Liver eating Johnson
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Posted by KELLY BABCOCK (+193) 14 years ago
While snooping around the net this morning, I ran into a web site, {www.sgrimm.fpcc.net/jeremiah_johnston.htm}, that suggests that "liver eating" Johnson was a deputy sheriff for Custer County.
Anybody know that for a fact? Looks like the dates would have preceeded Miles City itself.
[the things that pique my interest........????]

[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 4/30/2003).]

[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 4/30/2003).]
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Posted by Ted Schmidt (+69) 14 years ago
Kelly, wandering around the net I found a story written in 1904 stating that John "livereating" Johnston was a deputy sheriff in Custer County Montana as well as Red Lodge. I found this site at Google--searched for "livereating"johnson and came up with the story. Ted
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1081) 14 years ago
From: http://www.ci.helena.mt.us/safety/police/hppa/timeline.htm

"1881: John Johnson(sic)(it's "Johnston"), "Jeremiah Johnson" leaves mountain-man life and appointed Custer County deputy sheriff of Coulson, present-day Billings, serving to 1882"

Maurice Frink quotes Casey Barthelmess as stating the same--

"I remember a whiskered old codger who people told me was Johnson(sic)the liver eater. He was a deputy sheriff at Coulson, later known as Billings, and he was town marshall at Red Lodge for a while, and occasionally came to Keogh"

From "Photographer on an Army Mule" about Casey's dad Christian. University of Oklahoma press paperback version..until I can convince my grandad that *I'm* the one that should get grandma's 1st edition signed by Casey.
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1081) 14 years ago
Forgot to add, Custer County encompassed close to a quarter of the state back then.

I think that even the original "Crow Agency" was in Custer County..just south of Absorokee at the turn off to head toward Emerald Lake.
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Posted by KELLY BABCOCK (+193) 14 years ago
Thanx, Ted and Dave. Some days I sit in front of this thing until my fanny goes to sleep, reading anything and everything I can on the more "colorful" characters in Montanas history. My biggest problem is, that after thousands of hours of reading, I still can't differentiate between fact and fiction on most of these guys.
Jeremiah either slaughtered 300 Crow warriors, and ate their livers raw, or in the heat of a battle killed one Crow and offered his liver to a contemporary as a coup. It all depends on who you want to believe. I suppose the truth will never be known, and to tell you the truth, that fact nearly sickens me.
Henry Plummer(sic)was either one of the worst road bandits to ply his trade in Montana, or one of the calmest, most decent men to walk the earth, only out to bring peace to a rowdy frontier town. After everything I've read, I would guess the truth is somewhere in between.
But if you really want to catch my attention, just let what I'm reading mention Miles City, or Custer County, and the search is on. Makes me wish I had spent more time in the library.
I didn't realize that the county covered that much area, at any time.
But I'll get off of my soap box {for now} and again offer my thanx for the feedback.

And a P. S. to Larry, if you read this. I'm working on getting quite a few 50's and 60's pictures for the gallery. Hope they are something you can use!

[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 4/30/2003).]
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1081) 14 years ago
In "We Pointed Them North", Teddy "Blue" Abbott asserts that Johnston got his nic-name after a skirmish with the Sioux at the mouth of the Musselshell (now under Ft.Peck lake).

Then again, between Blue and his co-author, Ms. Huntington-Smith, they managed to place Teddy Roosevelt's ranch in South Dakota--
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Posted by KELLY BABCOCK (+193) 14 years ago
According to two articles, I have downloaded; one by a Dr McLelland in his "interviews and reasearch" and another by Raymond Thorp and Robert Bunker, all of the Indians killed by Johnston {somehow that T still doesn't fit} were Crows, that he killed in retaliation for the killing of his Flathead wife and unborn child.
But, I also have read the story of the Musselshell, and depending on who wrote it, the Indian was either Sioux or Crow.
As I stated earlier, they sure like playing free and loose with our history.
Maybe I'm just morbid, but I can see a man, the ilk of Johnson, cutting out the liver of an enemy and offering it to a companion as a repast.
But again, I could also see him on a trail of vengance for the killing of his wife, however I do believe that he probably didn't kill 300 Crow warriors as is credited to him by some.
And I don't think he looked like Robert Redford. {That's my blast at Hollywood, for trying to rewrite our history} Thanx again, guys.
Kelly
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Posted by Kenny Vail (+113) 14 years ago
FYI-

John Johnston [1824-1900] was better known across the frontier as "Liver Eating" or "Jeremiah Johnson." In 1881, Johnston was appointed by Custer County Sheriff Tom Irvine as deputy sheriff of Coulson, a lawless frontier town on the Yellowstone near present day Billings. According to the Carbon County Democrat,
"Irvine relates that he kept continually hearing of fights and other riotous proceedings in the new town, but as no prisoners were ever sent to Miles City, the county seat[and Irvine headquarters], he took a stage to Coulson to investigate. He spoke to Johnston about it and requested an explaination, to which Tom says was given as follows:
'Well, you see Tom, the boys get into a scrap once in awhile, but I just take two of them and bump their heads together and that settles it. There ain't no use arrestin' 'em. I guess I can keep peace among these pilgrims.'"

After about one year of depity sheriff work for Custer County, Johnston went on to other ventures. Later he was elected as the first city marshal of Red Lodge, Mt. in 1888. He served the city in this capacity until about 1895, when he was seventy-one years old. "Livereating Johnson" ended up at the National Soldiers home in Santa Monica, Ca. in December 1999 and died the next month on January 21, 1900.

Kenny
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Posted by KELLY BABCOCK (+193) 14 years ago
Hi Kenny,
Thanx for chiming in, with the great story.
Any idea how a Navy deserter ended up in a soldiers home? I would have thought that he would have had to produced a discharge or something to prove that he had served, but since he started out as John Garrison, and then deserted the Navy, after hitting an officer, I would think that would be a little difficult.
Or was it because of his civil service that he was allowed in?
And at the begining of your letter: wouldn't that have made him 76?
Thanx again,
Kelly



[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 5/1/2003).]

[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 5/1/2003).]

[This message has been edited by KELLY BABCOCK (edited 5/1/2003).]
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Posted by Kenny Vail (+113) 14 years ago
Kelly,

Thanks for catching my chonology faux pas. 76 years is more like it. Numbers are usually my strong suit, but I got caught napping on that one.

I actually know practically nothing about Liver eating Johnson. However, while I was traipsing across Montana last year on a research mission I found the little bio on him somewhere. A great full-page photo of him was attached and I printed out a copy.

BTW, I have tried unsuccessfully to respond again to the discussion we got started on the 'History' forum about Plumer, Vigilantes, lawlessness vs lawfulness stuff. For some reason it won't let me in. I may have resume that discussion here, where I CAN crack the code.

Best, Kenny
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Posted by Rick (+5) 14 years ago
If you wish to read a good accounting of the "Liver Eaters" history....order "Crow Killer" from Amazon.com The writings are backed up by extensive interviews with those that lived with and knew him!
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Posted by dorman nelson (+3) 14 years ago
howdy, I am currently researching Johnston, intending to publish my findings.
For your interest, he preferred the John Johnston name signing that on his gov. papers and even when he charged his groceries.

Any tales or information I would be interested in, meanwhile I can give you tidbits here and there, for instance, his height when he signed on with the union army for the civil war is given as 5 foot eleven and 3/4 inches tall. His bunk mate for one winter noticed he wore size 12 boots. Dorman dorman.nelson@verizon.net to order pictures
Box 33842 Granada Hills, ca 91394

Thanks and please continue chatting about this interesting character.......
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Posted by Jeff Dugger (+11) 13 years ago
Glad to find others interested in the Crow Killer. I started researching him after watching "Jeremiah Johnson" numerous times, living close to the outdoors in North Idaho, & learning I could find all kinds of cool stuff on the internet. The best source of information on John Johnson is definitely "Crow Killer the saga of liver-eating Johnson", like that other guy said. Today I just finished the book for the second time. One bummer at the end of the book is that it says he was buried in L.A.. I found a page on the internet two days ago that said his grave was moved to Cody, Wyoming, with Robert Redford as one of his pallbearers. It was found on a very cool web site called the Wild West Web Ride. There is also info on Henry Plummer and just about every other character that was anybody back then. There is also another great book that the movie was based on ,written by an Idaho author named Vardis Fisher. Its clear after reading both books that the book "Mountain Man" could not have been written without Fisher first reading "Crow Killer". Good luck in your research.
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Posted by Jill Rizk (+48) 13 years ago
I was a kid in Cody, Wy when they reburied L.E. Johnson out at the Old Trail Town. Huge event! We kids crawled under an old wagon and were able to get great pictures of Robert Redford...oh yeah and the buriel ceremony.
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Posted by Heath H (+649) 13 years ago
Has anyone seen his name as Jack Johnson? Jack "Liver Eating" Johnson scouted for Miles in '76-'77 and for Terry. I have read that he undoubtedly killed more Indians singlehandedly than any other man in Montana. Had a brother named George Johnson who I am guessing didn't care for the taste of liver??

[This message has been edited by Heath H (edited 10/11/2003).]
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Posted by jerry (+8) 7 years ago
in any of the books i,ve read, they started him out as a young man leaving st Louis and meeting Hatcher or Hachet jack when he was about 40 or so he and a few other mtn men rode down and enlisted in the union army as sharpshooters. his name is in the army records from that era and he is buried as a army soilder in california
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Posted by Stone (+1593) 7 years ago
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Posted by dorman nelson (+10) 7 years ago
Howdy,
Johnston was born in NJ, went to sea, jumped ship and ended up in Montana Territory--noted in 1862.
He went on to be a soldier and deputy, selling whiskey to the Natives, wolfer, trapper and I even have a photo of him cleaning windows!!!! He kept busy in his life. I am almost finished with his biography.
www.johnlivereatingjohnston.com
He was ill in 1899, so the town of Red Lodge sent him to the Old Soldier's Home in Sawtelle, California where he died in Jan of 1900. He was buried in the nearby National Cemetery. The book Crow Killer came out in 1958. The book the Avenging Fury of the Plains came out in 2008, and I should have mine out in 2010. (I have his genealogy finally, he was Dutch/German and Scot.) Dorman Nelson
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Posted by Kenny Vail (+113) 7 years ago
Thanks Dorman.
This is good stuff on Johnston.
Also explains how he got in to Sawtell (later called Santa Monica). Evidently there were quite a few interesting Old West characters planted in Sawtell. A couple come to mind - hired gun J.V. Brighton and Nicholas Earp, father to the infamous brothers.

Kenny
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