“Poker Joe’s” Ten Commandments

Poker Alice and Friends (Image from http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org)

“Poker Joe’s” Ten Commandments.

A correspondent writing from Central City, near Deadwood, gives the latest Black Hills version of the Ten Commandments, which have become the common law of the land:

We had to hang a man here the other day. We’d been putting it off on account of lack of time and a bit of sentiment, till the morals of our town had at last become as bad as those of Chicago. In all camps and towns in the Hills there are certain understood things. They form a sort of second Ten Commandments, and read as follows”

1. Thieves and robbers will be driving out of camp, for the first offense — hung for the second.

2. The man who picks a quarrel had better pick up his traps.

3. Men convicted of murder shall be hung on the same day.

4. Passing bogus money will entitle a chap to pass out of town, everybody taking a kick at him as he goes.

5. Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.

6. Lying should be discouraged.

7. Whack up even on all “finds.”

8. No shirking in an Indian fight.

9. All notes of hand must be paid when due, or down goes the maker.

10. Rebellion against the legal authority of the town, shoves the rebel out and confiscates his claim.

Most any man can live up to these laws and not shed a hair, and the man who doesn’t mean to, will, sooner or later, be choked to death.


Butte Miner (Butte, Montana) Nov 27, 1877


Merriam-Webster Online:

Main Entry: whack up
Function: transitive verb
Date: circa 1893
: to divide into shares

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