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David Fisk (Lens of
Queho - Renegade Indian
Outlaw or Scapegoat?
mystery and legend of renegade
Queho (pronounced Key-Ho), continues to be debated today as to whether
he was a scoundrel or a scapegoat. Was the Southern
killer or was he merely blamed by law officers for an abundance of
Thought to have been
born around 1880 at Cottonwood Island near the town of Nelson,
Queho’s Cocopah mother died shortly after giving birth. Though
the identity of his father remains a mystery, various theories have
been presented including a Paiute brave from a neighboring tribe, a white soldier from Fort Mohave, or a Mexican miner. Though the
answer to this question will never be known, Queho was an outcast from
the start due to his "shameful” mixed blood. Adding to this, the
boy was born with a club foot, which further caused the local tribes
to reject him.
Raised on a reservation in
he worked from an early age as a ranch laborer and wood gatherer in
several of the nearby mining camps. Always known to be sullen,
moody, and quick-tempered, it came as no surprise when he began to
have troubles with the law.
Queho's grave marker in Pahrum Valley
Nevada, 2010, Nevada Bob via
Find A Grave.
Some stories, though unconfirmed, tell of
him being involved in the death of another
in 1897, but newspaper accounts of his exploits do not begin until
November, 1910. The first report tells of Queho being the main
suspect in a slaying of another
during a brawl on the
reservation. Allegedly, he and the other man, named Harry Bismark, were drinking when the dispute began. Queho went on the run
and according to some accounts, murdered two Paiute
when he stole their horses in his escape.
On his flight, he stopped for supplies in
and was confronted by a shopkeeper named Hy Von, which resulted in
Queho breaking both the man’s arms and fracturing his skull with a
pick handle. Fleeing south to Nelson, he took shelter in
Before long, word came from Searchlight
that a Queho had beaten to death a woodcutter named J.M. Woodworth. According to the tale, he had beaten the man with a piece of timber
after Woodworth refused to pay him after having helped him cutting
Deputy Sheriff Howe formed
a posse and group first went to the scene of Woodworth’s killing where
they found a
distinctive print left by Queho's clubfoot. From there, they tracked
the fugitive to
where they led to the Gold Bug mine. There, they found the body of
the watchman, L.W. "Doc" Gilbert. Shot in the back, Gilbert’s
special deputy badge No. 896, had been stolen. Continuing to track Queho to the Colorado River, they lost the trail. Though the lawmen had
searched for Queho over a 200 mile area ranging from Crescent to Nipton,
they found nothing but the trace footprints. Having thought that Queho
would be easy to track and capture due to his clubfoot, they couldn’t have
been more wrong.
After some time, they finally gave up the chase.
State Police Sergeant Newgard soon picked up the search along with several
trackers and two experienced hunters. Though they also found signs
of Queho’s presence, they too finally gave up the search when they ran
short of supplies. The frustrated and exhausted lawmen returned to
empty handed in February 1911.
Over the next several years, the sightings
of Queho continued and his legend began to grow. Up and down the
length of the Colorado River, miners and settlers told of missing cattle,
unexplained thefts, and mysterious murders. All were attributed to
the phantom renegade, which served as constant source of embarrassment to
the local lawmen.
In 1913, local newspapers
attributed the death of a 100-year-old blind
known as Canyon Charlie to Queho. Allegedly, Charlie’s few
provisions were gone, which included little more than food, prompting
everyone to believe that Queho would kill for almost anything. However, there were others that disputed the murder as being Queho’s
responsibility, as the old
was known to be the fugitive’s friend and confidant.
A few months later when two more miners
working claims at Jenny Springs were found shot in the back and their
provisions stolen, these murders, too, were blamed on the illustrious
woman found dead a short time later was also blamed on the renegade.
The hysteria continued to
grow until rewards reaching $2,000 were offered for his capture, "Dead or
Alive.” The Searchlight Bulletin was quick to remind its readers of
the reward while screaming, "A good
is a dead
Though the furor died down for several
years, area settlers continued to worry anytime someone went missing for
even and hour or two. Queho became the stuff of legends and the
bogeyman to scare children into behaving.
area, April, 2005, David Alexander.
In 1919, the
murderous tales would begin again when two prospectors named William
Hancock and Eather Taylor were found dead upstream from
Both had been shot in the back and Taylor's head had been smashed in with
an ax handle. With their supplies missing and Queho’s footprints
allegedly being found at the site, he was immediately the prime suspect.
About a week later on
January 21, 1919, Maude Douglas, the wife of an
miner, was awakened in the night by a commotion in the larder at the rear
of the cabin. When her husband heard a shotgun blast, he found her
shot in the chest and surrounded by canned goods. When authorities
arrived at the cabin near the Techatticup Mine, they
pronounced it to have been yet another crime committed by Queho as they
allegedly found his footprints around the cabin. Though a
four-year-old boy in Maude’s care said that the woman had been killed by
her husband, no one listened, immediately resuming the chase for the
renegade once again.
The reward for Queho’s capture was
increased to $3,000 and southern
Sheriff Sam Gay ordered Deputy Frank Wait to round up a posse and hire
the best trackers to once and for all kill or capture Queho. Though they
Wash and on into the Muddy Mountains, they soon lost his trail. Gathering up yet more men, Wait split the group into two parties who
continued the search. The manhunt lasted almost two months, despite
freezing rain and snow. Though they didn’t find Queho, the lawmen
did find the skeletons of two miners who had disappeared several years
before. Though there was no proof whatsoever, Queho took the blame
for these murders as well.
As sighting of Queho
continued over the next several years, Under sheriff Frank Wait would
resume his search periodically in the area where Boulder Dam would later
be built to as far south as Searchlight.
But when no further
murders were committed, interest in the elusive
The last time that the
renegade was reportedly seen was when he was spotted by a
policeman walking down Fremont Street in February of 1930. The officer
immediately summoned reinforcements, but by the time they arrived, Queho
was gone once again.
Posse that recovered
remains stands at the mouth of his cave hideout.
From left, Clarke Kenyon, Frank Wait, and Art Schroeder. Photo courtesy UNLV Special Collections
As the legend was finally beginning to
die, three prospectors by the names of Charles Kenyon and brothers, Art
and Schroder, found the remains of a dead
on February 18, 1940. High in a cave on the side of Black Canyon,
the mummified body was found along with a Winchester 30/30 rifle,
clothing, cooking utensils, tools, and a "special Deputy badge, No.896".
Frank Wait, then Chief of
and original member of the posse in 1910, rushed to the scene and
positively identified the remains as belonging to Queho. A few days
later on February 21, 1940, he headlines in the Las Vegas
Review-Journal read "Body of
Queho’s remains were taken to Palm Funeral
Las Vegas and Charles Kenyon, who had
first found the body, demanded the reward. However, when the rewards
offered more than a decade earlier were ignored, Kenyon demanded that the
body be turned over to him.
When he threatened to sell
it to the
Elks Club for exhibition purposes, a court order was issued to prevent him
from doing so. In the meantime, several
came forward claiming to be Queho’s heirs. As the corpse lay in
storage at the funeral home, charges were accumulating and the facility
was demanding that the body be moved and the bill paid. Suddenly
Kenyon and those claiming to be heirs "disappeared” and the judge
ruled that the funeral home had all rights to the body. All this
haggling had taken three years and the funeral home issued an ultimatum
that if the body was retrieved and the charges paid, it would cremate the
corpse and scatter the ashes over the desert.
Queho’s old nemesis, Frank Wait paid the bill and gave the remains and
artifacts to the
Elks Club, who produced what was then the city’s biggest public
celebration, Helldorado. The club then built a glassed in case and
recreated a "cave” to exhibit the body and artifacts at Helldorado Village
remains stayed on public display until the early 1950’s and, on at least
one occasion, even rode in one of the famous
When the Elks Club no longer wanted
responsibility for Queho’s remains that passed through several private
hands before landing at the Museum of Natural History at the University of
where they remained until the mid 1970's. Finally, a retired
attorney by the name of Ronald H. Wiley, secured the remains from the
museum, and on November 6, 1975, Queho was finally laid to rest. In
a small ceremony on Wiley’s Pahrum Valley ranch, the ceremony was attended
by Frank Wait, who told the local press he was relieved that his old
adversary had finally been given a proper burial.
During his lifetime, Queho was credited
with the deaths of 23 people, was declared as
"Public Enemy No. 1,” and the state’s first mass murderer. While many
believe that the
was little more than a brutish killer, others see him as an abused man who
was hounded his entire life and blamed for dozens of atrocities that he
did not commit. The truth remains a mystery.
of America, updated July, 2014.
- Lawlessness on the Colorado River
Hell Dogs of
Eldorado Canyon - Ghostly Canine Apparitions
Nevada - Sin City, USA
mummified remains were found surrounded by all his possessions. Photo
courtesy UNLV Special Collections
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