"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Now, I’ll admit that there’s been
some women in my life that made my life a bit…well, should I say
exciting? But then there was Miss Bertie. Now wait until you hear
about her! She wasn’t your normal, everyday bounty hunter!
Yep, you heard me right – a bounty hunter!
She wasn’t from North Fork either. She was just passing through. You
see, she was riding the stage through the west, and she was here for
a purpose. But we’ll get to that in a minute. You see, my problems
started when the driver let her off the stage. The driver informed
her that he would be picking up two passengers in Dobie Wells, and
that would be company for her.
As this little old lady, Miss Bertie, stood by the stage horses, she
suddenly saw a commotion going on. A man left the saloon, and
another followed, obviously upset about something. He told the man
who had come out first that the money from the poker game was his.
The man slowly turned around. “We’re not agreed on that, boy,” he
challenged. The second man told him he owed him fifty dollars.
“Well, let’s not argue about it,” the first man said calmly.
“Not as long as you pay me,” the second man said as he backed up and
started to draw. But the first man was faster and he shot and killed
him in one shot.
Miss Bertie saw that and squeezed her book to her chest in shock.
“Oh my,” she whispered nervously. She watched the man get on his
horse and ride away. Then she slowly opened her book and turned the
page. There was a wanted poster for the surviving gunfighter – Duke
The stage driver came up behind her. “I’ve never seen someone so
fast on the draw,” he declared. Miss Bertie quickly closed her book,
wanting to keep the man’s identity a secret. “Wonder who he is.”
Miss Bertie only shrugged with a sigh.
Well, by now you’ve probably guess who those two passengers were
that would be meeting the stage – me and Mark. And naturally, Mark
chose to sit with the nice grandmotherly type lady instead of his
old man. So while they talked about…well…stuff, I tried to nap.
But she was showing Mark her album of Wanted Posters, and you know
Mark – he was awful excited about it. He figured she had ever outlaw
in that book. You can imagine my surprise when she answered…”I don’t
have wild Jack Malone’s. His posters are pretty difficult to find.”
Mark, of course, had never heard of him because he was captured
before he was even born! “The reward on him was nearly ten thousand
I opened an eye and looked at this lady. She looked normal enough,
but boy howdy if I haven’t ever met a woman like her! And the
impression she was leaving on my son was…Well, just wait until you
hear what happened next! My boy said, “Why he must be a dead eye
like Billy the Kid!”
“Well, he was so fast that people claim that he couldn’t even see
him draw,” Miss Bertie declared as she kept a secure arm around
Mark’s shoulders. “His guns were like Billy’s, but they were a
matched set with pearl handles.”
They may have thought I was asleep, but there was no way I’d sleep
through a conversation like that! I never thought I’d have to stay
awake to guard my son from a little ol’ lady’s bad influence! “Just
as deadly as the regular kind,” I pointed out without even opening
“Well, Jack was lonely, Mr. McCain, but there was good in them.” My
eyes popped open at that and I lifted my hat from my eyes. Was I
really hearing her right? “Did you know that he gave a proper burial
to all of the people that he killed? Curved the wooden headboards
I had to stop her from going any further. First of all, this was no
way for a woman to talk, and second of all, I had an impressionable
young lad who was hanging on her every word – and her words were
even more deadly seeing as how she was a little old lady! “You going
to Santa Fe, Miss Bertie?” I finally was able to ask. She was
visiting Elizabethtown, Santa Fe, and Tombstone. “Well, them mighty
wild towns! Not the best place of a lady traveling alone!”
But she wasn’t a bit afraid. She said that people were very helpful
and kind wherever she went. “Well, out here, mostly folks are fine
but it’s still a pretty rough country. Edges haven’t been smoothed
down like they were in Philadelphia,” I warned her.
"Is that why you carry that rifle?" She pointed to my rifle.
"A rifles a pretty good friend if it's used right," I answered her.
She asked if she could look at it. No sirree, no ordinary woman! I
let her look at it, but held onto it since it was loaded. "You done
something with that trigger, haven't cha'?"
"That's right. It fires automatically each time you cock the lever."
That impressed her.
But Mark was more impressed with her Wanted Posters. He suddenly
begged her, “Could you stay in town just one day so I can show the
book to some of my friends?”
She laughed at that, but I told Mark so stop deviling her. “Although
it would be a pleasure showing you around, ma’am!”
If only I had known then
the problems she would cause! She thanked us, but stated that the
other towns would be more suitable for her purpose.
Mark then asked her if she would be staying in town. He would like
to show her scrapbook to some of his friends. She said she wasn't
staying over, that she would be moving on. I couldn’t help but
wonder what her business was in those wild towns!
We finally arrived in North Fork. I sure was happy to be home, but
Mark wasn’t happy to see Miss Bertie go. He had enjoyed talking to
her about his favorite subject – outlaws! Miss Bertie promised Mark
she’d send him a present from Santa Fe. Mark sure was happy to hear
that! I told Mark we needed to hurry if we wanted to get home before
But we didn’t get very far. You remember that gunfight I mentioned
earlier? Well Duke Jennings rode into town, though I didn’t know it
yet. And Miss Bertie saw him. She suddenly called out to me, saying
she decided to stay in North Fork for a few days after all. Mark and
I were of course pleased, but I wouldn’t be for long!
Mark and I walked into the dining room a few minutes later. As soon
as we walked in, I heard, “Well, Lucas McCain! Well, it's been a
I was a bit surprised to see this man! “Yes it has, Jennings,” I
answered as I slowly walked up to the table. “Last I heard, you were
in Oklahoma Territory.”
He looked me up and down. “I’ve done some writing since then,” he
stated as he frowned at me. “Still using that trick rifle, I see.” I
told him only when I had to. “How about some supper?”
“No thanks,” I answered. “I’m eating with my boy and a friend.”
“Howdy boy,” Jennings greeted Mark.
“Howdy,” Mark answered. But I could tell he was curious. I suddenly
wanted my boy away from this man. Mark needed no encouragement when
it came to outlaws. I told him to go get us a table so I could have
a little chit chat with Jennings without Mark’s hearing.
After Mark left, I banged the butt of my gun on his table and leaned
on m rifle toward him. "We don't have any celebrities here Jennings.
It's just a nice quiet town."
Jennings studied me quietly for a moment before answering me.
"That's what I figured Luke. Not too many places a man can vacation
with a price on his head." he said.
I nodded my head. "That's right. Be seeing you." I said. Then I left
Jennings and walked over to the table where Mark was sitting.
When Miss Bertie walked in, Mark jumped up and pulled her chair out
for her. I had stood to do it, but Mark was quicker then me. He sure
was suddenly being a gentleman! She was happy to be dining with us.
She didn’t think eating alone was any fun at all. Mark suddenly
whispered, asking me who that man was I was talking to. I started to
tell him, but Miss Bertie beat me to it! She was actually able to
give him more information then I was!
"That's Duke Jennings. He's thirty-two years old. He was born in
Kansas. He prefers poker to pharo and always works alone.” Mark and
I stared at each other, not quiet believing what we were hearing!
“He killed a man two days ago. Fair fight."
“How do you know?” Mark whispered.
“I saw him do it.” I started to get up to go get Micah, but she
stopped me, assuring me he’s not wanted in this
“What do you mean fortunately?” I suddenly asked her.
“Well, if he were, your Marshal would arrest him and I wouldn’t be
able to help Mr. Jennings at all!” She stated.
Boy, what a woman she was! Like I said, I’d never met a woman quite
like this – especially a little old lady! “You mean you- I started
in a loud voice. But I suddenly realized where I was. I looked at
Jennings over my shoulder as I lowered my voice back to a whisper.
“You mean you came here to help Mr. Jennings?”
“Well, I came out West to help some outlaw. Meeting Mr. Jennings is
a stroke of luck.” She smiled, satisfied with herself. “For him and
me.” She turned her head and looked at Jennings. He realized she was
staring and stopped his fork in midair as he looked at her. She
smiled and nodded at him.
Miss Bertie ran into Jennings later that day. “Pardon me, Mr.
Jennings, but could I speak with you for a few minutes?” she asked.
Jennings was a bit surprised that a little old lady would be
interested in talking to him, but he agreed to talk with her. “I’m
Alberta Holcomb, I’m from Philadelphia. I’ve followed your career
with a great deal of interest. You know, you’re a man with find
Jennings enjoyed the compliment. He suddenly removed his hat and
that’s very kind of you, ma’am.”
“I’d like to do business with you,” Miss Bertie suddenly declared.
“Oh, you would?” he asked.
Jennings pulled out his gun. “Oh ma’am, you got a job for me?”
Miss Bertie waved her hand around desperately, not wanting him to
pull his gun. ‘Oh, no no no no no no!” she declared suddenly. “Not a
job, a chance. The opportunity to begin a new life and never be
“Oh, I see,” Jennings stated as he put his hat back on. “Well, I’m
not lonely, ma’am. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some friends
“Oh, that’s not true!” Miss Bertie stopped him. “That’s not true.
You have no friends. But you could have. "Leavenworth is full of
lonely men like you."
Jennings stared at her. “Leavenworth? Ma’am, you better get back to
the hotel, uh-“ he started to walk away, but again she stopped him.
She followed him down the walkway. “Paying for your crimes is the
only way that you’ll find happiness. Now, for your own sake, why
don't you let me turn you in?"
"Oh, so that's what you are ma'am, a bounty hunter." He folded his
arms with interest and stared at her.
"People should help each other and I need $2,000.00 very, very
"Well ma'am, if I ever decide to visit Leavenworth I shall let you
turn me in." He tipped his hat to her. She thanked him and they
parted ways. He gave her a strange look as she walked away. Now he’d
Micah had been standing outside the saloon and saw them talking. He
wasn’t too happy about the situation. Somehow, I found myself in his
office as Micah gave Miss Bertie a good, hard lecture. Micah tried
lecturing her on the dangers of talking to a man like Duke Jennings.
“I have business with Mr. Jennings. I have to keep in touch with
him,” she argued back, quite firmly.
“That’s no business for you, Miss Bertie,” I declared.
Then she turned on a sob story. “Do you know what it’s like to be
lonely?” she asked. “Really lonely? In Philadelphia, I have a small
room. It’s very near Independence Square. A small room can be very
big and very empty. But all my friends live on the other side of
town in a place with lovely lawns and a wonderful lake. It’s a home
for ladies. It’s a real home, that’s very important you know.”
“Sure it is, Miss Bertie,” I suddenly said, breaking an
uncomfortable silence. “But just the same-“
But she didn’t let me finish. “Well, it takes $2,000 to get into
Happy Acres. And I wanta live there more then anything in the
“Look, Miss Bertie…um…there must be some other way to get the
money,” I tried then. She said she wouldn’t accept charity. She
wanted to earn her money!
"I have to earn the money, and helping Mr. Jennings is the only way
to do it. So you see, it benefits everybody, the community, Mr.
Jennings and me. You see gentleman, I'm being completely realistic.
Good day gentleman."
Then she left. She wouldn’t allow us to get another word in!
"Pestering Jennings is like grabbing the bull by the tail," Micah
I put a fist to my mouth to keep from laughing in spite of the
dangerous situation. “Yeah Micah, but there’s nothing that says a
little old lady can’t be a bounty hunter.” I looked at Micah who
gave me a disgusted look and then looked away from me. I laughed.
Well, wait until you hear what she does next! You see, Jennings was
in the saloon playing poker – he loved to play poker. And he had
just won a hand when suddenly guess who walks right into the saloon?
Miss Bertie herself! Imagine Sweeny’s shock when he watched a little
old lady walk right in there. Every head in that place turned in
fact. She walked up to Jennings and wished him a good afternoon.
“Well, good afternoon, ma’am,” he said.
She sat down at a table on the other side of the saloon near a
window, but close enough to keep an eye on her bounty. Sweeny
hurried up to her and told her she had made a mistake. She was
perfectly aware of where she was, though. “Well uh…ladies don’t
generally come in here,” Sweeny told her gently.
But Miss Bertie turned around and glared at him. “Oh, what a shame!
It’s so nice and cool and pleasant in here! Don’t you agree, Mr.
Jennings continued playing poker, trying to ignore her. “Yes ma’am,
Miss Bertie asked Sweeney to bring her a sarsaparilla. But Sweeney
didn’t have any. She told Sweeney to bring her something that was
cool. “It’s so warm this afternoon!”
As Sweeney walked away,
heard Jennings playing poker. He was raising the stakes when she
turned and looked at his cards. “That’s a great deal of money Mr.
Jennings,,” she commented. “Suppose you don’t fill it.” That made
Jennings mad. She had given away his secret. He angrily slapped the
cards down on the table.
One day Mark was in the General Store desperately trying to figure
out what kind of candy he wanted. He kept asking Milly how much the
different candies were as he tried to decide. Milly wasn’t too happy
with him, and I’m sure Mark probably had all the candy and prices
memorized by now! He finally decided, but Miss Bertie walked in and
told him to take four of each – her treat. Mark and Milly both were
happy to see the nice lady.
Milly had Miss Bertie’s daily order of jelly beans all ready for
her. Then she held up some rusty, old handcuffs. “Oh, I’ll need some
oil,” she stated.
Milly took the handcuffs from her. “You’re gonna need more then oil
to get the ruse off of these!” she stated as she stared at them. She
tried to think of a tactful way to get Miss Bertie not to worry
about the handcuffs. “Uh…Why don’t you just go and talk to the
Marshal about it?” she finally asked.
But Miss Bertie was insistent. After she paid Milly, Milly asked her
if she would stay and visit with her for awhile, but that idea
didn’t work either. Miss Bertie only had one thing on her mind.
Mark and Milly watched her leave. "What she want with handcuffs,"
Milly knew, and she didn’t like it. "Mark.....where's Lucas?"
"At the counsel meeting. Anything wrong?"
She didn’t answer him. "Mark...you run over and tell him that Miss
Bertie has gone into the saloon again. Only this time she has a pair
of handcuffs with her." He obeyed her, but not until after he got
his money’s worth of candy!
Miss Bertie did walk back into the saloon where Jennings was
involved in another poker game. She walked up to Jennings and
greeted him, asking him how he was today, but he ignored her. She
offered him some candy, but he held up a hand and said no. He poker
playing opponent gladly took a piece of candy though. As she sat
down at her table by the window, Sweeney brought her over a
Micah and I walked in as she began watching the poker game.
Suddenly, Miss Bertie gasped. Jennings turned to stare at her and
she apologized. "Oh, I'm sorry, very sorry. It's such an unlucky
hand," said Miss Bertie. "Poor Bill Hickok was holding a hand just
like that when he was shot."
That did it. Her words angered Duke. "Ma'am, you have done it again.
Everybody knows that hand." He angrily threw the cards on the table
and walked over to Micah. I must admit that I was a little proud of
her. I shook my head and smiled.
"Sheriff, you tell that woman to stay away from me. I am losing my
Even Micah couldn’t help to be a bit amused. "What is it now
"She won't leave me alone, she's always pestering me at my elbow,
it's gettin' so.....you just tell her.....leave me alone."
I couldn’t help myself. “One way to keep her from pestering you is
to leave North Fork.” I gave him a wicked smile.
Micah noticed the look Jennings was flashing me, and knew I was
about to get myself into trouble. So quickly, he stated, "I'll see
what I can do.” Jennings gave me one more look, then walked away.
Micah and I went over to talk to Miss Bertie. She greeted us as if
nothing was wrong, and even offered us a glass of sarsaparilla. I
took a jellybean she offered to me as Micah began his stern lecture.
"Miss Bertie, Duke Jennings claims you've been bothering him. He's
quite upset about it."
"Oh, it’s his consciences that’s bothering him," she argued.
I picked up the handcuffs that were lying on the table. "Miss
Bertie, are these part of his consciences?"
"I'm just oiling them," she said as she took them away from me and
set them back on the table.
"If you keep nudging Jennings conscience, well then he's liable to start
"Well, isn't that what you want? An opportunity to arrest him?" She
"Well, yes, if he breaks the law." said Micah.
"Well I'm helping you marshal."
Micah was getting a little fed up with Miss Bertie. "I don't want
your help," he argued sternly.
But Miss Bertie wasn’t an easy one to convince. “Well, that’s not
the point!” She was getting frustrated too! “I’ve checked all the
legal details, and I know-“ she started.
But I interrupted her, trying to explain the dangers to her. “Look
Miss Bertie, trouble starts easier in a saloon then anywhere else.
It’s no place for a lady. “
“He’s right, Miss Bertie,” Micah stated. “For now on, you oughta
just stay out of here!”
“Well, it’s open to the public, isn’t it?” she argued.
“It’s open to anybody, providing they behave themselves.”
“Well then, I’m gonna sit here and drink sarsaparilla!” Miss Bertie
declared. “Just like I have been doing. Surely nobody can complain
I had to agree with her there! She had me defeated. “Yeah Micah, no
law against…uh…sittin’ and sippin’, huh Miss Bertie?”
The next day, Mark and I were working on chores. Mark seemed
preoccupied as he cleaned the harness. I asked him if something was
bothering him as I cleaned Blue Boy’s shoes. He was worried about
Miss Bertie. “Marshal Torrance says she’s like a fly tormenting a
horse. Horse switches it’s tail and the fly gets hurt.”
“Well, this fly won’t get hurt. She knows the horse too well,” I
explained to him. I told him that Miss Bertie see’s Jennings clearer
then any of us. “She’s driving him to take a good look at himself. A
man like Jennings isn’t used to doing that.”
“Yeah, but what happens if he does?” Mark asked. I told him that was
a good question as I went in to get cleaned up. I had to help Micah
protect Miss Bertie from Jennings. Mark suddenly realized that I was
getting ready to leave. He asked if he could go to town with me, but
there was no reason for him to go. I told him to stay home and do
his chores. “Yeah,” he said. He wasn’t too happy with me, but he’d
obey my orders.
That day, Miss Bertie got into the saloon before Jennings did. She
smiled at him as he went up to the bar and took a drink of whisky.
One of them men who had been gambling with Jennings walked up to him
and said he wanted to play two handed poker. Jennings wanted to sit
someplace different, but he liked Miss Bertie keeping an eye on him.
It worked in his favor.
Micah knew there would be trouble. He motioned for a cowboy to go
get the Marshal.
The gambler was winning. Now it was Jennings deal. Micah watched
Jennings from the bar. Miss Bertie watched him closely also. The
other gambler opened at $100. Jennings raised him $100. But when
Miss Bertie saw his cards, she had to speak up. She just had to!
"Why, Mr. Jennings, how could you have the Ace of clubs in your
hand? I saw the bottom of the deck when the cards were cut.”
“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Jennings complained,
but Miss Bertie stated her eyesight was excellent. Micah walked over
to the table to deal with this latest problem.
The gambler asked Jennings if he had the Ace of clubs. “Are you
accusing me of bottom dealing?” Jennings asked suddenly.
Micah suddenly cam forward. He demanded they show him their hands
and split the pot. “We are not gonna split anything, sheriff!”
Jennings declared. Micah again ordered for them to fold their hands.
Jennings suddenly drew his gun on Micah. “Why don’t you raise yours,
Sheriff and stand back by that window!”
Micah did as he said and the gambler showed Jennings he wasn’t
armed. But Jennings pointed the gun at him and told him to pick up
the cards. "I've got a hunch I'm gonna have myself a killin' on this
hand," he stated as he continued pointing the gun at the gambler.
Miss Bertie grabbed her handcuffs and walked up to Jennings. “Now,
you step back there!” he ordered her.
“Mr. Jennings, this has gone too far,” she started.
But Jennings wasn’t playing games. “I said step back,” he yelled.
“Well, I…uh-“ she stepped back, realizing he meant business!
As I walked by, I saw what was going on through the window. I
hurried in the swinging doors, but stood there for a moment while
Mr. Jennings turned his attention back to the gambler. He told the
gambler that it would cost him a hundred dollars more to see his
“Drop it!” I ordered. Jennings turned and shot, but I was faster and
fired my rifle at him He turned to shoot me again. I grabbed my
rifle by the barrel and ran toward him. “Go on, try it!” I
threatened him as I held the butt of my rifle up in the air. “Go on.
Go for it.” But he stared at me, knowing he’d been beat.
I grabbed his gun as I asked Micah if he was alright. I handed Micah
Jennings’ gun. Micah arrested Jennings. Miss Bertie walked up to
Micah. “Marshal, use these,” she suggested as she handed him the
rusty handcuffs. Micah looked uneasy about it, but took them from
her and led Jennings off.
It had been quite an even for Miss Bertie. I don’t think she had
expected for it to be like this. I helped her sit down. She suddenly
felt the need for a…sarsaparilla. I called to Sweeney to bring her
We were all there to see Miss Bertie off on the stage the next day.
Micah reminded her to go to the Marshal’s office when she got to
Santa Fe. He’d have her reward money there. “And no more bounty
hunting!” Micah declared.
“Oh no! No…I promise!” She said goodbye to Mark. She put an arm
around him and handed him her wanted poster album. She wanted Mark
to have it – to remember her by.
But I turned her toward me. I
had something to say. "You know Miss Bertie, $2,000.00 is a mighty
big stake to put in someone else's place. The west needs folks. Why
cowboys would ride fifty miles just to taste your apple pie and to
see your smile.”
"You think I'm needed here?"
I smiled at her. “I’d be going to Santa Fe, Miss Bertie. You've got
enough to buy your own home and with that apple pie of yours and
that smile, you'd never be lonely." She patted my hand as she
thought on that. I helped her board the stage.
"You really think I could?" She asked, sticking her head out the
"If you want to," I answered sincerely.
The stage then took off with Miss Bertie waving and yelling, "I'll
be seein' ya'!"
We watched the stage ride away. "Gosh, I wished she lived here,
don't you Pa?"
I looked down at my son. I didn’t even want to think about that
prospect! I’d never get any peace! "Well to be honest son, I love
Miss Bertie too, but she could be kinda hard on the nerves."
We looked at each other and laughed as we watched the stage ride out
Moorehead played Bertie Hoakam. Alberta 'Bertie' Hoakam from
Philadelphia. She's the old lady who arrives in town hot on the
trail of a notorious bandit—and the reward money for capturing him.
Anderson appeared in six episodes ―
'One Went to Denver'
as Tom Birch an old friend of Lucas' ―
as Lariat Jones, an old friend of Lucas', he too was in love with Margaret
as Duke Jennings, the cowboy that Miss Bertie had a wanted poster on ―
'Flowers by the Door'
Jason Gowdy, the lady killer ―
as Harry Chase, the man who claimed he was with Millie's Brother when he
― 'The Bullet'
as Griff, the owner of The Lucky Chance Casino in Los Cruces.
appeared in six episodes ― 'The Dead-eye Kid' as shotgun
guard on the stagecoach, he's the one that shoved Mahoney off of
the back of the stage ― 'Duel of Honor' as Cole, stagecoach driver he was
the one who did the counting for the duel ― 'The Woman' as Joey,
stagecoach driver ― 'The Blowout' as a stagecoach driver ― 'The Spiked
Rifle' as a stagecoach driver ― 'Miss Bertie' as a stagecoach driver.
Leonard Stone appeared in two episodes ―
'Miss Bertie' as the nervous gambler in the saloon ― 'Deadly Image'
as K. C. Peters, Bantry's sidekick.
Joan Taylor played Milly Scott. Milly
bought The General Store from Hattie Denton. Hattie had to leave to
go and help her sister in Denver. Joan Taylor appeared in eighteen
episodes as Milly Scott and was introduced to The Rifleman
in 'Miss Milly'.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon.
Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in 'The Marshal'.
Melvin F. Allen as a wrangler.
Butler — Stuntman — Stunt
coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then
anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably
was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold
Remember him in 'The Sharpshooter?'
Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered
into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey
bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul
Joe E. Benson appeared in The
Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes
credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In 'Dark Day at North Fork'
he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen &
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build
a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the
house which was later called the den. (One of the several
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's