The story of Jasper Westfall, Town Marshall of Westfall, Oregon and his fatal gunfight with killer Asa Carey, blacksmith, barfly and local hot head

|HOME| |Westfall Home Page| |Family History| |Sources| |Photos| |Genealogy Menu|

The Murder of Marshall Jasper Westfall in Westfall, Oregon

Used with permission of Sandra Sanchez from her Last Gunfight in Westfall Oregon
Material and photographs provided by Dennis Westfall ©2002 Sandra Sanchez

The dusty desert town of Westfall, Oregon was officially established with a post office in 1889 and named for Levi Westfall, one of it's earliest settlers. Small businesses in false fronted buildings stood along the main street and small houses along the streets behind. In its early days the town was known as Bully, accidentally giving the town a name the reflected its nature. Bully was a tough town where gunfights often occurred. It was actually named for Bully Creek and the Bully Creek Valley where the town stood. Eventually the frequent gunfights all but ceased and life became routine where nothing out of the ordinary disturbed the peace. That changed on a fateful day in May 1912.

On a warm Spring day on May 10th, the town's blacksmith Asa Carey, a man known for having already killed two men, provoked a gunfight in the middle of Main Street with town Marshal Jasper Westfall. The Marshal was appointed the town's only lawman on May 7th, only three days earlier. Jasper was a relative of the City's founder and was known as fair minded and a sober man. Jasper lived in the new home he built in town two years earlier and lived there with his wife Daisy and their two small children.

For years Asa Carey was a known bully and trouble maker in the dusty little town. He was a rather small man, standing only 5 ft. 7 inches, and 170 lbs. but strong and agile with a temper and a short fuse. Six years earlier, Carey shot and killed a cowboy named Frank Cammann in the Hart saloon. He pleaded self defense, a story supported by his cronies. In 1909, Carey beat twenty year old Dan Brady so badly that he died a few days later. Again, Carey pleaded self-defense and again his buddies supported his alibi. Without evidence to the contrary, he was released. In the best of times Carey was bad news. He was even worse when drinking. His regular hangouts were the saloons of Frank Jones and Ivan Hart. Carey was a vocal and violent drunk and when intoxicated trouble usually ensued. Even with his violent past, in 1912 Carey let it be known he wanted to be the Town Marshal. Part of the lure was the salary of $75.00 a month, a fine sum in those days. Carey's qualification, he claimed, was that he often handled the drunken cowboys in one or the other saloon, and the town should pay him for it. Marshal Ben Corbett resigned in April and now Carey wanted the job. Town Mayor William West normally choose the Marshall, but he was not in town when Corbett quit his job. In the mayor's absence, the town council, after much badgering by Carey and his cronies, made him Marshal. Mayor West returned on May 7th and immediately fired Carey. In his place the mayor appointed 40 year old Jasper Westfall -arshall Asa Carey was infuriated at the decision and only reluctantly surrendered his badge to the Mayor. Immediately he began drinking heavily that night and continued for the next few days.

May 10 dawned to the quiet routine of a warm spring day. The townspeople went about their normal business greeting one another and peacefully enjoyed the morning. Around noon Asa Carey wandered into Frank Jones's Saloon armed with a revolver. After having several drinks, Asa crossed the street to Hart's Saloon where he consumed more alcohol with Art Ricketts, one of Cory's cronies. All day he continued to drink, wandering back and forth between the two Saloons. He began boasting that he was the better man for the job than Westfall. Fueled by bottles of booze, Corey staggered onto the porch of the Jones Saloon whooping and yelling daring the new Marshal to come and quiet him. Jasper was at home about a block northwest when he heard the commotion Asa was causing. The new Marshal headed to the scene to quell the uproar Carey was causing in the normally quiet town. As he approached the Jones Saloon, Jasper saw a number of people watching from places of cover expecting a gun fight.

Jasper was unarmed but calmly walked up to Carey and instructed him to cease his antics. Carey stared at Jasper and said, "If you try to arrest me, I will kill you." Jasper told Carey, "Go go home and settle down.", The Marshal's words had no effect on Carey. Jasper calmly turned and walked home. He buckled on his Colt revolver and strode briskly back to Main Street. Down from the porch, Carey was now standing in front of Jones Saloon. Jasper told him he was under arrest. Carey backed away a few feet and Jasper pulled his gun. He ordered Carey to come with him. Carey quickly backed away and pulled his gun. Witnesses were unable to say which man shot first. Jasper fired one shot and missed. Carey fired three times hitting Jasper twice despite his drunkenness. Jasper fell to the ground and Carey swung his gun around threatening bystanders. He stooped over the badly wounded Jasper and took his gun.

After the shooting Ben Corbett and Jack Fairman lured Carey into the Jones and Company store next door and were able to subdue and capture him. Jasper was carried into the Hart Saloon and laid on the Billiard Table. A Doctor was called but to no avail. Jasper died within forty five minutes, His wife Daisy at his side.

Asa Carey was convicted of murder and sentenced to Life in prison at the State Penitentiary at Salem. When Carey was eventually paroled and moved to Napa, California. This 1912 Gunfight was the last incident of its kind at Westfall, for within a year the town had all but disappeared. Westfall became nearly deserted, which it remains to this day. Silent in it's memories.

In my dog eared copy of WEST VIRGINIA WESTFALLS by W. Lynn Hutchison, a well documented and authoritative history and genealogy is the family tree of Jasper Westfall. He was born on 28 January 1872 in Jackson County, West Virgina, son of Jackson Westfall and Mary C. Welch. Levi Westfall was Jasper's uncle and the person for whom the town was named. Both were descendants of Zachariah Westfall, one of the sons of Cornelius and Elizabeth Westfall of Hampshire County (West) Virginia. Several Westfall's, all relatives of Jasper, can be found on the censuses of Bully District, (Westfall), Malheur County, Oregon.

In 1963, Earl R. Smith, a former resident of Westfall, Oregon, published a book entitled the WESTFALL COUNTRY. The book states that Levi Westfall was born 1810-1812 in Virginia (the correct date is 1825) and came to Iowa, where he married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Two daughters were born to them, Mary Jane in 1832 and Sarah Adeline in 1834. Levi and Elizabeth were separated or divorced and Levi took the two daughters and sailed around the Horn to San Francisco in 1849. By 1870 he was residing in eastern Oregon .This information is partly correct. Levi, Elizabeth and daughter Mary are on the 1850 census in Lucas County, Iowa. Daughter Sarah was probably born there about 1850-51. Obviously, Levi could not have sailed to San Francisco with his daughters in 1849. But, he may have well gone to California as part of the gold rush of 1849, which actually began with the discovery of gold in 1848 and lasted until 1855. It is labeled as one of the largest mass migrations in U.S. history.

The book, OREGON GEOGRAPHIC NAMES says that Westfall, in Malheur County, was named for Levi Westfall, a pioneer who settled in Bully Creek Valley. The post office was first established with the name of Bully in April, 1882, but was changed to Westfall in February, 1889. It was at one time on the old Westfall ranch about two miles east of the present site of the town of Westfall.

Saloon in Westfall, Oregon

 

Jasper Westfall

 


The remains of Jasper's home

 


The log jail that held Asa Carey after he murdered Jasper Westfall.

Bibliography
Ronald N. Wall
Modified: 09 September 2017