Idaho History August 6, 2017

Reed Ranch, South Fork Salmon, Valley County, Idaho

1925 Deadshot Reed


“[photo] taken at the junction of what is now the Warm Lake Road and the South Fork Road. The South Fork Road was then a horse trail only. My Grandmother (Nanan Case) took it August 1925.”

shared by Neighbor Dave R (RIP)
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William Lee “Dead Shot” Reed


Birth: Jul. 5, 1876
San Antonio Bexar County Texas, USA
Death: May 31, 1958
Sweet Gem County Idaho, USA

Spouse: Bessie Lou Warren Reed (1895 – 1976)

Burial: Sweet-Montour Cemetery Sweet Gem County Idaho

source: Find a Grave
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Deadshot Reed

Bill Reed was born in San Antonio, Texas. His parents died young, and he was raised on a remote Texas ranch. He said that he shot to death a man – who happened to be his school teacher – when he was only thirteen, and then fled to South America. On his return, he said, charges were dropped and he became first a Texas Ranger because of his great skill with a firearm, and then an entertainer in cowboy shows. No one has disputed his stint as a Texas Ranger, because somewhere in his early life, he picked up and extraordinary skill with guns.
– Pg 97

Reed finally found his homestead back in Idaho, more than a hundred miles south of the Pierce area, well east of McCall on the Salon River’s south fork, some miles outside of a remote settlement called Knox. After the couple’s arrival there in 1914, they stayed for the rest of their lives. They raised fourteen children, all but two surviving infancy, and a small herd of cattle; did a little farming; worked a mining claim for a time; and generally lived mainly a subsistence life.

Deadshot Reed may have been deep in the backcountry, but he had neighbors. The nearest, perhaps a half-mile away, was a German immigrant named George Krassel. He was fiercely proud of his old country, and throughout the World War 1 period he would loudly proclaim its virtues, irritating Reed to no end. The two became increasingly annoyed with each other.

One day in June 1919, as the arguments had gotten ever hotter, Krassel showed up on Reed’s property. Reed, recovering from a flu that had kept him indoors, was walking around behind the house at the time. As Bessie Reed, inside the house, looked out into the front yard, she thought she saw Krassel carrying a rifle. She grabbed a pistol and handed it to one of the children, who gave it to her father with a message about who was in front. Armed with gun and information, Reed slipped around the side of the house to confront Krassel, who was still on his horse.

As Reed told it, Krassel pulled up his rifle and fired at Reed, but missed. Within a second Reed pulled the pistol from his waistband, fired, and shot Krassel through the heart. The German Collapsed on the ground.

An inquiry concluded that Reed had shot him in self-defense and the matter went to rest.

Reed stayed at the ranch on the South Fork until the mid-fifties, when he and Bessie moved to a small farm near the town of Sweet. He died there in 1958.
– Pgs 99-100

excerpted from: Outlaw Tales of Idaho: True Stories of the Gem State’s Most Infamous Crooks By Randy Stapilus
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Dead Shot Reed

Spring 1914

The Reed family moved to a farmstead on the South Fork, 20 miles north of Knox.

June 1919

Dead Shot Reed at the Reed homestead site 20 miles north of Knox shot and killed George Krassel.
Cascade News June 27, 1919.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History
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George Krassel

Killed June 27, 1919, by neighbor William “Deadshot” Reed, buried at north end of the Reed Ranch, South Fork Rd.

source: Private Cemeteries and Isolated Graves, Valley County, IDGenWeb Project
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Reed Ranch

On the south end of the District, a ranger station was established at Poverty Flat soon after the forest was organized. This flat supposedly was named after an early attempt at homesteading resulted in the family starving out. There were two main routes into the upper end of the South Fork. The best was from the town of Cascade east through the old towns of Crawford and Knox.

From Knox travelers could come down the river onto the District. The second route started at Roseberry and ran east through Paddy Flat where the main Ranger Station for the District was located. Roseberry has long since dwindled in size because of the railroad bypassing it in 1914. The townsite is now marked only by an old hotel one mile east of Donnelly, Idaho. From the Paddy Flat Ranger Station it went up Kennally Creek and split with one trail coming down Blackmare to Poverty Flat and the other coming down Cougar Creek to Reeves Bar. A later trail up Buckhorn Creek also connected Long Valley and the bar.

This bar, now known as the Reed Ranch, has attracted a colorful variety of homesteaders and miners. The most prominent to follow John Reeves and Paul Forrester was William Reed, an ex-Texas Ranger. William Reed, or Deadshot as he was called, was reputed to be very good with a gun. One story has it that he brought his family to the remote South Fork to homestead where they would be safe from enemies made during his career as a law officer. Deadshot took out his first homestead entry in 1914 on the south end of the bar.

Following Caldwell’s death, a man named Tucker had made entry on the north end of the bar. Tucker apparently abandoned his attempt at homesteading due to Bright’s disease and a man named George Krassel settled on the old Caldwell place. Krassel had done a little placer mining up and down the river, and sometimes worked for the Forest Service building trails. He erected the first cabin on Dutchman’s Bar across Indian Creek from the present station; and Krassel Creek and Krassel Knob were named after him.

About 1918, Krassel returned to the river with his winter supplies in the fall and discovered Reed’s cattle had gotten out and were grazing his hay. Enraged, Krassel decided to pay Deadshot a visit with his rifle. Since there were no other witnesses to the incident, we have only Deadshot’s version of the story, which is that Krassel rode up to the Reed Ranch house, concealing his rifle behind the withers of his horse. Deadshot was out in the field cutting hay and when Mrs. Reed noted that Krassel had a rifle, she wrapped Deadshot’s pistol in a dishtowel. She then summoned her daughter and sent her and the pistol to Deadshot. Krassel approached Reed on horseback and they had unfriendly words. Krassel started to swing his rifle out in the open when Reed opened fire, killing Krassel. An inquest was held and the verdict was self-defense. Krassel’s grave lies near the 1/4 corner below the first bend in the road as one leaves the airfield going north.

With Krassel gone, Deadshot Reed filed on the Caldwell homestead and was granted a patent. Walter Estep was the Paddy Flat Ranger and platted the land. Deadshot proceeded to farm the bar and supported his wife and raised 14 children, two of whom died before they reached adulthood. He sold his holdings to Carl and Warren Brown of ~Brown’s Tie and Lumber Co. in 1929 but the area is still referred to as the Reed Ranch today.

excerpted from “Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” – A History of the Krassel District, Payette National Forest, by Tom Ortman 1975
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Baldridge and Reed with cougar pelt 1928


Identifier MS269-B1F22-pg32
Title Baldridge and Reed with cougar pelt
Description Govenor Baldridge all “dolled-up” in chaps and guns helping “Deadshot Reed” hold up the cougar pelt
Date 1928-10
Photographer Ansgar Johnson Sr.
Location Valley County, Idaho, United States
Rights Management In Copyright
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
source w/larger photo:

[big h/t to SMc]
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Pat Reed

1933 Aug. 10,

Mike Popovitch a prospector was shot by Pat Reed (age 19) at the Willey Ranch, on the South Fork. Popovitch was in a drunken rage and insisted Reed drink with him. When Reed resisted, Popovitch took an ax and struck at Reed. Reed who was in bed reached for his gun and fired three shots. Popovitch died Aug. 14 in a Boise hospital after an operation on his bullet-shattered spine. He was buried in Morris Hill cemetery, Boise on Aug. 16.
(Reward of Rage p 131 and Aug. 16, 1933 Idaho Statesman.)

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History
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Pat Reed

[South Fork] It was during the 20’s and 30’s that efforts were made to improve the wildlife populations in the Salmon River country. Grizzly bear and wolves had completely been exterminated and weren’t really missed, but beaver and fisher were trapped elsewhere and turned loose on the South or’ to reestablish trapped out populations. The district boasted excellent deer herds as well as some elk, and many people journeyed from the Council and lower country areas to hunt. Besides natural predators, the deer competed with homesteader’s stock for winter range. It was generally assumed that any reduction in predator population would result in an increase in the deer population. One wealthy sportsman gave yearly prizes to the trapper who could come up with the most cougar scalps, The prize was usually taken by Pat Reed, one of Deadshot Reed’s sons.

excerpted from “Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” – A History of the Krassel District, Payette National Forest, by Tom Ortman 1975
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For Better or Worse: The Legacy of William “Deadshot” Reed
by Kathy Hill (Author) Paperback – 2003

Rewards of rage: The Deadshot Reed story as told to the author
by Art Colson (Author) Paperback – 1997
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Reed Ranch Airport

(FAA LID: I92, formerly ID93) is a public use airport located 12 nautical miles (14 mi, 22 km) southwest of the central business district of Yellow Pine, in Valley County, Idaho, United States. It is owned by the Idaho Division of Aeronautics / USFS.

Reed Ranch Airport resides at elevation of 4,157 feet (1,267 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 16/34 with a dirt surface measuring 2,175 by 100 feet (663 x 30 m).



page updated Jan 22, 2020