"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
I was at a friend’s house – no really, I was! My friend just happened to be a great wrestler – and I just happened to be the one he challenged. That’s how I found myself in a position of being toppled on by this giant of a man! Mark refereed the fight and actually thought I had him beat. “Only one shoulder, referee,” our friend declared as I struggled to tackle his other shoulder.
But suddenly, he turned me flat on my back. “He’s got you pinned good, Pa!” Mark announced – as if I didn’t know! I gave up.
“Lucas, you’re not just humoring me because I’m the President,” our friend teased.
“My word of honor…Mr. Lincoln,” I answered as he helped me up with a chuckle.
Just then Emma came out of the house. She scolded Abe and told him that was no way to treat a guest and on his birthday. “I’ll write my apology into the Congressional Record,” Abe declared. I laughed at that as we walked into the house.
Emma ordered us to get over to the basin and get cleaned up. She showed no mercy! She was pretty upset at our antics! I suppose she thought we were acting more like boys then men. But, it was all in fun and we all knew it. Mark reminded Abe that he was doing the cooking tonight. Abe assured him he’d leave some room.
Mark was admiring some photographs of Abraham Lincoln. They sure looked like him! “Unfortunately they do!” Abe declared. He said even the great artist couldn’t change a baboon into a peacock!
Abe sat down to cut his cake, but Emma stopped him. “No Abe! First you make a wish and then you blow out the candle!”
Abe was just about to do just that when suddenly a clap of thunder sounded outside and lightening flashed. He slowly turned toward the window and started out. A sad look of regret came across his face. "Ann, my poor darling Ann.”
I knew where this was going. "Blow out the candle Mr. Lincoln," I said.
But he didn’t even hear me. "The wind and the rain beating on her grave…”
Emma quickly blew out the candle, ignoring Abe. “My but you’ve grown, Mark – in just these last few months!” Mark was uncomfortable. He didn’t understand what was going on.
He smiled at Emma. “I expect I have, ma’am,” he answered.
“You studying hard in school?”
Mark briefly took his eyes off Abe to answer her question. “I’m doing the best I…can,” he answered absentmindedly.
"Twelve months of schooling’s all Abe Lincoln ever had," mumbled Abe. Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun came out. He snapped out of it and turned back to me as if nothing had happened. "How-how’s things at the ranch Lucas?”
“Everything’s fine, Mr. Lincoln,” I answered.
I’m glad to hear it,” Abe stated. “A man with a home’s the backbone of the country! How are the good citizens of North Fork bearing?"
"Nothing unusual to report,” I answered. “Babies are being born and old folks dying. But there's more born then dying; so I imagine in a year or two we'll just be a regular city," I said.
He wanted to go to North Fork, but Emma was uneasy about him going. “We can bring him back in the morning, Emma,” I assured her. But she didn’t like leaving him alone. Abe assured her he’d be okay – he hadn’t been out of the house in a long time. He needed to get out and see the people. He wanted to know what they were feelin' first hand. He then went up stairs to get his frock coat. Yes – he even dressed like Abe Lincoln!
Emma turned to me. “Look after him, Lucas,” she begged.
I jumped up and told her not to worry. I sent her up to help him get ready.
"Who’s Ann?" Mark asked in a low voice after Emma left the room.
I turned and came back to my curious son. "Well I expect he was talkin' about Ann Rutledge. She was Abraham Lincoln's sweetheart they say. She died."
"Golly, he really thinks he's Abraham Lincoln doesn't he?" Mark couldn’t believe it.
"Well he lost his own sweetheart during the war," I explained.
"He sure is looney!”
"Mark!" I hollered at my son.
Mark immediately jumped to his own defense. "I'm sorry Pa...but...you know what I mean."
"Well let’s just say he's a strange man son. But he's also a kind man and a gentle man."
“I know Pa, and I like him. I just…don’t understand what makes him pretend like that all the time,” Mark stated honestly.
I suppose it was time for a walk down memory lane. “Well son, everybody pretends sometime during his life. As a matter of fact, when you were a little boy three or four years old, you had a little friend named Jessie.”
Mark thought back. “I don’t remember a friend named Jessie,” he declared.
“Well, he’s a little fellow you dreamed up in your imagination. As a matter of fact, you used to make your mother set an extra place at the table for him every night.”
Mark laughed. “I wonder what made me do that!”
“Well son, I imagine you were lonely. You needed a friend, so you made him up.”
"Oh yeah, Pa but…that's only, kids stuff."
“Well son…grown ups pretend for different reasons,” I explained. “Sometimes it’s a means of running away from…well…from a reality they can’t face.” Mark suddenly grew quiet, wondering what happened to Abe. “The war wounded some in…strange, unaccountable ways, Mark.”
Just then Emma came down the steps. "Abe is ready." We stood up in honor as Abe came down in his flock coat and stovepipe hat. "Now before we go Lucas, I’ve got a little present here for Tad,” Abe stated as he went to the mantle. I quickly explained to Mark that Tad was one of Mr. Lincoln’s sons. He held out an old gun. "It's a souvenir from old Abe.”
I protested "Mr. Lincoln, I don't think the boys old enough to handle guns."
"This is a colt that U.S. Grant carried when he took Vicksburg," said Abe. “I…I’d like the boy to have it.” I started to protest again. I really didn’t like Mark having such gifts as that. "Lucas...it gives the President great pleasure to give it to the boy." I hesitated but finally sighed did agree that Mark could take it.
Abe and I headed into town while Mark went back to the ranch to get supper ready. I assured Mark we’d be home around 5:00.
When we got into town, I offered to help Abe to the hotel so he could rest, but he wanted to walk around and visit the people. As we started walking, we paused as a little girl jumped rope. She asked Abe how he was. “In robust health, thank you Susan,” he answered cheerfully. She told him proudly that she was doing better in school since her mother gave her a tonic.
In fact, she wanted to show Abe how much better she was doing, so she quickly started rattling off some dates. “Columbus discovered America in 1492. George Washington signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.” She stopped jumping rope and tried to think of something else. “Um…Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 and was assissinat-“ She suddenly stopped herself.
But Abe was still smiling. “Well, go on.”
“…and signed the Proclamation of Emancipation in 1862. Bye, Mr. Lincoln!”
As she ran off, Mr. McKeever came out of the store to talk to Abe. They engaged in small talk for a few minutes, then parted company. We went on our way – that is until we got to the saloon. Abe looked inside. I put my hands on my hips, anticipating what he had in mind to do. He turned and wondered if we might…I didn’t let him finish. I gently reminded him that he wasn’t supposed to drink. “Oh, just a glass of water, Lucas,” he assured me.
Just then, Mr. McKeevery hollered at me that my Wiss saw that I had ordered was in. “You go on in, Mr. Lincoln. I’ll be right back,” I said. Then I went with McKeever.
As he walked in, all…or should I say most…of the men greeted him warmly. Nils offered to buy him a drink, and Mr. Lincoln thanked him but stated he should stick with water. He proposed a toast to the Union.
Then a man playing a guitar, stated, “Mr. Lincoln, in your honor,” as he began playing a song.
♫ When I was young, I used to wait
On Master and bring him his plate,
Pass down the bottle when he got dry,
and brush away the blue tailed fly!
Everyone began singing along then:
Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care
My Master’s gone away!
(*Please be patient while this song loads, it may take a few seconds to load but is well worth the wait!
Please note..... when clicking on the link to this sound wav - it will download to your computer.)
Two men from out of town were listening. The man named Matt Yordy spoke up as they finished singing. "The map says this is North Fork. I think we're lost somewhere in bedlam.”
"Bedlam?" Questioned his friend, Joe.
"That's a madhouse," said Yordy. "I wanna meet my President.” Yordy finished his drink and stood up. Joe didn't want him any trouble. He tried to stop Yordy, but he couldn't.
Yordy walked up to Abe and tapped him on the arm. "Don't you recognize me Mr. Lincoln?"
“Well, no I don’t, young feller. You…uh…must be a stranger around North Fork,” Abe answered.
"That's right, I'm from Virginia. I'm General Robert E. Lee!" said Yordy. Then he laughed. Nils told him to go back to his table.
Abe didn’t mind though. “Thank you very much, Mr. Swenson. But I…I think I can conduct this conversation with this good man.” Abe smiled at Yordy.
“I’m not a good man, Mr. Lincoln! I’m a bad man. "I'm John Wilkes Booth” He put his fingers up in the gun position. “Bang...bang, you're dead."
Abe stared at him. "You’re joshing me son! John Wilkes Booth is a tragedian and you sir are a cheap clown!"
"You see Mr. President, I'd sure enjoy listening to you recite the Gettysburg address."
Abe sat down your water and glared at Yordy. "This is not the battle field! This is a saloon! And you sir are drunk!” He teased him some more about Lincoln and drinks. Then he laughed.
"Why are you taunting me?" Abe asked then.
“You’re loco! Do you hear me?" "You’re loco as John Brown whose body lies a molderin' in the grave. John Brown who shot my father down in cold blood at Harper's Ferry!"
“Will you accept my apologies? I mean you no harm, citizen.” Abe smiled at him.
Yordy got really mad. “You know who I am? Jack Armstrong!”
Abe smiled. “Jack Armstrong was a…good wrestler.”
“That’s right,” Yordy stated. “You wanta take me on?”
Abe laughed. "I'd be proud to oblige you sir." Abe took off his hat and coat. Yordy ran at him, but Abe jumped out of the way and Yordy smashed into the bar.
Abe got Yordy in a choke hold and held him good, but Yordy was finally able to get him loose. He smashed Abe’s head against the bar a couple of times.
Suddenly, Abe grabbed Yordy around the middle and squeezed him really tight. Yordy finally managed to get loose and went toward Abe, But Abe ducked and threw him up onto the bar. Yordy came off the bar, kicking Abe.
They grabbed each other by the shoulders and fought some more. Finally, Abe grabbed a good hold of Yordy’s hand. He pulled it back really hard, pushing him into the screaming crowd. The fight was over. Abe won.
Feeling victorious, Abe grabbed his coat and hat, then left the saloon.
Yordy complained that he felt like his arm was broken.
That night at supper, Abe was feeling regretful for what happened. At first, Abe had thought Yordy was pretending that his arm was broken like he was pretending to be John Wilkes Booth. Abe wasn’t angry – he was too upset. “He was taunting me. That’s no excuse…I…I should have made light of his jokes. Mr. Lincoln would’ve never allowed himself to get torn into a fight. Mr. Lincoln would’ve…” He stopped, almost in tears. “Emma’s gonna be angry with me. I promised to behave myself and I didn’t.”
I felt bad for him. I told him he should go to bed. He knew I was right. “Maybe if I’d a done what he said and recited the Gettysburg Address, it would’ve satisfied him.” As he stood to go, he began speaking again. “Four score and seven years ago…our father brought fourth on the Continent a new nation…Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Abe disappeared into the bedroom.
Much to my surprise, Mark picked up where Abe left off. “And now we are engaged in a great Civil War…testing rather that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met here on…on a great battlefield of-“ I was enjoying listening to my son quote the Address. But he suddenly stopped. He was angry. “Pa, why couldn’t somebody have stopped that fight in the saloon?”
I looked toward the bedroom, then turned back to Mark. “Well son,” I spoke softly. “In a way, I’m glad no one did. Nils told me the man was teasing him the way a mean boy teases a helpless pup. And Mr. Lincoln is no helpless pup! As a matter of fact, he’s every bit the wrestler the way the real Abraham Lincoln was.” We smiled at each other as we got up to work on cleaning the dishes together.
The next morning, Yordy ran into Nils. He asked him if he was done shoeing his horse. Nils said he was. “Guess I made a fool of myself in the saloon last night,” he stated. “Drank myself to sleep after the doc set my arm, it hurt so bad.”
“I think your conscious oughta be bothering you worse then that arm,” Nils retorted.
“Yes. I guess that’s so,” Yordy stated. He claimed he had been wondering how he could set things straight. Nils suggested he apologize to Abe. He gave Yordy directions to my ranch.
Joe reminded Yordy that they should be heading on to Marionette. “Not until I apologize to Mr. Lincoln,” Yordy stated. “And then kill him!"
Mark was watching Abe chop wood. I came out with my rifle, announcing I was going to go hunting. I was going to look for a couple of rabbits for dinner. “Oh no, Pa! We’re gonna stay here and split some more logs!” Mark declared.
After I left, Abe suggested Mark try splitting a log. Mark complained that it took him four or five good whacks just to get one of those split. “Well, not if you know how. You just have to concentrate on making that log your enemy!” Abe explained. "You say to yourself, if I don't split that log in one whack something terrible’s gonna happen to me. Like um...I'm gonna come down with the dropsy's. And then you put all your strength and all your mind into this sledge and..." WHACK!
With one whack, Abe split the log. Mark was surprised when he did it again. Now it was Mark's turn. “Oh, I don’t think I can,” mark stated.
“Sure you can,” Abe insisted. “Now, just rear back.” Mark got into the position. "You've got to split this log in one whack or uh…your Pa's crop is gonna be smothered by a dust storm and you won't have anything to eat for a whole year but beans."
"I hate beans!" Mark yelled as he gave the wedge a hard whack. Mark hit the wedge so hard that he fell to the ground, landing on his backside. He was quite surprised when the log split in two. "It works Mr. Lincoln!"
Abe laughed. "Well, you didn't think Abe Lincoln would lie to ya'?" Mark laughed. He decided he better get those split logs over to the woodshed. Abe went back to splitting logs.
Just then Yordy walked around the side of the barn. He approached Abe. "Mr. Lincoln," he greeted him unfriendly-like.
"Well good day friend," said Abe.
"Friend? Now, that’s a mighty Christian attitude of yours to call me your friend.” Abe’s smile slowly disappeared from his face. “Now you don't recognize me, you've got a short memory."
Abe smiled. "Oh you’re the fellow I wrestled with yesterday. I'm deeply sorry..." Abe said with a friendly smile on his face.
Suddenly, Yordy drew his gun and aimed it right at Abe. "You stay right were you are Mr. President. Put down that sledge.”
Abe didn’t move. He dropped the sledge. “I wasn’t gonna harm you, sir.”
“You stand still and I won’t hurt you. I’ll put a bullet through your brain. You won’t feel a thing!”
Abe tried talking to him. "Now friend, I..."
"You can't get it through that poor clouded brain of yours; I'm not your friend! I'm gonna kill you!"
“Why do you want to harm me?" Abe asked in a calm voice.
"Because I am a great patriot of the south. You didn't believe me yesterday. But I'm really John Wilkes Booth and I'm here to assassinate you!"
Suddenly, Mark came out the side of the barn and stood just inside the door. He had a gun pointed right at Yordy. “Drop that gun, mister. Or I'll shoot!" Yordy turned and stared at Mark. Mark was so scared he was gasping. "Drop it! Or I'll pull this trigger!" Yordy just stood there, staring at Mark. Mark was becoming more afraid. He finally screamed, "Drop it!"
"Mark, that's a souvenir gun, there are no bullets in it!" Mark was started gasping harder as he realized the truth. He looked down at the gun and knew he had no choice.. He dropped the gun. Then he begged. "Oh please mister. Don't shoot! He's defenseless."
"Just stay where you are sonny," said Yordy. He turned his head toward Abe. “You’re worse off then I thought!” He declared. “You could’ve bluffed me. You could’ve taken away my gun.” Yordy was totally surprised!
“I…I didn’t think about that,” Abe said.
“But, I’m gonna kill you! Or don’t you believe me?”
Abe nodded. “I…I believe you.” He looked at Mark "Turn your head, Mark.”
Yordy slowly aimed the gun at Abe. Bang! Bang! Two shots suddenly fired and hit the dirt near Yordy’s feet.
He turned to see me standing there – and I wasn’t happy to see him! I walked towards Yordy. Abe walked up to them. "Don't hurt him Lucas.” I just stared at him. “That's an order McCain!"
“Get out of him, Mister! Right now,” I ordered angrily.
“Sorry about the disturbance, Lucas,” Abe said as he walked up to Mark. He picked up the gun and started taking the bullets out of it. “Poor fella. The war must have addled his brain!” Mark stared at him.
“It was loaded!” Mark declared.
“Yes,” Abe answered.
“But…Why did you tell him it wasn’t? I-I could’ve shot him!” Mark declared.
“I know,” Abe stated.
“Of course I…I’m really not sure I could’ve,” Mark said after thinking on it.
“I know,” Mark stated. "We've just come through a bloody war Mark…with boys not much older then you finding out whether they could or couldn’t pull a trigger.” Abe handed the unloaded gun back to Mark. “Something I hope you never have to find out."
I just watched the conversation, treasuring it in my heart.
Later, we took Mark home. We sang cheerfully as we rode up to his house. His sister was sure glad to see him! She immediately asked me if Abe behaved himself. I answered truthfully. "You'd been proud of him Emma! He behaved the way a great man should."
We said our good-byes and started down the path. We got just out of the view of the house when Mark suddenly stopped the horses. I looked worriedly at my son. “What’s the matter son?”
“Well Pa…Is it really honest what we do with…Mr. Lincoln?”
“Is it…” It was time for another lesson. “Son, do you remember when your grandma used to live with us a long time ago?” He remembered a little. “Well, she was 88 year old then. Kinda feeble…Could hardly even see. But like the rest of us, she still wanted to feel useful. So every morning, she picked up the broom and swept the kitchen. She didn’t do a very good job. So, your mother or I would have to do it all over again.” I studied Mark’s expression. “Now, were we being honest with grandma? Not really. You see, to have been too honest would’ve been cruel. So we let her go on sweeping. Same thing with Abe. You see son…it’s…Well, it’s really not a question of honesty. It’s more of a matter of kindness and understanding for a fellow human being.”
Mark thought on this. Then he came to his own conclusion to my lecture. “In other words, if you love someone, it…it just can’t be dishonest,” he declared.
We drove home.
piddlin' stuff.....Royal Dano appeared in five episodes ― The Sheridan Story as the Confederate Soldier, Private Frank Blanden in ― A Matter of Faith as Jonas Epps the Rain Maker ― A Case of Identity as Aaron Wingate, he was the man who was searching for his long loss son, Robert ― Honest Abe as Able "Abe" Lincoln, Able suffered a mental shock during the civil war and as a result believes he is Abraham Lincoln ― Day of Reckoning as Reverend Jamison, he was the minister who was once a crooked outlaw.
Charles Cooper played Will's older brother Hank Fulton in this episode of End of a Young Gun. He also appeared as Rudy Crofts in The Stand-In, he was the prisoner who escaped ― Matt Yordy in Honest Abe, he was the man who kept picking on Abe ― Larsen the bartender in I Take This Woman.
K.T. Stevens was in five episodes ― Heller as Muriel Bechtol, she was married to that evil Andrew Bechtol ― The Fourflusher as Molly Fenway, she was married to a sharecropper who entered his colt in the horse race ― Face of Yesterday as Nancy Clay was the wife of the man he killed in the Civil War ― Honest Abe as Emma Lincoln, the sister to Able Lincoln who claims that he's the Great Emancipator ― Molly Fenway in End of the Hunt as Granny Mede, Reef Jackson was her nephew, Lucas knew them from when he lived in the Nations.
*In this episode of Honest Abe ― Able Abe Lincoln sister's name was Emma. Abraham Lincoln's sister's real name was Sarah.
Rex Morgan Sr. played McKeever, the storekeeper. He was the guy who told Lucas his Wiss saw was in.
Pam Smith played Susan. Susan was the girl jumping rope.
Pick Temple was the guitar player who played Jimmy Crack Corn. Pick was scheduled to appear in Hollywood as a featured player in this episode. Shooting of this episode was delayed when Johnny Crawford, came down with a cold. So Pick had gone to visit some of his friends. Then more bad news came. Johnny's cold developed into pneumonia and all filming had to be put on hold indefinitely. Pick had no sooner returned to Washington when he got the news that Chuck Connors was himself making a swing east for a personal appearance tour. Naturally, Pick invited him to Washington to guest on his own junior-size "Western" series. Meanwhile, Johnny made a complete recovery and Pick returned to Hollywood where he filmed his part in this episode.
*Thanks Kap for the info on Pick Temple .....Kaptain Kidsshow
Also check out Kapp's pages on The Rifleman
Ethan Laidlaw appeared in The Rifleman quite a few times unaccredited ― The Indian as a townsfolk — The Mind Reader as a townsman in the audience — Legacy as the man at the funeral — The Coward as a Diner Patron — Heller as a townsfolk — The Grasshopper as a passenger on the train — Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town — The Silent Knife as a townsfolk — Short Rope for a Tall Man as one of Crown's Henchmen — Honest Abe as a townsman — Two Ounces of Tin as a townsfolk ― The Day the Town Slept as a townsman.
Bill Borzage appeared in three episodes as one of the townsmen ― The Decision ― Outlaw's Shoes ― Honest Abe.
Les Raymaster has appeared in seven episodes — Duel of Honor as a Barfly ― The Coward as a townsman ― Honest Abe as a townsman — Nora as a townsman — A Case of Identity as a townsman — The Lariat as a gambler ― Dead Cold Cash as a townsman.
Steve Warren as Joe, Matt Yordy's buddy.
Jess Calvin as one of the townsmen.
Rudy Bowman as one of the townsmen ― Panic ― Honest Abe.
Oscar Blank as one of the townsmen.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas.
Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
♫ Songs of The Rifleman
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Royal Dano & Pick Temple off the set
Pick Temple videos.....
Bloopers - Honest Abe
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
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The Long Goodbye
around The McCain Ranch