“Charles Albert, a well known cattleman in the Jordan Valley, and called ‘Spanish Charley,’ was shot dead last Wednesday by Jake Mussel, a sheep man.”
The paper explained that Albert had previously threatened to kill Jake Mussel because he was grazing sheep on what Albert considered his land. Mussel and his sheepherder went to Albert’s cabin to confront the man. The dialogue, according to the Statesman, went something like this:
“’Did you say you would kill me’ asked Mussel, as they approached.
‘Are you going to let your sheep run on my range?’ replied Charlie.
‘Yes,’ said Mussel, ‘I am going to let my sheep run on that range.’
‘Then I will kill you,’ said Charlie, and so saying he turned and rode toward his cabin, where it was known he kept one or two guns.
“When about halfway to the house, Mussel ordered him to stop, and on his refusal to do so, shot his horse from under him. Picking himself up Charlie continued on his way to the house, unmindful of Mussel, who again ordered him to stop. He had nearly reached the cabin when Mussel fired again, killing him instantly. Mussel then surrendered himself to the authorities in Baker City.”
Now, if that doesn’t sound like a perfectly pat argument for self-defense to you, you’re not alone. I found a couple of other versions of the story that sound more like Mussel was defending himself. In any case, he did not serve time for what the gravestone calls “Homocide.”
Charles Albert was never mentioned in the paper again, but Jacob Mussel got ink several times as a prominent rancher from Homedale and as the proprietor of Mussel Ferry. He happened to be the man who named Homedale. Residents there put suggested names for the town into a hat during a community picnic. When they pulled out the winner, the suggestion was the one put forward by Mussel. Why he wanted to name it that seems lost to history.
Charles Albert did get a little taste of immortality. There is a popular ATV/motorbike trail in Idaho and Oregon that today carries the name Spanish Charley.