Bankers went about armed, as did their employees, and robbersrnevidently had no desire to tangle with armed men.rnRobberies of individual citizens followed a clear pattern: thernvictim had spent the evening in a gambling den, saloon, orrnbrothel; he had revealed in some way that he had a goodly sumrnof money on his person; and he was drunk, staggering homernlate at night when the attack occurred. More robberies mightrnhave occurred had not Aurorans and Bodieites gone aboutrnarmed and ready to defend themselves. Unless thoroughly inebriated,rnthey were simply too dangerous to rob. A case inrnpoint was the attempted robbery of Bodie miner C.F. Reid.rnWhen a robber told Reid to throw up his hands, Reid said “allrnright” and began raising them. As he did so, he suddenlyrndrew a foot-long bowie knife from an inside pocket and drovernthe steel blade into the robber’s shoulder. The robberrnscreamed with pain and took off running “like a deer.” Reidrngave chase but soon lost sight of the man. Reid was satisfied,rnthough, feeling certain that he had “cut the man to the bone.”rnSuch actions were applauded by the citizenry and the localrnnewspapers. Unlike a stage holdup, a robbery of an individualrncitizen was considered dastardly and provoked talk of vigilantism.rn”This business of garroting,” as the Bodie Standardrntermed mugging and robbery, “is getting a little too common.rnThe parties engaged in it may wake up one of these fine morningsrnand find themselves hanging to the top of a liberty pole.”rnAnother Bodie newspaper, the Daily Free Press, later called forrnthe formation of a committee of vigilance, saying that one orrntwo examples of vigilante justice were usually “sufficient to purify”rna mining camp.rnNonetheless, Bodie and Aurora actually suffered rarely fromrnrobbery. A statistical comparison of these rowdy mining campsrnwith modern American cities demonstrates that today’s cities,rnsuch as Detroit, New York, and Miami, have 20 times as muchrnrobbery per capita. The United States as a whole averages threerntimes as much robbery per capita as Bodie and Aurora.rnBurglary and theft were also of infrequent occurrence in thernmining towns. Most American cities today average 30 or 40rntimes as much burglary and theft per capita as Bodie and Aurora.rnThe national rate is ten times higher. Again, an obviousrnfactor in discouraging burglary and theft were the armed homeownerrnand armed merchant. When two burglars attempted tornenter J.H. Vincent’s house, Vincent grabbed a gun and sentrnthem running. The Bodie Morning News urged other homeownersrnto follow Vincent’s example, saying, “Our people mustrnbe on their guard for this class of gentry, and if possible, whenrnthey call, treat them to a good dose of lead.” On another occasion,rnwhen some firewood was stolen, the Morning News suggestedrnthat any thief caught in such an act should be made “thernrecipient of a few shares in a lead mine.” Other newspapersrnechoed such sentiments. Following the theft of some blankets,rnthe Daily Free Press hoped that “some night a load of buckshotrnwill be deposited where it will do the most good.” Citizens willinglyrnfollowed this advice. One miner shot at a thief stealingrna sack of flour. The round missed but sent the thief runningrn”over the ground like a three-minute horse,” according to thernFree Press.rnClearly the weapons carried by the residents of Aurora andrnBodie acted as a deterrent to robbery, burglary, and theft.rnNearly every resident went about armed. Sam Clemens, whorndid his first professional writing for Aurora’s Esmeralda Star,rnsaid that while in Aurora he had always worn a revolver, not becausernhe planned to kill anybody but “in deference to popularrnsentiment, and in order that I might not, by its absence, be offensivelyrnconspicuous, and a subject of remark.” Not onlyrnwere the people armed, but they often had formal training andrnexperience in the use of pistols and rifles. Many Aurorans hadrnfought in the Mexican War and a good number of Bodieites inrnthe Civil War. The people had arms, knew how to use them,rnand were willing to fight with deadly force to protect their personsrnor property.rnWomen, often the target of criminals today, suffered onlyrnrarely from violence in Aurora and Bodie. Prostitutes bore thernbrunt of the little violence that did occur. Most incidents involvedrna drunken patron of a brothel slapping or punching onernof the women. Even in those cases, women often evened thernodds by quickly grabbing a gun. Daisy, “a soiled dove,” frightenedrnoff an attacker with a shot from her revolver and sent thernman running down the street. Another prostitute chased a customerrnout of a brothel and emptied her revolver at him. Accordingrnto the Bodie Standard, the man’s “hair stood on end, asrnhe expected any second to be reduced to a state of perfect inutility.”rnA brothel madam stopped an unruly, drunken customerrnfrom smashing furniture with a single warning shot from her revolverrnand then held him until police arrived.rnProstitutes were not the only women to use guns in the defensernof themselves or their property. When a dispute arosernbetween a man and a woman over the ownership of a city lot,rnthe woman, believing herself the rightful owner, ordered thernman off the property. However, as the Bodie Standard said,rnsince “he was a large man and she was a small lady, he concludedrnto tarry yet a while.” But not for long. The small ladyrnpulled out a six-shooter, took dead aim at the man, and againrnordered him to leave. Now, with an inspired sense of urgency,rnhe did.rnThere were no reported cases of rape in either Aurora or Bodie.rnRape, of course, might have occurred but gone unreported.rnEven today victims are sometimes reluctant to report an attack.rnHowever, in Bodie there were two reports of attempted rape (inrnneither case was the allegation substantiated), possibly indicatingrnthat had rape occurred it would have been reported.rnMoreover, there is no evidence of any sort that rape occurredrnbut escaped the attention of the authorities. Absolutely no suggestionrnof it surfaces in any letters, diaries, newspapers, orrnpublic records from the period.rnOn the other hand, there is a large body of evidence indicatingrnthat women, other than prostitutes, experienced almostrnno crime at all and were treated with the utmost respect.rnWomen enjoyed an elevated status in the Old West, partly becausernof 19th-century Victorian morality and partly becausernthey were a rarity on the frontier, especially in mining camps.rnIn Aurora and Bodie men were fined, and sentenced to arnmonth in jail, merely for swearing in the presence of women.rnAnyone insulting a respectable woman risked being shot. Asrna former resident of Bodie later recalled: “One of the remarkablernthings about Bodie, in fact, one of the striking features ofrnall mining camps in the West, was the respect shown even byrnthe worst characters to the decent women. . . . I do not recallrnever hearing of a respectable woman or giri in any manner insultedrnor even accosted by the hundreds of dissolute charactersrnthat were everywhere. In part, this was due to the respect thatrndepravity pays to decency; in part, to the knowledge that suddenrndeath would follow any other course.” One of the most famousrnwomen of the mining frontier, Nellie Cashman, whornJANUARY 1994/17rnrnrn