Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- VII

After Virgil Earp got wounded from ambush, Wyatt took a posse to the Clanton ranch to arrest Phin and Ike on a charge of assault with intent to murder. They were not successful.

The Clantons sent word that they were willing to answer to the charge, but would not surrender to the Earps, as the Clantons were sure the Earps would kill them.

Finally, a duplicate warrant was issued to John H. Jackson, who took a big posse commanded by Charlie Bartholomew and Peter Spencer to arrest the Clantons, who meekly surrendered. When the posse arrived back in Tombstone, Clantons in tow, Judge Stillwell adjourned his court so he could sit as an examining magistrate. The evidence against the Clantons was slim at best. It seems Sherman McMasters made a statement that he heard Ike Clanton say that he “would have to go up and do the job over again.” Right.

On the other hand, seven men testified that Ike was in Charleston on the night of the attempted murder. Case dismissed.

Ike then had the Earps and Doc Holiday arrested for the murder of Billy Clanton. They were released on a writ of habeas corpus and nothing ever became of the charges.

“Ranching” in Apache County

Phin and Ike moved to Apache County, taking out homesteads of 160 acres each. Sister Mary Else and her second husband Eben Stanley joined them. Notice that Phin and Eben were indicted by a grand jury on five, count them, five counts of improper branding and marking of calves and at least one trial was held. The verdict has been lost to history.

Still, the Clantons were continually in trouble. On the morning of June 1, 1887, Detective J.V. Brighton and Deputy Sheriff Miller carried warrants for Ike Clanton and others. The charges were cattle rustling. They rode to Wilson’s ranch on Blue River, where they saw Ike Clanton coming their way. Clanton recognized the lawmen and turned to ride away. As his horse turned, Ike drew his Winchester from its scabbard. The lawmen commanded Ike to halt. He did not, and Brighton fired, killing Ike Clanton instantly.

Phin Clanton served a prison term, and died on January 5, 1906, after suffering extreme exposure in a snow storm. The cause of death was congestive chills and fever. He was buried in Globe. His ranch was still in existence as of 1982, run by the son of Phin’s step-son.

From the files of the now-extinct National Association of Outlaw and Lawman History

Thursday, September 16, 2010

International Award

Charles Whipple, who writes Black Horse Westerns as Chuck Tyrell, won THE 2010 OAXACA INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE COMPETITION, AGAVE AWARD FOR LITERATURE for his short story A Matter of Tea.

The competition is held in conjunction with the Oaxaca International Film and Video Festival because cinema and literature have always been closely intertwined. This competition provides a forum for writers from around the world to display their talents.

Whipple's story was selected as the winner from a thousand entries. He will fly to Oaxaca, Mexico, to receive the award. The top ten stories in the competition will be published in a special commemorative edition.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moving west

I thought I post this list of what a husband and wife were suggested to take along when going to settle in the west.

1 3-1/2" (tire width) wagon with cover
2 yoke of oxen or teams of horses or mules
1 plow, harrow, or good scraper
2 extra chains
2 axes
1 shovel
2 hoes
1 rake
1 pick or crowbar
1 scythe or snath
1 hand saw
1 jack plane
1-1/4 and 1-1/2-inch augers
Brace and bits
1 hatchet
2 guns and ammunition
20# 8s and 10s nails
12 lights (8x10" glass)
Wash tub and washboard
Buckets, breadpan
Wash basin, milk pans
Milk strainer, lantern
Bake over, camp kettle, fry pan, tin plates
Cups, knives, forks, spoons
Bedding, blankets, clothing
Socks, boots and shoes
Thread, needles, pins
Upper and sole leather
1 cow, beef, steer
Shoe pegs and lasts
600# flour
100# bacon
30# dried apples
5 gal. molasses
40# sugar
10# butter
6# rice
5# candles
1# mustard
1# black pepper
Some spices
1/2# ginger
2# yeast powder
4# bicarbonate of soda
20# fine salt
20# soap
1/2# composition
12 boxes of matches
3 boxes of pills
1 bottle of sweet oil
1 bottle of castor oil
1 bottle of turpentine
1 bottle of pain killer
1 bottle of Jamaica ginger
2 oz of indigo
1 gallon of alcohol
40 feet of rope
Whip saw
Water barrel
4 bushels of seed wheat
1/2 bushel of seed corn
2 bushels of seed potatoes
Garden seeds: carrots, beets, turnips, squash
cabbage. onions, tomatoes, peas, beans, radishes. etc.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- VI

The inquest into the shootings concluded that the three cowboys met their deaths by gunshot wounds.


The Tombstone Nugget recorded this sarcastic article.

Glad to Know

The people of the community are deeply indebtyed to the twelcve intelligent men who composed the coroners (sic) jury for the valuable information that the three persons who were killed last Wednesday were shot. Some thirty or forty shots were fired, and the whole affair was witnessed by perhaps a dozen people, and we have a faint recollection of hearing someone say the dead men were shot, but people are liable to be mistaken and the verdict reassures us. We might have thought they had been struck by lightning or stung to death by hornets and we never could have told whether they were in the way of the lightning or the lightning was in their way.

Now listen to this.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of the Earps and Doc Holliday on the charge of murder. A hearing was held before Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer. It lasted for a month, and several witnesses testified that Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were unarmed and that Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury were mortally wounded before they drew their pistols.

Wells Spicer

Still, Justice Spicer’s “opinion” was that the Earps acted in self defense. He sent on to say, however, that Virgil Earp “committed an injudicious and censurable act” in calling upon Wyatt Earp and J. H. Holliday to assist him in arresting and disarming the Clantons and McLaurys.

Then, Virgil Earp was wounded from ambush, and Wyatt went on a rampage in January 1882.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- V

The Tombstone Nugget reported the funeral of the slain cowboys.

The Burial of the Dead Cowboys – An Immense Procession, Etc.

While it was not entirely expected, the funeral of Billy Clanton and Thomas and Frank McLowry (sic), yesterday, was the largest ever witnessed in Tombstone. It was advertised to take place at 3 o’clock, but it was about 4 o’clock before the cortege moved, yet a large number had gathered at the undertaker’s long before the first time mentioned. The bodies of the three men, neatly and tastefully dressed, were placed in handsome caskets with heavy silver trimmings. Upon each was a silver plate bearing the name, age, birthplace and date of the death of each. A short time before the funeral, photographs were taken of the dead. The procession was headed by the Tombstone brass band playing the solemn and touching march of the dead. The first wagon containd the body of Billy Clanton, followed by those of the McLowry (sic) boys. A few carriages came next in which were near friends and relatives of the deceased, among whom were Ike and Finn Clanton. After these were about three hundred people on foot, twenty-two carriages and buggies and one four-horse stage, and the horsemen, making a line of nearly rtwo blocks in length. The two brothers were buried in one grave, and young Clanton close by those who were his friends in life and companions in death. The inscrip@tion upon the plates of the caskets stated that Thomas McLowry was 25 years of age, Frank McLowry 29 years of age, both natives of Mississippi, and that William H. Clanton was 19 years of age and a native of Texas.

It seems newspapers of the day did not believe in paragraphs.

One interesting sidelight. Originally, Billy Clanton’s headstone read: Sacred to the Memory of William Clanton Who Was Murdered October 26, 1881. Age 19 years. Now there is only a small marker that reads: Billy Clanton killed Oct. 26, 1881.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- IV

The Earps and the Clantons were like oil and water. Or, as they say in Japan, like monkeys and dogs.

The Arizona Daily Star, a Tucson newspaper, had this to say about the Clantons.

The Clanton brothers numbered three – Ike, Phineas (Phin), and Billy. They lived on a cattle ranch on the San Pedro River, about twelve miles from Tombstone, with their father. Old man Clanton was murdered in August by Mexicans with five others. The Clantons then fell heir to all of the old man’s cattle, and were pretty well fixed. They were fine specimens of the frontier cattleman. Billy, although only 17 years old (sic) was over six feet in height, and built in proportion, while Isaac and Phineas are wiry, determined-looking men, without a pound of surplus flesh. They lived on horse-back, and led a life of hardship.

From the deposition of Ike Clanton, taken by the court, this is how things started.

On the morning of October 25, 1881, Billy and Ike Clanton and the McLaury brothers ate breakfast at Chandler’s milk ranch. They then separated, with Ike and Tom McLaury riding for Tombstone and Billy and Frank heading off to round up some stock at the McLaury ranch.

Almost from the moment Ike and Tom arrived in Tombstone, the Earps and Doc Holiday seemed out to pick a fight. Doc Holliday roundly abused Ike verbally, and as Ike was unarmed, Morgan Earp told him to “heel” himself and stay that way.

Next morning, when Ike was standing on a street corner with a rifle in one hand, City Marshal Virgil Earp snuck up behind him and hit him with the barrel of his pistol, disarmed him, and took him to court. There, Justice Wallace fined Ike twenty-five dollars. In the courtroom, Morgan Earp taunted Ike again, and tried to force a pistol on him.

A. Bauer, in a deposition, outlined the next actions.

Wyatt Earp met Tom McLaury on the street and, for no apparent reason, pistol-whipped him. McLaury was unarmed.

About this time, Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury rode into town. A neighbor, Major Fink, accompanied them. They’d just settled down for a drink in a saloon when they heard what had happened to Ike and Tom. Frank said, “We won’t drink,” and they separated to search for their brothers.

Billy Clanton is the tall man in the back row

Billy Clanton ran into Billy Claiborne, and they went around to several livery corrals looking for Ike’s horse. In his deposition, Clairborne said Billy told him that he wanted Ike to go home. “I don’t want to fight anyone,” Billy said, “and nobody wants to fight me.”

The Gunfight at OK Corral

The two sets of brothers, Clantons and McLaurys, stood with Sheriff John H. Behan (they say Behan was trying very hard to avert a gun fight) in a vacant lot next to Fly’s Photography Gallery.

Here’s Ike Clanton’s version of the action, according to his deposition.

The Earps and Doc Holliday approached. Virgil said, “Throw up your hands!” The someone else, probably Wyatt, said, “You sons of bitches have been looking for a fight and now you can have one!”

Billy Clanton put his hands in the air and cried out, “Don’t shoot me” I don’t want to fight!”

Morgan Earp shot him, and he fell against the house behind him. Before he could draw his pistol, he was shot through the right wrist.

Seeing Wyatt’s pistol pointed at him, Ike Clanton grabbed Wyatt’s arm and held it a few seconds. While he was doing this, Wyatt fired. Ike released his arm and ran for the cover of Fly’s gallery. Several shots followed him.

Billy managed to draw his pistol with his left hand. He fought back, wounding Virgil and Morgan Earp. He tried to cock the pistol for another show, but lacked the strength.

Fly came from his gallery with a rifle. “Someone take that pistol away from that man or I will kill him,” he said, referring to Billy. He was told to do it himself. Fly wrenched the pistol from Billy’s weakened grasp. Billy said, “Give me some more cartridges.”

According to his deposition, Wesley Fuller saw the Earps and Holliday going down Fremont Street and tried to reach Billy Clanton to warn him of the impending trouble. He arrived too late, but was able to watch the gunfight from the shelter of an alley. Seeing Billy rolling on the ground in agony, Fuller picked him up and carried him into a small house on the corner of Fremont and Third streets.

“Look and see where I’m shot,” Billy said. Fuller found one wound in the left breast from which the lung was oozing, and one in the right side of the belly beneath the twelfth rib. Fuller told Billy he would live. “Get the doctor and give me something to put me to sleep,” Billy pleaded.

Dr. Giberson, who was there, said, “It’s no use to give him anything.”

About that time, Thomas Keefe, a carpenter, helped carry the dying Tom McLaury into the same house. He said he heard Billy screaming in pain. “They have murdered me!” he said. As curious onlookers crowded in, he again said, “I’ve been murdered. Go away. Give me some air.”

Keefe said Billy “turned and kicked and twisted in every manner with pain.” Dr. Millar arrived and Keefe held Billy while he injected two syringes of morphine near his stomach wound. Billy died about 15 minutes later.

An article in the Tombstone Nugget had this to say about the incident:

The firing altogether didn’t occupy more than 25 seconds, during which time fully 30 shots were fired. After the fight was over, Billy Clanton, who, with wonderful vitality, survived his wounds for fully an hour, was carried into a house where he lay, and everything possible was done to make his last moments easy. He was game to the last, never uttering a word of complaint, and just before breathing his last, he said, “Goodbye boys; go away and let me die.”

That evening Finn Clanton, brother of Billy and Ike, came into town, and placing himself under the guard of the Sheriff, visited the morgue to see the remains of his brother, and then passed the night in jail in the company of the other brother . . . .

. . . At the morgue the bodies of the three slain cowboys lay side by side, covered with a sheet. Very little blood appeared on their clothing, and only on the face of young Billy Clanton was there any distortion of the features or evidence of pain in dying. The features of the Two McLowery (sic) boys looked as calm and placid in death as if they had died peaceably. No unkind remarks were made by anyone, but a feeling of unusual sorrow seemed to prevail . . . .

The next day, a funeral was held for Billy and the McLaury brothers. We’ll talk about that next.

I’ll add the photos tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- III

Last instalment, the year was 1877 and the Clantons had moved to a ranch 14 miles from Tombstone. About this time, oldest son John Wesley Clanton and his family went back to California.

In those days, the cattle business was good in southern Arizona, and the Clantons prospered. They soon met the McLaury brothers, Frank and Tom, young men who had a ranch in the Sulphur Springs Valley. The Clantons and the McLaurys became close friends and occasionally did business together.

Tom & Frank McLaury

This time frame was also the one in which the Clantons and McLaurys somehow made enemies of the Earp brothers, who were Tombstone gamblers and part-time lawmen. The enmity also included Doc Holiday, the dentist gunman.

No one really knows what started the feud, but a story often told says it stemmed from a robbery of the Benson stage on March 15, 1881. Apparently Billy Clanton saw Doc Holiday kill stage driver Budd Philpot. Also, some of the robbers were acquaintances of Ike Clanton. And, the story has it that Wyatt Earp, then running for Sheriff of Cochise County, approached Ike Clanton, asked him to set up those “acquaintances,” and offered Ike the reward money if Wyatt could kill them and “get the glory.”

The plot got curiouser and curiouser and ended up creating a burning hatred between the two factions.

Old Man Newton Clanton was ambushed and killed in Guadalupe Canyon, New Mexico, in August 1881, along with four other men. He had freighted supplies in his wagon to ranchers in Animas Valley, and was returning with a herd of cattle. The men were attacked at dawn, and some were still in their bedrolls. Two men escaped. The attackers were Mexicans, and the newspaper called it murder.

In the next instalment, we’ll get into the Gunfight at OK Corral.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- II

Sorry I don’t have any photos today. Instead, we’ll have to make do with some newspaper articles about the Clantons.

From the Tucson Citizen in 1873

Another New Settlement
Newman H. Clanton and family settled on the Gila Valley, a few miles above old Camp Goodwin, August 3rd of this year. He at once laid claim to water, located a line, and now has a ditch two and a half miles in length which carries 1880 cubic feet. There is one body of fully 25,000 acres of very rich land and Mr. Clanton feels sure that with proper management he has water enough to irrigate the whole tract. This year he has cultivated 100 acres and is now preparing and will sow and plant at least 600. He was in Tucson early this week procuring utensils and supplies. He says the settlement now consists of three families . . . in all, fifteen persons, and that more are coming. He is very anxious to have families settle there so that a public school may be opened just as soon as possible. Families will be supplied with a water privilege at the actual pro-rata cost of the ditch, and accommodated with all the information and assistance Mr. Clanton can afford. We have passed over the land and know it to be rich as can be found anywhere. The water of the river is of first quality and the locality is very healthy as far as known. The settlement is near Camp Grant, not very far from Camp Apache and Bowie, and within reasonable distance of the important mining camp of Clifton. All these places must have much grain, vegetables and all sorts of farm and dairy products.

Jump to 1874
Again, the Tucson Citizen

All who live in the Gila Valley near old Camp Goodwin and at Pueblo Viejo are enthusiastic in their accounts of the richness of the soil and the ease with which a man may make a farm.
. . . About 12 months ago, he (Newman Clanton) moved to a point near old Camp Goodwin and about 160 miles northeast of Tucson and within Pima County. The place is now called Clantonville.

The paper goes on to invite one and all to move to Clantonville and obtain “land abundant at government price . . .”

Also in this time frame, Newman apparently ran the Clanton House Hotel at Fort Thomas.

Clantonville did not thrive. In 1877, Newman and sons Phin, Ike, and Billy moved to a ranch on the San Pedro River near Charleston, some fourteen miles from Tombstone.

Terry “Ike” Clanton standing by the single adobe wall left from the old ranch house, ca. 1998. See the Clanton Family website for details.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meet the Clantons -- I

In the telling of the gunfight at OK Corral, the Clantons and the McLaurys are made out to be the baddies. From the files of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, let’s meet the Clantons.

Newman Haynes Clanton, often known as Old Man Clanton, father of John Wesley, Phin, Ike, and Billy, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, in 1816. His father, Henry Clanton, is said to have fought in the Battle of New Orleans.

Newman married Mariah P. Kelso on January 5, 1840, in Callaway County, Missouri. She was 16. Newman and Mariah settled down on a farm, where their first three children were born:

Newton "Old Man" Clanton

John Wesley in 1841, Phineas Fay in 1845, and Joseph Isaac in 1847.
The family later surfaces in Illinois, where daughter Mary Elsie was born in 1852, and then in Dallas, Texas, where they were farming again. Poll tax records of the time show Newman owning from six to thirty-eight cattle during his Dallas years. Two more children were born there, Hester in 1854 and Alonzo in 1859.

Two years later, the family moved to Hamilton County, Texas, a wild unsettled area with many hostile Indians. Then the Civil War broke out.

A company of company of Home Guards was organized under Captain W. H. Cotton. Records show Newman Clanton as a private and John Wesley Clanton, 19, a first corporal. John Wesley lasted only about six weeks. He then left Ellis Country and enlisted in the Twelfth Regiment of Texas Cavalry. Four months later, he left and went home to Hamilton County, a deserter. He was caught and court martialed, but not hanged. He lost his pay and gained a dishonourable discharge . . . but he also enlisted in various other places. Once in Waco, March 1862. Once again in Ft. Herbert in 1863 (he went AWOL three months later). And yet again in his home county of Hamilton, where he served 23 days at two dollars a day. He claimed he was never paid.

Newton was not idle during the war, as Mariah gave birth to their seventh and last child, William Harrison Clanton, in 1862.

After the end of the war, Newman, John Wesley and Phin went west, and showed up on a list of people at Fort Bowie, Arizona, on route to California, who formerly belonged to the Confederate States Army. The list also included physical descriptions. Newman Clanton: six feet one inch, fair complexion, light hair, and blue eyes. John Wesley Clanton: five feet eleven inches, fair complexion, light hair, and brown eyes. Phin Clanton: Five feet eight inches, fair complexion, brown hair, and blue eyes.

Joseph Isaac "Ike" Clanton

The family left Fort Bowie and headed for California, but Mariah died some time in 1866, leaving Newman with seven children ranging from four to twenty-five years of age. John Wesley got married in California to Nancy Rose Kelsey, 17, and his brother Phin lived with them. Their first child, Mary, was born in California in 1870.

Clanton daughter Mary Elsie also married in California to John Franklin Slinkard. They had five children.

The next we hear of the Clanton family, they are in Arizona, and we’ll take up that story in the next instalment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meeting of the Western Union

Fifty members of Western Union, an organization of Western fiction and movie buffs in Japan, met at the Chuck Wagon restaurant in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday, July 10, 2010. It was the 10th meeting of the group, which was formed three years ago, in the wake of another organization (which I don't remember the name of). The "meeting" went on for three hours over TexMex food and pitchers of beer. Above is the commemorative picture of the bunch. I'm somewhere in the back in a brown straw hat.

Chuck Tyrell was a guest speaker. Black Horse Westerns in general and Guns of Ponderosa in particular received a rounding recommendation from Tyrell. Several of the members wanted specific information on how to purchase BHW, which I provided. I mentioned Amazon around the world and suggested The Book Depository.

Duke Hiroi is Western Union's gun expert. His amazing knowledge of guns of the west puts me to shame and would be a lesson to all writers of western fiction. I'll have more to say about Duke as we learn what kinds of model guns are available for the Western fan in Japan.

Remington New Model Army model gun

In Japan, people are not allowed to own or carry handguns (except the police and the gangsters, of course) so a model gun industry has grown up to serve the men and women who like the feel of a gun in their hands.

I was at a meeting of the Western Union (more to come later) on Saturday, where friend Duke Hiroi showed me an article he'd written in COMBAT magazine. It was a review of a new model from Craft Apple Works, a replica of the 1858 Remington New Model Army six shooter.

Duke had high praise for the authenticity of the model. This CAW Remington is of cast zinc alloy, except for the brass trigger guard and certain internal parts that are milled steel. As a result, the weight is somewhat lighter than the real thing. However, weights and special cylinders can be ordered to put the model's weight at about 2.2 pounds.

The Remington New Model Army was a popular gun in the cap-and-ball era. It had a top strap to the frame that held the barrel firmly. Cylinders could be pre-loaded with paper cartridges and minie-ball-like conical bullets and four or five carried on the person. After six shots, the cylinder could be quickly and easily changed for another six rounds. The Colt dragoon and 1861 army and navy pistols had no top strap, which made replacing the cylinders a time-consuming job. Colt's six-shooters didn't come with a top strap until the Colt SAA Frontier and Peacemaker models came out.

I'm sure we'll hear more from Duke as time goes on.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Woman marshal in the Gateway to the West

Saint Louis, Missouri, calls itself the Gateway to the West. In the late 1880s, the city was beset by a ring of counterfeiters. But an intrepid U.S. Marshal put an end to their activities -- U.S. Marshal Phoebe W. Couzins. And it was not the first time she had led her deputies in the pursuit and capture of criminals who broke federal law.

Phoebe was made a deputy marshal by her father, U.S. Marshal J.E.D. Couzins, in 1887. She was the first. Couzins was confident Phoebe could do the job because she'd already racked up a list of firsts. She was the first woman graduate of Washington University Law School in Saint Louis. She was the first woman to pass the Missouri bar exam. She was also the first professional woman lawyer in the United States. Becoming a U.S. Marshal by President Grover Cleveland merely added another first for Phoebe.

She was a well-known campaigner for women's rights, but died in 1913, seven years before the 19th amendment gave national suffrage to women. Rumor says she asked that her U.S. Marshal's badge be buried with her.

(From the files of the now-defunct National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History)
(Photo from

Saturday, July 3, 2010

How profitable was it to rob Wells Fargo?

In January 1885, J.B. Hume, chief of the Wells Fargo detective force filed a prepared statement on losses and casualties suffered by the company from 1870 to 1884.

The amount taken from Wells Fargo express shipments by stage robbers, train robbers, and burglars during those years totaled $415,312.

Rewards paid for the apprehension and arrest of the "bad guys", including a percentage of any money recovered, totaled $73,541.

Attorneys' fees paid for assisting in the prosecution of those apprehended came to $22,367.

Other "incidental" expenses incurred in connection with the robberies was $90,000.

Salaries of guards and special officers during these years totaled $326,517.

Thus, the total loss and costs for the fourteen years in question was slightly more than $927,700.

(From the files of the now-defunct National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Little-known facts about outlaws

How did Ella Watson hit the front page of the newspapers?

Better known as Cattle Kate, Watson was hanged on the Sweetwater for supposedly disposing of stolen cattle.

What famous Indian scout, plainsman, Pinkerton man, and Rough Rider was handed in Cheyenne for murder?

Tom Horn. He was hanged November 20, 1903, for allegedly murdering William Nickell, a young boy.

Who was uncle to the Ford boys, guerrilla raider with the Jameses during the Civil War, and later a gang member?

Jim Cummings, also known as "Windy Jim," the last of the raiders to die, in 1929, at Higgensville, Missouri.

When and where was Nathan D. Champion, who was slain in Wyoming during the Johnson County War, born?

September 29, 1857, near Round Rock, Texas.

Who was the man known in Texas as Billy Leroy?

Billy Leroy was William Henry Harrison Bonney, Jr., otherwise known as Billy the Kid.

How did Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy the Kid, die?

He was killed from ambush by Jim Miller, but Wayne Brazel took the blame. The dastardly deed took place February 28, 1908. Brazel was acquitted and dropped out of sight.

How many men did J. Pinckney "Pinky" Higgins kill and what happened to him?

Higgins led a faction in the Horrell-Higgins feud. He killed 19 men. He died of a heart attack in 1893.

A well-known bandit, sometimes known as Buck, was tried for train robbery in Missouri and for murder in Alabama, and was acquitted both times. What was his real name?

Alexander Franklin "Frank" James, brother to Jesse.

Who was the famous gunman who rode through Old Mobeetie, Texas, in his birthday suit?

Robert Clay Allison

(From the files of the now-defunct National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review of The Killing Trail

Ron Scheel has reviewed The Killing Trail. See details here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Killing Trail

Robert Hale Ltd. informs me that The Killing Trail, my sixth Black Horse Western, will be published on June 30, 2010.

The Dylan brothers ride high in Ouray, Colorado, until they bully a drifter who leaves three of them dead in the street. Nat Dylan, the youngest, swears to hunt down the drifter, Jared Carter, and avenge his brothers. Carter’s trail leads into Arizona country where Dylan meets Wagonwheel owner Colonel Alton Jackson and hires on to kill Jared Carter. But the more he learns of Carter and Jackson, the more he finds himself on the wrong side. He meets Carmen Vasquez, who sees him as an honorable man, and he feels the mutual attraction. Still, on his honor he must call out Jared Carter, but can he survive a gunfight with the man who killed three Dylans by himself?

I think it's a good read. Anyone want to review it?


Monday, May 31, 2010

Meet the Apaches

Taken from the book Indians of Arizona

The Apaches have few legends. The only thing I have been able to find in reference to their belief in creation is the statement of Geronimo, given in his autobiography in the first chapter, which follows:

“In the beginning the world was covered with darkness. There was no sun, no day. The perpetual night had no moon or stars.

“There were, however, all manner of beasts and birds. Among the beasts were many hideous, nameless monsters, as well as dragons, lions, tigers, wolves, foxes, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and all manner of creeping things such as lizards and serpents. Mankind could not prosper under such conditions, for the beasts and serpents destroyed all human offspring.
“All creatures had the power of speech and were gifted with reason.

“There were two tribes of creatures: the birds, or the feathered tribe, and the beasts. The former were organized under their chief, the eagle.

“These tribes often held councils, and the birds wanted light admitted. This the beasts repeatedly refused to do. Finally the birds made war against the beasts.

“The beasts were armed with clubs, but the eagle had taught his tribe to use bows and arrows. The serpents were so wise that they could not all be killed. One took refuge in a perpendicular cliff of a mountain in Arizona, and his eye (changed into a brilliant stone) may be seen in that rock to this day. The bears, when killed, would each be changed into several other bears, so that the more bears the feathered tribe killed, the more there were. The dragon could not be killed, either, for he was covered with four coats of horny scales, and the arrows would not penetrate these. One of the most hideous, vile monsters (nameless) was proof against arrows, so the eagle flew high up in the air with a round, white stone, and let it fall on this monster's head, killing him instantly. This was such a good service that the stone was called sacred. They fought for many days, but at last the birds won the victory.

“After this war was over, although some evil beasts remained, the birds were able to control the councils, and light was admitted. Then mankind could live and prosper. The eagle was chief in this good fight; therefore, his feathers were worn by man as emblems of wisdom, justice and power.

“Among the few human beings that were yet alive was a woman who had been blessed with many children, but these had always been destroyed by the beasts. If by any means she succeeded in eluding the others, the dragon, who was very wise and very evil, would come himself and eat her babes.

“After many years a son of the rainstorm was born to her and she dug for him a deep cave. The entrance to this cave she closed and over the spot built a camp fire. This concealed the babe's hiding place and kept him warm. Every day she would remove the fire and descend into the cave, where the child's bed was, to nurse him; then she would return and rebuild the camp fire.

“Frequently the dragon would come and question her, but she would say, ‘I have no more children; you have eaten all of them.’
“When the child was larger he would not always stay in the cave, for he sometimes wanted to run and play. Once the dragon saw his tracks. Now this perplexed and enraged the old dragon, for he could not find the hiding place of the boy; but he said that he would destroy the mother if she did not reveal the child's hiding place. The poor mother was very much troubled; she could not give up her child, but she knew the power and cunning of the dragon, therefore she lived in constant fear.
“Soon after this the boy said that he wished to go hunting. The mother would not give her consent. She told him of the dragon, the wolves, and the serpents; but he said, ‘Tomorrow I go.’

“At the boy's request his uncle, (who was the only man then living), made a little bow and some arrows for him, and the two went hunting the next day. They trailed the deer far up the mountain and finally the boy killed a buck. His uncle showed him how to dress the deer and broil the meat. They broiled two hind quarters, one for the child and one for his uncle. When the meat was done they placed it on some bushes to cool. Just then the huge form of the dragon appeared. The child was not afraid, but his uncle was so dumb with fright that he did not speak or move.

“The dragon took the boy's parcel of meat and went aside with it. He placed the meat on another bush, and seated himself beside it. Then he said, ‘This is the child I have been seeking. Boy, you are nice and fat, so when I have eaten this venison I shall eat you.’ The boy said, ‘No, you shall not eat me, and you shall not eat that meat.’ So he walked over to where the dragon sat and took the meat back to his own seat. The dragon said, ‘I like your courage, but you are foolish; what do you think you could do?’ ‘Well,’ said the boy, ‘I can do enough to protect myself, as you may find out.’ Then the dragon took the meat again, and then the boy retook it. Four times in all the dragon took the meat, and after the fourth time the boy replaced the meat he said, ‘Dragon, will you fight me?’ The dragon said, ‘Yes, in whatever way you like.’ The boy said, ‘I will stand one hundred paces from you and you may have four shots at me with your bow and arrows, provided that you will then exchange places with me and give me four shots.’ ‘Good,’ said the dragon. ‘Stand up.’

“Then the dragon took his bow, which was made of a large pine tree. He took four arrows from his quiver; they were made of young pine tree saplings, and each arrow was twenty feet in length. He took deliberate aim, but just as the arrow left the bow the boy made a peculiar sound and leaped into the air. Immediately the arrow was shivered into a thousand splinters, and the boy was seen standing on the top of a bright rainbow over the spot where the dragon's aim had been directed. Soon the rainbow was gone and the boy was standing on the ground again. Four times this was repeated, then the boy said, ‘Dragon, stand here; it is my time to shoot.’ The dragon said, ‘All right, your little arrows cannot pierce my first coat of horn, and I have three other coats—shoot away.’ The boy shot an arrow, striking the dragon just over the heart, and one coat of the great horny scales fell to the ground. The next shot another coat fell, and then another, and the dragon's heart was exposed. Then the dragon trembled, but could not move. Before the fourth arrow was shot the boy said, ‘Uncle, you are dumb with fear; you have not moved; come here or the dragon will fall on you.’ His uncle ran toward him. Then he sped the fourth arrow with true aim, and it pierced the dragon's heart. With a tremendous roar the dragon rolled down the mountain side— down four precipices into a canyon below.

“Immediately storm clouds swept the mountains, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and the rain poured. When the rainstorm had passed, far down in the canyon below, they could see fragments of the huge body of the dragon lying among the rocks, and the bones of this dragon may still be found there.

“This boy's name was Apache. Usen taught him how to prepare herbs for medicine, how to hunt, and how to fight. He was first chief of the Indians and wore eagle's feathers as the sign of justice, wisdom and power. To him, and to his people, as they were created, Usen gave homes in the land of the west.”

Usen is the Apache word for God. It is used here because it implies the attributes of deity that are held in their primitive religion. (“Apache” means “Enemy") The Apaches believed that when God, or Usen, created the Apaches, he also created their homes in the west, and gave to them such game, fruits and grain as they needed for their sustenance. He gave them different herbs to restore their health when disease attacked them. He taught them where to find these herbs and how to prepare them for medicine, and gave them, above all, a climate, with all needed clothing and shelter at hand. This was in the beginning, and accounts, perhaps, for the intense love the Apache held for his home in the west, for he believed that these ranges were provided for him and his posterity by Usen himself.

Geronimo says that when a child, his mother taught him the religion of his people; taught him of the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms. She also taught him to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom, and protection. They never prayed against any person, but if they had aught against an individual, they, themselves, took vengeance. They were taught that Usen did not care for the petty quarrels of men.

In gathering herbs and administering medicine, says Geronimo, as much faith was held in prayer as in the actual effect of the medicine. Usually about eight persons worked together in making medicine, and there were forms of prayer and incantations to attend each stage of the process. Four attended to the incantations, and four to the preparation of the herbs. Their life had a religious side. They had no churches, no religious organizations, or Sabbath day, or holidays, yet they worshipped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing and pray. Sometimes a smaller number, perhaps two or three. The songs had a few words, but were not formal. The singer would occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual tone sound. Sometimes they prayed in silence; sometimes each one prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all. At other times one would rise and speak of their duties to one another and to Usen. Their services were short.

The Apaches recognized no duties to any man outside of their tribe. It was no sin to kill enemies or to rob them. However, if they accepted any favor from a stranger, or allowed him to share their comforts in any way, he became (by adoption) related to the tribe, and they must recognize their duty to him.

This probably accounts for the influence which Captain Jeffords exercised over Cochise's band. He had entered Cochise's camp alone; enjoyed his hospitality, and thereafter became, according to Jeffords' own statement, his brother.
When disease or pestilence abounded, they were assembled and questioned by their leaders to ascertain the cause, and what harm had been done, and how Usen could be satisfied. Sometimes sacrifice was necessary. Sometimes the offending one was punished. This was the case, undoubtedly, where the medicine man, having failed in his cure, denounced some old woman or old man as a witch, who was promptly sacrificed on the spot.

Mike Burns, in his writings about the Apaches, gives the following in reference to the medicine men, etc.:

“It was not every Indian who knew what plants and herbs were good for medicine, only the medicine men and the medicine women, who, it was believed, were influenced by a great spirit. It was also believed that some of the women were influenced by a great evil spirit, and those who have that power do not willingly attend anyone who is sick, unless forced to come and sing over the persons whom they have made sick. Usually a great medicine man claims that the interpretation revealed to him in a vision, points to a certain person as having brought the sickness to the patient, and she must come close or beside the patient and begin singing for the evil spirit to come out from the person's heart. They sing to the evil spirit to drive out the wormy things which are destroying the heart. Some men, too, are suspected of having an evil spirit influence them, and they will be strung up to a tree until they confess that they did the things complained of or of which they are suspected. When they confess they are asked if they are willing to go to the sick person and drive out the evil spirit, which they usually agree to do, and if the sick person has not gone too far, they generally recover. If, however, the sick person should die, then the man or woman who is influenced by the evil spirit, and who is singing over the patient, is usually killed on the spot. This killing of those who are suspected of possessing an evil spirit, has been the cause of many of the separations which occur in the Apache tribes, for the killing of one person on this account sometimes brings on the killing of others, and then families separate. Some days they would have the ghost dance, fixing themselves up like skeletons, their heads being so painted that they appeared to have no hair, and very small eyes.

“At one time there were fifteen hundred Indians sick at Camp Cottonwood, and it was believed that Dr. Williams had put something in the beef to make the Indians sick. Then a man died, and a medicine man in his visions had foreseen that a young woman in one of the camps was possessed of many evil spirits and had caused that man to die. So a brother of the dead man went to the woman and killed her. This woman had no mother, but had a father, and there was a young single man who lived with them. The father made no attempt to do anything after his daughter was killed, but the young man went over to the other camp and shot at the man who had killed the young woman. He missed his man, and killed another man, and then lit out for the hills. This left the old man alone in the camp, and the other parties came and killed him.

“In another camp a boy died; the father blamed the mother for the death of the boy, so he killed her. Shortly afterwards disease spread all through the camps, and family after family died. General Crook's favorite chief, Chemasella, died, and the whole camp turned out and killed eight women and four men. This created much confusion and the soldiers had to come in and stop the slaughtering of the innocents. The soldiers arrested some of the chiefs and the military interpreter for not informing them of the condition of affairs, and took them down to Camp Verde and put them in the guard house. Many of the Indians died of chills and fever, and other causes, and the medicine men blamed the evil spirited women, and many women and men were killed. From that day to this the singing by a medicine man or woman over a sick Apache has been stopped.”

If, however, an Apache allowed his aged parents to suffer for food or shelter; if he had neglected or abused the sick; if he had profaned their religion, or had been unfaithful, he might be banished from the tribe. The medicine man was, perhaps, the most influential person in every tribe. The chiefs led their bands in war, but the medicine man was the arbiter. He consulted the fates and every revelation came to him from Usen as to whether they should go upon any expedition; how they should be equipped, etc.

They had a firm belief in the merits of hoddentin, a flour made from the pollen of the tule. This, according to Bourke, was carried by every warrior on every expedition as a protection. A small sack of it was given to every child born into the tribe. It was used in their incantations to the sun, to the moon and to the stars.


It was believed that this hoddentin, scattered along the face of the heavens, formed the Milky Way. It was used to a very great extent in all their ceremonials.

Bourke, in the Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, of the Smithsonian Institute, for the years 1887–88, gives a very elaborate and succinct account of some of the Apache Dances, their customs, etc., but confesses that he has been unable to obtain anything much as to their religious beliefs. They never scalped their enemies, and they buried their dead in the crevices of the rocks, far away from human eye.

Captain Bourke's description of the dances follows:

“The spirit dance is called ‘cha-ja-la.’ I have seen this dance a number of times, but will confine my description to one seen at Fort Marion (St. Augustine, Fla.), in 1887, when the Chiricahua Apaches were confined there as prisoners. A great many of the band had been suffering from sickness of one kind or another and twenty-three of the children had died; as a consequence, the medicine-men were having the Cha-ja-la, which is entered into only upon the most solemn occasions, such as the setting out of a war party, the appearance of an epidemic, or something else of like portent. On the terreplein of the northwest bastion, Ramon, the old medicine-man, was violently beating upon a drum, which, as usual, had been improvised of a soaped rag drawn tightly over the mouth of an iron kettle, holding a little water.

“Although acting as master of ceremonies, Ramon was not painted or decorated in any way. Three other medicine-men were having the finishing touches put to their bodily decoration. They had an under-coating of greenish brown, and on each arm a yellow snake, the head toward the shoulder blade. The snake on the arm of one of the party was double-headed, or rather had a head at each extremity.

“Each had insignia in yellow on back and breast, but no two were exactly alike. One had on his breast a yellow bear, four inches long by three inches high, and on his back a kan of the same color and dimensions. A second had the same pattern of bear on his breast, but a zigzag for lightning on his back. The third had the zigzag on both back and breast. All wore kilts and moccasins.

“While the painting was going on Ramon thumped and sang with vigor to insure the medicinal potency of the pigments and the designs to which they were applied. Each held, one in each hand, two wands or swords of lathlike proportions, ornamented with snake-lightning in blue.

“The medicine-men emitted a peculiar whistling noise and bent slowly to the right, then to the left, then frontward, then backward, until the head in each case was level with the waist. Quickly they spun around in full circle on the left foot; back again in a reverse circle to the right; then they charged around the little group of tents in that bastion, making cuts and thrusts with their wands to drive the maleficent spirits away.

“It recalled to my mind the old myths of the angel with the flaming sword guarding the entrance to Eden, or of St. Michael chasing the discomfited Lucifer down into the depths of Hell.

“These preliminaries occupied a few moments only; at the end of that time the medicine-men advanced to where a squaw was holding up to them a little baby sick in its cradle. The mother remained kneeling while the medicine-men frantically struck at, upon, around, and over the cradle with their wooden weapons.

“The baby was held so as successively to occupy each of the cardinal points and face each point directly opposite; first on the east side, facing the west; then the north side, facing the south; then the west side, facing the east; then the south side facing the north, and back to the original position. While at each position, each of the medicine-men in succession, after making all the passes and gestures described, seized the cradle in his hands, pressed it to his breast, and afterwards lifted it up to the sky, next to the earth, and lastly to the four cardinal points, all the time prancing, whistling, and snorting, the mother and her squaw friends adding to the dismal din by piercing shrieks and ululations.

“That ended the ceremonies for that night so far as the baby personally was concerned, but the medicine-men retired down to the parade and resumed their salutation, swinging, bending, and spinning with such violence that they resembled, in a faint way perhaps, the Dervishes of the East. The understanding was that the dance had to be kept up as long as there was any fuel unconsumed of the large pile provided; any other course would entail bad luck. It was continued for four nights, the colors and symbols upon the body varying from night to night.

“There were four medicine-men, three of whom were dancing and in conference with the spirits, and the fourth of whom was general superintendent of the whole dance, and the authority to whom the first three reported the result of their interviews with the ghostly powers.

“The mask and headdress of the first of the dancers, who seemed to be the leading one, was so elaborate that in the hurry and meager light supplied by the flickering fires it could not be portrayed. It was very much like that of number three, but so fully covered with the plumage of the eagle, hawk, and, apparently, the owl, that it was difficult to assert this positively. Each of these medicine-men had pieces of red flannel tied to his elbows and a stick about four feet long in each hand. Number one's mask was spotted black and white and shaped in front like the snout of a mountain lion. His back was painted with large arrow-heads in brown and white, which recalled the protecting arrows tightly bound to the backs of Zuni fetiches. Number two had on his back a figure in white, ending between the shoulders in a cross. Number three's back was simply whitened with clay.

“All these headdresses were made of slats of the Spanish bayonet, unpainted, excepting that on number two was a figure in black, which could not be made out, and that the horizontal crosspieces on number three were painted blue.
“The dominos or masks were of blackened buckskin, for the two fastened around the neck by garters or sashes; the neckpiece of number three was painted red; the eyes seemed to be glass knobs or brass buttons. These three dancers were naked to the waist, and wore beautiful kilts of fringed buckskin bound on with sashes, and moccasins reaching to the knees. In this guise they jumped into the center of the great circle of spectators and singers and began running about the fire shrieking and muttering, encouraged by the shouts and the singing, and by the drumming and incantation of the chorus which now swelled forth at full lung power.

“As the volume of music swelled and the cries of the onlookers became fiercer, the dancers were encouraged to the enthusiasm of frenzy. They darted about the circle, going through the motions of looking for an enemy, all the while muttering, mumbling, and singing, jumping, swaying, and whirling like the dancing Dervishes of Arabia.

“Their actions, at times, bore a very considerable resemblance to the movements of the Zuñi Shálako at the Feast of Fire. Klashidn told me that the orchestra was singing to the four willow branches planted near them. This would indicate a vestige of tree worship, such as is to be noticed also at the sun dance of the Sioux.

“At intervals the three dancers would dart out of the ring and disappear in the darkness, to consult with the spirits or with other medicine-men seated a considerable distance from the throng. Three several times they appeared and disappeared, always dancing, running, and whirling about with increased energy. Having attained the degree of mental or spiritual exaltation necessary for communion with the spirits, they took their departure and kept away for at least half an hour, the orchestra during their absence rendering a mournful refrain, monotonous as a funeral dirge. My patience became exhausted and I turned to go to my quarters. A thrill of excited expectancy ran through the throng of Indians, and I saw that they were looking anxiously at the returning medicine-men. All the orchestra now stood up, their leader (the principal medicine-man) slightly in advance, holding a branch of cedar in his left hand. The first advanced and bending low his head murmured some words of unknown import with which the chief seemed to be greatly pleased. Then the chief, taking his stand in front of the orchestra on the east side of the grove or cluster of trees, awaited the final ceremony, which was as follows: The three dancers in file and in proper order advanced and receded three times; then they embraced the chief in such a manner that the sticks or wands held in their hands came behind his neck, after which they mumbled and muttered a jumble of sounds which I cannot reproduce, but which sounded for all the world like the chant of the ‘hooter’ at the Zuni Feast of Fire. They then pranced or danced through the grove three times. This was repeated for each point of the compass, the chief medicine-man, with the orchestra, taking a position successively on the east, south, west, and north, and the three dancers advancing, receding, and embracing as at first.

“This terminated the ‘medicine’ ceremonies of the evening, the glad shouts of the Apache testifying that the incantations of their spiritual leaders or their necromancy, whichever it was, promised a successful campaign. These dancers were, I believe, dressed up to represent their gods or kan, but not content with representing them, aspired to be mistaken for them.”


Probably more than you ever wanted to know about Apache customs, but I thought I'd put it up anyway.


Monday, May 24, 2010

What's the truth about the Buntline Special?

The Colt pistol called the Buntline Special was introduced in 1876 -- a .45 caliber SAA with a 12-inch barrel. But the gun didn't gain notoriety until 1931, when Stuart Lake, in his book Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, wrote that dime novel writer Ned Buntline had commissioned the 12-inch Colts and given them to five frontier marshals whom he respected. The marshals were supposedly Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Neil Brown, Charlie Bassett, and Bill Tilghman.


Colt keeps meticulous records of all guns, serial numbers, and who purchased them. No group of five 12-inch revolvers were sold, and none at all were sold to Ned Buntline, who died in 1886. Furthermore, Buntline never travelled in the west after 1876, the year Wyatt became deputy city marshal of Dodge City, his first job as a lawman.

Movies and TV show Wyatt Earp using a Buntline in the Gunfight at OK Corral. Not so. The gun Wyatt used is on display at thge Wyatt Earp museum in Tombstone, Arizona, and it's not even a Colt. It's an engraved and silver-plated Smith & Wesson American in .44 caliber.

No records exist to prove that any of the other lawmen received Buntlines, either. In fact, Colt's records say that Bat Masterson personally ordered eight Colt's revolvers between 1879 and 1885. None had 12-inch barrels.

Finally, among the famous, Bill Tilghman. George Virgines spoke to Bill's widow, Soe Tilghman, while she was still alive, and she "could not recall her famous husband possessing or mentioning a "Buntline Special" Colt, nor did she ever see such a gun."

Recorded history, not hearsay, indicates that the Buntline Specials were a construct of Stuart Lake's active imagination, as were, it turns out, many of the supposed facts he wrote about Wyatt Earp.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Apache Kid

One of the infamous fugitives of the old west really was a trusted scout and sergeant under Miles. Here is a good account of his life.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wiley Haines, Deputy US Marshal

Judge Isaac C. Parker, well-known as the "hanging" judge, held forth in Fort Smith, Oklahoma, from 1875 to 1896. Parker's court had only 200 marshals to police 74,000 square miles of territory; the Indian Nations where outlaws hid from the law.

According to Wikipedia, In 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. Guilty pleas or convictions were handed down in 9,454 cases. Of the 160 (156 men and 4 women) sentenced to death by hanging, 79 were actually hanged. The rest died in jail, appealed, or were pardoned.

Wiley Green Haines was born in Monroe County, Oklahoma, in 1860. My interest in him stems from a cattle drive from Oklahoma to Arizona in 1876. Haines, 15 at the time, was a drover for the operation, which delivered 150 head of cattle to the army at Camp Verde. This army fort shows up in my first novel, Vulture Gold, so I have a personal interest. Camp Verde was not one of the posts that took care of reservation Indians, so I can only surmise that the beef was for soldiers.

Haines then spend two years cowboying in Arizona before returning to his native Oklahoma. There, he graduated from college, spent some time actually teaching at Southwest Baptist College, which had been established by his father, and then moved to California. His heart, however, seemed to have remained in Oklahoma, because as soon as Indian lands were opened up for settlement, Haines was there, running a real estate agency.

He became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1890 at the age of 30. His career as a lawman continued for 38 years. Thanks to great grandson, Dr. Joe D. Haines, the marshal's diaries and some of his letters have been preserved.

Of the territory he was asked to cover, the Osage Nation, Haines said, "The country was teeming with whiskey peddlers and horse thieves. What few were not following this living were cowed by the lawless and many failed to cooperate with the officers. This made it hard for the officers to discharge their duties." Master of the understatement, Deputy Haines.

Here's how Haines handled horse thieves. Note that this time frame is much later than those we use in our novels (or at least what I use).

February 4, 1900 Am notified that horse thieves have again made a raid on Indian horses. Perry King tells me they are on a trail north of Hominy Post.

I go north of Hominy post about one half mile and strike the trail. Ho-ke-os-ah and Perry King follow the trail, being joined by Tom Gilliland. With some difficulty we follow the trail near J.L. Freeman's. He joins us. We follow about eight miles east of there and discover the parties have quit the trail. But two of them have come back, evidently on look out. We find the trail again and soon discover the horses.

After having ridden the trail 35 miles we advance afoot. I send Perry King across branch. Tell Freeman to watch to the left and Tom Gilliland to go to my right. We advance. I observe several objects through the brush of the blackjack trees. I call, "Hey there! Hold up your hands!" I see a commotion but no sign of obeyance to the order. I fire and advance two or three steps. Call again, "Hold up your hands!" Am not obeyed. I fire again and advance and see two persons with hands up.

I discover that I have fatally shot two horse thieves, one namde Aruther Brooksher and the other gave his name as Henry Myers. I send for Dr. Unick. He advises that we remove Myers to a house. We go to (the) house, but when we arrive Myers is dead. Brooksher having died very soon after being shot. I go with corpese to J. L. Freeman's place. Stay all night, next day.

February 5, 1900 Take bodies of parties killed yesterday to agency. Acting Agent Wm. Leonard had them taken charge of by undertakers. They had five head of Indian horses with them.

Haines served long and well, once being very severely wounded. Just off his sickbed, he arrested Walter McLain, the last of the famous Doolin gang.

The deputy died of a heart attach on September 24, 1928. His obituary in the Tulsa World said:

There was in the time of Haines, Bud Ledbetter, and Frank Canton, no elaborate law organization. An officer was then literally the law and nothing but his judgement and his trigger finger stood between him and extermination. He had nowhere to pass the buck, no alibi, no reinforcements. It was often a case of a lone man against a pack of cunning devils long used to the brush and the cave. These men of law had no brass bands, typewriter, or press agents, and they had to be deadly as rattlesnakes.

Haines, like most of the real officers of his time, was rather modest and unpretentious. Practically none of the old-time officers -- with the exception of Heck Thomas -- had the courtly manner, the dramatic look, or the towering presence. They were the forerunners of our civilization and the job was a grim one. They were just as far from the movie type of gunfighter as possible. They were direct representatives of the United States, and they acted directly.

The passing of these unromantic men constitues the passing of a romantic era. it was a rough and ugly era, but in the light of that which came after, it was heroic and exciting.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Arizona's immigrant law

The United States probably accepts more immigrants than any other country in the world (That's what I feel, not what I know.). Yet the government has no idea who those immigrants are or where they live. I have been a legal resident of Japan for more than 30 years. When I arrived, I had three months in which to register at my local city office and receive an Alien Registration Card that attested to my legal right to be in Japan as a non-Japanese citizen. If asked by someone in authority, I must produce that card. It's not heavy. It doesn't weigh me down. And it does not contain information on my race or religion. It only has my name, my nationality, my current address, my place of birth, when I arrived in the country, when I last registered as an Alien, when I must renew the registration (this year), and my Alien Registration Number. Are Japanese bigots because they require me, a guest in their country, to carry proof of my situation in the country? I think not. And I think it is just as logical to require guests in the United States (people who are not citizens of the country) to register and to renew their registry, just like you would renew your driver's license.

I'm adding something that came from the older sister of a high school classmate because it explains the feelings of people in Arizona. I do not attest to its veracity. I don't know if a state senator actually wrote it. Still, the contents show what some people in Arizona feel.

* * *

I'm Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. I want to explain SB 1070 which I voted for and was just signed by Governor Jan Brewer. Rancher Rob Krantz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago. I participated in a senate hearing two weeks ago on the border violence, here is just some of the highlights from those who testified.

The people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico Border have for years been terrorized and have pleaded for help to stop the daily invasion of humans who cross their property . One Rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people a DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles.

Another rancher testified that daily drugs are brought across his ranch in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards. These people are violent and they will kill anyone who gets in the way. This was not the only rancher we heard
that day that talked about the drug trains.

One man told of two illegals who came upon his property one shot in the back and the other in the arm by the drug runners who had forced them to carry the drugs and then shot them. Daily they listen to gun fire during the night it is not safe to leave his family alone on the ranch and they can't leave the ranch for fear of nothing being left when they come back.

The border patrol is not on the border. They have set up 60 miles away with check points that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing them, if they get their hands on them then they can take them back across the border.

Federal prisons have over 35% illegals and 20% of Arizona prisons are filled with illegals. In the last few years 80% of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been by an illegal.

The majority of people coming now are people we need to be worried about. The ranchers told us that they have seen a change in the people coming they are not just those who are looking for work and a better life.

The Federal Government has refused for years to do anything to help the border states. We have been over run and once they are here we have the burden of funding state services that they use. Education cost have been
over a billion dollars. The health care cost billions of dollars. Our State is broke, $3.5 billion deficit and we have many serious decisions to make. One is that we do not have the money to care for any who are not here legally. It has to stop. The border can be secured. We have the technology we have the ability to stop this invasion. We must know who is coming and
they must come in an organized manner legally so that we can assimilate them into our population and protect the sovereignty of our country. We are a nation of laws. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens and to protect the integrity of our country and the government which we live under.

I would give amnesty today to many, but here is the problem, we dare not do this until the Border is secure. It will do no good to forgive them because thousands will come behind them and we will be over run to the point that there will no longer be the United States of America but a North American Union of open borders. I ask you what form of government will we live under?
How long will it be before we will be just like Mexico, Canada or any of the other Central American or South American countries? We have already lost our language, everything must be printed in Spanish also. We have already lost
our history it is no longer taught in our schools. And we have lost our borders.

(one paragraph edited out -- CTW)

Maybe it is too late to save America. Maybe we are not worthy of freedom anymore. But as an elected official I must try to do what I can to protect our Constitutional Republic. Living in America is not a right just because you can walk across the border. Being an American is a responsibility and it comes by respecting and upholding the Constitution the law of our land which
says what you must do to be a citizen of this country. Freedom is not free.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My hero

Garet Havelock is the protagonist of Vulture Gold and Revenge at Wolf Mountain. Here's the study I did of him when I was just beginning to write the first novel. This must be nearly 30 years old.

How to be Garet Havelock

Never draw your gun unless you are going to pull the trigger
Never pull the trigger unless you are aiming to kill
Never go against the law
Love your woman to distraction
Drink your coffee strong enough to melt spoons
Take care of your horse first, then look after yourself
Always be willing to help a neighbor
You can lose a fight, but never give up
Make friends with stray dogs
Carry moccasins in your saddlebags
Hanker for canned peaches
Want to live
Be ready to die
Pay attention to the little things
Always give the other person the benefit of the doubt
Know about the birds and the bees (birds can warn of enemies and bees can lead you to water)
Always carry hidden weapons
Dream about owning a horse ranch
Be quick to accept a badge
Wear a steel brace on your left leg
Respect your Cherokee Ma
Respect your Ranger Pa
Stop your horse just to watch the sun go down
Push your horse to a canter so you won't be late for dinner at home
Don't be afraid to tell her you love her
Be true to your obligations
Hope for a son
Love a daughter
Work from daylight to dark
Blaze your own trails
Back down from no man
Practice with your handgun at least every other day

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Chuck Tyrell western out in August

The Dylan brothers ride high in Ouray, Colorado, until they bully a drifter who leaves three of them dead in the street. Nat Dylan, the youngest, swears to hunt down the drifter, Jared Carter, and avenge his brothers. Carter’s trail leads into Arizona country where Dylan meets Wagonwheel owner Colonel Alton Jackson and hires on to kill Jared Carter. But the more he learns of Carter and Jackson, the more he finds himself on the wrong side. He meets Carmen Vasquez, who sees him as an honorable man, and he feels the mutual attraction. Still, on his honor he must call out Jared Carter, but can he survive a gunfight with the man who killed three Dylans by himself?

The Killing Trail, a Black Horse Western by Chuck Tyrell, can now be pre-ordered from Amazon UK.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Butch Cassidy’s Girlfriend

For many years, John Stewart was the secretary of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History, an association that is now defunct. He lived in Logan, Utah, where he was a professor of English at Utah State University. He wrote of meeting Josie Bassett Morris, who was a girlfriend of Butch Cassidy (Robert LeRoy Parker) and other outlaws of that era.

Stewart made a special trip to Diamond Mountain, a high plateau near Flaming Gorge, located midway between Vernal, Utah, and Brown’s Hole, a famous outlaw hideout.

According to Stewart, Josie lived in a lonely cabin far from the nearest ranch. Steward knocked on the cabin door, but there was no answer. He was about to leave when he noticed a silver-haired lady coming toward him, a rifle held in the crook of her arm.

Rumor had it that Josie had offed several husbands and disliked men in general, so Stewart was somewhat concerned to see her toting a rifle. She turned out to be warm and hospitable, and promptly invited Stewart into her one-room abode. To explain why she carried the rifle, Josie claimed to have been after a mountain lion that was bothering her cows.

Some said she was a rustler. Stewart chose to believe her mountain lion story. Stewart inventoried her furniture as a bed, a stove, a table and two chairs. The floor was a flat slab of native stone upon which Josie had built the cabin herself, she said.

Josie was born in the early 1870s, which put her in her 80s when Stewart visited – eighty, yet out hunting mountain lions! Or maybe rustling cattle.

The Bassett family lived in Brown’s Hole, where Josie was born, and she and her younger sister Ann were well acquainted with Butch, Sundance, Matt Warner, Elza Lay, Tom Horn, Isom Dart (the Outlaw Mail), and Speck Williams.

Minnie Crouse Rasmussen, a Brown’s Hole pioneer and friend to outlaws, believed the rumors that Josie was a rustler and a husband-killer. Minnie claimed to “know for certain” that Josie poisoned one of her husbands. Stewart, however, wrote that he was “well impressed with her and find it impossible to believe that she was a husband killer or a cattle rustler.” He goes on to say that if she did any of those things, it was for “good reason.”

Stewart signed off his account with “To me, on that lovely spring morning atop Diamond Mountain, Josie Bassett Morris seemed a beautiful. Gracious, queenly woman who had survived a difficult life in the rugged Old West, and who in her old age was still fiercely independent – a trait I particularly admire.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Mason County War

Range wars are part and parcel of the west. So why is an Arizona boy interested in the Mason County War (also called the Hoodoo War), which took place in Texas?


That’s where we first learn of Johnny Ringo.

Both sides in the war thought they were in the right. And throughout the fighting, no one was ever arrested. Dan Roberts, who led Texas Ranger Company D, said of the feud: “The reason that no arrests were made can only rest on hypothesis, and that is: the men supporting civil authority, needed no arrest, and those opposing it, urged equal claims of being right, but would not submit their grievances to law.”

According to historian Dave Johnson, the origins of the war were diverse and obscure . . . but the primary cause was greed over cattle. This was exacerbated by the friction between German immigrants and “American” residents of the county.

The Germans (18% of the population was “foreign born” in 1870), for the most part, had been loyal to the Union during the Civil War, and thus escaped much of the carpetbagging reconstruction tyranny of Governor E.J. Davis’s administration. This alone caused animosity.

The blood feud that backgrounds the Mason County War began with the shooting deaths of Tim Williamson on May 13, 1875, and Moses Baird on September 7, 1875.

And the death count kept climbing.

An young (20 years old) ex-Texas Ranger named Scott Cooley was the adopted son of Tim Williamson. Several men joined Cooley in his feud, including Johnny Ringo, as he tried to avenge his adoptive father.

In the 12-month period between February 1875 and January 1876, eleven men died in the Hoodoo War.

As the killing proceeded, Cooley and Ringo were arrested for threatening Sheriffs John Clymer and J.J. Strickland. They moved from county jail to county jail until a gang of cohorts broke them out of the Lampasas County jail in February.

Cooley soon died of brain fever (nothing to do with incarceration) and Johnny Ringo rode for Tombstone.

Read up about the Mason County War here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sharps, Remington & Winchester -- rifles that won the West

The Pedersoli Sharps rifle. Sharps was the quintessential buffalo gun. Christian Sharps's first breech-loading rifle came out in the late 1840s. The British government kept him in business with an order for several thousands of the rifle in the 1850s. By this time, the rifle was a favorite in the west as well. Civil War sharpshooters preferred Sharps weapons, mainly model 1859. America's buffalo herds rued the day the big Sharps .50 was produced, for it, along with the Remington rolling block rifle, was the main cause of the animal's near extinction. Sharps Big Fifty was accurate to at least 1,000 yards.

Remington rolling block rifles, although single-shot breechloaders, became one of the most popular rifles in the westward movement. They were also used abroad by the armed forces of Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Mexico, Egypt, and others. Of course the U.S. Navy, Army, and several state militias used the rifles as well. The Remingtons were simple, reliable, and came in several calibers. One famous story about Remingtons is the cattle drive from Texas to Montana, ramrodded by Nelson Story. Somewhere between Fort Laramie and Fort Reno, a band of Sioux ran off some of the cattle. Story had a case of Remington rolling block, which were among the first in the West at the time. He broke the guns out, distributed them to the drovers, and set out to get his beef back. The Indians stopped at what they felt was a safe distance and butchered one of the cattle. Story found them there, outgunned them with the Remingtons, and retrieved all his cattle but the butchered one.

The first famous Winchester repeating rifle was the Yellow Boy, model 1866, with a bronze gunmetal receiver. It used .44-40 rimfire cartridges.

To back up for a minute, the first sort-of cartridge was patented by Walter Hunt in 1848. It consisted of a conical lead ball filled with powder and sealed with a primer disk. The ammunition was produced in Norwich, Connecticutt by Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (Smith & Wesson), but the Volcanic ammunition didn't catch on.

Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. was founded in 1855. One of its investors was Oliver Winchester. Two years later, the company failed, and Winchester took over, taking the Volcanic patents to the New Haven Arms Co. New Haven produced the Henry repeater in 1860, which fired a .44 caliber rimfire cartridge. This is the gun that the Southerners said could be loaded on Sunday and fired the rest of the week.

The first Winchester came after the company changed its name to Winchester Repeating Arms Co., the famed Yellow Boy model 1866, which also used rimfire .44 cartridges.

The next big innovation came in 1873. Winchester model 1873, most often just called Winchester '73, starred in the movie of the same name, along with co-star James Stewart. All the guns were factory fired, and the most accurate were inscribed with One in a Thousand on the receiver. They would cost $100 where the run-of-the-mill '73 could be had for $20. But some thought the price well worth it. One in a Hundred Winchester '73 rifles sold for $40.

With the 1873 Winchester came the centerfire cartridge in .44-40. The final tally shows that 720,610 Model 1873 Winchesters were made and sold.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Making of Guns of Ponderosa -- Part XI Final

The hired gunslinger is nothing new in a western story. In Shane, Jack Palance nearly upstaged Alan Ladd as he played gunman Jack Wilson, one of the original men in black.
We saw the same kind of hired gunslinger in Crossfire Trail, too. And then John Wayne faced a bevy of professional gunmen in The Shootist.
I liked the way the late Robert B. Parker handled the professional gunmen in his novel Appaloosa and how Ed Harris did it in the film of the same name. Specifically, that guns for hire were known amongst those on both sides of the law, and that there was a kind of unwritten law between them that whatever shooting was to be done would not be from ambush or in the dark of night, but on mutually agreed killing fields and at a mutually agreed time. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch faced two gunmen, Matt Stryker, Tom Hall, and young Dan Brady faced three. Tom, however, was not in the initial gunfight. To find out how the final face-off turned out, you'll have to read the book.
And that's how Guns of Ponderosa was made.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Making of Guns of Ponderosa -- Part X

Richard Wheeler wrote a western novel entitled Drum's Ring. The heroine, Angie Drum, is a frontier woman who took over her husband's newspaper after his death. She uses the paper to expose graft and corruption in the town, including that of her own son, the mayor.

My Prudence Comstock is a young Angie Drum. She has found her niche in the newspaper business, and loves writing scorching pieces about the town, from her viewpoint. In reporting happenings, she also climbs on the soap box to preach to her readers about the kind of town she believes Ponderosa can be.

Although Prudence did not come to the same end as Angie, she did come very close.

Women in the west were no pansies. Take Lee Whipple-Haslam, for example. (notice the last name, lol). She was hired by Wells Fargo to ride a frequently robbed stagecoach. She was to provide detailed descriptions of the robbers. That she did. Height. Size. Clothing. Blood seeping through one man's glove. Cataract in another man's eye. Lee's testimony convicted the robbers. Lee was a typical westerner. She wanted revenge, was very aware of class distinctions, hated Chinese, and was all in favor of linchings. Information about Lee and other women in the west can be found in So Much to Be Done, a book edited by Ruth B. Moynhan, Susan Armitage, and Christiane Fischer Dichamp. You can find the book here.