THE pacific coast of the United States in the late 1800's was a harsh environment for all but the hardiest of travellers. Known as the 'Wild West' for good reason.
Famous throughout the region at the time was 'Mad' Jack Wyatt – the baddest, gun-toting smuggler in the land - and his trusted four legged sidekick. Wyatt was known for his cunning and wiles, he would make easy work of illegally transporting on horseback the much sought after cheese and hand made burgers from the farmers of Buffalo Range. His route took him through the notorious Death valley and up into the rich and developing new state of California. It was here his goods would sell for huge premiums and net old Wyatt a small fortune. Anyone who stood in his way was swiftly dealt with and very few dared cross his path...
The cheese smugglers story was passed from generation to generation and today is known throughout the Mid-West as the
"The Legend of Monterey Jack"
Our story continues as age finally caught up with the legendary "Monterey Jack" - and so did the law! After a long chase, the notorious cheese smuggling ring was eventually caught by unforgiving Sheriff, William J Browne in 1879. After being paraded before the County Judge the next morning, "Monterey Jack" was sentenced to death and hung that very noon.
'Mad' Jack Wyatt never recovered from that fateful day and retired from the cheese trade just 12 months later. He lived many happy years off the proceeds of their ill-gotten gains, but he never forgot the good times he had with his trusted four-legged companion - "Monterey Jack"
Funnily enough, in those days, it was considered that as the 'carrier' of the illicit, smuggled goods should be the one to face the gallows! Old Wyatt passed away in 1887 from severe gout. His last words are rumoured to be:
“I never knew a better nag than trusty ol' MJ.... except me first wife”.
(It should be noted, meat from hung horses was not popular in 1879...
...this is still the case today, all Monterey Jack's burgers are horse meat free)