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 not clear about the locations. According to my 1879/82 map the area where the Pattersons and McLaurys were located was an open range owned or under the control of some larger corporation that was not using it at the time and was not concerned about various squatters using the range to run cattle. Tom has more information on that.
Though referred to as the Patterson or McLaury ranches, they were all spread out on a very large area and running cattle, but none actually had ranches, so-to-speak. So when the group arrived at a corral area and supposedly ran into Patterson, that is the discussion that took place. The mules were likely not in the area and so Patterson told Hurst to get rid of the authority and he would round up and deliver the mules in Charleston.
It looks like Hurst waited, got no response and then went out and sought McLaurys where they were located. He asked Frank to help; Frank agreed, and apparently did not find out anything helpful. Hurst is now looking foolish, places a reward notice in the paper and includes Frank in his accusation. Frank blows up as he has had nothing to do with the thing, apparently, and is highly incensed.
You might think he over-reacted but in those days a man's word and reputation were inviolate, and could cause a lot of trouble. Frank was justified, in my opinion.
We don't know about the reliability of the Estes info because that is Wyatt's word alone and he NEVER has back-up for anything he says. But it appears that the deal with Patterson was as Hurst related it.
And yes, I believe selling them and the amount of trouble involved would have been more than the average two-bit rustler would want to deal with, and that fits Patterson from what little I know of him.
I hope I made a little more sense out of my side of the argument.
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.... more
Bob/ sources again... — Joyce A. Aros,Tue Aug 23 9:38
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