It’s a story as old as time, illicit love affair turns deadly. The question remains, is the long, cold sleep worth a few afternoons in the warm sun or a few stolen evenings by the fire? Regardless, lovers seem to disregard the consequences for the chance to taste unbridled passion, this is one such story.
The Dutiful Husband
It’s a story as old as time, except this one takes place in the western frontier town of Elk City, Idaho. It’s centered around an ambitious man by the name of Frank Hye. Frank had been a miner in the Elk City area for a number of years, a well liked and respected member of the community.
Around 1912 or so he had purchased the stage line that operated in the area and he had sought and won the government mail contract. Things were looking up for Frank who had married the young Alma Litchfield, nearly fifteen years his junior. The business was growing and he was on the brink of real prosperity and wanting to finally raise a family of his own.
Apparently Frank (40), didn’t realize his wife Alma who was 27 at the time didn’t share the same desire for children. In fact it had later been reported by others in the community that she never wanted to have them at all, but a son soon arrived born prematurely at seven months. It was a rough start for the couple but Frank was undeterred and continued working on expanding his business.
As is often the case when trying to grow a business it requires travel and Frank would frequently be gone to neighboring towns and as far as Spokane, trying to secure new stops and extended lines for his stage company. Apparently being left alone to attend the son she never wanted in the first place didn’t sit well with Alma and she grew to resent Frank and had even confided in her mother that she was thinking of leaving him.
Enter Hugh Kennedy, a handsome young cowboy, 20 years old. Hugh was working as a driver for one of the stage lines owned by Frank Hye. Suspicion grew when young Hugh was noticed to announce his retiring for the evening on several occasions while staying at the Elk City Hotel and then was observed later in the evening sneaking out of the hotel, trying to go unnoticed. He was also seen by the owner of the general store that was along the road between the hotel and the Hye place making a large detour into the timber around the store to avoid being seen passing in front of the store in route to the Hye place.
It’s not clear how Mr. Hye’s suspicion of Alma’s infidelity came about, perhaps he heard gossip or was alerted by a concerned friend, but he did come to doubt her loyalty to him and on more than one occasion he offered to bow out. Alma would always reassure him though that he was her one true love and they would continue on for a time.
Things finally came to a head when Mr. Hye was due to go out of town again on business. He left for his meeting and upon arriving at his destination he placed a call to Alma as was his custom. He then made the all night ride back to Elk City where he hid his horse and entered his barn so as to watch the comings and goings at his home. He observed Hugh Kennedy trying to catch his horse in the pasture and then Alma coming out to help him with her horse saddled. He watched them leave and then headed back to make his second appointment, afterwards he placed a call to Alma again, telling her she better not be out riding with Hugh and she assured him that she would not and that she anxiously awaited his return.
Again Mr. Hye made the long ride back to Elk City, stashed his horse and hid in the barn shortly before sunset. With darkness settling in, as he lay in wait, he sees the shadow of a man at the back door leading into the wood shed, he sees the man reach for the place where he and Alma had a key hiding and then opening the door and entering the house. Mr. Hye leaves his lookout and heads to the house entering through the wood shed door as well, he hears the voices of a man and woman talking, the man having heard a bump of the wood shed door asks the woman, “Did you hear that?”, the woman is heard replying, “It’s nothing. come on!”
Hell to Pay
Frank Hye enters the room and finds Alma and Hugh partially disrobed. He claimed that Hugh rushed him and so he shot him and then Alma repeatedly attacked him, trying to stop Frank’s assault and was eventually shot herself. Both Hugh and Alma died at the scene and Mr. Hye was tried for their murders of which he was convicted and sent to the Boise State Penitentiary for a term of 10 years-to the end of his natural life, he was pardoned just a year or so later and released.