Published on Saturday, February 1, 2014
Bob Ford Speaks His Mind
By J. R. Lindermuth
Just months before he was gunned down by Deputy Sheriff Edward O'Kelley on June 8, 1892, Bob Ford reluctantly consented to an interview by a reporter in Creede, Colorado.
The interview, which was picked up by newspapers across the country, came on the heels of a false February 1892 report Ford had been shot and killed in a quarrel over a game of cards in Creede.
Ford gained notoriety at the age of 20 for his role as the assassin of Jesse James, America's most famous outlaw, on April 8, 1882 in St. Joseph, Mo. Though Bob Ford and his brother, Charley, won pardons for their own crimes, they only received a fraction of the promised reward of $20,000. And, the nature of the assassination earned them little sympathy with the public.
Bob made a little money posing for photographs and he and Charley appeared in a touring stage show for a time, reenacting the assassination. Neither venture proved popular and Charley later committed suicide in the presence of his mother. Bob Ford spent the next few years wandering around the west before settling in Colorado.
"Want to talk me to death," Ford remarked when approached for the interview, "and then go home and roast me like all the other papers do." The reporter denied this and said he wanted to give Ford the opportunity to have his say about his life and pursuits since the shooting of Jesse James.
The journalist described Ford as "...a slender, harmless looking young man, pale and nervous, and has a habit of continually rolling his eyes around in their cavernous sockets in an uneasy frightened manner, suggestive of the hare." He added Ford was "as talkative as the nest of women who are herded in the stubby little room above his saloon and gambling house."
Queried about the erroneous report of his death, Ford said he knew nothing about the incident. "I didn't come here to fight," he said. "I came here for the same purpose as everybody else —to make money.
"I suppose there are men here who would like to kill me, but they won't get a chance if I see them first. I see everybody who enters the door. That big glass behind the bar is my lookout."
Ford claimed he'd done his best to avoid trouble. He said he'd gone to the quietest and most obscure towns in the west and had hardly got settled before the news spread Bob Ford was in town. "Then some fool proceeds to tank up on mean whiskey and tries to make trouble for me."
J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill. A retired newspaper editor, he is the author of 11 novels, including five in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series. His stories and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines.