by FRANCES DYHRKOPP
Aleck Frailey lived in Rock Creek, born in eighteen thirty-three,
Son of frontier William Frailey, poor as any boy could be.
Life held little for a farm boy, to that wild frontier land born;
Home tanned shoes he had one pair of, linsey-woolsey clothes, well worn.
Though he worked just like the oxen, from first dawn 'til setting sun,
Aleck never earned a dollar; father never paid him one.
Some boys went to Baugher Schoolhouse, to learn spelling and to read.
Father William needed Aleck, on the farm to sow the seed.
When the Gold Rush promised riches, to the young and brave and bold,
Aleck took his father's oxen, and some corn meal to be sold.
Father William ran a grist mill, where Rock Creek crossed Old Ford's Road.
There son Aleck got the corn meal; he took quite a wagon load.
It was not as though he stole it; he'd worked hard for many-a-year,
And he figured in fair wages, he should have this much all clear.
Sister Becky told old William "Aleck said he'd come home rich,
Or that he would die a-tryin', and he was not sure just which."
Aleck's words had been prophetic; his young life it nearly cost,
When he packed on Utah's desert with his yoke of oxen lost.
Faithful oxen drank foul water, dying fast to warn the men
That their meager kegs for drinking must suffice 'til God knew when.
Indians knew the whites had long guns, that guards watched their trains all night,
So they poisoned all the water! It was safer than a fight.
Travelers left supplies and wagons, with their mules and oxen gone.
White men had to go on foot then, but gold fever drove them on!
Strong men out there on the desert, died or went stark raving mad,
When mirages marred their vision, after water holes went bad.
Hot sands tortured would-be miners, burned the blisters on their feet,
As the vultures swarmed above them, smelling death in desert's heat.
Aleck walked on with the weary, felt the sunrise on his back,
As he got to California, with his greatly lightened pack.
When he got to Placer County, Aleck tried to pan some dust,
But the nuggets all were elsewhere, and he cried and prayed and cussed.
Once again he worked like oxen, carried ore dirt on his back.
Though he worked from dawn 'til sunset, there was scant gold in his sack.
And the dear cost of provisions was more gold than he could find,
As he fought the inner demons that possessed his troubled mind.
For at least back home in Rock Creek, when the day's hard work was done,
Aleck knew he'd have some supper, and he'd never missed a one.
He had lost his father's oxen, and he dared not go home broke.
To be branded thief and failure in the eyes of his home folk.
In his homesick melancholy, Aleck thought of suicide,
Still he thought there must be something, that so far he had not tried.
So, he planned well with a partner, one bold blow for riches sake;
Let the other fools grub gold dust shipped by stagecoach they could take.
Hardy-Kennedy shipped deposits, to Sac City on the stage,
With the man they sent to guard it, barely paid a living wage.
Guards were tempted to conspiracy, to acquire the gold they carried.
Their shares they would dig up later, from the place it would be buried.
Aleck's partner tied the guards up, as they laughed and made up lies,
Swearing they would tell the law men, that their captors wore disguise.
Guards knew Aleck would keep his part, of the bargain they had struck,
For he'd need their lies to save him; he'd need lies and lots of luck.
So the guard's gold shares were buried, each man had his secret spot.
This would guarantee their silence, on the dangerous outlaw plot.
They knew law men would hunt them, when the stage failed to arrive,
And they kept their wits about them, making miles to stay alive.
After two nights of hard riding, they thought they could go to sleep
But then partners felt suspicions, of each other that went deep.
When his partner grabbed his pistol two nights after they stole gold,
Aleck knew he meant to kill him, and he never would grow old.
Aleck's partner said he thought he heard a noise back on the trail.
Aleck had not ever slept yet, and he feared his strength might fail.
But tired Aleck stayed awake still, while his partner went to sleep,
Then he slowly rose and shot him, so the bright gold he could keep.
Then he fainted from emotion, by the newly murdered corpse,
And he judged the time on waking, by the droppings from his horse.
After burying his young partner, Aleck found pack mules to buy
Bought a wagon and provisions, and then faced the eastern sky.
Soon he joined up with some Mormons, in a train that was first class.
At Salt Lake he joined some others, who found water and found grass.
Five months passed since that bold robbery, when Rock Creek come into view.
He told Becky, "Sis, I've made it, like I promised I would do!"
There was quite a load of presents, for the family, every one,
Bought out west from Mormon merchants, from the land of gold and sun.
For dear baby sister Becky, child's silk dress he brought her then,
But that child was now a woman, who attracted full grown men.
He brought home a walnut bureau, for his mother, Peggy Ann;
She had never had fine furniture, since she joined that Frailey clan.
It's for sure that walnut bureau, in a crate could hide his gold;
The old stories are he had both, that is how the tale was told.
Aleck left home with a wagon, of good corn meal to be sold.
Now he'd come back home to Rock Creek, With a wagon full of gold!
Then he stayed in Hardin County, rich man for his time and day.
Some thought him a brazen outlaw, but his gold gave him some sway.
Aleck bought some land to feed him, built a home of logs hand-hewn,
Searched to get himself a wife then, but did not get one too soon.
While he hoped to settle down there, at home on his plantation,
War cries sounded all about him, he went to serve his nation!
He was sent to old Kentucky, to guard the Union's bounty.
Logan Belt was there to help him, send loot to Hardin County!
There are men who fight in fool wars, just to help preserve a cause,
Other men to take advantage of suspension of all laws.
Grant's great army had abundance, of the wealth and food and stores
That the northern nation sent him, over rails and rivers' shores.
Men like Aleck sent to duty, on the route of Grant's supply
Could conduct a sort of business, if they did so on the sly.
They sent wagons home to Rock Creek, filled with food and guns and shoes,
And the army never caught them, when the ordnance it would lose.
Logan Belt was their lieutenant, feared by friend and foe alike.
Brother Hiram was their Captain, against Loge no charge would strike.
There were rich men in Kentucky, who espoused the Rebel view,
And the Belt Gang felt to rob them, was go give them their just due.
Father, Aleck, John and Young Bill, with Loge Belt were mustered in.
Mustered out they all were richer, than they previously had been.
For shrewd Aleck it was simply just more icing on his cake.
He came home to act as banker, Lived on interest he could make.
Aleck wed Aunt Lizzie Baugher Five years after war's end came,
Shared with her his wealth and home place, Gave her comfort and his name.
Only once he was indicted; He shot brother'n'law Arthur Price.
Sister Becky said to do it, Since divorce was not thought nice.
It was thought that Becky's baby must have been wild Logan's brat.
He hired Arthur Price to wed her, And he thought that ended that.
Becky swore that Arthur beat her, that she feared he'd take her life,
For she carried a neighbor's love-child, could not bear to be his wife.
Logan Belt was his attorney, on this charge of Murder One;
Loge convinced a frightened jury, self-defense was all he'd done.
Then dispute with brother'n'law Logan, on his well earned legal fee
Caused mad Logan to shoot Aleck, more'n a foot above his knee.
Aleck's hip gave him some trouble, but taught him one lesson well!
Even family crossing Loge Belt, could get sent right straight to hell.
Two years later when the neighbor, would not wed and give his name
To the second child with Becky, then his fate was just the same.
Frailey men revenged their Becky, killed that man who done her wrong,
Dropped his body in a sinkhole, sent his favorite horse along.
Aleck well remembered gossip, over Arthur Price's mules,
And he knew if they kept this horse, they'd be acting like dumb fools!
Life was not always so peaceful, for a rich man in those days,
When the Loge Belt Gang was active, and night riding was the craze.
Times were wild and times were wicked, since the war upset the land,
but Loge Belt had had his hey-day; soon the "White Hats" took command.
John Ledbetter, Prosecutor, had tried legal recourse through
To protect his frightened county; he'd convicted Logan, too!
But Abe Lincoln's friend, the Gov'nor Oglesby was his proud name,
Was thought bribed to grant a pardon, to the leader of the gang!
Belt came back to Hardin County, and the terror spread a-new.
The frustrated prosecutor, knew just what he had to do.
He got up the rival "White Hats", of good men who rode at night;
They had put up with the Belt Gang, long enough to want to fight.
Aleck maybe gave some money, to the cause of right and law;
Long ago he'd hated Loge Belt, since he beat him to the draw.
So the "White Hats" killed old Logan! There had been at least five men.
Who ambushed him in his buggy, when he paid for all his sin.
Young Will Quillin and Aaron Lambert, fled the county of their birth.
Will Quillin went out to Oregon, Aaron Lambert to Fort Worth.
It may be coincidental, that Loge's young wife left soon, too.
She took off to live in Fort Worth, there to start her life a-new.
It seems strange she left her dower, let the first wife move back in,
But young girls sometimes find lovers, when they've married older men.
Hardin County rested peacefully, after Logan Belt was dead,
And the money spent to get him was well spent, was what they said.
Aleck now relaxed his vigil, since night riders all were done,
And the people knew the law men, had the battle finally won.
In the year they buried Loge Belt, Lizzie took an orphaned niece.
She and Aleck loved the small girl, lived in plenty and in peace.
Aleck kept his gold coin buried, in tin cans around his farm,
In his home built like a fortress, kept his family safe from harm.
Aleck professed Baptist faith then, for Mt. Zion bought the bell,
Took his foster child to worship, with Aunt Lizzie raised her well.
They gave Jannie education, in the finest schools there were,
Taught her morals and religion, made a lady out of her.
Though the history of young outlaws, tells they die by gun or rope,
Aleck lived to be an old man, as had been his fondest hope.
He was ever sympathetic, to poor men who did their best
On those hill farms down in Rock Creek; he'd been poor just like the rest.
He could judge a horse or a man, better than the common run,
And he'd seldom made a bad loan, since his lending had begun.
If Rock Creek had had a mayor, it could've been that same man
Who had robbed that stage in Placer, when the gold rush just began.
Though to bite the dust on Ford's Road, was the common outlaw's fate,
Aleck died in Mayo's Clinic, leaving quite a large estate.
He was laid to rest by neighbors, in Mt. Zion's holy ground,
And his funeral was a large one; people came from miles around.
They were people he had helped out, who had come from far and near.
That the good he'd done was ample, to outweigh the bad was clear.
He and Lizzie left their fortune, to their Jannie, their sole heir,
Though lost kinfolk came a-running, hoping for a little share.
Jannie married young Guy Lambert, the deserted orphaned son
Of the man who fled to Fort Worth, when the Belt ambush was done.
Some said Guy had married Jannie, so the money could be spent,
But he paid back every penny, to his wife that she had lent.
Guy tried various kinds of business, spent the sweat of his young brow,
'Til he bought Old Shawnee's Ferry, which made him a rich man now.
He and Jannie cared for orphans, made investments that were good,
Paid for young folk's education's, left their Myrtle all they could.
As the daughter of that daughter, this poor poetess wondered how
Aleck made that fortune farming, down in Rock Creek, anyhow!
As a child I'd ask my grandad, how Old Aleck did so well.
"He was just a good livestock man," was all grandad had to tell.
Piecing bits of facts together, this whole tale just grew and grew,
And it seems the old time stories, evidentially all are true.
There's one thing we know for certain, that's that Aleck rose above
His poor early youth in Rock Creek, by what's willed to us with love.
Where money from Grandma Lambert, had come from I never knew,
'Til I went back down to Rock Creek, heard old-timers' stories through.
All were old and some were feeble, but their mind and memory good,
And I heard unvarnished truth there, learned this tale, as best I could.
It is all a part of history, of that wild and frontier land,
Just as much as it's the story, of a single, living man.
If you think that Aleck did things, you yourself could never do,
Think if you were starved and desperate; think what times that boy lived through!
Think of how the grown man mellowed, home in Rock Creek with his kin,
And perhaps he was the best man, for those times, he could've been.
Frances Dyhrkopp was the grand-daughter of Martha Jane "Jannie" Baugher
adopted daughter of Alexander and Sarah Baugher Frailey
Jannie was the daughter of William Thomas and Louisa Cromeans Baugher
William and Sarah were twins.
14 Jan 2013
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