Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
The Vigilante Oath
Our stories are usually dated during that period when the mode of conveyance usually depended upon the horse. In the transition of the role of government in earliest days of Montana's history from that of rule by a band of organized robbers and murderers to one of law and order, it is recorded that the turning point was at a funeral in Bannack of a respected citizen named William H. Bell, who died of mountain fever. This was the first natural death that had occurred in that settlement. It was Bell's request that he be buried by the members of a fraternal organization to which he belonged. When this request was made known, it was not certain that there were enough members of the organization to carry out the burial rites. However, a request was made for all members of the fraternity in the vicinity to assemble at the cabin of a member to make the necessary arrangements. So numerous was the response to this request that it was necessary to adjourn to more commodious quarters. It was past midnight before the forms of recognition were fully administered and preparations for the funeral completed. Up to this time, what government there was in the territory had been in, the hands of a band of organized band of robbers and murderers under the leadership of one Henry Plummer, who had contrived to be elected sheriff at Virginia City, even though he was the leader of this organized band of thugs, as they would be called today. The funeral services were conducted to a peaceful conclusion, and the assembly quietly dispersed. But from that time onward, these fraternal brethern met often for counsel, and from these meetings it is said thet the Vigilinte organization was formed. This organization had for its purpose the bringing of law and order to the territory. And it was by the prompt and decisive measures adopted by the Vigilantes that peace and security was brought to the people. These Vigilantes were said to have subscribed to an oath. It should be interesting to know the nature of the oath, so we will give it to you, as taken from an authentic source. Here it is: "We, the undersigned, uniting ourselves together for the laudable purpose of arresting thieves and murderers and recovering stolen property, do pledge ourselves on our sacred honors, each to all others, and solemnly swear that we will reveal no secrets, violate no laws of right and never desert each other or our standard of justice, so help us God."