Joseph Slade Of the five division superintendents hired to supervise the company route, Joseph A. “Jack” Slade, roughhouse whiskey drinker and uninhibited gunslinger, easily preempts attention. Alternately a man of courteous manner and a merciless killer, he seemingly escaped the notice of Majors' principled eye when be was taken on by the company as a carry-over from the stumbling Hockaday line. From Fort Kearny to Horseshoe Station, where be lived in unexplained luxury with a sour-countenanced, heavy- haunched wife, Slade ran a tight, fear-struck division, exercising ruthless control with a quickly-riled temper and a ready gun. But his chameleon character was disarming. Mark Twain, in Roughing It, found him "a pleasant person, friendly and gentle-spoken."

At an immigrant ford on the South Platte, called the California Crossing, the company had established a station to serve the stages it had acquired from Hockaday. A Frenchman, named Jules Beni, who had previously settled there and was conducting a profitable trade with travelers, was appointed station keeper, and the place came to be known as Julesburg.

Jules was a man of innately vile character and his ethics in business belied him not. Lying, cheating and caveat emptor were his accustomed tools of trade. Horses which he swapped to immigrants often found their way back to his corral in the dead of night, and goods that he sold were robbed from the buyer to be sold again. His iniquity, compounded with fraud in company affairs, was discovered by Benjamin Ficklin while traveling through on an inspection trip. He ordered Slade to replace the rogue and arrange with him a settlement on missing company property.

That idea didn't appeal to Jules. When Slade appeared to carry out his instructions, he was met by the blast of a double-barreled shotgun. Either Jules' aim was off or he skimped a few shot in loading, for Slade was carried away, not quite dead, to recuperate. On the next stage, the story goes, Ficklin arrived, saw his duty, hanged Jules, and promptly departed again. But cohorts of the Frenchman, in the nick of time, cut him down, and the outlaws went into hiding.

When Slade had recovered, he returned to the scene with revenge in his heart and lead in his gun. He is said to have cornered the would-be killer at Pacific Springs. Disabling him with a ball in the thigh, he trussed him up to a corral post. Jules, lived a long time as Slade moved back and deliberately used him for target practice. When it was all over, Slade drew a knife and sliced off his ears. One of them he is reported to have used as a watch fob and the other as a macabre saloon stunt, in which he casually tossed the shriveled appendage on the bar and asked for change.

Jules' killing, wasn't Slade's first. As a lad of 13, in Carlisle, Illinois, he hurled a rock, killing a man who had tried to straighten out a juvenile difficulty. The parents of the morbid kid hustled him off to Texas, where he later enlisted in the Mexican War. He subsequently found a job with a freighting outfit out of St. Joseph, and is said to have killed a fellow employee and drinking companion who had made the mistake of daring him to shoot.

The man loved liquor. While in Denver, on a drunken spree, he shot up a saloon, putting a bullet into a friendly intruder who attempted to quiet him. The man happened to be David Street, an official of the Overland Mail Company, under whose auspices the Pony Express was then running. Luckily, he had received only a superficial wound and didn't fire Slade who, when he sobered up, abjectly apologized.

At Fort Halleck there was another spree, another shooting, which left the sutler's store in shambles. This time there was no saving him, when the angry commandant flatly insisted on his being discharged.

The final days of this legendary miscreant were spent in the tumultuous, lawless mining town of Virginia City, Montana. Here again drink was his undoing, as was his old hobby of shooting up the place of imbibing. At first he was supposed to have had money to pay for damages, but when that ran out stern measures were in order. From a miners' court, established by a vigilantes’ committee, came a warrant for his arrest. Defiantly, he tore it into shreds. It was the last straw. The vigilantes caught him, still drunk, and strung him up.

For more information on Jack Slade see Roy O'Dell's, An Ear in His Pocket: The Life of Jack Slade; and Bob Scott's, Slade! The True Story of the Notorious Badman.