This project began as I was reading Nell Pauly’s book, The Day Before Yesterdayone fall afternoon while sitting outdoors at The Hub sipping a cup of coffee. It was a beautiful September day with the aspen in full color. The temperature was perfect and Mia, my springer spaniel, was foraging for crumbs and handouts at the other tables.
Nell’s book is about Who’s Who in the Grand Lake Cemetery and is copyrighted in 1972 and can be purchased in the Kaufmann House Museum. Nell (1905-1981) also credits much of the material in her book to her one time mother-in-law Josie Kalsay Young Langley, who for forty-six years was proprietress of the Rustic Inn, on the west shore of Grand Lake.
The story I read that day delt with the life of Little Bill Lehman, his cousins Big Bill Lehman, Art Lehman and friend Barney McCoy.
Nell’s description of Little Bill went something like this. Little Bill was born aboard a ship while his mother was on her way from Germany and spent his childhood traveling between the several Lehman families living in Grand County. He was slight of build compared to his two cousins and struggled at making a living, performing menial labor jobs in the Grand Lake area. He was very shy with women and as he grew older his temper grew with him. When you did see Little Bill he usually was caring his small .22 caliber rifle.
National prohibition had started in 1920 but that did not curb a man’s thirst for liquor. Eventually Little Bill found his niche making white lightening and distributing it in the county.
His two larger cousins teased their smaller, younger cousin terribly. To make matters worse, after he had strained the bugs out of his hooch and bottled it, his cousins would make off with it and have themselves a good night of drinking with friends.
Eventually Little Bill threatened to shoot cousin Art if he took any more of his product. Of course, that did not stop Big Bill, Art and Barney. In June of 1932 Little Bill’s stash of hooch once again disappeared so he went looking. He knocked on J.B’s cabin door with rifle at the ready. When Art opened the cabin door, Little Bill fired. He missed Art and managed to shoot poor Barney McCoy in the heart. He died there on the spot. Little Bill fled and hid out in the snowy hills north of Grand Lake but eventually turned himself in to the law. Little Bill was tried, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the criminal insane at Canon City State Prison.
In Defense of Barney McCoy, page 139
US Military – 1stWorld War 1884-1932
“Barney McCoy and his wife Josephine came to Grand Lake in the early 1930. No one ever knew just what brought them. It was widely speculated that they were running from something.”…… During their initial stay they spent time with different families and even rented from Nell and Jake Young for three weeks before renting their own little place along the Tonohoota Creek Trail. Nell and Jake found them to be a very delightful couple, congenial and friendly.
Once the couple was established in their own place they started associating with Art and both Little and Big Bill Lehman. Because Art and Little Bill were into bootlegging whisky it was assumed that Barney was too. Then that fateful day in June 1932, when Little Bill came hunting his cousin Art for stealing his hooch, stopped by J. B’s cabin to do him in but missed and drilled poor Barney through the heart ending his life. Barney went to boot hill and Little Bill to prison for life.
After Barney’s demise more bad rumors started going around town and it seemed that Barney had been the cause of all the crimes in town. Jake and Nellie defended Barney since they had known him as a good, kind and gentle man.
At the funeral, and most folks had left, Jo McCoy, looking lovely in a black satin gown, bent down, kissed Barney on his large white brow and said “It was wonderful while it lasted, Darling.”
Some years later a new marble headstone arrived and replace the worn out white wooden cross, which had marked his grave.
I had been intrigued by Nell’s story of Little Bill Lehman, Barney and Josephine McCoy. It became a personal challenge to me to see if I could learn more about Max K Fraughton aka Barney McCoy. So, as I usually do in mysteries like this one, I went online, typed in ancestry.com and away I went.
First I went looking for Max. In the 1920 US census it showed him living in Heber City Utah with his mother, Eliza and two younger brothers and had been born in 1895. His father was born in English Canada and his mother in Sweden. He was a laborer and worked for wages on a farm.
The next entry indicated he sailed from New York City on June 28th1918 on the ship Justicia for France and that his service number was 1640081. He was an automatic replacement draft – Artillery. Then a little further down on the list it showed he departed St. Nazaire, France on June 20 1919 aboard the ship Pocahontas bound for Fort Hill, Newport News, VA. Other document shown on Ancertry.com were 1) War Service Questioner (with a wrong birthdate on it), 2) Military Service Card showing he received no wounds and was not in any engagements (did not see action), his 3) WW I Military Draft Registration card indicated he was medium build, medium height, light hair and blue eyes. His family shows up in the 4) 1910 Federal Census but his name was Mode Graughton but all the other facts about him match the 1920 census. The 1900 US census showed him listed as Mode Fraughton, same family and to show he was born in 1894 or 95.
Then I went searching for Barney McCoy and Josephine. What appeared first was the 1929 Denver City Directory and – McCoy, Barney (Josephine) cook and they resided at 4845 Irving St.. They also appeared in the 1930 US Census records for Grand Lake, CO with a few notable exceptions. He gave Alabama as his birthplace, age 40 and both of his parents were from Ireland. Josephine was born in Washington and her parents were Canada – English.
So I surmised that the two were hiding out under the alias of McCoy but why choose the name, Barney McCoy? So now I switched over to google search for the name Barney McCoy in the 1920s. And after over looking all the still living Barney McCoy names I found an entry titled “Ernest Stoneman& Uncle Eck Dunford-Barney McCoy – YouTube.” When I clicked on the link I was listening to an old song by the two men. The original song was written in 1881 and now in 1925 was making a come back. It was about a couple of young lovers wanting to migrate out of Ireland and the young lass needing to choose between leaving with Barney or staying with her family. It rather sounded like what was happening with the Grand Lake Barney and Josephine. My thought was that they just used the information in the song to hide themselves in the Denver City Directory and the 1930 US Census in Grand Lake.
I attempted to use Newspapers.com to locate a news article that might indicate what crimes Max had supposedly committed. The only newspaper articles I located on Max had to do with is being in the Utah National Guard during the war to end all wars.
It looked to me that my search for Max K. Fraughton, aka Barney McCoy, had come to an end. Well, I might have been a little hasty in my conclusion.
Several months later, I was using Ancestry.com to do some of my own family research. I was using the information I found to make my Family Tree when I searched Max K. Fraughton and found a LifeStory timeline on him.
It showed that he had married one Mattie Josephine Whitworth and they had a girl child by the name of Cleo McCoy. In the timeline it stated that they had married in 1913 in Somervell, TX. All of the information in his timeline was correct except for Cleo and his marriage to Josephine. It was all confusing to me until I stopped by the SWN Genealogy Society office in McCook.
It was explained to me that LifeStory timelines were manufactured by Ancestry.com from entries found on family trees. Some how Mattie Jo and Max were shown as married. A Ancestery.com computer program did the rest.
In further searching I found that Mattie Jo had married Barney C. McCoy in 1913 in Somervell, Texas. They had four children then divorced. She had moved to Wichita, Texas and died in 1961.
I was able to learn the owner of the family tree that contained Max and his family. Thinking she, the owner, might have additional information on Max and Josephine I could use in this article, I tried to contact her. I was even able to find where she and her husband are living but no phone number. I’ve emailed her four times and written her a snail mail letter with no replies.
So, I’ve decided there might be two possible ending to his story. The one about how they used the song to come up with aka Barney McCoy. And the one where he actually hooked up with Mattie Josephine Whitworth McCoy and used her ex husbands name to hid under.
The choice is yours. At this point in my investigation, I can believe either one but at this moment I’m leaning toward them borrowing her ex’s name.
Little Bill Lehman eventually died at Canon City State Penitentiary in 1951 and is buried under a rusty metal marker showing his location.
Along my journey to learn more about Max K. Fraughton aka Barney McCoy I found lots of material using Ancertery.com and Findagrave.com. I would like to share some of my findings as jpg images:
- 1929 Denver City Directory
- 1930 US Census
- 1920 US Census
- 1910 US Census
- 1900 US Census
- Middle Park Times Lehman news
- Shooting cartoon
- 1917 Utah Military Draft Record
- Troop ship to France – SS Justicia
- Troop ship from France – USS Pocahontas
- Military Service Record
- War Service Questioner
- Lyrics to Barney McCoy Song
- Max Fraughton Lifestory Timeline
- Max Fraughton headstone
- Grave Marker for Little Bill Lehman
- Headstone for Mattie Josephine
- Findagrave for Barney C. McCoy
Note 1)I shared this blog with Jane Kemp and here is her reply.
“Great story! Here’s an interesting note about Billy Lehman which I found in our safe. There is an affidavit signed by James Cairns, my grandfather, that the still which the Sheriff found on his North Inlet property did not belong to him and that he had no knowledge of it. There is also an affidavit signed by Billy Lehman that the still belonged to him and that James Cairns had no knowledge of it.”