A Page Out of the Book Cliffs
Page 20 – Ink Harris – Part 9

In last week’s cross-ocean letter, Ink was telling his old friend Harry that Charlie Glass had been acquitted of killing the sheep herder in the ongoing range war along the Book Cliffs, but that the trial of the men who had shot his own horse out from under him was still in the offing. A Jan. 31, 1922 letter from Ink to Harry filled in the blanks. It begins like this:

Dear Old Friend,

I received your letter of Dec. 28th, 1921 and was very glad to here from you, also the check for Ballard and thank you for the remembrence.

I just come back from Manti and the trial is over with the Bascos. One of them was convicted for attempted to murder. The penelty for whitch is 1 to 20 years. The other was convicted for assalt with a deadly weppon, the penalty for witch is 1 to 5 years. I am very glad it is over and may learn these alians they cant come right into a mans dore yard and try to murder him. They made a hard fight, had two of the best lawyers in the State to fight their case but the evidence was two strong.

We had the first snow of the season yestarday but have had lots of rain. It has bin one of the nicest winters we have had for a long time and cattle have wintered very good. The market is slowly getting better. There has bin quite a few yearling steers contacted at $25.00 around Moab. I am hoping they will be better along toward spring. I havent contracted yet but have had lots of inquire for all kinds of stuff. I havent heard any more forme Bob Clark in regardes to the lots at Thompsons and have bin so buisey with that trial I havent had a chance to go to Moab…

I saw Oscar Turner about a month ago he is getting along all right and is living in Grand Junction. I havent herd frome Ed Anderson for a long time and don’t know where he is. Old Mase is still with McPhereson and is all right although he is getting very feable. He had rheumatisam pretty bad this winter. The old fellow lost most of his money in the Moab State Bank. I am hoping he will get some of it back but it dont look very good.

There is some talk of the Utah Light and Power Co. going a head with the power dam in Green River. If they do it will help the country. You remember the old Buhel dam site? That is where they intend to build the dam and use it to generate electric power. If they do it will make the land along G.R. valuable.

Well Harry, guess I have went the limmit as far as news is concerned. You know this isnt a very newsey country so will lay off. I am inclosing a couppel of snapshots of Ballard and Larry.

With Kindest regardes to Mrs. Ballard and Bruce, I am as ever your old friend. G.A. Harris.

Next week we are going to find out how bad things got in Old Ink’s world as trying to find enough range for his cattle to graze was getting more and more difficult. In those days before grazing was regulated, it was just a damned free-for-all, and things got dangerous way too often. Although Ink does not say much about it in his letters, just hints at it, I’d say he had a pretty good posse of good old boys to help him try to run off those “Alian Sheep Guys.” I believe there were few holds barred when the locals got mad enough to ride and raise some hell. It seems some of the lawmen were happy to support the home range cause as well. Of course, the law tended to have their biscuits buttered out of the same churn that the local stockmen did, so it was no wonder that they maybe played favorites just a little. After all, being an old-time local counted for a lot. At least it should. After all, some of these folks had lived and worked in this country for going on 40 years by this time. They figured they had rights.

Then, in a couple weeks I’ll share a story from the other side of the situation. A situation where the sheep men were calling foul on the bad old local guys who thought they had the rights to the whole darn country when it ought to belong to everyone in this good old US of A. There are always two sides to every story and they both need to be heard.

ByBy AJ Rogers