Bannack Ghost Town State Park Montana

It Happened in Bannack Montana January 11, 1864

January 11, 1864. A band of Vigilantes hangs Dutch John Wagner in Bannack from the beam of a building. Not finished with their work for the day, they proceed to the cabin of a man they call Mexican Frank. Two of the vigilantes storm through the cabin door but are shot and manage to scramble to safety. The Chief Justice of the Idaho Territory, Sidney Edgarton, lends them a small howitzer and shells. The men fire three of the shells into the cabin collapsing the structure. The Vigilantes find the suspect trapped under a beam. They tie a clothesline around his neck and hoist him to a pole before firing more than a hundred shots into the strangling man. They then create a bonfire from the remains of the cabin and throw the corpse on the pyre. Unfortunately, Mexican Frank was not home that day. The unfortunate victim was a man named Joe Pizanthia. He was not on their list of suspected road agents. Rather than admit the screwup, the Vigilantes spread the rumor that Pizanthia was “one of the most dangerous men that ever infested our frontier.”

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