"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Woman from Hog Ridge
It was a dark and quiet night as two boys from the high country quietly rode into North Fork. One young man looked around the dark streets to make sure the coast was clear. When he saw no one he went toward the livery stable while his brother kept a lookout for him. He ever-so quietly broke the lock, then the brothers quietly snuck inside the stable. The brother quietly looked around and found a six-shooter which he decided to keep for himself. Then the brothers quietly began saddling a horse.
Mark and I just happened to still be in town. I was playing a checker game with Micah, but realized that it was getting past my boy’s bedtime – he had to get up early for school in the morning. So I announced that we had to leave. As we walked out onto the dark, quiet street, Mark complained, “You didn’t have to break up the checker game because of me, Pa.” I figured he’d say that, but I started to tell him that Micah didn’t mind at all.
But suddenly I heard a noise coming from the livery and saw the doors standing open. Mark and I watched as the two boys rode out on horses. Mark recognized one of the horses as Mr. Harris’s buckskin stallion. My first thought was getting Mark out of there, so I sent him for Micah.
Hoyt noticed me and turned to warn his brother that I was coming. I stood on the edge of the walkway looking towards them when Hoyt suddenly fired a shot at me. I ducked inside a doorway and aimed my gun, shooting him off the horse. Johnny ran to his brother, but when I started towards him, he ran off into the night. I couldn’t catch him.
Micah and Mark ran up to the scene as I picked up the gun. I was sorry it happened, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.
Micah understood. I had to protect myself. "I think we're in for some trouble," Micah suddenly announced. I didn’t know what he meant. "You ever hear of Ma Boyle?"
“The mountain woman?” I asked.
Micah nodded. "There's a whole clan up there. They make their own laws and do their own judging. This is Hoyt, Ma Boyle's son. Won't be before long, things will be stirring around here," said Micah.
And that’s how the whole mess started. What happened the next day caused the whole town problems. Ma Boyle and her family came down to us just about the time Mark was getting out of school. They rode in quietly and swiftly, turning a calm town into a fearful one. As Mark stood on the steps with his school books in hand, where he was to meet me, he watched them ride in nervously.
One of the men, Sylvester, had a rope in his hand when he saw a young woman on the boardwalk. He jumped in front of her, commenting that she was real pretty. “Like a wildflower, Sylvester,” Martin commented as they watched her scurry away. “After we hand this fellow, maybe it be that we get acquainted with some of these town girls.” The two looked at each other and laughed. But then they saw Ma Boyles with her arms crossed, glaring at them and decided to get back to business.
They found a good, sturdy beam and made a noose from which they planned to hang the person that killed Hoyt – which would be me. Mark nervously watched. Micah came out of his office and slowly walked up to the group. He silently stared at the noose. "We've come to help you with the hangin' Marshal," she announced.
But Micah sat her straight on the matter right away. "Mrs. Boyle, we're not having a hanging.”
"Marshal, a little while ago we buried my son's body. That you so kindly sent up. Now all we wanna know is have you got that town fella what did the killing or ain't cha'?" It was obvious that Ma Boyle was very upset. You could hear the anger in her voice.
"I'm trying to explain to you Mrs. Boyle, it's not a question of hanging anybody, no law has been broken"
"You mean a mountain man gettin' himself killed ain't no call for excitement in these part?" Martin asked accusingly.
But Micah remained calm. "When a man gets caught in the act of stealing horses and throwing lead around, well there's certainly no blame if that man gets himself killed.”
Ma Boyle suddenly grew more angry at what Micah had said. “Marshal, you go back a ways,” she suddenly demanded. “What’s this about horse stealing?” Micah informed her that Hoyt was shot down trying to take a horse. He assumed she had already known that. She suddenly wanted Johnny. Johnny’s brother, Sylvester, ordered him to go talk to their Ma. She told him to tell Micah what he had told her.
He was really nervous as he spoke. Holding tightly to his rifle, he explained, “Well Hoyt saw this here buckskin horse and hankered to sit on him.” He suddenly stopped. Sylvester ordered him to go on. He explained that someone suddenly yelled for Hoyt to get off – he didn’t see anything because it was too dark.
I walked in about that time and greeted Mark quietly. I could tell he was nervous. I heard Martin demand that Micah tell them who shot down Hoyt so that they could hang him – meaning me.
Micah didn’t want to have any part of that, so he turned to leave. But suddenly, he saw me standing there. I didn’t like what was going on and he knew it. He turned back to the group. “Mrs. Boyle, I consider this matter closed and I advise you go back where you came from.”
Martin jumped to his mother’s defense. “Back where we come from?”
“You mean we ain’t good enough to walk around in your town,” Sylvester stated.
Micah didn’t want to see any trouble. “Leave when you wanta leave. Quietly,” he advised Sylvester.
“Well now, that’s sure better talking, Marshal. We thought maybe you’ve been getting’ mad at us!” Martin declared.
Ma Boyle just wasn’t going to give up. She was planning on staying until Hoyt’s killing was avenged. I knew I had to say something to try to convince them. I started over to them, and Mark started to follow, but I put a restraining hand on his shoulder, sending him a silent message that he was to stay right where he was. I walked up to her and spoke calmly, but deliberately. “Don’t you think it’s possible that your son, Johnny could have been mistaken about what happened last night?”
"Mr. McCain, you askin' me if I don't think my one son's a liar and my other dead son's a horse thief,” she stated angrily.
I tried to stay calm. "If you wanna put it that way.”
She ran over to stand by Johnny and turned to glare at me. "I'll answer you this way. When we bury one of our own we only got two things to say, there's been no reason for him not talkin' straight, and he never took nothin' that don't belong to him. I don’t say that a man don’t get into mischief, like Hoyt hankering to sit on a buckskin horse. But I do say that the man who saw him saw a mountain boy and he figured it don't much matter whether he lived or died."
“Mrs. Boyle, you don’t make us town folks sound very nice,” I suddenly commented to her.
“I was talking about one man, mister,” she assured me. “But I don’t reckon it’ll be hard to figure no town folk no different!”
Sylvester ordered Johnny to fetch Ma Boyle a chair.
I walked back over to Mark. He was anxious about what he had witnessed in the street. I knew he was worried about me. “Pa, I don’t like the way those mountain people have been talking.”
I turned and looked back at them, then turned back to my son. “Mark,” I said as I pulled a coin from my pocket. “Here. Go get yourself some candy, huh?” I patted him on the shoulder. I wanted to try to make him feel a little better, and I wanted him out of my way so I could talk to Micah alone. I turned and looked toward Micah. Then I hurried to his office, angrily closing the door behind me as I switched my rifle from hand to hand and paced his floor, waiting for him to come in.
He came inside and I started in on him right away. “Now look Micah, I don’t know what you have in mind, but what I did last night I’m not ashamed of. Now, every man has a right to defend himself, so I’m not hiding behind that badge anymore. I’m going out there to tell that woman the truth.” There, he was warned. I headed for the door.
But Micah stopped me with his words. “You go out there and a lot of innocent people are gonna be hurt!” he warned me.
I stopped at the door and turned, asking what he was talking about. He told me about when he was sheriff at Willow Springs. One Sunday night Ma Boyle’s husband and two of her boys came riding into town. “They got themselves all liquored up. The ole' man drew down on a cowhand in the saloon and got himself killed.” I figured there were plenty of witnesses. “Over a dozen. The next day Ma and the rest of her brood had blood in their eyes. And before you could count to three she and the boys had bullets flying all over the place. Lucas, I don’t want that to happen again.” Nether did I.
Mark got his candy then came outside to wait for me. But as he stood there, Johnny walked up to the boy. Mark still had his schoolbooks dangling in his hand. "I can read too. I learnt myself. I don't care for it to be known. They don't like me none as it is,” Johnny told Mark.
"They don't like you because you can read?" That was something Mark couldn’t wrap his head around, especially since I made him go to school.
"Oh maybe it ain't just that. Guess its cause I'm always doing things.” Mark had his books dangling over his shoulder. Johnny touched them. “I mean like studying things. I like to learn things. You ever been anywhere? I mean away from this here town."
"Yeah, I've been lots of places with my Pa," Mark answered.
"Well, I ain't never been no where. Except for those hills and North Fork. Ain't even seen a picture anywhere ‘til a few years ago. The others, they don't care, but me and Hoyt.....we were-" He suddenly stopped talking, realizing what he was about to say.
Mark suddenly turned around. “Is that why you sole those horses?” Mark accused him. Johnny didn’t know what to say, so he slowly walked away.
Meanwhile, Ma Boyle ordered her sons to stir thing up around town and let the town folks know they meant business. Sylvester and Martin were happy to oblige as they headed over to the feed store. Things were quiet in there until they arrived. Then they started messing with stuff and tearing things up. Martin grabbed one of the rakes, wondering how strong it was. Martin broke it over his knee and stated it wasn’t made to last.
Sylvester suggest that maybe Martin got a poor-made one, so he grabbed one and broke it over his knee. The storekeeper was getting upset. Then they pushed the shopkeeper around. The shopkeeper ordered a little boy to go get the Marshal.
That made the brothers mad too. “Now that was very friendly, was it Sylvester? The way we see it, mister, you was out to cheat us with store-boughten goods that was just no good!” Martin stated. “And calling for the Marshal there kinda makes us look like outlaws.”
Sylvester grabbed the storekeeper and turned him around. “Maybe you and us, mister, ain’t gonna be so friendly come tonight!”
But the storekeeper tried to explain that the merchandise they destroyed cost money. “Now he’s asking us for money for something we never bought,” Martin stated. “I don’t take kindly to that.”
Micah showed up then to see what the problem was. But they heard the sound of glass breaking coming from the saloon. Micah hurried up there to see what the trouble was.
“Micah, did you ever hear of slipping bottles?” Sweeney asked. “Slipping bottles. Those Mountain men. Seems like these bottle just slip out of their hands and go flying all over the place.” I was standing in the doors listening to Sweeney. Sweeney said they told him they’d send him down some blueberries since they didn’t have any cash.
Micah turned to me. “I thought maybe letting them blow off a little steam would satisfy ‘em.”
I had come to a decision. “Micah, I’m gonna talk to that woman!” I announced. “I can’t see putting up with this thing any longer.”
He knew my mind was made up and there was no changing my mind. He just hoped there wasn’t any bloodshed. We left the saloon and headed over to talk to Ma Boyle.
But suddenly Martin and Sylvester saw the same pretty lady from earlier. They began harassing her. They grabbed her, wanting to smell if she was wearing any perfume. She started hitting them with her basket and screaming. Micah and I ran down to help her. I grabbed Martin and pulled him off of her. “All right, that’s enough!” I ordered. “Is this the way you treat your mountain woman?"
Martin suddenly wanted to know if I was going to teach them some etiquette. “Now look, Boyle,” I said impatiently. “You boys want to know something, but you’re going about it the wrong way. Suddenly I heard the cock of a rifle. All the Boyle men had a rifle pointing at me and Micah. One of the rifles was poking into my back. I slowly turned and stared at them, suddenly realizing I didn’t like their way for sure now.
As I stood there, I watched the men crowd in close to me. They suddenly started hitting me. Sylvester held me while Martin punched me. Mark saw what was happening and hurried up to rescue me, but one of the Boyle men held him back. All he could do was watch.
Suddenly, Ma Boyle was there. She ordered them to stop the fight. This had gone on for long enough. It was time for me to tell her the truth. “Mrs. Boyle, in a since the Marshal and I owe you an apology,” I stated. “We’ve been trying to avoid trouble. I think we’ve been going about it the wrong way.” She wanted to know what I meant. I decided to just put it bluntly. “I shot your son. Not because he was stilling horses, though a lot of people would think that was good enough reason. I had no choice. He was trying to kill me.”
The brothers were excited to get to my hanging, but Ma Boyle stated, “They’ll be no hangin’! A man that don’t prove guilty sure don’t hang. The Marshal can relieve himself of that worry.” Then she asked me. “I take it you’re still saying my Johnny lied.”
“He seems to be afraid of the truth, ma’am,” I answered honestly.
“It seems like it comes down to your word and Johnny’s. It seems like this whole thing comes down to between you and Johnny. A difference you gotta settle sorta personal like,” she stated angrily.
“No one else actually saw the shooting, if that’s what you mean,” I told her.
She glared at me. Then she went to Johnny and grabbed my rifle from him. “Marshal,” she said as she walked up to him. “I hear tell that you town folk got a way of settling differences. You sorta separate our along the road and leave it to who’s best with a gun.”
Micah told her it has happened, but they hold the winner responsible for any killing if he forces the gun play. “I’m sure you remember what happened in Willow Springs a few years back.”
“How could I forget it?” she answered. “It’s got nothing to do with what’s going on here.” She suddenly turned and walked over to me. She held out my rifle for me to take. “Let’s get on with it,” she ordered.
I grabbed my rifle from her. “Mrs. Boyle, if you’re figuring on a gun duel between you son Johnny and me to settle who’s lying, you can forget it!” I declared.
Mrs. Boyle ordered Johnny to come stand by her. “Johnny got a gun when he was ten, mister, just like most mountain boys. And along with that gun, the Lord seen fit to give him an eye there ain’t been no match for. So you ain’t just facing a boy, mister!”
Micah started forward, but someone was still holding a gun on him. “Mrs. Boyle, you’ve lost one son. Let well enough alone!” Micah warned her.
She wasn’t listening to reason. She wanted to know if I was calling her boy out. I didn’t say a word, but walked across the street. She ordered her son to shoot off the do-hickeys from the hotel sign. He didn’t want to do it, but she again ordered him to. As I walked toward the hotel, he shot four times. He hit four times. I stared at them, then slowly turned and stared at the Boyle’s still standing in the street. Mrs. Boyle stared at me as if she had just proven a point. “How good a shot he is cuts no ice with me, Mrs. Boyle. I’m not gonna duel him!” I stated sternly.
“Then maybe he’ll just have to shoot you like a standing duck!” Mrs. Boyle suddenly threatened. She walked over to her son and told him I’d know they meant business if they took a nip out of one of my feet. “I told you that a man with one foot don’t walk too well.” She walked away from Johnny, but he hesitated. “Go ahead!” she ordered. Johnny unwillingly lifted the rifle toward me.
This had gone far enough! I suddenly cocked my rifle and pointed it at him. "Johnny, don't pull that trigger. Now I know you don't want to shoot me any more then I wanna shoot you. I can't gamble on you being able to stand up against your Ma any longer. Now put that rifle down." That was my order and he knew it.
Johnny looked at his Ma, and then he slowly lowered the rifle.
"Pick it up boy," she suddenly sneered at him.
Mark had been watching, and couldn’t stand anymore. He was angry – not just a little angry, but really angry! He suddenly grabbed the barrel of the rifle that was blocking his path and pushed forward. "Wicked woman! You're a very wicked woman Mrs. Boyle!” I stared at my son, thinking he was crazy to go up against her, but I just stood and watched, ready to come to his rescue if I needed to. “Such a wicked thing, to hate. You don't even know us and you hate us."
"I don't hate nobody," Ma Boyle declared.
"You do to. I don't know why, but you hate us. Maybe because we’re different. Dress different, talk different," Mark declared angrily.
She suddenly turned from Mark and looked at Johnny. "You gonna shoot that gun boy?"
Mark stared at her, then Johnny. He couldn’t believe the way she treated her own son! "Why your even hate him, your own son."
"I don't know what nonsense you’re talkin'," she argued.
"You must hate him, you want to see him killed. Maybe because he's different too. Maybe that's why you hate him."
"Well, it just ain't true. It ain't true. None of what cha' sayin'." She continued to insist.
"Most of all to know he lied. To know your own son was never tellin' you the truth," Mark continued on. He wasn’t going to stop until he had his say.
"And who would know who's lying?" She asked.
The question surprised Mark. The words he had to say were hard to hear, but he knew they were words she needed to hear. He suddenly looked very sad. Sad for who? Johnny? Me? Or maybe for Mrs. Boyle. "Why you would know. You'd have to know! You’re his mother.” Mark’s eyes were filled with tears at this point. He licked his lips and continued on. “My mother's dead but.....but if she were alive she'd know. Mothers always know.” He was finished. Tears were lying on his cheeks as he and Ma Boyle stared at each other. I stood by quietly, proudly watching my brave boy.
Martin was waiting for his Ma to tell him to shoot me. Sylvester was willing to kill Mark.
But Mark’s words had gotten to Ma Boyle. She was faced with a tough reality, and she was sad at what she saw. “Hush, both of you,” she said with a broken voice. They started to argue, but she announced they were going home. I smiled proudly at my boy. He had come to my rescue. He had once again saved my life. I sure was a proud father at that moment!
Ma Boyle and Mark stood there staring at each other. Mark had given her something today that she needed. She suddenly spoke quietly and tearfully to Mark. "It weren't hate, boy. I mean at least wise I don't think it was. Pride maybe. Sometimes a body's got nothing left except pride and they fight unfair to keep it. But I'd like to think it was pride, not just hatin' people."
The whole thing had been so overwhelming emotional for my sensitive boy. I’m sure he suddenly felt lots of emotions. He was relieved that I would be okay. He was sad for this family who would never know the love that he had. Mark broke down and began crying. He ran into my arms and I hugged him close to me and let him cry as I looked up at Mrs. Boyle.
Johnny started to follow his brothers, but Ma Boyle grabbed him by the arm. She told him they were going home, but he wasn't. Johnny told her he wouldn't lie to her anymore. She was suddenly sensitive toward her boy, and we could see that she still loved him. “Oh, it weren't that, boy,” she said softly. “It’s what the boy said: you got some difference in you. And you’ll be better off if you’ll stay behind.”
He felt torn. He wanted to try out this kind of life, but he loved his family. “Ma, I wanta come home,” he stated plainly.
She had to be gruff with him. "Well ya' ain't comin'! And I don't never want to see you there again, exceptin' if you’re in trouble. If you’re in trouble you know where to come." She quickly kissed him. Then she hurried away, crying. She did love her son – there was no question about it.
It was finally time for Mark and me to head for home, and I was sure happy to be going after a day like this! I sat down on the wagon seat, but Mark was still standing on the ground when Johnny came over to talk to us. He took off his hat as he stood in front of me to apologize. “I want you to know I wasn’t lying for me. It was for Hoyt. Me and him wanted to leave Ma and amount to somethin’. And then Hoyt being buried and well, for me to say he’s a horse thief…” I told Johnny I understood.
Johnny told me Hoyt was only shooting at me because he was scared. He told us he was going to get some book learning as he turned and looked at Mark. Mark smiled proudly. He was planning on going to a special school in Santa Fe where he could work for his room and board. We wished him luck.
I watched my boy as he slowly climbed up in the seat beside me. He was deep in thought, and I could tell he was still very emotional from earlier. I figured that right now he needed a little cheering up.
"You know Mark, darn gone if your not a born psychologist,” I suddenly stated.
I guess that got his curiosity going! Mark suddenly turned to me. "A-What's that?"
"Well it's a new kind of doctoring, where they talk to people…uh…well, they try to straighten out there thinkin'. You know, if it's wrong. Like you talked to Ma Boyle,” I tried to explain the best I knew how.
"Psy-clo--g-psy.....” Mark tried saying it a few times. Suddenly frustrated, he stated, “I may be one, but I'll never be able to pronounce it!”
I suddenly laughed out loud as he tried to pronounce it again. Then I smacked the reins and we started for home.
piddlin' stuff.....Dee J. Thompson played the mountain woman, Ma Boyle.
Jan Stine appeared in two episodes ― Woman from Hog Ridge as Johnny, he was the son Ma Boyle turned away ― The High Country as Gorwin, he was the mountain boy who was shot by accident.
Lane Bradford as Martin, he was one of the brothers and the one who broke the rake in half in the Hardware Store.
Robert F. Hoy appeared in three episodes ― Woman from Hog Ridge as Lester Boyle, one of Ma Boyle's boys, he was the one steeling the horse from the livery stable that Lucas shot ― The Promoter as Dabbs, the cowboy Ruben shot and killed him in the beginning of the episode ― Which Way'd They Go? as one of Wade's gang.
Charles Tannen appeared in six episodes ― The Boarding House as Barney, North Fork's Barber ― Sins of the Father as the bartender in the saloon where Andy Moon shot Shep Coleman ― The Jailbird as Josh Moore, the storekeeper at the Hardware Store ― Woman From Hog Ridge as the storekeeper ― Miss Milly as Mr. Penn the customer who Marty Ryan had ruffed up trying to get money on his bill owed to Milly ― The Actress as one of the men who Elizabeth Garrett Black was entertaining in the hotel bar, the man with the cigar.
Jim Hurst played Sylvester. He was the tall son in the black jacket. He and Martin are the ones who was sportin' the town lady.
Jack Kenny as one of the townsmen.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon. Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.
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.
James W. Horan as one of the Boyle Clan.
Daniel Borzage appeared in three episodes, two of them as a townsmen ― The Woman ― The Deserter ― Woman from Hog Ridge as one of the Boyle Clan.
Cap Somers/Frederick "Cap / Fimp" Somers appeared in eight episodes of The Rifleman ― Day of the Hunter as one of the townsmen ― The Deserter as a card player ― The Vision as a cowhand ― Woman from Hog Ridge as a townsmen ― The Martinet as one of the townsmen ― The Decision as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go as the bartender ― The Anvil Chorus as one of the townsmen.
Russell Custer appeared seven times ― None So Blind as a Townsman ― Woman from Hog Ridge as a Townsman ― The Lariat as a Gambler ― The Vision as a Cowhand ― Panic as a Townsman ― The Jailbird as a Townsman ― A Case of Identity as a Townsman.
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)
Bloopers - Woman from Hog Ridge
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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Trail of Hate
around The McCain Ranch