high wheat.

By this time reinforcements had arrived back at the ranch, but no one was willing to travel into the field to find the cornered, injured man. Not knowing the extent of Tracy’s wounds, they surrounded the field, in case Tracy tried to escape once again.

He didn't. Tracy had dragged himself over 75 yards, hoping to find a vantage point from which to shoot, but his wounds were too great. Blood flowed out in pulses. A major artery was severed in his leg, and although he had stuffed a handkerchief down inside the wound, the flow could not be staunched.

Having vowed to others that he would never be taken alive, Tracy kept that promise. His energy draining, he brought his revolver up under his right eye, pulled the trigger, and blew out his brains.

The posse waited until next morning to enter the field. The body was removed and brought to Creston, which by this time was filled with throngs of oglers. The Sheriff allowed people to see the body, but many started ripping at Tracy’s clothes, and snipping locks of his hair. One man pulled the handkerchief out of Tracy’s leg wound, but found it too clotted and wet to put in his pocket. He wrapped it up in paper instead.

After a few days, it was decided that Tracy would be returned for burial in Salem, Oregon. Tracy’s coffin came through Seattle, under guard, and was shipped south. Back at the penitentiary, chemicals were introduced into the casket, so the body would be destroyed, lest someone try to steal the remains.

The manhunt was over, but legends quickly built up about Harry Tracy. Mere months after his death, dime novels were written and plays produced. After film became popular, at least two silent movies told an embellished version of his story. It wasn’t until the rise of more modern criminals like John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde, that Tracy’s tale began to wane, although the film Harry Tracy starring Bruce Dern was made in 1983, and more scholarly histories have been written since.

More than a century after his final days, there are many who consider Harry Tracy to be the Last Desperado of the Wild West.

Quote By "Harry Tracy"
"I'm Tracy. I don't want to hurt anybody but those who get in
my way, but when I say put your hands up, put them up."
- Harry Tracy -
Harry Tracy's Mug Shot's from the Oregon State Penitentiary

Harry Tracy lies dead on the Eddy farm near Creston, Washington,  August 6, 1902

Harry Tracy took his own life, rather than be captured by authorities.

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