A wave of lawlessness had recently hit Poker Flat, and a secret committee of concerned citizens was established to deal with the situation. The crimes included horse theft (a hanging offense), robbery and, possibly, murder (having lost "a prominent citizen"). The committee specifically decided to "rid the town of all improper persons." They dealt with several men harshly, hanging a pair of men "from the boughs of a sycamore in the gulch." The committee also decided upon banishment as punishment for the less serious crimes and for other "objectionable characters": The gambler, John Oakhurst, had committed no criminal act; and the two prostitutes had been plying their trade regularly in Poker Flat before the town's sudden "spasm of virtuous reaction."