April 19, 2014
New Year’s Dance ends in tragedy PDF Print E-mail

Even in the Old West young girls enjoyed going to dances. On New Year’s Eve of 1862 the presence of a young girl at a dance ended up tragically. But not for the reason you may think.
1862 was wrapping up in the boom camp of Florence located in the Washington Territory. The big event of the year was the New Year’s Eve Dance.
Henry J. “Cherokee Bob” Talbotte owned one of the saloons in town. He had a daughter named Cynthia. She was anxious to go to the dance, but no one had asked her. She and Cherokee Bob knew the reason why.
Finally a friend of Cherokee Bob’s, William Willoughby, asked Cynthia to the dance, and Cherokee Bob gave his permission. The evening of December 31 William and Cynthia showed up at the dance. But the other ladies at the dance objected to Cynthia’s presence. And the husbands, in support of their wives, ejected William and Cynthia from the dance.
It seems the reason for their action was that Cherokee Bob wasn’t in reality Cynthia’s father. He had won her in a poker game. And the ladies weren’t going to have anything to do with this kind of immoral behavior.
William and Cynthia returned to Cherokee Bob’s saloon. Cherokee Bob became incensed. By now the New Year had arrived. Cherokee Bob decided the dance-committee should pay for Cynthia’s embarrassment. So he and her escort, William Willoughby went after committee members Jacob Williams and Orlando Roberts. Shots were fired, and when the smoke cleared, escort William Willoughby was dead on the ground, and Cherokee Bob was lying on the ground severely wounded. Five days later Cherokee Bob died.
A heck of a way to start out the New Year. And I’m sure New Year’s Eve 1862 was the last dance Cynthia went to in that town.