Ned Ray – Hanged by Montana Vigilates

Bannock, Montana Gallows by Kathy Alexander.

Bannock, Montana Gallows by Kathy Alexander.

Ned Ray was a professional gambler, lawman, and outlaw who vigilantes hung in Montana.

Before making his way to Bannack, Montana, Ray worked as an engineer in Benicia, California, but spent most of his time as a professional gambler. Later, he made his way to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was convicted of the theft of two mules and sent to prison. However, he escaped in 1863, and by mid-May, he had made his way to Bannack. It is unknown if Henry Plummer had been previously associated with Ray while they were both in the California area. Still, Plummer appointed Ray as a deputy after he was elected Sheriff on May 24, 1863.

Though Ray was known as a “rough” and associated with known outlaws, there is no record that he was ever accused of or committed any crimes while in Bannack. However, when the Montana Vigilantes were formed in December 1863, he came under suspicion when Erastus “Red” Yager was hanged on January 4, 1864. The Montana Vigilantes claimed that Yager had named Henry Plummer the leader of the Innocents gang. The vigilantes acted swiftly, and on January 10, 1864, they rode into Bannack from Virginia City and apprehended Henry Plummer and his two deputies, Buck Stinson and Ned Ray. Marching the three men to the gallows in a military style, the three were lifted up and dropped to their deaths. The three bodies were left hanging until the next morning. Plummer’s was the only body placed in a wooden coffin, and none were buried in the cemetery, but instead, all three were buried in shallow graves in Hangman’s Gulch about a hundred yards up from the gallows.


By Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated April 2024.

Also See:

Bannack, Montana – Gold to Ghosts

Montana Vigilantes

Outlaws on the Frontier

Henry Plummer – Sheriff Meets a Noose