Chapter 1 - Shot in the Dark

Friday September 25, 1857

6:30 pm – John Vedder shows up at HdP and orders dinner.

  • He is actually there to “find his daughter” and check up on his wife.
  • He is “acting strange” looking around for something

7:30 pm – Alfred Jackson (HdP owner) asks Vedder to leave.

  • He threatens to make a scene but eventually leaves quietly
  • Sam overhears : “… that bitch ain’t leaving with my girl …”
  • Wasn’t Jackson talking with that deputy (Corbett) right before hand?

8:00 pm – John Perry starts the piano playing and singing. It gets louder as the night goes on.

8:30 pm – Alan Downie & cousin Rory show up. They grab a seat with Garrett and order the special – black bear brisket with apple & pepper, fried onion & potato, and Indian (corn) pudding. If asked, they will say Jacob is over in Grass Valley scouting “talent” – which is true.

8:45 pm – Plummer comes in, he’s wearing his badge and pistol. He and Corbett have a quiet
talk then Corbett leaves.

9:00 pm – Lucy comes downstairs carrying Lilly in one arm, and carrying her dinner plate. She sits near the fire away from the raucous piano. Claudette Jackson comes over (doll in hand) and plays with Lilly. Marie Jackson brings over a slice of pie, mug of coffee and a small glass of milk. They chat for a few minutes.

9:10 pm – Chair opens up near Lucy and Plummer grabs it.

9:30 pm – Marie comes back, clears the plates and takes the kids upstairs.

10:00 pm – The show at the theatre next door closes, the place gets more crowded. PCs are going to have to give up extra seats or start a brawl/tussle. Drinks are now required (if they weren’t before).

10:30 pm – The Chapmans show up at HdP. William heads to the faro table with Caroline behind him. She will get noticed and pressured to perform. Eventually she obliges and joins in at the piano

10:55 pm – Plummer leaves. Five min later Lucy leaves out the back. They head to the theatre.

11:10 pm – Alan suggests they do a quick little “brawl” to advertise. Garrett & Rory go outside – along with a crowd of PCs and interested bystanders.

11:20 pm – Vedder walks up even drunker than before and carrying his pistol. He spies Lucy & Plummer in the theatre.


Most everyone outside scatters immediately, but it’s so loud in HdP that no one seems to notice.

The party pulls weapons and advances slowly around the corner. No one’s there – but there seems to be something in the window of the theater. The figure doesn’t move – and Nurse Wilson steps in to check him out.

John Vedder has bled out right next to the far window, pistol lying limp in his hand. No one else is there.

Folks go looking for the sheriff – but he can’t be found. Garrett looks for a back exit to the alleyway and outhouse. He sees a woman leaving HdP carrying a bundle, but she’s gone before he can stop her.

A few minutes later, the deputies arrive and Corbett shoos the party out of the theater, then takes down everyone’s name and a quick statement.

Sensing something is going on, Gilbert and Jost decide to follow tracks out back (as that is almost certainly where the shooter left). They lead to the stables – where Gilbert discovers that Darley is gone !!

The trail heads into the “good part” of town – and seems to lead past the sheriff’s station. They report Darley’s theft to the deputy on duty – who does not seem to care (“there has been a shooting, you know”) and has no idea where the sheriff is, or so he says.

Deciding there is only one real reason to steal Darley (he’s the best horse in the stable) – the party decides they must be heading east to Soda Springs and the pass. But its the middle of the night and too dark to follow so Gilbert along with Jost, Jess and Garrett head out before dawn the next day.

Saturday September 26, 1857
Group #1 : The “action four” head east out of town. They find a rest area and confirm there are two fugitives and two horses. The trail heads north off the road around early afternoon – with the party only a couple of hours behind.

Next they find a hard-scrabble area with slide marks. One of the horses has fallen and is probably injured!

An hour later they find a 40-foot deep ravine and on the other side is a limping Darley. Having retrieved their quarry, the Fab Four rest up and then head back to town arriving around sundown.

Group #2 : Wilson & Davis start asking questions – and the situation gets curiouser and curiouser.

By the end of the day, they have discovered

  • The Vedders had an unusually difficult relationship. They were constantly fighting, breaking up and making up – both were violent, and both loved their little girl. More than one person said “don’t know why those two stay together – ok, well maybe I do”.
  • John Vedder was seriously down on his luck. His temper lost him a job at the Van Young ranch, then he got in an accident with some fireworks at the 4th of July festival. He had a job dealing faro but lost it because “don’t nobody need a half-blind faro dealer”.
  • They were supposed to be planning on a divorce – and Lucy had moved out. Though she was still doing his washing.

The two also discover (accidentally heard at the sheriff’s office) that a robbery had been reported at a local dry goods store. But their store owner denies anything actually was stolen saying “one of my stockboys reported it, and he was mistaken”. Jane spies a half-hidden scrap of paper saying “… covers everything -HP” but the owner sticks by the story.

But the biggest discovery is a locket. Jane takes advantage of Marie Jackson’s momentary inattention and sneaks into Lucy’s room (which has yet to be cleaned out). She finds a locket which contains a daguerreotype of the sheriff ! She drops it into her pocket and sneaks out of the room – none the wiser.

Jane & Samuel visit all five photographers in town. No one claims to have taken the sheriff’s picture recently. Two of them sell display lockets – and one of them is nervous. He’s surely lying ! But they have no leverage to force him to change his story.

Reunited the party swaps stories and decides to go and find Plummer.

Sunday September 27, 1857

Jane is summoned to meet Mrs. Ellen Sargent – wife of the district attorney and state senator, Aaron Sargent. They have a brief conversation with Mrs. Sargent particularly worried about “poor Lucy” and “what about their little daughter Lilly”. She then takes Jane to meet “my husband’s good friend” Edwin Waite at the offices of the Nevada Journal. He commissions the group to “find out the truth of these circumstances” which “the readers of the Nevada Journal will most certainly want to know” – and advances her a significant sum against the “what may be the important exclusive of the year”.

The group is convinced Plummer and Vedder must be holed up somewhere in the hills – but where? The “old timers” remember that Plummer had several claims in Nevada County – and that would certainly be where he headed.

They concoct a plan to “stake a claim” at the gully where Darley was found – and use that as pretext for searching the claim maps to find any strikes Plummer might have that would be suitable. Jane procures some dust that would be suitable for assay (from a “professional girl” who owes her a favor).

Samuel, Gilbert and Jost head to the claims office. They talk their way past the clerks and get a couple of hours alone with the records. They find three claims in the right general direction – including one that was found by Plummer & Corbett together, sold to the Hearst family, and then was actively worked for a couple of years but is now abandoned. They have a target – but it is a long ride north and across the Yuba River.

Later that afternoon, Samuel is rounded up and brought to the sheriff’s office. Corbett intimidates him saying “he’s been poking around” and “we have a law in this town and it ain’t you” and “there is no need, and no tolerance of vigilantes in Nevada County”. He physically threatens him if he “stirs up trouble” but lets him go.



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