Vigilante Days and Ways. By now, author Nathaniel Pitt Langford has described what life was like in the new and growing mining towns, first Lewiston and then Florence. Gamblers and outlaws spent their time in saloons or hanging out in shebangs, waiting to relieve miners and others of their gold dust as they travel between mining camps and towns. Good citizens are regularly robbed and killed. Frustrated, many are beginning to think about taking the law into their own hands.
The last installment ended with Langford relaying the story of mule train packers being robbed at gunpoint. Soon after that incident, packers Joseph and John Berry were robbed of eleven hundred dollars by three masked men. The packers recognized the voices of two of the robbers – David English and William Peoples; the third was later discovered to be Nelson Scott. When the packers arrived in Lewiston and told their tale, the citizens felt compelled to act.
Chapter X: First Vigilance Committee As soon as the Berrys were assured of the identity of the villains who had robbed them they appealed to the people to assist in their capture. The robbers had stripped them of all their hard earnings, and they had the sympathy of every honest man in the community. Nothing more was needed to kindle into a flame of popular excitement the long pent-up fires of smothered indignation. Public sentiment was clamorous for the capture and punishment of the robbers. It gathered strength day by day, until it became the all-absorbing topic everywhere. Men assembled on the street corners, in the stores, in the saloons, and at the outside mining camps to compare views and consult upon measures of relief. Meantime, several parties, whose faith in immediate action was stronger than in consultation, set out in pursuit of the robbers.