Tuesday, September 19, 1876: In New Mexico Territory, Cliff Sharp robs the Wells Fargo office in Hallelujah, kills the clerk and flees to Elbow Bend to evade the posse. Bret Maverick rides into Elbow Bend and takes a room in the hotel. After Bret falls asleep, Sharp sneaks into Bret's room and plants some of the stolen money, his gun and hat in Bret's possession. The posse discover Bret sleeping in his hotel room with evidence of the Wells Fargo robbery and take him to Hallelujah for trial.
Wednesday, September 20, 1876: Bret stands trial in Hallelujah and is found guilty of robbing the Wells Fargo office and killing the clerk. After the trial, the Mayor and other leading citizens visit Bret in jail to encourage him to reveal where the Wells Fargo money is hidden.
Thursday, September 21, 1876: On the morning of Bret's scheduled hanging, Sheriff Chick Tucker makes a deal with him to allow him to survive the hanging and be slipped out of town if he tells the Tucker and Coroner Oliver Poole where the Wells Fargo money is hidden. On the way to the burial, Bret escapes from Tucker while Poole oversees the burial of an empty coffin. Molly Sharp comes to Hallelujah and convinces the townsfolk that Bret was really her husband, Cliff Sharp. Bret rides back into town, posing as his own twin brother, to clear his name and learns about Molly's visit. Bret catches up to Molly at the Dry Springs Way Station on the southbound stage to meet up with her husband in Santa Fe. Bret rides with her under the name of Brad Richards to hide his identity. Bret has dinner with Molly in Cimarron.
Tuesday, September 26, 1876: Bret and Molly arrive in Santa Fe and rent a buggy to take them to the Sharp's home a few miles outside of town. Bret kills Sharp in self-defense and finds the stolen Wells Fargo money. Bret and Molly head back to Hallelujah to return the money.
Friday, September 29, 1976: Bret and Molly arrive in Hallelujah, return the stolen Wells Fargo money. Tucker and Poole are arrested for plotting Bret's escape to split the Wells Fargo money. Molly is arrested as Sharp's accomplice Bret is paid $5,000 reward for the return of the stolen money and has his $1,000 bill returned to him by the Mayor. Bret gives some money from his reward with the Mayor to pay for a good lawyer for Molly and leaves town, heading for St. Louis.
Shortly after: Tucker and Poole stand trial.
Shortly after: Molly stands trial, found not guilty and released.
01. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
02. Maverick, The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
03. Maverick, The Misfortune Teller (1960), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
04. Maverick, According to Hoyle (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Bret Maverick — Born April 7, 1847 — Hanged Sept. 21, 1876
The specific date of Bret Maverick's hanging gives us the starting point for firmly placing "The Day They Hanged Bret Maverick" into the Chronology. The date of Bret's birth, however, is not accurate. As Sheriff Chick Tucker and Coroner Oliver Poole are testing the hangman's noose for Bret's execution, Tucker asks Bret how much he weighs. Bret replies "ninety-eight pounds" in a self-pitying moment of literal gallows humor. Beyond just his name, Bret was also likely to misinform Tucker and Poole of other details of his life. We must assume his date of birth was one such fabrication, since we learn in "The Misfortune Teller," another episode in which his life literally hangs in the balance, that his birthday falls on May 11. In that episode, Bret has every reason to tell the truth to save his neck, so we must assume that the date of April 7 was false — especially after what nearly happened to him when he admitted his real birthday when he was going to be hanged just a few months earlier.
But we may certainly rely on the date of September 21, 1876. Many of the events of the story took place on that day, from Bret's last breakfast to the moment when Molly Sharp falsely confesses that "Bret Maverick" was really her an alias of her husband, Cliff Sharp. Given the number of events that must have transpired on that day, we must assume Molly's graveside visit must have been late in the afternoon.
Once the townsfolk come to believe that the famous outlaw Cliff Sharp, they have a more impressive tombstone carved in stone to replace the hand-painted wooden marker for Bret. Such an endeavor must have taken several hours, carrying the story well into the next day. Once seeing the more impressive grave erected for her husband on September 22, Molly left town a half hour before Bret returned to Hallelujah masquerading as his own twin brother.
"…I never dreamed four days could slip by so fast."
Molly's remark the night before she and Bret were to reach Santa Fe gives us the date of September 25. September 26, then, would see them arrive in Santa Fe, Bret's shoot-out with Sharp and the recovery of the Wells Fargo money.
In a hurry and unencumbered by the multiple stage stops by riding on horseback to return the stolen Wells Fargo money, Bret and Molly would have returned to Hallelujah in only three days, on September 28. After proving he hadn't robbed the Wells Fargo office or killed the clerk, Bret left town on that day, and there the story ended.
But, anxious to return to his trail eastward — as determined by his coin toss with Brother Bart — Bret would have traveled for the next three days on horseback northward through the Raton Pass into Colorado, then northwest to arrive in La Junta on October 1. From there, he would have traveled on the Santa Fe Railway to Kansas City and, having switched to the Missouri Pacific Railroad, arrived in St. Louis on October 3. That same day, Bret bought passage aboard the Delta Star bound for New Orleans and, as destiny would have it, his first meeting with Samantha Crawford.
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