Lt Hurst's card to the EPITAPH was basically a reward poster. He knew he was addressing it to a non-military audience, so he would have had every reason to describe two brands on the still missing mules. Not to do so would have been simply illogical since he exlaining how to identify the animals for a reward.
I'm sorry, after re-reading your post just now, I am a little confused about your take on whether any mules were secreted at the McLaury or Patterson ranch.
You write: "From the ranch where the McLaurys and Patterson were squatting near the Whetstone mountains to steal the mules, only six, from Fort Kearny, is about two hundred miles round trip by horseback. The time involved and the distance covered and the fact that they would have to have buyers ready would never be worth it. It would take them a week or more. The mules could not be bought across the border as no one over there would have the money. On the American side, the mules could not be sold unless someone would move them out of the territory and far away. Brands do not grow hair over them. They don't disappear. These guys were never in a position to pull off such a stunt.
"The McLaurys established a good reputation with their neighbor ranchers and were seriously trying to get a future built. That's why they bought or homesteaded in the Sulphur Spring Valley later. They would not likely take the time and effort to steal six government mules from the other side of the territory."
It seems to me that you ae saying that neither the McLaurys or Patterson had anything to do with stealing the mules and that would likely go for any other Cowboy because of the difficulties in selling them. Are you saying Hurst and the Earps were mislead by Estes and there never were any stolen mules in the vicinity of the McLaury and Patterson ranches?
Well, first I appeal to any actual working cowboys that are on this board to jump in and correct me if I am wrong on any of this branding thing. Tom's source for the examination of the branding iron... more
The Pattersons appear to be the ones Hurst was dealing with according to his post. He claimed other names too but does not indicate whether or not he actually had contact with them. Perhaps I was... more
Joyce - I'm very impressed by your interpretation of events. It's confusing which "Frank" was approached or offered to help Hurst. When you wrote this: "It looks like Hurst waited, got no response... more
....Well, sometimes I run ahead of myself when I am wound up on these things, but I should have differentiated between Frank Patterson and Frank McLaury. Of course, I am sure you realized I was referring... more
Joyce - I didn't think you were confused. The confusion between Frank Patterson and Frank McLaury has come down through the many times this 'mules incident' has been reported and written up by others... more
Paul, since you have studied this entire situation probably more than any other researcher/author, what is your opinion on whether the stolen mules had a second brand unmentioned by Hurst or Wyatt, the... more
Bob, if you go back and look at my original posts on this subject and also in my book when you get it, you will see that Wyatt's story about tracing the McLaurys to the ranch is indeed full of holes. There... more
... but anyway, I do believe, based on Hurst's reward posting, that the mules were stolen and were somewhere on the vast property where the Pattersons and McLaurys were squatting, running their own bunches... more