TIMELINE: Friday, July 22Thursday, September 15, 1870


Sometime before: Bret Maverick has his first broadcloth frock coat tailored for him in Chicago, Illinois.[1]


Shortly before: Bret Maverick learns of Phineas King’s weekly Saturday-night poker games and heads for Echo Springs, Utah Territory.[1]


Friday, July 22, 1870[2]: Bret Maverick rides into Echo Springs. He meets Joshua Thayer, who gives him some insight into Phineas King’s Saturday-night poker games.[1]


Saturday, July 23, 1870[2]: Bret meets Big Mike McComb, and plays poker with Phineas King and his associates. Bret wins by bluffing King with “nothing but guts.”[1]


Sunday, July 24, 1870[2]: John and Edie Stoller find Bret Maverick beat up and unconscious in a ditch. They take him back to their cabin outside of town to nurse him back to health.[1]


Monday, July 25, 1870[2]: John Stoller drives Bret Maverick back into town. Bret discovers who is behind his assault and begins to take measures to pay him back. He orders a new coat from a local tailor to replace the frock damaged in his assault.[1]


Tuesday, July 26, 1870[2]: Bret Maverick begins running a daily ad in the newspaper to discourage King from further assaults. He begins to entice people in town to vote for Joshua Thayer for district judge in the coming election.[1]


Monday, August 1, 1870[2]: Joshua Thayer is elected district judge, and is encouraged to quit drinking.[1]


Tuesday, August 2, 1870[2]: Bret Maverick proposes the creation of the New Hope Mining Company to the independent miners of Echo Springs.[1]


Wednesday, August 3, 1870[2]: The New Hope Mining Company opens offices in Echo Springs.[1]


Friday, September 2, 1870[2]: New Hope’s large bank deposits of the previous month raise banker Crane’s suspicions. King’s mining engineer, Fennelly, begins to investigate New Hope’s operations.[1]


Monday, September 5, 1870[2]: Fennelly reports his discovery to King that New Hope is mining under his Silver Lady Mine’s claim. King directed his lawyer, Richard Bixby, to sue.[1]


Wednesday, September 7, 1870[2]: Judge Joshua Thayer presides over the case of The Silver Lady Mine vs. The New Hope Mining Company in court.[1]


Thursday, September 8, 1870[2]: Judge Joshua Thayer rules in favor of the New Hope Mining Company at 10 a.m. Bixby leaves Echo Springs in the afternoon for the territorial seat to appeal the decision.[1]


Monday, September 12, 1870[2]: With no word from Richard Bixby on the higher court’s decision, King orders the flooding of all Echo Springs mining tunnels.[1]


Tuesday, September 13, 1870[2]: Richard Bixby’s appeal is heard the territorial court.[1]


Wednesday, September 14, 1870[2]: The territorial court overturns Joshua Thayer’s decision. Richard Bixby telegraphs Phineas King with the news. Big Mike McComb intercepts the telegram and alters its meaning. Angry miners revolt. Bret Maverick convinces King to merge the Silver Lady with New Hope.[1]


Thursday, September 15, 1870[2]: Richard Bixby returns to Echo Springs and is fired by Phineas King. Bret Maverick and Big Mike ride out of Echo Springs on the trail to who-knows-where.[1]


Shortly afterwards[2]: Edie Stoller leaves Echo Springs for Boston, Massachusetts.[1]


01. Maverick, War of the Silver Kings (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails

03. Series 3150, Legislative Assembly [582], Territorial Legislative Records, 1851 – 1894 (1965), Utah State Archives and Records Service

04. Western Regional Climate Center, Echo Dam, Utah (retrieved 3/30/2009), wrcc@dri.edu

05. Robertson, Ed, Maverick: Legend of the West (1994), Pomegranate Press

06. Maverick, Trail West to Fury (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.




The year of the story is clearly shown on the telegram Richard Bixby sends to Phineas King, which is marked “Received at Echo Springs 1870.”[1]


Although the telegram also reads “Verdict today...,” we are not shown the day’s date. So we must deduce the rest of the timeframe from clues in the story, part of which involves the 1870 election in Echo Springs.


At the time of our story, Utah Territory held its general elections on even-numbered years on the first Monday of August. In 1870, it fell on August 1.[3] Although municipalities were not restricted to the same date as general elections, many communities combined their voting days with that of the territory’s to save the expense of separate election days, and for the convenience of voters traveling to distant polling places. If we imagine this was the case for Echo Springs, we can pin the date of the election in the story and work from there. Utah’s August weather also fits with the look and feel of the episode.


Bret obviously has been in town long enough to make friends and

enemies before election day. With Monday, August 1, 1870 as the nucleus for dating “War of the Silver Kings,” we may postulate that Bret rode into Echo Springs a week earlier. We know he arrived shortly before one of Phineas King’s regular Saturday-night poker games. It’s reasonable to assume he arrived the day before, allowing him a night and day to gather information about the game and arrange for his admittance into the exclusive gathering. Therefore, the afternoon of Friday, July 22, is a reasonable date for Bret’s arrival in town, in preparation for the poker game on Saturday night, July 23.


Either late Saturday night, or very early Sunday morning, July 24, Bret was beaten up after the poker game. He was found in a ditch by John and Edie Stoller, who took him home with them to nurse him back to health. John Stoller offered to take Bret back into Echo Springs after regaining his strength. We may assume this was on Monday, July 25, since the barber and tailor shops were both open for business... unlikely for a Sunday.


The rest of the week would have allowed Bret to make friends in town, run an ad in the newspaper to discourage King from further assaults, devise a plan to defeat King, and entice people to vote for Joshua Thayer for judge on the following Monday.


The morning after the election, Tuesday, August 2, Bret knew he could count on the fairness of a judge he could trust, and moved ahead with the next part of his plan. He organized the independent miners of Echo Springs to form a combined company and go head-to-head with King’s operation. King’s banker, Crane, mentioned the large sums deposited in the bank over the last month, so we must assume the story carries over into September.


It’s reasonable to allow a couple of weeks for King to realize the new company is mining under his claim, sue them, and then to have the decision appealed in a higher court. Bret then would have had time to see his plan through, convincing King to merge with the new company and reform his corrupt practices. With all that accomplished, Bret could have ridden out of Echo Springs on Thursday, September 15. The weather depicted in the episode still seems hot and dusty, as it would in Utah at that time of year.[4]


As the pilot for the original Maverick series, “War of the Silver Kings”[5] serves not only as our introduction to Bret Maverick, but set in 1870, it’s also one of our earliest look into any of the Mavericks’ lives as wandering gamblers. We see an earlier adventure of both Maverick Brothers together in "Trail West to Fury", but that story takes place upon their return to their ranch in Texas immediately after the Civil War, and pre-dates their gambling careers.[6]


We assume “War of the Silver Kings” was early in Bret’s career. When his familiar black broadcloth coat got ripped, he told Big Mike McComb, “It took me a long time to get a coat like this.” We also learn it was tailored for him in Chicago, apparently shortly before the story begins.[1] The year of 1870 as presented in the context of the story seems consistent with this point in Bret Maverick’s travels.

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