Hard Lines

Life in rerun, now playing near you.

  1. One of my great-grandfathers, James Shepley, was born in Saco, Maine, in 1826, went to Bowdoin College, and set up a law practice in the frontier town of Red Cloud, Minnesota, where he had a hand in the writing of the state constitution. In his mid-thirties, he won a Civil War commission as an aide to a cousin of his, General George Shepley, but he contracted malaria and was confined for months to a hospital in New Orleans. Back home at last and eager to recover his health, he became a farm manager in Naples, Maine. He was married by this time, with three children, and in 1873, hoping to improve the Shepley fortunes, he bought into a sheep ranch near Fresno, California, and went west with a friend. He planned to bring his family out to join him, once he got settled. One spring night in 1874, while sleeping at a camp at Little Dry Creek, he was murdered—garroted with a piece of wire. Two Portuguese sheepherders were tried for the crime but acquitted; there was no evidence of a robbery o...

The complete text of “Hard Lines ” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.newyorker.com.

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