Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Secret”
Season 2, Episode 31
#63 in Series
Air date May 6, 1961
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by John Hawkins
Directed by Robert Altman
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Thunderhead Swindle
Next Episode:
The Dream Riders
External links
The Secret on IMDb


Joe is accused of murdering a girl, but he has been set up by the real killer. Her father and brothers want to hang Joe and the Cartwrights race to prove his innocence.


A carriage is moving down the road with a pinto tied behind. John Hardner, on horseback, sees the carriage from afar and waves a greeting, puzzled when the occupants don’t wave back. He continues on his way. The carriage continues in the opposite direction then stops, and a couple gets out for a picnic. The woman is Mary Parsons, but the man is not shown. Mary kisses him and they go for a walk.

The couple climb a bluff for the view of the surrounding countryside. Suddenly, there is a scream and only the man is left standing on the bluff.

Ben greets an old friend, Jake Parsons, at the ranch house and invites and him in for coffee. Jake seems very pleased while talking to Ben and alludes to the fact that Little Joe and his daughter, Mary, have been courting and eloped last night. Joe comes in has no idea what Jake is talking about. Joe was out looking for a lost horse, but Jake states that his daughter, Mary, said she was going on a picnic with Little Joe.

As Jake leaves the ranch house, his two sons ride up. They have found the buggy and Mary, dead, at the foot of the cliff. Jake and his sons leave a confused and sad Ben and Joe.

Ben and Joe ride into Virginia City to talk to a lawyer, Hiram Wood, for advice on the situation. He advises the Cartwrights to go directly to the sheriff’s office to make statements. Sheriff Coffee is out of town, so Mr. Wood sends his junior partner, Jerome Bell, with the Cartwrights to make sure the deputy takes their statements correctly. The Parsons have brought Mary’s body to town to be examined by the doctor. He can’t tell if she was pushed, jumped, or fell off the bluff, but noted that she was pregnant.

Upon leaving town, John Hardner is surprised that Joe and Ben don’t even notice him. He mentions this to the doctor and deputy and the fact that Little Joe also ignored him two days ago. The deputy decides to arrest Joe for Mary’s murder.

Joe is brought to court and accused of murdering Mary Parsons. Her father and brothers claim that she eloped with Joe on the night she was killed, and had been courting her for two months. The main witness against the youngest Cartwright is an old family friend, John Hardner. However, under oath he admits he didn’t actually see Joe, but only saw his horse, and his left handed gun holster.

Adam and Hoss leave to find who could have bought the horse and holster. In the meantime, Betty May, Hiram Wood’s daughter questions her fiancé’s love for her. She visits Jerome in his hotel room, finding a photo of Mary Parson. She figures out that Jerome was in love with Mary, only using Betty May to curry favor with her father. Jerome decides he cannot let Betty May leave now that she has figured out he killed Mary. Jerome and Betty May scuffle on the hotel balcony and Jerome falls to his death.

Joe is freed from jail as it comes to light his brothers have obtained receipts showing Jerome did indeed purchase a left handed holster and a pinto. That and the fact that Jerome would have killed Betty May to cover his tracks.


The Cartwrights

  • Lorne Green: Ben Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker: Hoss Cartwright
  • Michael Landon: Little Joe Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts: Adam Cartwright


  • Roy Engel: Paul Martins


  • Bill Edwards: Man
  • Bob Harris: Bill Parsons
  • Crahan Denton: Jake Parsons
  • Dayton Lummis: Atty. Hiram Wood
  • Morgan Woodward: Deputy Sheriff Rick Conley
  • Patricia Michon: Betty Mae Wood
  • Russell Collins: John Hardner
  • Sherwood Price: Pete Parsons
  • Stephen Joyce: Jerome Bell


Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Wer tötete Mary Parson?", meaning "Who Killed Mary Parson?".


"Never thought owning a paint pony and being left-handed could get a fellow in so much trouble."



The Secret (1961) Bonanza., Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, FULL EPISODE

See also[]