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.