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Settlement in the early American West was not without its’ challenges. An extraordinary expanse of habitable land lay waiting for the taking.
Therein lay the rub, the taking. The Western Promise was fraught with surmountable yet daunting threats.
Water wasn’t easily accessible, wild animals roamed to one’s detriment, highwaymen ravaged the unsuspecting, and Native Americans refused to consent to their white usurpers. The rule of law was dependent upon the presence of a few.
Character before conduct was virtually nonexistent to the unruly horde of prospectors of a western future, and homesteaders bent on making their niche.
At times the law was instituted by no more than a mob mentality. Absent a lawman or judge, horse thieves were summarily hung from the nearest waiting tree. Disputes were generally decided either through fisticuffs or by who was the best shot. The fastest draw was not a guaranteed winner in these disputes. Numerous bystanders succumbed to many a wild shot. Dead was dead.
With too few Peacemakers, the unnecessary loss of life further contributed to a mindset to survive at any cost. Life in the early West necessitated the ownership of as many weapons as one could afford.
Prominent among the western law enforcement officers were the Earp brothers, along with MarshallWyatt Earp. There was Pat Garrett, who killed Billy the Kid; Doc Holliday, the dentist; Wild Bill Hitchcock, Bat Masterson, and of course, the legendary Bass Reeves. Unfortunately, the supply of these Peacekeepers was not inexhaustible. Justice lacked proper representation.
To augment the flow of justice in the Wild West, Bounty Hunters found their proverbial footing. For a bounty fee, hardened men rode out in pursuit of wanted criminals. Many never returned to collect their bounties.
This no-holds-barred engagement became a test for dominance in this limited field. Although the law was intended for the lawbreakers, there weren’t enough lawmen for the lawbreakers.
Although publically despised as a profession, Bounty Hunters notified the Desperados. The law was coming westward, and it was coming fast.
Arriving in San Francisco in late 1860, many immigrants from Europe and Asia sought a golden opportunity in America. The lure of a better life was secondary to adapting and making one’s way.
One of the newcomers was young Masami Ko from Japan. A ticket was purchased to finance her trip using money secured from the Missionary Jonathan Stone. Having no extra money for food, Masami was consigned to the ship’s bowels shoveling coal into the furnace.
Hard work was never a problem for her as she worked steadily at home with her parents for the upkeep of their small allotment of land.
Working in the furnace room tested her stamina to endure the unpleasantness of being alone. Working alongside the many men who also worked in the furnace room gained her their respect. They often made sure that she was afforded all accommodations.
After work, Masami would retire to her stateroom, indulging in long baths and cups of tea. Once she finished her bath, she would dress and go on deck to watch the many people aboard the ship.
Her observations assured her that she was considered less than others. The scrutiny came from the same-paying peers who quartered with her on her section of the ship. Noses were turned up as she entered and exited her room. None chose to speak with her. Gossip persisted as to how she could afford a stateroom.
Unaccustomed to such a regular display of ignorance, it was easy for her to write off their disdain for her. She did wish, however, for the trip to end.
Arriving in San Franciso, Masami began to survey her surroundings. She discovered that work for hire generally favored Chinese immigrants, so she explored her limited options. At first, she was hired as an indentured servant but was later released from bondage.
Masami joined a wagon train leaving for Missouri to defray another day of hunger. She had no idea where Missouri lay, but at least it was a job. At least she would not starve of hunger.
Clutching her small wooden box that held her few personal belongings, Masami headed East.
Eight months later, an experienced road traveler of Japanese descent arrived in Missouri. The next day after her arrival, Masami was no longer employed.
Destiny chose to favor the vagabond. A female wagon train member offered Masami the washing clothes for her family.
Within the week, the family and Masami set out for Jefferson City, Missouri.
Just before arriving in Jefferson City, three bandits attacked the wagon. As a projectile got Masami’s attention, she sprung into action.
Quickly dispatching two assailants with her Shuriken throwing starts, the remaining bandit chose to live and surrendered.
The bandit, tied to his horse, was delivered to the local Sherriff, where Masami collected a hefty bounty. Masami Ko was no longer unemployed.