A Mountain Man and Gunfighter
With a contempt for authority and no fear or concept of gratitude Boone Helm rode willingly into notoriety.
Born in Kentucky in 1828 and married in 1848 he isn’t said to have been an active killer until 1851. That isn’t too say he was a saint before that time. Boone Helm was a reckless, wife beating, drunk. He bankrupted his father, and his wife divorced him.
The gold rush was in full swing and Boone decided to head for California. With the murder of a friend already under his belt and a stint in an asylum -which he escaped from by killing a guard- he took every opportunity to prove his strength and meanness. But after killing so many he finally fled California. The next recording of him being in Dallas in 1853, and whilst travelling with a group of renegades he confessed to eating a number of his victims.
Into the Wilderness
Boone Helm set out for Fort Hall in Idaho. The party got caught in severe winter storms but trekked onward. Eventually, after being attacked by Indians and chased into country they didn’t know, they made it to Soda Springs. Where they killed their worn out horses, made snow shoes, and went on toward Fort Hall.
Two of the party went ahead, leaving the others in the mountains. Boone Helm and Burton made it to an abandoned cabin before Burton could go no further. Boone kept on to the fort but found it empty and returned to the cabin.
He is reported to have told others that he heard a shot fired and found Burton had killed himself. Then eating one of Burton’s legs he cut off the other, wrapped it, and slung it across his back before setting out east.
Boone Helm gave no gratitude to those who helped him
Found and helped by a man named Powell, who never asked any money for his help and was never offered any thanks, Boone Helm left Powell’s company when they reached the Mormon settlements. Here he boasted about what he’d done and took on work as a hired killer. But once more he had to move on when he went too far.
Next he robbed and killed a rancher who had given him help when he needed it. He killed men in Oregon, and then in 1862 showed up in Florence, where he shot and killed a man in cold blood.
Heading out, he was next seen in Fraser River, British Colombia, where he was once again victim to the elements and forced to march on foot in the wilderness. And once again he killed and ate one of his companions. He didn’t get away Scot free this time and had to spend time behind bars. But he escaped justice for that, and other killings, reportedly going to Texas next. No one knows how many he killed and ate before he again had to face justice, in 1864.
One last glass of Whiskey
Three Vigilantes caught Boone Helm unawares as he was talking in the street, arresting him and taking him in to face trial, Boone claimed they wouldn’t have stood a chance if he’d known what they were up to. At trial he remained calm, swearing his innocence on the bible. He was sentenced to hang along with four of Henry Plummer’s gang members, who he had recently joined with. It is said he remained calm through the whole proceeding, claiming to have seen death and not afraid of what was coming.
His last words are reported to have been:
“Every man for his principles. Hurrah for Jeff Davis! Let her rip!” – Boone Helm
There is even to be a movie based on his life where two lawmen track his exploits across the American West. One to keep an eye on.