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Historical Note - Week of April 26th

Daily Yellowstone Journal, April 28, 1885


Fatal Shooting of an Old-Timer at Bozeman-Lively Batch of Montana News-Interesting Incidents of Yesterday

Fatal shooting of Neil Lane

Information came from Bozeman yesterday that Neil Lane, a well known sporting man of Montana, had been shot and killed early on Sunday morning in that city by Fred Johnson, another of the sporting fraternity. Neil Lane was formerly a resident of Miles City, and has lately been engaged in saloon business with Johnson at Cooke City. They have been at Bozeman considerably and it seems that they have had a quarrel over a woman which probably resulted in the shooting. The affair occurred in, or very near to, the saloon of Sanborn & Ponchfort on Main street near the National bank of Bozeman. The first shot was fatal, but Johnson fired another shot which penetrated the stove and then a third shot that broke the glass front of the saloon…

The next day the newspaper had the following to add to the story:

Daily Yellowstone Journal, April 29, 1885

Details of the Killing of Neil Lane—Jealousy the Root of the Trouble.

The Bozeman Killing

The killing of Neil Lane by Fred P. Johnson occurred last Saturday evening in Lee & Sanborn’s (formerly Capt. Smith’s) saloon at Bozeman. Lane had found that his wife thought more of Johnson then she did of himself and she had not only informed Johnson of Lane’s plans to euchre him out of his share of the business run by the two men at Cooke City but also had secured from her husband conveyance of a portion of the property and went to Sioux City, Iowa, where she joined Johnson. The latter returned to Bozeman a short time ago, and Lane went from Cooke City last week and found Johnson at Bozeman. The Livingston Enterprise in an extra on Monday states that Constable John Winnett, of Livingston, was in Bozeman at the time of the shooting and said that the men had been drinking and quarreling in the saloon during the afternoon, Lane taunting Johnson and daring him to a gun fight. Johnson afterward came out of the saloon and when he was about the middle of the crossing Lane overtook him and after some talk took hold of him and forcibly pulled him some distance. Johnson did not seem to resist much more but let Lane lead him into the saloon. When Lane led Johnson into the saloon he held him by the coat lapel with his right hand; he changed his hold to the left, and thrust his hand into the pocket where he kept his gun; but he never drew it. Johnson drew his gun and, thrusting it almost against Lee’s [Lane’s] face, fired. The revolver was a 45-calibre Colt. The bullet entered under lane’s eye, went out the back of his skull, passed through the drum of the stove and imbedded itself in the hard wood wainscoting of the room. After firing the first shot he jumped back and, as Lane was falling, fired another bullet which passed through the flesh of his hip; he fired a third shot at Lane as he lay dead upon the floor but it missed its mark. Johnson walked out and was shortly afterwards arrested. The feeling against Lane was very bitter, and if he had killed Johnson after tantalizing him as he did, it is believed that he never would have reached jail alive. Both men had been drinking during the day, but Johnson while calling for whiskey was not drinking it, and Lane was taking heavy drinks.

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