Faro, Pharaoh, Pharao, or Farobank is a late 17th-century French gambling game using cards. It is descended from Basset, and belongs to the Lansquenet and Monte Bank family of games due to the use of a banker and several players. Winning or losing occurs when cards turned up by the banker match those already exposed. it could turn deadly if an unwitting player lost.
Twain was robbed at Greiners bend, that sharp "Switchback" curve between Virginia City and Gold Hill
Many were the incidents related by these teamsters of their various experiences with the road agents and how they escaped, for at this time many, for fear of robbery, would express their money over, or take in its stead a check which they would have cashed in San Francisco or in Sacramento City upon their return home. A gentleman was driving a buggy on his way from Dutch Flat to Virginia City, when, near his destination, he was stopped by a man; a pistol was presented, and the usual formalities were gone through with as is necessary in such cases. The gentleman handed over a $20 gold piece, at the same time remarking that he was very sorry, but that was all he happened to have with him. He noticed in handing it over to the road agent that the latter appeared to be very nervous and frightened, and he remarked to him that he believed he was new to the business. The agent answered that he was and that it was his first offense, and that he only did it from absolute necessity. Upon being further questioned, he stated that he had worked for a whole year in a livery stable as hostler in a town not far away ; that the livery stable keeper failed, and he never received a single dollar. Upon further inquiry it was learned that he had a young wife and two small children living in the State of Ohio.
"They are really suffering, and, by George," he said, "I was determined to raise money somehow to send them." The gentleman then informed him that he himself kept a livery stable, and promised to give him a good job if he would get into the buggy with him. After some persuasion he did so, and it was afterwards stated that he proved to be a faithful and competent man, remaining there in the Samaritan's employ for nearly four years, and the gentleman never stated the facts of the case until after the hostler had returned to his family in the East. There were numerous incidents of a similar character constantly occurring on this road.
A tall, lean and lank specimen of a Downeaster, who was engaged in mining, was very leisurely walking along the road one Sunday afternoon on his way home. He had been out visiting among some of his lady acquaintances and was dressed in the regulation store-clothes style ; in place of a collar, however, he wore a plain white handkerchief for a necktie. In consequence of a close resemblance to a certain minister of the gospel who frequently visited that part of the country, he was called by all his acquaintances " the parson." All at once one of these polite road agents stepped out from behind a tree, and, presenting his weapon, demanded the "parson's" money instantly, or off would come the top of his head. Now, the parson was totally unprepared for such an encounter, and as he had in his pocket a purse containing about $250, which he didn't like to part with without a struggle, the question suggested itself at once as to how he could save it. An idea occurred to him, and the fact of his being called a parson could now be made good use of, since he was well aware that he very much resembled one. Especially was this true when dressed up with his old-fashioned black coat and his white necktie, and they saved him. He replied to the demand in a drawling tone, that unfortunately the profession in which he was engaged didn't enable him to carry about much money, but that he had a prayer-book which might be sold for a trifle, at the same time putting his hand into his coat pocket for the book. The agent, ordering him to take his hand from his pocket, again repeated his demand, or off would come his head and at once, if he didn't hand it over.
Then says the parson, in his drawling style: "If I must go hence, first let me pray, won't ye? " at the same time kneeling down in the proper attitude. The road agent, being now satisfied that he had sure enough struck a genuine parson, turned in disgust and remarked as he went away: "Oh, pray away all night, if you like, and be damned !" But this little incident, like many others which often occur among the parsons, has a sequel.
Some four years later, in Sacramento City, the parson and some of his acquaintances were enjoying themselves as miners usually do when visiting the large cities in the barroom of one of the hotels. During the course of the evening, a well-dressed man, who seemed to be serving in some capacity in the hotel, took him by the arm to one side, and asked him if he ever lived up on the toll-road a few miles above Placerville. The parson replied that he did, and that his residence was in a canon near the road, where he was at present mining. The man then asked:
"You were a minister some four or five years ago, were you not ?-"
" Why, no, I weren't at all; they only called me parson because I looked so much like one. But say, stranger, why do you ask me these questions ?"
"Well, because when that road agent demanded your money, you remember you said you were a preacher, and got right down in the dust to pray."
“Yes, I know that; but you see that chap got the drop on me, and as I had no weapon with me I was bound to save about $250 that I had in my pocket."
" Well," says the man," and you did it well, too."
" Why,?" The Yank asks.
''Why? because I was the chap who was concerned in that little funny business."
"The hell you was! why, you don't say so! really though?"
“Yes, sure. You see I was on the way home from the other side and was dead broke, and I just thought to myself, now here is a good chance. It was my first and last trial in the business of being a criminal, for the idea of robbing a country preacher broke me all up. “Did you notice that I am now bald-headed? "
“Why, yes," answered the parson; " what's the matter?"
The man replied. " I was so disgusted with myself that I shed my hair all out on the way home.''
“Well, I'll be doll garned!" exclaimed the parson. " Let's go and take suthin' to drink."
A suspicious March 14, 1871, fire in the basement of Piper’s Opera House proved the undoing of an arson ring led by Virginia City n’er-do-well Arthur Perkins. (Michael Defreitas North America)
For the masked vigilantes of Virginia City, Nevada, the wheels of justice ground too slowly.
Shortly after midnight on March 14, 1871, Hugh Kelly and Charley Fletcher were strolling down B Street when they spied something ominous—reflected orange light flickering off the houses opposite Piper’s Opera House. Springing into action, the pair filled buckets with water from a nearby trough, forced their way into the opera house and doused the fire before it could spread.
George Downey (University of Nevada)
Police Chief George Downey moved just as swiftly. Within a half hour, on the corner of C and Union streets, Downey arrested William Willis for arson. His grounds for suspicion were strong. Hours earlier Willis—ironically, a volunteer firefighter of Washoe Engine Co. No. 4—had bulled his way into the opera house to watch that evening’s play. After proprietor John Piper ordered him out, Willis had sworn he’d “get even.” Later that night Officers George Potter and William Stout spotted Willis lurking about the opera house and went to investigate but soon lost sight of him. On hearing about the fire, the officers reported to Downey, who soon located Willis. Coal oil on the latter’s hands and coat sleeves was evidence enough to warrant his arrest.
Willis was in bigger trouble than that, for the opera house fire was only the latest of several blazes that had ravaged the Nevada boomtown that year. The other fires had killed four people and reduced dozens of homes and businesses to ashes, damages running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Arson” was on everyone’s lips, and on February 18 the Nevada State Journal had fanned the flames. “It seems to be well established that there is an organized gang of incendiaries in Virginia City,” the paper surmised, “and that the numerous fires in that city were kindled by the gang. What object these miscreants expect to accomplish by destroying the city is not clear; but there is a determination on the part of the respectable citizens to wreak summary vengeance upon anyone caught at the nefarious work.”
With Willis in custody, townsfolk wondered what other fires he might have set and whether he’d acted alone. If he were tried and convicted, they reasoned, he could potentially be induced to name his fellow arsonists on a promise of reduced jail time. But for Virginia City’s vigilance committee—that wasn’t good enough by half.
Willis had been behind bars for less than 24 hours when a knock came at the jailhouse door. From inside Jailer Benjamin L. Higbee called out, “Who is it?” “A friend,” came the reply. Pushing back the bolt, Higbee cautiously opened the door. All at once a masked man burst through the gap, seized the jailer by the throat and pushed him inside. On the intruder’s heels followed a dozen others armed with shotguns and pistols, their faces disguised by masks fashioned from red or white cloth cut with crude eyeholes. Retrieving the jailer’s keys, they opened the cell holding Willis and spirited him out of jail.
The vigilantes marched Willis to the scene of the crime—the basement of Piper’s Opera House. Tossing one end of their rope over a charred beam, they fixed the noose around their quarry’s neck and gave it a tug. With his life on the line, Willis confessed to having set the fire. He also implicated three fellow incendiaries. Helping him set the opera house fire was Charley McWilliams, whom Willis claimed had also burned down a cabin near the old provost station in the lower part of town. Tom Laswell, Willis said, had set ablaze a boardwalk outside the Collins House hotel. The lead firebug, however, was 24-year-old hothead Arthur Perkins. According to Willis, Perkins had helped Laswell commit arson, incinerated Athletic Hall, set the fire next to the confectionary store on C Street and destroyed the Invincible Hose Co. engine house. Plunder, Willis claimed, had been the object of Perkins’ devilish design.
Having forfeited any bargaining power, Willis was perhaps surprised when the vigilantes removed the noose and returned him to jail. On the strength of his confession authorities soon arrested McWilliams and Laswell. Perkins, however, was already in jail on a charge of murder.
Murder was one thing. Arson and murder was quite another. The vigilantes decided on a more permanent solution for Perkins.
Pool halls and gambling houses were strife with drunk men, loose women and loaded guns
Although the number of deaths from gunfire was less than some other old west towns, this scene did play out from time to time
Peter Larkin's Last Appeal "A Hanging On B Street"
Article courtesy of Janice Oberding
This hanging is reflected on the "Hanging Chart" below, in
"The Use Of The Noose"
Virginia City was founded in 1859, it was known then as Virginia, Nevada Territory and by 1861, Sam Brown was the worst reprobate the town had ever seen. A large man by any means, standing 6 foot tall, and weighing some 200 lbs. he had long red hair and whiskers & steel blue eyes. Always armed, he wore a very sharp Bowie knife on one hip and a pistol on the other. By his teenage years, he was already incarcerated in San Quentin Penitentiary in San Francisco. Around the age of 30, he drifted into Virginia, Nevada Territory. Apparently one evening after losing at a game of Faro in a Virginia (city) saloon, he pulled out his Bowie knife, carved out the dealers heart, threw it to the floor and with his arms all bloodied and his clothes saturated...he climbed up on the gambling table to sleep off his drunken stupor.... When Sam Brown was sober he was dangerous, when he was drunk, he was deadly. He was killed not soon after.
1860-1912, the law prescribed hanging as the means of carrying out the death sentence in the territory / state of Nevada, however, upon revision of the statutes in 1911, the condemned were allowed a choice between the gallows and the firing squad.
Men with drink and guns was a recipe for disaster
Virginia City Silent Riders
Virginia City, Nevada, United States of America
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