in Nevada, unrestricted since the first prospectors
began poking into her bald mountains around 1851,
was wiped out by legislative edict, October 1, 1910.
Contests that inspired betting, as well as all gambling
games and mechanical devices were forbidden. In fact,
about the only activities not under the ban were living,
and a few such sober pursuits as ranching, merchandising
November, The Nevada State Herald (Wells) reprinted
White Pine county sheriff's warning that the anti-gambling
law would be enforced to the letter in his bailiwick.
The boys must quit dropping in at the saloon for an
evening's poker, the loser to buy the cigars. By December,
when ladies from some of Carson City's "prominent"
families had reportedly organized a secret poker club
and were playing for money (sometimes as much $10)
within sight of legislative halls, the Herald had
about concluded that the anti-gambling law was a bust.
but, seven months later, Nevadans refusing to be puritanized
were still being arrested occasionally.
Faragor and Johnson, for instance were tapped during
a raid on a locked room in Elko's Commercial hotel
on the night of July 28, 1911. Johnson was dealing
a faro game, and when the gentlemen's trial began
in December, his alibi was so weak as to be virtually
non-existent, according to the Elko Independent. There
was lively interest, though, in one sharp argument
occurring when Julius Peltier's name came out of the
hat during the jury drawing. He was finally dismissed.
Peltier, it was said, had a hand in the badger fight
in front of the Commercial hotel shortly before the
raid. That badger fight, the prosecuting attorney
indignantly alleged was "a fake, a delusion,
a fraud." Obviously Mr. Peltier was not entirely
the mature, thoughtful, unbiased type of citizen who
should serve on the jury hearing the trial of a man
accused of dealing faro.
hotel, a bubbling, seething center of social as well
as commercial activity, was owned by Lew Bradley.
Things were dull around the county seat after the
Fourth of July, when Julius jobbed in from his Metropolis
homestead and ran into his former employer.
lookin' so owley-eyed about, Lew?" Julius asked
when the usually jocund hotelman returned his greeting
with an absentminded nod.
out of suckers for the badger fight, "Bradley
replied, restlessly clinking silver coins together
deep in his pockets. Peltier's scowl matched the big,
sandy-haired man's, then smoothed. "
he suggested, "How about Big Alec?"
who? Oh, you mean Sepulveda over in Deeth," Bradley
said. "Big Alec's been in this country long enough
to be about half wise." But the beginning of
a grin turned up the corners of his mouth.
badger fights had been a big attraction at the Commercial
all summer. They were dangerous, bloody, ferocious
encounters, between Lew Bradley's big, white, ugly
looking, English bulldog, Jack and badgers from Nevada's
wilderness country, where they grew almost bear-size
and savage. It took a brave man to pick up the rope
tied around a badger's neck. Only a man of tremendous
strength could pull one of those fighting, uncooperative
critters out of the barrel that was its refuge in
Peltier stopped in Deeth on his way home, looked up
Alexander Sepulveda, and told him these things with
candor. "If you want to try it, Lew'll pay you
for it - not much, but some," Peltier offered.,
"It ain't every man that can. Not enough muscle
or guts in most."
a single easy motion, Sepulveda rose from the doorstep
of the Deeth store and postoffice where he had been
lounging. He looked down on Julius and flexed his
great shoulder muscles. Dark eyes gleamed and a quick
smile showed even white teeth under his luxurious
I am young in Spain, I pool these badger from hees
hole. No trouble," he said gently.
them ain't Nevada badgers," Julius warned. "A
man's gotta have muscle to haul one of these Nevada
Alec considered. This tranquil slowness of thought,
plus his fractured English and casual attitude toward
work, entertained his friends who might otherwise
have envied him his gifted physique. Once, when Deeth
sports bet he couldn't carry a 400-pound bag of wool
a block, from the railroad's loading platform to Truett's
saloon, he's let two men slide the full bag off the
platform onto his shoulder, and had carried it to
the saloon. Then, turning, he marched back and himself
tossed that bag into place, all without a break in
the erect stride that carried him like a grandee.
pool thees leetle one--these badger," he assured
Julius Peltier now. Big Alec had a wife of character,
who served Deeth as a midwife. He also had five children,
four of them growing boys. And as his wife often remarked
with near brutal frankness, the occasional work he
liked, herding or shearing sheep for Mason and Bradley,
didn't bring enough to let them live like the family
of a don.
for Big Alec, money was secondary to muscle on that
warm star-shot night in 1911 when, wearing a clean
shirt and with his mustache freshly trimmed, he strode
easily through the crowd loitering outside the Commercial,
looking over their heads to spot Lew Bradley in the
hotel's lobby. The two men met with wide grins over
do our best to see you don't get hurt, Alec,"
Bradley promised. "The boys've got stovepipes
for you legs. that badger'll never claw through them.
Stovepipes for your arms, too, and bullhide gloves.
Never saw a bigger, meaner badger than this. Boys
are layin' bets on whether you can pull 'im or not."
He clapped the Spaniard on the shoulder and left while
the good-natured crowd elbowed for places in the circle,
watching Bradley's deputies armor the heroic volunteer.
a wooden balcony above the street, some ladies sat,
absorbing the cool night breeze and the excitement.
A barrel with a gunnysack draped over its open front
and a rope straggling out beneath it, stood ready
in a cleared space in the street below them. A stout
leash in the hands of a keeper held Jack, the white
bulldog, who sat quietly, almost as if bored.
should stop them," one of the balcony ladies
bloody spectacle!" another shrilled. "As
if this were heathen Rome instead of civilization."
the street below, unaware of the ladies' presence,
the excited crowd was betting more heavily on Big
Alec's prowess than on the fight's outcome. Big Alec's
dressers jumped back. Lew Bradley personally took
Jack's leash. The bulldog yawned and full revelation
of those fangs brought a stifled gasp from the balcony.
Slowly, in the silence, big Alec leaned over to pick
up the rope. The badger, crowding to the back of the
barrel, must be digging in with those powerful claws.
Big Alec straightened cautiously, bracing himself,
feet apart. Then, he reared back and heaved on the
badger rope. Out of the barrel, on the end of the
rope, flew a big white china "thundermug,"*
the kind they kept under hotel beds.
Alec crashed backward off balance. Jack growled and
barked furiously, straining at the leash. Lew Bradley,
convulsed with laughter, was having some trouble holding
the beast until Jack decided he'd seen and heard this
insane spectacle of laughing, shouting, back-slapping
before, and sat down to look bored again. On the balcony,
chairs tipped over as the ladies jumped to their feet,
screaming and blushing - worse than if the badger
and dog had really been tearing each other up.
was one helluva commotion!" Julius Peltier summarized
with gleeful satisfaction, when he told the story
years later to his son, Austin, in Wells. "Sitting
on the ground, trying to get outa them stovepipes,
Alec was a sight," Julius chortled. "But
we lit out. Mad! If that big Spaniard caught us, he'da
the time Alec cooled so they dared return, they'd
raided Johnson's faro game. The badger game? It might
be "a fake, a delusion and a fraud," but
even in staid, non-gambling Nevada, it was not illegal.