Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zebulon Pike & Some Z's

It's the last day of the A-to-Z Challenge, the zenith of our efforts, and I, for one, am feeling zealous and zen, with a zest for my continued writing.  This challenge has helped me regain discipline in dedicating time to my writing and blogging.  That, paired with the energy I came away from the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference with, has spurred me on to getting started on a new story that I'd barely come up with the concept on before.  In the middle of a dinner at the conference, I knew what I wanted to call it, and suddenly my brain was flooded with ideas, like I'd broken through a dam that had been holding them back.  I've since written several pages of notes, and I'm impatient to get started on it.

The idea had nothing to do with what was going on at the conference.  I think my creativity was just amped up by everything this month.  That is precisely why I think the conference is something I need each year, and why I feel I need to have outings with fellow writers on occasion.  I need to keep that energy flowing, and the best way to do that is to be writing and to hang out with like minded individuals, either online or in person.  I do think in person is necessary at least part of that time, though.  I don't get the same energy of online interaction as I do in person.  We, as writers, spend way too much time locked in our dungeons working, as it is, so getting out is vital.

I'm going to save my A-to-Z observations for my reflections post, since I'd already covered them in my "Z" post last year, thus failing to participate.  I do also want to say, though, to keep an eye on the A-to-Z Challenge Blog for information on the May 7th sign-ups for the reflections posts and on a little something Tina and I will be doing to help you get around to those blogs you missed during the challenge.

ebulon Pike

 The journey of Zebulon Pike, like that of Lewis and Clark, technically took place before the time known as the Wild West. However, the west was even more wild during his time, and it is his journey, along with Lewis and Clark's, that made western travel ultimately feasible.

Zebulon Montgomery Pike was born January 5, 1779, in Lamberton (Trenton), New Jersey. His father was an officer in the Continental Army, and Zebulon, Jr. joined him in 1794. In 1799, he reached first lieutenant. His first major assignment came in 1805, when he received orders to find the source of the Mississippi River. He and twenty men departed St. Louis on August 9, declared Leech Lake the headwaters of the Mississippi, built a fort, worked on Indian relations, and arrived home on April 30, 1806.
He wasn't home long before he was ordered back out again, this time to examine the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase (Lewis and Clark explored the north), and to find the sources of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. His expedition (known as the Pike Expedition) took off July 15, 1806. They discovered the Royal Gorge (in modern day Canon City, Colorado) and headed north, where they sighted a majestic peak (now named Pikes Peak, visible at its very best here in Colorado Springs, Colorado). They attempted to scale it, but it was November, and they were not properly prepared to climb a mountain, especially one over 14,000 feet tall. They were on Mount Rosa when the snow reached their waists, and they were forced to give up, lacking proper clothing, equipment and food. Because food is darned important.

They continued their mission, looking for the Red River's origin, but they became lost and, in February of 1806, they were captured by Spanish authorities, that area being part of New Mexico at the time, rather than Colorado. They were released July 1, 1807, because Spain and America were not at war, though they did peruse his documents and translate them before his release. They kept his documents, which weren't returned to the U.S. government until sometime in the 1900's, but he was able to write down much of it from memory, even producing a book that was translated into several languages: The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike to Headwaters of the Mississippi River, Through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, During the Years 1805-6-7. If it hadn't sold so well, I'd say that sounds like a fairly dull book, considering the title. Yeesh!

He climbed the ranks upon his return home, and departed for his final mission in 1813 as a brigadier general. He was leading his troops in the Battle of York (in Canada), when the Canadian military blew up their ammunition, sending rocks and debris flying. Zebulon was struck in the head and died, April 27, 1813. His body was shipped back to the States for burial.

He left behind quite a legacy. The mountain he failed to climb is still named after him, his book sold internationally, he did a lot of good with Indian relations, his discoveries furthered progress, and he fought bravely for his country. What more could you ask for?  

Ever heard of Zebulon Pike? Do you think his name rocks as much as I do?

May you find your Muse.

 *Letter Z courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,
**Portrait of Zebulon Pike, about 1810; Engraving by David Edwin; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA; Wikimedia Commons
***An 1839 engraving of the death of American brigadier general Zebulon Pike at the Battle of York near York, Upper Canada (present day Toronto) on 27 April 1813; See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Author Unknown

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for the Younger Brothers

ounger Brothers The Younger brothers were an important portion of the James-Younger Gang of the mid-west during the 1800's.  They came from a family with fourteen children, though only four of the brothers - Cole, Jim, Bob and John - were involved in the gang.  Their father, Henry Younger, was a good man, a prosperous land owner and, despite having slaves, a Union supporter who felt slavery should be abolished (I know...I'm confused, too).

Though Henry was a Union supporter, the Union guerilla group, the Jayhawkers, only saw that he was a slave owner, and during the Kansas-Missouri Border War, they regularly raided his farm, stealing from him, doing damage and, ultimately, killing him in July 1862.

One of his sons, Cole (below), had already joined the enemy, Quantrill's Raiders, the Confederate guerilla group, but his anger grew exponentially when his father was murdered.  He was part of the massive raid on Lawrence, Kansas where 200 males were killed (see my "Q" post on Quantrill's Raiders).

Jim joined Quantrill's Raiders the year after his father was killed, and Cole joined the actual Confederate Army.  In 1865, after much success for Cole and a prison term for Jim, stemming from the raid that saw Quantrill shot dead, the two returned home, only to find their farm ravaged.  It was then that the boys turned to robberies to bring in money and support their family.

Cole and Frank James had fought together under Quantrill, with Jesse eventually joining under Bloody Bill Anderson at the age of 16.  They weren't the only ex-soldiers who decided to fight back against banks and institutions, but they would become the most famous, first under Archie Clement, and then as the James-Younger Gang when Clement was killed.

On February 13, 1866, a large group of armed men stormed the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri, committing the first peace time, armed, day-time robbery in America, and netting $60,000.  A man on the street was shot and killed during this robbery.  Their first peace time victim.

By the time the gang split up, they were said to have robbed eleven more banks, seven trains and four stagecoaches.  Their body count was eleven, at the least.  The James brothers had also participated in breaking fellow guerillas out of a prison, leaving their guard dead.  Over the years, their gang had included the four Younger brothers, both James brothers, Archie Clement, Clell Miller, Charlie Pitts, Ace Nelson and many more.

Their last robbery as the James-Younger Gang occurred on September 7, 1876, in Northfield, Minnesota.  They attempted to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, half of the men inside, half out.  When a clerk refused to open the vault, he was shot.  This gunshot alerted the citizens of the town that something was wrong, and the armed citizenry opened fire on the outlaws posted outside the bank.  Clell Miller and Bill Chadwell were killed outright during the shooting, as well as a recent immigrant who got caught in the crossfire.  Cole and Bob Younger were both injured by gunfire, and they fled along with the other survivors.  The James brothers split off from the group, going their own way to evade the posse now on their heels.  The Youngers surrendered after a shootout that left Charlie Pitts dead.  They were charged and imprisoned, with a sentence of 25 years, on November 20, 1876.

Bob Younger died in prison of tuberculosis (age 36), but Jim and Cole were pardoned in 1901.  Jim killed himself in 1902 (age 54) when his parole terms wouldn't allow him to marry his sweetheart, and Cole died in 1916 (age 72), having been in a Wild West show with Frank James after his pardon.  Before his death, he also toured, letting people know why a life of crime wasn't worth it, and he published an autobiography: The Story of Cole Younger.  

Most have heard of the James Brothers, but had you heard of the Younger brothers? Had you heard of the Kansas-Missouri Border War?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter Y courtesy of Stenly,
**Young Cole Younger, By Chrisjackson at en.wikipedia [Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
***Taken in the aftermath of the raid on the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota on September 7, 1876. Lot of 15 glass plate negatives of various sizes. Includes 10 collodion negatives taken in 1876 and five dry plate negatives, likely produced for Huntington's 1895 publication Robber and Hero. The Story of the Raid on the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota by the James-Younger Band of Robbers in 1876; By I.E. Sumner, of Northfield (cowanauctions) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X Marks the Spot

For you treasure seekers out there, how about a few places where stolen loot was said to have been hidden by outlaws of the Wild West?  I chose a few favorites in various states.

marks the spot!

Kingman, Arizona (Canyon Station) - In 1873, a man named McCallum, along with a partner, robbed a Wells Fargo stagecoach of its strongbox, which held $72,000.  They buried the strongbox when a posse came after them, and refused to ever say where they'd buried it.  When McCallum was dying in prison, he told another man, who went in search of a specific marker.  When he got there, he found that someone owned the property and had planted an orchard.  To this day, no one has reported finding the strongbox.  The ruins of Canyon Station, a stagecoach station, still stand near Kingman.

Davis Mountain (in Arizona) - Before you look, Davis Mountain cannot be found on a map.  There is no such named mountain these days, but at some point there was.  It is described as dome-shaped, and it's said that one can see Sugarloaf Mountain and New Mexico from atop it.  There, you will supposedly find diamonds and a ton of gold, stolen by an unnamed bandit, who robbed a smuggler's train (in other words, the bandit robbed another bandit).  Search around online and you can find precise directions to the treasure.  Only thing left for you to do is figure out what peak is Davis Mountain!

Murrieta's Caches (California) - Joaquin Murrieta was a Mexican Patriot, forced off his land by American settlers in California.  He became a desperado, leading a group called The Five Joaquins.  They stole cattle and committed robbery and murder in the 1850's.  He is said to have hidden several large caches of stolen gold: 1. $175,000 hidden off HWY 299, between Burney, California and Hatcher Pass.  2. $200,000 off HWY 36, between Susanville and Freedonyer Pass.  3. $140,000, buried in a strongbox by the Feather River, in a canyon south of Paradise, California.  4. This is the one that got Murrieta killed.  The amount is not mentioned, but it was said to be a wagon load of gold.  He and his men had stolen it from a mine, but a group of Indians ambushed them and took it, hiding it in a burial cave near the Old Carrizo Stage Station in the Anza Borrego Desert.

Maybell, Colorado (Browns Park, Irish Canyon) - $30,000 in silver is buried somewhere in this area, thanks to the Wild Bunch.  In fact, it is said that much more treasure is in this area, courtesy of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch.

Fort Collins, CO (Virginia Dale Station) - In 1863, a stagecoach carrying $60,000 was robbed by six bandits.  They shot the box to open it and buried the treasure.  The U.S. Cavalry chased them down and killed them, finding only the bullet-riddled strongbox.

Stevens County, Kansas (Cimarron River) - Remember Belle Starr?  Well, her nephew Henry Starr came to fame as the Cherokee Bad Boy, a robber of banks, train depots and stores, along with his gang.  Before he died, shot during a robbery in Arkansas on February 23, 1921, he claimed he had robbed 21 banks, for more than $60,000, some of which was hidden along the Cimarron River in SW Kansas.

There are a ton more if you want to look them up at Legends of America.

<b>Up for a little treasure hunting?</b>

May you find your Muse.

*Letter X courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,
**Wells Fargo Express Co. Deadwood Treasure Wagon and Guards with $250,000 gold bullion from the Great Homestake Mine, Deadwood, S.D., 1890; John C. H. Grabill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wild Bill Hickok & Wicked Links

THREE MORE DAYS OF THE A-to-Z!  Hang in there, everyone!

First, a couple links:

I wanted to pass along Deanna Knippling's Writer's Negativity Checklist , which I found quite interesting.

Fear and Trembling is a paying market, looking for horror flash fiction, short stories, and some novellas, poetry and artwork.  Their submission window closes April 30, so hurry!

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts is taking flash fiction submissions of 600 words or less, and is a paying market.  Submission window closes in August, so you have a little more time for this one.  They accept fiction and creative non-fiction.

Yearning for Wonderland is hosting a flash fiction contest with the theme Unexpected Fairy Tales.  This closes April 29, eek, hurry!

This is the last week to get your flash fiction entries in for the Pikes Peak Branch, National League of American Pen Women Flash Fiction Contest.  The theme is Are you Devious at Heart?  May 1 is the deadline.  You can find details at that link or the tab at the top of my page.

ild Bill Hickok

On May 27, 1837, James Butler Hickok (Wild Bill) was born in Troy Grove, IL.  He grew up on a farm with his four brothers and two sisters, a farm that happened to be a stop on the Underground Railroad (which automatically makes them aces in my book!)  Due to their involvement with abolition, his father was killed when Hickok was fourteen years old, forcing him to find work to support his family.  When he was eighteen, he became a stagecoach driver, heading west to the land he'd always dreamed of.

He was already quite a marksman, but this was put to the test as a stagecoach driver, with frequent robbery attempts.  In 1858, his coach broke down in Colorado (you knew I'd work it in there somewhere, right?)  As they were waiting for help, he took a nap in some bushes.  The passengers, who had remained in the stagecoach, heard a ruckus and ran out of the stagecoach to discover Hickok fighting a bear.  Though he was hurt, he won the battle, killing the bear with his knife. (An alternative story says the road was blocked by the bear, so he got down and shot it to scare away, but the bullet merely angered it.  They did battle, he shot it again, and then he was able to slit its throat.) His injuries caused him to have to rest up in Monticello, Kansas, where he was asked to be a police officer.  He didn't do this long before he began working for the Pony Express out of Nebraska.

In 1861, a man named David McCanles got into an altercation with Hickok, which involved his son and two other friends.  McCanles' son was the only survivor, thanks to Hickok being a crack shot.  This was proven as self defense, and he moved on to Missouri, where he signed on with the Union Army on October 30 as a scout.  This is the point at which he earned the name Wild Bill.

He received an injury while fighting an Indian in the war, and left the Army.  He went to Hays City, Kansas, where he was sworn in as sheriff in 1869.  During his time as sheriff, he killed three men, giving up his position after a fight with several Cavalry men who attacked him in a saloon.  He killed one, injured another, and he was done with Hays City.

In 1871 he became City Marshal for Abilene, Kansas.  He took to hanging out with the infamous John Wesley Hardin, treating him almost like a son.  Their friendship was ruined one night when Hardin woke up in a hotel, thanks to someone snoring loudly in another room, and fired through the wall, killing the other man.  He jumped out the window and hightailed it out of town, knowing full-well Hickok could take him out.

For whatever reason, Hickok started focusing less on his police work and more on gambling, drinking and prostitutes.  On October 5, 1871, Hickok responded to gunshots in town.  He ran into a man named Coe, who claimed he'd been shooting at a dog.  When Hickok told him there were no guns allowed in town, Coe took a shot at him (it should be mentioned that they were also courting the same woman, so who knows what transpired).  Hickok fired back, shooting Coe in the stomach.  Footsteps sounded behind him, and Hickok turned and fired, killing his deputy.  The city of Abilene forced him out of his position and asked him to leave.

He tried to form his own theater company, but his first show in Niagara Falls was a massive failure that ended in a buffalo stampede, and he was forced to sell his buffalo to send his actors home.  Buffalo Bill Cody, an old friend of his, brought him into his show for a bit, but he wasn't happy there, so he left in 1874.

In 1875 he married a woman who had patiently waited for him for quite some time.  A month after their marriage, he left her behind to go look for gold.  He became fast friends with Calamity Jane, who later claimed they were together.  This claim was not supported, however.  He never got his gold stake, instead falling back into drinking and gambling.  His drunkenness kept him from being a good gambler, and he was arrested repeatedly on vagrancy charges.

One night, he beat a man named McCall soundly.  He felt sorry for the guy, so he gave him enough money to buy some dinner.  When he came in to gamble the next day, August 2, 1876, McCall snuck up behind him and shot him in the back of his head.  Coward.  The hand he was holding, two 8's and two Aces, became known as the Dead Man's Hand.  McCall was tried and found innocent in that town (Deadwood, Dakota Territory), but his sentence was declared unlawful due to Deadwood being Indian Territory at the time, so he was tried again in Yankton, South Dakota after traveling all over bragging about having killed the famous gunslinger.  He was found guilty and hanged March 1, 1877.

His wife never saw him again, but he had sent her a letter professing his love, which she received after his death.  Calamity Jane claimed him as the love of her life, and was later buried next to him.

My research on Hickok turned up some greatly varied information, so I pretty much went with anything that disagreed with Wikipedia (haha).  Actually, I always try to have at least three sources for these posts, and I go with the information that appears to be the most consistent.  This time, that was against Wikipedia's information.  It was claimed that he was a Jayhawker (the vigilante army that defied Quantrill's Bushwacker's.  I only found this in one place, and could not confirm it.  It was also claimed he was an Indian hater in one spot, but that was not confirmed anywhere else, either, and I'd prefer to not believe it.  Sigh.  There was a lot of other disparate information, which causes me to believe that the sensationlistic Penny Dreadful details have been well and truly mixed in with his information, and the truth is probably pretty filled in with fabled details.

<b>Have you heard information that was opposite any of this?  Which set of information do you believe?  Any links to share?</b>

May you find your Muse.

*Letter W courtesy of Ashley,
**James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok ca. 1873-74.; Wikimedia Commons
***Wild Bill Hickok with two Navy Colts in his famed handles-forward rig, with Bowie Knife; Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Valenzuela Gang & Veterans ([Mostly] Wordless Wednesday)

Before we start, I wanted to quickly announce that I'm guest posting over at the A-to-Z Challenge Blog today. Head over for a very brief post I hope will give you some encouragement to get through these last few days of the challenge.

Today is [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, and my word is Veterans.  These photos were taken in Washington D.C. and are a tribute to our veterans.

I know things have been pretty heavy the last couple posts (hey now, YOU try to find something fun and lighthearted about the Wild West for every letter of the alphabet - it's hard!), but I'd like to reassure you that the rest of the posts should be more along the same lines as the previous posts. More general interest and outlaws. Today's post is about the Valenzuela Gang. Okay, they weren't lighthearted, but at least we're back to outlaws.

alenzuela Gang. The Valenzuela Gang was made up of Inocente and Francisco Valenzuela, as well as whoever happened to ride with them. Nothing is known of their early lives, but they appeared along the Hassayampa River sometime in the 1880's, terrorizing those who lived there with robbery and murder. It has been theorized that they were secretly being led by a man named S.P. Stanton. He was a storekeeper who had attempted to be a Catholic priest years earlier, but was kicked out of Maynooth College for immoral behavior. It has never been proven that he had a connection to the Valenzuela Gang.

In the summer of 1886, the gang was thought to have murdered a man named Barney Martin, along with his entire family. They were traveling by stagecoach from Stanton, in Yavapai County, to Phoenix, due to issues with outlaws in the area (man, that's ironic). His arrival was looked forward to and awaited, his having been popular back in Stanton before he sold his shop. They had all their worldly possessions, along with the money from the property they'd sold. When they didn't arrive in Phoenix when expected, a search party was sent out looking for them. What they found was the family's charred wagon and belongings, as well as their burned remains.

 S.P. Stanton was charged with the murders of the Martin family, but nothing stuck. He was killed sometime after this in the same year, by a man whose sister he had previously insulted.

The rest of the gang managed to elude capture. In 1887, they shot the superintendent of the Vulture Mines, along with two guards. They were carrying a gold bullion bar worth $7000, which the gang tried to chop up with an axe, to no avail. Instead, they buried it and fled, splitting up in order to evade their pursuers, who included Sheriff Bud Gray and Jim Murphy, among others. They chased them across the desert until the outlaws were able to disappear into Mexico. The chase is remembered as one of the most spectacular in Wild West history, and is the reason this particular gang made it on the maps.

Francisco never returned to the U.S., living out his life in Mexico. Inocente (more irony) tried to sneak back to retrieve the bullion, but was captured by a posse and killed when he fought back. A third participant claimed he was forced to take part, and no charges were pressed against him.

<b>Glad we're past the really heavy stuff?  Still hanging in there with your challenge?</b>

May you find your Muse.

*Letter V courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim,
**Seal of Arizona Territory (1863-1912), circa 1890.; Copyright 1916; By Unknown - Based upon an 1879 design used by Arizona Territory [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
***Gold bullion, By Szaaman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for...The Utah War & Uncle Tom's Cabin (Teaser Tuesday)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teaser is from Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

"A quiet scene now rises before us. A large, roomy, neatly-painted kitchen, its yellow floor glossy and smooth, and without a particle of dust; a neat, well-blacked cooking-stove; rows of shining tin, suggestive of unmentionable good things to the appetite; glossy green wood chairs, old and firm; a small flag-bottomed rocking-chair, with a patch-work cushion in it, neatly contrived out of small pieces of different colored woollen goods, and a larger sized one, motherly and old, whose wide arms breathed hospitable invitation, seconded by the solicitation of its feather cushions, - a real comfortable, persuasive old chair, and worth, in the way of honest, homely enjoyment, a dozen of your plush or brochetelle drawing-room gentry; and in the chair, gently swaying back and forward, her eyes bent on some fine sewing, sat our old friend Eliza. Yes, there she is, paler and thinner than in her Kentucky home, with a world of quiet sorrow lying under the shadow of her long eyelashes, and marking the outline of her gentle mouth!" p. 116

tah War.

AKA Buchanan's Blunder.

The Utah War occurred between the Mormon (LDS) settlers in Utah Territory and the federal government in the form of the U.S. Military from May 1857 and July 1858. Before this time, the LDS community had been chased out of many homes, finally settling in the Salt Lake area of Utah Territory in 1847. They felt their only hope of surviving was to get a state run by their own religious leaders, thus keeping the federal government from stepping in. President Millard Fillmore allowed Brigham Young, a leader of the LDS Church, to govern Utah Territory, seeming to make both sides happy.

However, people around the nation were disturbed by some of the principles of the LDS community, such as their support of polygamy. In fact, opposing political parties were incorporating polygamy into their platforms at the time, along with slavery still occurring in the territories. The media sensationalized various differences represented by the LDS community, making people very afraid of this group of people they didn't understand.

In addition to this, Brigham Young (right) was making sure to appoint various church members in positions of power throughout the territory. Rather than using a government legal system to resolve issues, they would deal with it in a religious setting, which was considered obstruction by the new president, James Buchanan. This is not to say that no non-LDS appointees were placed; the president was responsible for certain positions, which caused issues between various leaders in Utah Territory. The LDS community resented the government for their opinions on their lifestyle/practices, and many of the non-LDS appointees were heavily prejudiced against the Mormons.

In 1851, these conflicts reached a head, with many non-LDS federal officers abandoning their posts and fleeing Utah, claiming they were frightened. Their letters of resignation to the federal government told of the law not being followed, fraud and various other abuses of the law. The president felt that a rebellion was on the horizon, and fearing loss of control in Utah Territory, he decided to replace Brigham Young with a non-LDS member, Alfred Cumming. Cumming was sent with a military escort to insure he could be safely appointed and that he would come to no harm. The military was instructed to not use force against the LDS community unless it became necessary to defend themselves.

Unfortunately, president Buchanan (left) acted so hastily, out of fear, that he failed to notify Brigham Young of the change or of the fact that the military was not moving on them to attack. Instead, Young and his followers heard from the press that the military was coming for them. In response, Young recalled all of his people and brought those on the outskirts of the main community in to band together. They were to bring any resources and supplies they had, and to burn their homes in order to leave nothing behind for the incoming military.

When attempts to unite with the Native American population in the area failed, Young restarted the Nauvoo League, a militia who had fought for them in Illinois. He sent them out to harry the U.S. troops in whatever way possible, including burning areas around them, stealing from them, stampeding their animals and burning supply trains. As with the U.S. military, Young's fighters had been told not to draw first blood, and only to harm others to defend themselves.

This set the stage for a bloodless war. There were no battles that led to loss of life. However, there were several massacres perpetrated by LDS militiamen against people traveling through the area, as they believed they must be spies. About 150 people were killed in a series of massacres, including the Mountain Meadows Massacre of September 11, 1857, wherein 120 men, women and children were butchered. It had started out as an attempt to issue several small skirmishes to make it look like local Native Americans were attacking. However, when it got out that the wagon train was aware it was whites attacking them, their complete removal was ordered. Only seventeen children under the age of seven were spared. Those children were adopted by LDS families in the area.

Ultimately, Buchanan declared that the LDS members would be pardoned if they would meet with representatives of the U.S. government and agree to mediation. Upon agreement, Thomas Kane, who was respected by both sides and had helped Young and his people in the past, traveled to Utah Territory via ship through the Panama Canal (due to winter weather in the center of the U.S.) to arrive in Utah Territory. He and Young met and had what was considered a peaceful negotiation. The problem was that Young was perfectly willing to accept Cummings as the new leader, feeling God was behind said appointment, but he feared the military moving in and persecuting his people. President Buchanan finally convinced them that the military would serve only to protect from the Native population and to help travelers get through the territory to the west coast. The military made a point of setting up their base somewhat removed from the LDS population in the valley.

This war, though basically non-violent, caused Buchanan embarrassment, and left the area in poverty for quite some time. On the other hand, it seems an almost positive statement on the human condition, as both sides desperately wanted to avoid true bloodshed. Both thought they were defending against a larger threat than truly existed. Miscommunication was the true cause of this war, and the Pony Express was created after the war settled, aiding communication for a short time.

What are you reading? Ever heard of the Utah War? How about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter U courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim of
**Photograph of Brigham Young (1 June 1801 – 29 August 1877); Wikimedia Commons
***James Buchanan; photographed between 1850 and 1870, printed later; Library of Congress; From Brady daguerreotype (Mathew Brady) (1822-1896); Wikimedia Commons

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Trail of Tears and Tiiiiiiired!

This weekend was the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, my third attended. It was also the first I'd worked as a staff volunteer. I am thoroughly exhausted, but it was well worth it. Maybe I'll be recovered by tomorrow.

In the meantime, what an awesome weekend! I did an impromptu table pitch (didn't get an ask, but we had an interesting conversation about my book), visited with friends, dressed up all purdy (yes, I misspelled that on purpose...), rubbed elbows with authors I respected, had dinner with Jeffrey Deaver, and worked in the pitch room. I also moderated a session and messed it up a bit, but I think I fixed it in the end, so...yay? I'm incredibly shy, and speaking into a microphone in front of a room of people was a bit freaky Eek! At least my mistake is recorded on the DVD that anyone can order, so everyone and their mother can hear me bungle up the intros. Look at the positive. Hahaha!

I think each conference I attend draws me out of my shell a little bit more. For instance, I couldn't mention this in advance since it was a surprise for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, but I participated in a flash mob where I had to sing! In front of a crowd! Ack! I haven't sung in front of anyone other than my kids since high school. I'm in my the math. I was utterly terrified. The pitch I made was spontaneous, which was a big deal. The good thing was that I was so incredibly nervous about the flash mob I was waiting on, that I completely forgot to be nervous about pitching.

Moving on...

rail of Tears.

In Cherokee: Nunna daul Tsuny (The Trail Where They Cried)

This topic was requested in my comments on several posts during the A-to-Z. It's a subject I find hard to think about. Before I start, I think it's important to point out that the Trail of Tears was not the only forced removal that involved a long, intense and deadly walk. It's also important to point out that the trail refers to the path taken, not to one single walk along it. The Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw and Creek tribes were also forced along this path at various times. In fact, the Choctaw walked the trail first. I believe the reason the Cherokee are most often affiliated with the Trail of Tears is due to the fact that, unlike three of the other tribes, the tribe did not agree to move. A group of traitors, under the leadership of Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot and Stand Watie agreed to the removal for financial and property gain, behind the backs of the vast majority of their tribe, including the Principal Chief, John Ross. They felt they were doing what was best, but it was a betrayal that led to many deaths.

One thing that many don't know about this time is that the Choctaw and Cherokee had attempted to assimilate and embrace the European culture that had taken over. Sequoyah (see photo below), a Cherokee, had created a written syllabary for the Cherokee. They had a constitution, their own set of laws, and their own newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, which the queen of England was known to have imported and read, along with many in New England. It is said that they were more literate than the local European settlers. Not only were they literate, but they were landowners. They imported high quality goods for their homes (yes, homes...not tipis, not wigwams, homes). They were successfully farming their land and dressing like the European settlers. They had schools and churches. I'm not proud of this, but they also had slaves.

Andrew Jackson desperately wanted the land these tribes were living on. People in the area were clamoring for the fertile farmland offered available in Georgia, as well as the path needed for railroads and water sources. Despite their assimilation, settlers were angry that they got this choice land, and felt they had rights to it. President Jackson was in agreement, and he signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 into being. Many whites were against this, but they simply could not fight Andrew Jackson. One noted person who was against it was Davy Crockett, who was serving as a congressman in Tennessee. Ralph Waldo Emerson also fought it, writing letters to the president and newspapers.

In brief, before I cover the Cherokee removal, I will detail the removal of other tribes. The Cherokee were the last of the "five civilized tribes" to travel the Trail of Tears.

Trails of Tears en

The Choctaw

The Choctaw signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1831, ceding all of their lands. They felt they would be allowed to be free if they moved to the new Indian Territory, that they would no longer be under the legal thumb of the Europeans. It was this that caused them to sign and leave. They were removed in three parts, three separate journeys, and were allowed to sell off their property before leaving (minus livestock, which was to be replaced upon arrival in Indian Territory). They faced starvation along the way due to incompetence and poor planning. Ice clogged a river they had to ferry across, making it impassable for about a week. One steamship due to carry them downriver burst into fire before they could get onto it. Some Choctaw were allowed to live in their old area, and others stayed in Mississippi, becoming the Mississippi Band. The Arkansas Gazette quoted the Choctaw Chief as saying it was a "trail of tears and death," thus solidifying the name as the Trail of Tears. Records were not well kept on the number of Choctaw who died, and it is estimated at 2,500-6,000 killed. Nearly 17,000 survived (which is still a dismaying number). The whites gained 11,000,000 acres from their removal.

The Seminole

The Seminole resisted their removal. It was the Spanish who ceded the lands to the U.S. with the Adams-Onis treaty in 1821, agreeing that the Seminoles would move west to live with the Creek. Several Chiefs went to peruse the new site, signing an agreement March 28, 1833 that they had checked out the land and it was okay. When they returned, they recanted, though many tribal members went ahead and left in 1834. The military prepared for war, and it was a war they got. Black slaves joined the forces of Seminole Indians, raiding and striking at surrounding towns, farms and military groups. The Dade Massacre of 1835 left 107 out of 110 U.S. Army soldiers dead. Though some Seminole moved to Creek lands, the government gave up in 1842, almost a decade later. They were no match for the Seminole.

The Creek

The Treaty of Fort Jackson, signed in 1814, was the beginning of the end for the Creek. Andrew Jackson was intent on punishing the Creek for what he saw as their misdeeds in not taking out Tecumseh, and he told them the price was their lands: 23,000,000 acres. The Creek Confederacy passed a law stating that no one was to cede further land, but they were unable to control the Chiefs, so they continued to cede lands. The 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs gave up much of the remaining land in Georgia. Menawa and his Creeks assassinated McIntosh, who was one of the signing Chiefs. Yohola and the Creek Council went to President John Quincy Adams, who agreed that the Treaty of Indian Springs was fraudulent; he nullified the treaty, but the Governor of Georgia ignored it, forcibly removing them anyway. Adams tried to intervene, but the Governor called in his militia. Adams felt the Indians weren't worth a civil war, and let it drop. The Treaty of Cusseta was signed March 24, 1832; it divided the remaining Creek land into allotments, that they could either keep or sell. People began stealing these allotments, and the Creek War of 1836 broke out, which caused the government to forcibly remove them to Indian Territory.

The Chickasaw

The Chickasaw received $530,000 for their land, and were able to take all of their belongings, including livestock and slaves, to Indian Territory with them. They left for Indian Territory July 4, 1837, and joined the Choctaw.

The Cherokee

In 1829, gold was discovered in Georgia. This was to be the first Gold Rush of the U.S. The Cherokee tried to fight their removal of lands in the Supreme Court, losing Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (it was declared they were not sovereign), but winning Worcester v. Georgia, which declared that only Federal government had authority over Indian lands. A small group of Cherokee defied Principal Chief John Ross (see photo at left, late 1800's) and traveled north to sign the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, handing Andrew Jackson exactly the weapon he needed to get them out. John Ross fought the treaty, to no avail. Andrew Jackson and President Martin Van Buren ignored the Supreme Court ruling, allowing a multi-state militia to stick 13,000 Cherokee in concentration camps (see "blockhouse" below; one of the buildings they were kept in). Their homes were auctioned off in a lottery, with the remainder being burned to the ground. Many died in the concentration camps, of starvation and illnesses like dysentery, with the remainder being removed to Indian Territory.

In the meantime, the members of the Treaty Party, those who had supported signing the Treaty of New Echota, willingly traveled to Indian Territory, getting settled safely before the forced removal. Three of those who led this party were assassinated at a later time: Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot.

In addition, there were some Cherokee who owned private land, not pieces of tribal land, and they were allowed to keep their land. There were also some who were allowed to stay for helping the military hunt down a prophet named Tsali. Not to mention, those who successfully fled and hid.

The removal began in 1838. The initial removal had to be postponed, due to desertions and deaths. It was also requested because the weather was insanely hot, so they wished to wait until November, for cooler weather. Chief John Ross fought to be able to direct how the removal would go, splitting the Cherokee up into groups of approximately 1000. He acquired wagons and a ship, though the ship was for his and other higher ups' families. He made sure each group had the necessary people, like doctors. As they had been removed from their homes with no belongings, they were given blankets retrieved from a hospital with a smallpox outbreak. Knowing full well the blankets had been exposed to smallpox, they refused to allow the Cherokee to go through any towns, forcing them to march around any towns they came to. They were marched all the way up to Illinois, where they had to pay $1 per head of their own money to take a ferry over the river. Despite paying $.88 more than the whites crossing, they were forced to wait until no one else needed to cross, meaning they were stuck for days in the cold, snowy temperatures. They found Mantle Rock and took shelter there, many freezing to death while they waited to cross.

Eventually, they did cross, arriving March 26, 1839. It is often felt that there would have been a much greater loss of life had Chief John Ross (see image to left, 1843) not finally been allowed to take over, choosing who would lead each group. He had no control over what happened once the groups separated or before he was given the allowance to take over. Ultimately, 4,000 of the 15,000 Cherokee died on this journey. That's nearly one-quarter of the population of the Cherokee tribe (not counting those who escaped into the mountains and down south, whose ancestors make up the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation). Think about how that would impact the population of the United States were one-quarter of the population to die. That is an astounding number.

Something that has always bothered me is the fact that people came out along the trail to gawk at the Cherokee (and I'm sure the others) as they were marched by outside the towns. Very few ever offered any sort of assistance. In fact, they complained if they were too close to their towns.

Interesting (and disturbing) to note, is that Hitler studied Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal policies and treatments before figuring out his Final Solution, that being the Holocaust. Not only that, but it was also used as the model for apartheid by the National Party in South Africa. The same can be said for various regimes in Central and South America. About 13 million more people were killed in the American Holocaust than in the Nazi Holocaust. Both are shameful examples of the horror people can inflict upon each other.

*** *** *** *** *** ***

I know this was long, but I wanted to do the subject justice. Thank you if you stuck through this far. I wanted to leave you with a Cherokee blessing and a video entitled American Holocaust of Native American Indians, which can be found at the bottom of the post.

May the warm winds of Heaven blow softly on your home,
And the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.
May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows
And may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.

Were you surprised by the information that they were fitting in with society before the removal? Did the photos/images surprise you at all?


May you find your Muse.

*Letter T courtesy of Dawn at
**Sequoyah with a tablet depicting his writing system for the Cherokee language. 19th-century print of a painting; By Lithographer: Lehman and Duval (George Lehman (d.1870); Peter S. Duval) Painter: Henry Inman (1801-20-28 - 1846-01-17); copy after a painting by Charles Bird King (1785 - 1862) which was lost in a fire in the Smithsonian in 1865. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
***Trail of Tears map; By User:Nikater [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
****Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross, late 1800's; Public Domain; Wikimedia Commons
*****Fort Marr Blockhouse, Benton, Tennessee-The last surviving remnant of the forts used to intern the Cherokee in preparation for their forced removal west; Public Domain; Wikimedia Commons
******John Ross, a Cherokee chief / drawn, printed & coloured at the Lithographic & Print Colouring Establishment. Published in History of the Indian Tribes of North America; 1843; Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: LC-USZC4-3156; Transfered from en-wiki; Author Unknown, Published by Daniel Rice & James G. Clark; Permission; The Library of Congress offers broad public access to these materials as a contribution to education and scholarship; By unknown; Published by Daniel Rice & James G. Clark [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Belle Starr

tarr. Belle Starr.

Myra Maybelle ("Belle") Shirley was born February 5, 1848, in Carthage, Missouri. She was the only girl out of six kids. Her mother died when she was young, and her father married three more times, the final time to Eliza Hatfield (of the Hatfield vs. McCoy's clan). Belle's family raised animals and grew some crops, doing alright for themselves. Eventually, they sold their land and opened a series of business, including a tavern, an inn and a blacksmith shop.

They continued to prosper, and Belle was sent to the Carthage Female Academy for her schooling. This wouldn't last forever, though, as the Kansas-Missouri Border War broke out. Her big brother, Bud, joined Quantrill's Raiders, making her father proud. Bud was killed in 1864. Belle is rumored to have joined Quantrill's Raiders for a time as a spy, until her father moved the family down to Scyene, Texas to a smaller farm, suffering from the frequent raids by Union soldiers and Border Ruffians.

In 1866, Belle met the Cole-Younger Gang after a big robbery and began hanging out with them. The gang used the Shirley home as a hideout several times. One night, Jim Reed came with them (she'd known his family in Missouri) and they fell in love. They were married in November of 1866. They had a daughter in September 1868 and named her Rosie Lee. Soon, Reed became a wanted man; it was claimed he'd murdered the Shannon brothers, who had killed his brother, Scott. They picked up and moved to California, where they had a son, James Edwin.

In 1869, Belle became The Bandit Queen, a name that would stick once the newspapers began bandying it about. Belle began singing, dancing and playing the piano in saloons, and supposedly helped her husband steal and sell cattle. He was also known to have practiced counterfeiting and whiskey running. She and her husband had fun playing outlaw until Reed was killed by a Deputy Sheriff in August 1874. Belle left her children with her mom and took off to live the outlaw life to the fullest. She participated in robberies and looting, though there is no evidence that she ever killed anyone.

In 1878, she first married Bruce Younger, though she'd been in love with Cole Younger as a girl. That didn't last long, and she met Sam Starr, a Cherokee man. They were married and lived together in Oklahoma in 1880. The two of them gathered up a gang and started stealing horses and cattle, as well as making whiskey and selling it to local Natives. After years of trying to convict Belle Starr, Judge Isaac Parker finally nabbed her for stealing a horse. She served a year in prison then returned to her outlaw life, though she also briefly starred in a Wild West a bandit.

In December 1886, her newest husband died in a gunfight. Three years later, she married Jim July Starr, who was fifteen years younger than her; this was the only way she could keep her land in Indian Territory. She was ambushed and shot in the back, face and neck on February 3, 1889, and police never discovered her killer. Had she lived two more days, she would have been 41.

Was it her husband, who was cheating with a Cherokee girl and had recently attempted to hire someone to kill her for $100, shouting that he'd do it himself if the other man wouldn't? Was it her son, who she had recently whipped? Was it her daughter, who she had stopped form marrying the man she loved? Or was it the neighbor she'd threatened to turn into the police? Perhaps it was one of her old outlaw pals? We'll never know.

My grandpa used to tell me about his days living on a farm in Oklahoma (he was Cherokee). The trail to Robber's Cave, which is now part of a state park, ran by their home. Robber's Cave was a hideout frequently used by The James-Younger Gang, as well as Belle Starr. She actually had a cabin just a short distance from the cave. Grandpa said everyone would go in their houses and pull the blinds when they heard the horses thundering their way. He was just a boy, though, and he'd go to the windows to peek to try to grab a glance at the Bandit Queen.

My grandpa used to take my mom and her brothers out to Robber's Cave State Park when they were kids and regale them with tales of the famous outlaws who drove their horses past his farm.

1. Belle Starr was known for being dressed impeccably in black satin, riding side saddle, with a fine hat, her pistols strapped to her hips.

2. It was the newspapers who dubbed her the Bandit Queen, comparing her to Robin Hood and Jesse James.

3. Her daughter's nickname was Pearl, which is what she went by for the rest of her life. She became a prostitute to get her brother out of jail for horse theft, and made such good money at it that she continued after he was out, opening her own bordellos. Her brother became a man of the law.

4. It was often rumored that Rosie Lee (Pearl) was the illegitimate child of Cole Younger, Belle's first true love.

5. The 1870 Census showed a third child with Belle and Jim Reed in California.

What do you think of Belle? Who do you think killed her? How are you holding up in the A-to-Z Challenge?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter S courtesy of kittenskill,
**A studio portrait of Belle Starr probably taken in Fort Smith in the early 1880s, See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, Author Unknown

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rufus Buck Gang & Reflections

Before we begin, I wanted to make a quick A-to-Z announcement. There will be an optional Reflections post in May, where anyone who wishes to can post their thoughts on the A-to-Z. Because I had sort of done that on my "Z" post last year, I did not participate, but I definitely will be this year! The sign-up for the reflection post will go up May 7. The post will occur the following week, and participants can post any time during that week.

I hate to do two bloodthirsty posts in a row, but today's post took me by surprise when I started my research. I do feel I should warn you that these guys committed heinous crimes. Please be aware of this as you proceed.

ufus Buck Gang.

This is another one you might not have heard of. The Rufus Buck Gang was a group of robbers, murderers and rapists, who exercised their reign of terror over the course of thirteen days, for the most part. They were a mix of African American and American Indian (Creek) men. Their leader was Rufus Buck.

Buck's fellow gang members included Lewis Davis, Lucky Davis, Maoma July and Sam Sampson.

Rufus started out committing robberies on his own, but he so impressed Davis, Davis, July and Sampson that they joined forces with him in the summer of 1895. Despite their uniform hatred of the white man, they exacted their vengeance on anyone who crossed their path, be they white, Creek or black; man or woman; adult or child.

On July 28, 1895, they killed U.S. Marshal John Garrett. They then proceeded to rob stores and homes around Creek Territory. One robbery victim, Callahan, was told if he could outrun them, he could live. He successfully outran them, but the angry gang killed his assistant instead. He was able to get into town and tell the Creek Light Horse Police, who set out after the gang, to no avail.

Having left a swath of violence behind them, they stopped by a home and asked for supper. They allowed the wife to wait on them until after they'd eaten, and promptly tied the husband up and took turns with his wife as he watched.

In one day they robbed several stores and killed several men after asking to trade horses with them (when they refused, they were shot and their horses taken anyway). That same day, they shot a young black boy who happened to cross their path. As you can see, it really didn't matter who it was, they were going to pay for having been in the presence of the Rufus Buck Gang.

The people of Indian Territory were up in arms now. Not only were the police searching for the Rufus Buck Gang, but several posses were out looking, too. When winter came, the gang disappeared. Though they kept searching, the gang was not found.

When spring came around, the U.S. Marshals at Fort Smith sent out S. Morton Rutherford to hunt down the gang. He and his men, which included members of the Creek Light Horse Police, found them camped out near Muskogee. Rutherford and his men took them by surprise, and a gun battle ensued which lasted several hours. Once the gang ran out of ammo, they were taken into custody. Rutherford and his men had to deal with a mob several hundred strong, who wished to take the law into their own hands and deal with the men who had so terrorized them over the last year. The Principal Chief of the Creeks, General Pleasant Porter, addressed the crowd first, trying to get them to disperse. When they refused to listen, Rutherford tried. Eventually, the crowd did leave, and the prisoners were successfully taken to Fort Smith in the morning, to await trial.

Judge Isaac Parker (also know as the Hanging Judge, like Roy Bean), sentenced them to hang. They appealed, but lost out, and were hanged July 1, 1896 in front of spectators.

Were these guys scary or what? Ever heard of them?

On a lighter note, come back and read about Belle Starr tomorrow. I have a little story from my grandfather about her.

May you find your Muse.

*Letter R courtesy of Mae Templonuevo at
**Photo from, Public Domain, "Little-Known Black History Fact: The Rufus Buck Gang," Erica Taylor

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quantrill & His Raiders

A quick note: I'm at a writer's conference through Sunday night, so will just be posting the Wild West posts, but not the helpful links or Feature Friday posts this week. I will also remain behind on commenting, but I WILL visit everyone who drops by and leaves comments! My responses will just be delayed. Sorry!!

uantrill. William Quantrill.

William Clarke Quantrill was born July 31, 1837 in Canal Dover, Ohio. His youth is mostly unknown, though it is known that his father was abusive and died of tuberculosis in 1854.

He became a schoolteacher at age 16, also acting as a bookkeeper when his family needed more money. He fled when he was accused of horse theft. He traveled with an army wagon to Utah in 1858 and started gambling for income. He used the name Charles Hart while in Utah, and got into a considerable amount of trouble with friends he met, being accused of murder and more horse thefts. He somehow managed to become a schoolteacher for another year in Lawrence, Kansas, but his past was discovered and he had to take off again, making his way to Missouri in 1860.

Those he had been running with in Utah were pro-slavery, and it is said they shaped his opinion considerably. He joined the Confederate side in the Civil War and quickly rose in the ranks, becoming a Captain, and eventually a Colonel, and leading a team called Quantrill's Raiders, who used guerrilla techniques to terrorize Union supporters and military members in Kansas and Missouri. He was considered a terrorist by Union sympathizers and a hero by Confederate sympathizers, and his crew was just one of many "Border Ruffians," groups who perpetrated skirmishes along the Kansas/Missouri border.

In May 1863, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. issued General Order Number 10. This gave him the right to arrest anyone harboring or helping Border Ruffians, no matter their age or gender. He used this as an excuse to arrest and jail several family members of the Raiders. Unfortunately, the house the women and children were jailed in was not in good shape, and it collapsed on August 13, 1863. Five women died immediately, one died two years later as a result of the collapse, and one lost the use of both legs.

The Raiders responded in kind. At 5 AM, on the morning of August 21, 1863, Quantrill's Raiders, accompanied by about 450 supporters, marched into Lawrence, Kansas, ripping men and boys out of their homes. They murdered 183 males, burning down everything in their way. The Union Jayhawker's, the opposite team of guerrillas, retaliated, and they began hitting back and forth harder and harder, until Quantrill was forced to flee to Texas with his entire force, which promptly split up into smaller groups of raiders. On the way there, though, he and his men killed eighty men at a Union headquarters. This would be referred to as the Barter Springs Massacre.

In Texas, Quantrill was given further missions by the Confederate Army, including catching desserters and Commanches. They failed to catch the Commanches, and they brutally murdered more of the desserters than they brought in, so the Confederates were forced to station other soldiers to defend against the Raiders, their own men. General McCulloch arrested Quantrill on March 28, 1864, but he escaped and fled up to Missouri, joined by his men.

He began losing his power over his men, and became desperate to prove himself. He led those still following him on another raid and massacre on September 27, 1864, in Centralia, Missouri. They raided and burned homes; found 23 unarmed Union soldiers and made them strip down, shooting all but one; they then sent a train on its way with zero people on it, so that it would eventually go out of control and crash.

His desperation growing, he briefly tried to initiate an attack on President Abraham Lincoln in late 1864. There were too many Union officers, though, and he backed off. Instead, he went back to raiding until the day he and his men were apprehended in Kentucky. Shot through the spine (some sources say his chest), he died on June 6, 1865, in a prison in Louisville, Kentucky.

In August 1907, an ex-Michigan cavalry officer claimed to have run into Quantrill on Vancouver Island in Canada. He said he had survived in Kentucky, changed his name to John Sharp, and had traveled around the west, as well as South America, taking on various odd jobs before moving up to Canada. After newspapers spread this story, two men showed up in town then left the next day. John Sharp was found brutally beaten. He died of his wounds without telling the police what had happened. Police never discovered the murderers or the truth.

1. In December of 1860, he killed three Jayhawker's, after pretending to be one of them and going with them on a mission to rescue a man's slaves. That man, Morgan Walker, helped him kill the Union men.

2. Quantrill's Raiders included the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers and Bloody Bill Anderson, who wore a necklace of Yankee scalps as a trophy.

3. The Raiders continued on under different leadership after Quantrill's death. The James-Younger Gang was an extension that broke off of the main group to commit robberies.

4. Considering I've been able to link just about everyone else to Colorado, it's worth mentioning he was around here in 1858 or 1859.

5. In 1860, he started using free black men as bait to capture escaped slaves and return them to their masters for the reward.

6. Four years before his death, Quantrill married a thirteen-year old girl named Sarah Katherine King. She lived with him until his death.

Anyone else terrified by the fact that he was a teacher? Was this a guy just doing his duty, or a bloodthirsty murderer? Did he die in prison or become a Canadian miner?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter Q courtesy of Mohamed Ibrahim at
**Quantrill from LOC archive, Wikimedia Commons
***The grave site of William Quantrill in Higginsville, Missouri - located in the town's Confederate Cemetery ,By KNexus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pikes Peak (MWW) & Charley Parkhurst

For [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday, enjoy a photo of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods (I've posted this one before).

arkhurst, Charley.

Born Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (some sources say Mary or Charlene, some sources say Durkey), Charley Parkhurst went on to gain a reputation for being one heck of a rough and tumble stagecoach a man.

During her life, she was known as Cock-Eyed Charley or One-Eyed Charlie. After her death, she was referred to as Mountain Charley.

She was born in 1812, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, the youngest of three children. Her mother died the same year, followed by her brother, Charles. Her father remarried in 1817, but for whatever reason, his two daughters were not welcome in the new family. He dropped them off at an orphanage. Considering the nature of a man who would do this, it's fun to note that his name was Ebeneezer. Appropriate, no?

In 1824, Charley ran away from the orphanage, dressed in boy's clothing. She was able to find work in Worcester, Massachusetts, for a man named Ebeneezer (seriously, how many Ebeneezers can be in one story?) Balch, as a stable hand. She allowed him to believe she was a male. During her time there, working for room and board, she was able to observe the stagecoach drivers. Balch, noticing her interest, took her aside and taught her how to drive a stagecoach, starting with a two-horse coach and eventually getting up to a six-horse coach. She became so good at it that he took her with him to Providence, Rhode Island, where she gained fame as one of the best stagecoach drivers in the country. Everyone asked for her; many would take no one else.

She continued in this way for many years, until the night her hands froze while waiting outside a dance for her passengers. She was forced to call in another driver, Liberty Childs, and took quite a ribbing about it. She fled to Georgia soon after, though it's not said whether this was due to the hard time about her hands or, as is speculated, her hands gave her away to Liberty as being feminine. Either way, she took off. When she arrived in Georgia, she got a job as a driver for a man named Jim Birch, who took her to California when he opened a new business out there.

Somewhere in here, Charley was out of sight for awhile. Some feel she may have met a man and had a child, as it was determined after her death that she had birthed a baby at some point. There is also a story of her being an important witness in a court case and having to travel under the assumed name of Charles Clifton. Passengers on a ship she went on called her Thunderbolt. It was from this ship that she arrived in San Francisco in 1851.

She drove stagecoaches in California during its gold boom days, increasing her reputation exponentially. She was known to be rough and tumble, and it's said she took out bandits trying to stop her stage. One of these bandits went by the name of Sugarfoot. He held her up twice, but that second time was the last time for him, as she shot and killed him. No more Sugarfoot.

At one point, she was kicked in the eye by a horse. Stories vary on whether it was while she was shoeing it or whether she was trying to calm a horse after a rattlesnake startled it. Either way, this is when she gained the nicknames of Cock-Eyed Charley and One-Eyed Charley, though these weren't used to her face. The loss of an eye didn't stop her, and she continued as a driver across California, constantly forging new and better paths between various towns as they sprang up. Wells Fargo trusted her implicitly, and she was even asked to take loads of gold from California to New York, always successfully.

In 1861, she retired from the life of a stagecoach driver. She tried out chopping lumber and became a landowner, running a ranch of her own. In 1867, she registered to vote. There is no true record of whether she did, in fact, vote. If so, some claim she would have been the first female voter, while others claim women were allowed to vote in some places before the election she would have participated in.

Charley died December 18, 1879, in Watsonville, California, of cancer of the tongue. When her friends came to tend to her body, it was discovered she was a female. The coroner announced that she had given birth at some point, and a dress was found in a trunk that is said to have been sized for an infant, accompanied by a pair of baby shoes. What happened to that baby, or when this birth might have occurred, is unknown, as much of her life is unaccounted for, including her time in the orphanage, and time she spent bouncing around between Georgia and New England.

By being someone else, Charley got to lead the life she wanted, doing things other women could never dream of doing. In that, she had a good life.

1. After the incident on the east coast, Charley took to wearing leather gloves to cover up her hands and, possibly, to protect them.

2. Charley was known for having a foul mouth, cussing up a storm, chewing tobacco, and smoking cigars.

3. In the 1860's, Charley was discovered as a woman by friends when she came to their house drunk. They sent their teenage son up with her to put her to bed, and he happened across the "evidence" of her true gender. The Clark family never told a soul until after Charley's death and subsequent outing.

4. She once rolled an empty stagecoach and broke several ribs. She never saw a doctor, and continued driving stages through the pain.

5. She got a stage full of people over a bridge during a massive rainstorm. It flooded and took out the bridge, just as she got off of it.

6. Charley was thrown from a stagecoach once, but held onto the reins, eventually pulling herself back up and getting the horses back in line.

What do you think of Ol' Charley?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter P courtesy of LeeAnn,
**Concord Stagecoach, Concord stagecoach in the American West, ca. 1869.

Source: Photographs of the American West: 1861-1912 US National Archives & Records Administration, Caption: "Typical stage of the Concord type used by express companies on the overland trails. Soldiers guard from atop, ca. 1869.", Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for...The Odyssey (Teaser Tuesday) & Oklahoma Land Runs

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teaser is from Homer's The Odyssey.

"'And I anointed therewith the ears of all my men in their order, and in the ship they bound me hand and foot upright in the mast-stead, and from the mast they fastened rope-ends and themselves sat down, and smote the grey sea water with their oars. But when the ship was within the sound of a man's shout from the land, we fleeing swiftly on our way, the Sirens espied the swift ship speeding toward them, and they raised their clear-toned song.'" p. 703

klahoma Land Rush/Run

On April 22, 1889, about 50,000 people lined up, prepared to risk life and limb to race those around them to claim two million acres worth of land available in Oklahoma. This would be the first of several land runs to occur in Oklahoma, or Indian Territory, as it was then.

Decades before, Abraham Lincoln had passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed settlers to claim a piece of land up to 160 acres, settle it and improve it. If they did this, they would eventually get the title to that land without having paid for the land, itself.

Of course, it should also be mentioned that it was the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 that opened this land, formerly belonging to various Native tribes, that really made this all possible. Previous to this government-sponsored land grab, the Boomer Movement had been occurring, wherein groups of people were led into Indian Territory in the attempt to snatch up the most valuable lands they could find and settle them, stealing yet more land from the Native population, which had been forcibly moved to this land and promised that it would be theirs in perpetuity.

Initially, these Boomers were arrested when they made their treks in. They were led by David Payne. William Couch took over when he died. This went on from 1879 to 1884, only to have the Santa Fe Railroad invade Indian Territory a year after Couch stopped leading his expeditions. The Springer Amendment clenched the deal, and Indian Territory became open to settlement.

The government went through and separated the land into allotments, taking first one area, then another. After that initial Land Run, more occurred on the following dates:

September 22, 1891
April 19, 1892
September 16, 1893
May 3, 1895
August 1, 1901, though this was done as a lottery

The folks who lost their homes belonged to the following tribes:

Sac and Fox

The Great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893 was the biggest, with over 100,000 people hoping to grab 6 million acres. This land was split into 42,000 parcels of land, meaning fewer than half those rushing to grab land were going to get anything.

To up their odds in these land rushes, some would sneak out ahead of time and hide on the parcel they intended to grab. They'd wait until notice was given, then jump up, staking their land. These people were referred to as Sooners. They weren't the only ones who obtained illegally. Many were taken off land they had reached first by force. Others discovered that about fifty U.S. Marshals had come out ahead of everyone else and snatched up choice pieces of land, despite the fact that no government employee was legally allowed to do so. This incident occurred in the 1893 Land Run.

No Indians were allowed to participate, only white folks. The hopeful participants gathered on the Kansas border in whatever form of transit they had, whether that was horse, wagon, foot or bicycle. When the shots were fired, they took off, racing madly for the piece of land they most wanted. Most wouldn't get it.

In the 1893 Land Run, the government had pre-designated Guthrie as the capital of this new territory. By that evening, there were shops and restaurants, set up hastily. Children sold water, as it turned out that water sources were scarce in this land. Food prices were sky-high in those first days, but people were hungry and thirsty, and they would pay whatever it took. Folks worked hard, laying out streets and talking about a tentative government.

Those first rough days saw many people giving up plots of land they had claimed when they found that the soil was mostly sand for quite a ways down. Eventually, though, wells were dug, and the people settled on their land, uncaring that it had belonged to another group of people before they came in and took it.

In 1907, this territory became the state of Oklahoma.

What are you reading? Setting aside who the land belonged to, is this something you would have enjoyed? Could you have nabbed yourself a piece of land?

May you find your Muse.

*Wagon Wheel used as letter O, courtesy of Midnight7 at
**Caption: Oklahoma Land Rush. en:John Sherwood is on the white horse. en:Elias McClenny is ahead of John. en:Fred McClenny is just behind John., Source: McClenny Family Picture Album], By Chris 73 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
***"The Oklahoma Land Rush, April 22, 1889." John Steuart Curry, artist. Commissioned 1937, installed 1939.[1] FWA:PBA:Paintings and Sculptures for Public Buildings. Painting depicting race involving people in wagons, on horseback, and a bike to stake claims on land plots. One of the wagon canvas's says "Oklahoma or Bust." Building and city not identified., Record creator: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945, ca. 1937, Current location: National Archives and Records AdministrationLink back to Institution infobox template, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY, 12538-1999., Wikimedia Commons