After two of Oat Jackford’s cowhands burn the McCain’s house, drag Lucas, and steal his rifle, Lucas goes to hunt Jackford and his men to inform them that he and his boy are there to stay.
"The Money Gun"
Bookkeeper Asa Manning hires a professional gunman to provoke his client, a bully rancher who suspects him of embezzlement, into a gunfight.
"Trail Of Hate"
Lucas goes on a hunt for bank robbers after Mark is badly hurt while being held hostage.
From "The Rifleman Episode Guide List"
When Lucas McCain's ranch-house was burned down by some of Oat Jackford's men, McCain went hunting for his neighboring rancher to settle the score.
The only thing was, the man he found wasn't the real Oat Jackford, even though his own cowhands believed him to be.
He was Ben Stark, a criminal passing himself off as Oat Jackford, who must have been out of North Fork on business. As for the ranch hands, Stark probably hired them, telling them that he was Oat Jackford. He then kept them out on the plains to avoid meeting anybody else in Jackford's employ or family and thereby learning the truth.
I can't say why Ben Stark was pulling this scheme, but he must have been planning to steal something large from Jackford. Maybe it was statuary, something akin to the MacCready Bust (as seen in 'Alias Smith And Jones'.) Perhaps he was going to intercept a shipment coming in on the stage, maybe it was the payroll for the real ranch hands. (And if so, he probably created a ruse to get the real Oat Jackford out of town.)
So Ben Stark needed those itinerant ranch hands to help him get it loaded onto a wagon.
The altercation with Lucas McCain would have been a kink in the plan, but he turned it to his advantage. The real Oat Jackford might have killed Lucas McCain for his insolence and for the beating Luke gave to him. But instead, the fake Oat Jackford sent those new hired hands over to build a new house for Lucas and his son. (They used building supplies bought in town and most likely charged to Oat Jackford's account.)
Nearly two years later, Ben Stark returned to North Fork with his brother and another cowhand in order to rob the bank. Lucas McCain didn't recognize him, or so it looked, but Stark must have chose Lucas as his patsy because he remembered the earlier incident.
How the real Oat Jackford reacted once he returned to North Fork was never made available for viewing by the Trueniverse audience, of course. But it must have contributed to the surly, belligerent attitude displayed by Jackford when he came into town to face down a hired gun. More than likely, he decided to keep quiet about the theft and the expenses incurred to re-build the McCain ranch house rather than be seen as a fool by the rest of the town......
|The REAL Oat Jackford|