Sometime prior to 1898—the date is uncertain—a Montpelier saloon keep named John Lewis married a 15-year-old local girl, Afton Marie Murdock. Her parents were not happy with her marrying someone twice Marie’s age, but Bishop Henry J. Horne inexplicably performed the ceremony. Inexplicably, because John Lewis—remember that saloon—wasn’t even a Mormon.
The marriage and the saloon-keeping made Montpelier an uncomfortable place to live for the couple. They moved across the border to Fossil, Wyoming, a coal mining town.
Marie soon gave John Lewis a son, but the man did not seem happy about it, or anything else. Lewis was a vicious man as evidenced by the multiple bruises the town folk noticed on his two-year-old son. When some women saw Lewis kicking his wife, that put them over the edge.
Some 40 of the grabbed weapons at hand, buggy whips and razor strops, and marched to Lewis’ saloon. They drug the man into the street. He broke free, grabbed his sawed-off shotgun, and started to menace the women with it. His bartender grabbed the gun from the man. The women proceeded to break out the lights in the saloon and in the darkness destroyed it. Lewis, wisely, left town.
This little snippet of a story comes from Betty Penson Ward’s book Idaho Women in History by way of telling by Bear Lake High School teacher J. Patrick Wilde.