Billy the Kid Photo

Billy the Kid photoYears ago I commented on the Billy the Kid PBS special and how the famous Billy the Kid photo kept appearing on the screen over and over. That’s because there are only two authentic photographs of Billy the Kid presently in existence.  The most famous one is a two-by-three-inch ferrotype or tintype, taken by an unknown itinerant photographer outside Beaver Smith’s Saloon in Old Fort Sumner, around 1880…Because it portrays Billy as a very unattractive person, many have called it his visa picture.

Originally people didn’t realize that since it was a tintype, the image was actually reversed.  So, everyone though Billy the Kid was left handed. This misconception even inspired the 1958 movie “The Left Handed Gun,” starring Paul Newman as Billy.

Finally firearms experts looked at the Kid’s Winchester and noticed its spring plate, where the cartridges are loaded, was on the left side.  But Winchester produced firearms with spring plates only on the right side.  So, later books and publications have the reversed image reversed, so it’s correct.

Recently the Billy the Kid photo went on the auction block and a retired Wichita industrialist who collects everything from Wild West memorabilia to Picassos bought it for $2 million…Incidentally, it was thought it would go for about $300,000.

Tombstone Stage Held Up

On March 15, 1881 the Tombstone stage was held up.  Although not intended as such, it ended up being one of the causes for the O. K. Corral shootout.  On the other hand, the two objectives of the hold-up were not accomplished.

Tombstone Stage

The main objective was the assassination of Wells Fargo shotgun guard, Bob Paul.  As a Wells Fargo guard, Bob Paul had hampered the activities of the cowboys.  And, the word around town was that he was to become the Pima County Sheriff.  So the cowboys wanted to get rid of him.  The assassination failed because when the stage departed Tombstone, stage driver Budd Philpot had gotten stomach pains and Budd exchanged positions with Paul.  Orders were to kill the guard…which they did, but it was Philpot instead of Paul.

Paul was also responsible for the robbers not accomplishing their second objective…the theft of $26,000 in silver.  When Philpot was shot, Bob grabbed his shotgun and fired off both barrels.  One robber was killed and the noise of the shotgun spooked the horses.  As the stagecoach was careening out of control, Paul climbed down; secured the reigns of the runaway steeds; and brought the stage safely into Benson.

Later, when he did became the Pima County Sheriff this 6’ 6”, 240-pound mountain of a man, typically using a shotgun, brought in bad guys, stopped lynchings, and hanged many a man legally.  It always seemed that he was able to dodge that fatal bullet…That is until 1893 when he couldn’t dodge the one called cancer, and he died on March 26, 1901.

Salted Undershirt

March 1, 1892, Daily Herald, El Paso, Texas – Five years ago I was suffering with a very severe throat trouble, so much so that I did not expect to live. An acquaintance told me that he could give me a remedy that would cure it and , as I had tried all of the doctors in my town without receiving any benefit, I decided to try the remedy suggested. I tried it, was permanently cured of my cough, and besides I discovered that I was not subject to colds.
I was conductor, running in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama. I was of course subjected to very hot cars in winter, and of necessity had constantly to get out in the cold at all hours of the night. In all that time I have never had a cold or the grip. You will be astonished at the remedy. It is simply to wear a salted undershirt.

Salted Undershirt

Take a summer undershirt and soak it in brine made with, a half pint of ordinary salt to about a quarter of water, and put out to dry. Wear this shirt next to the body. It is not unpleasant to wear and will, I am sure, keep off grip and bad colds, and, I firmly believe, consumption. If I were to live to be eighty years old, I have so much faith in the salted shirts that I would never cease to wear them. My reason for preferring the thin gauze shirt is because the salt makes a heavy shirt too stiff and hard. Wear the heavy shirt over the salted shirt

NOTE: This article written in 1892. It was the latest in medical news back then, but not necessarily now.

Sequoyah

Sequoyah

Sequohah, born in 1760 in Tennessee, grew up among his mother’s people, the Cherokee.  He became a metal craftsman, making beautiful silver jewelry.  As a young man he joined the Cherokee volunteers who joined Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.  While with the American soldiers, he became intrigued with what he called “talking leaves,” or words on paper that somehow recorded human speech.  Although Sequohah had no formal education, he somehow comprehended the basic nature of the symbolic representation of sounds.

In 1809 he began working on a Cherokee language.  At first he tried picture symbols, but soon found them to be impractical.  Then he started looking at English, Greek and Hebrew.  He finally developed 86 characters that would express the various sounds in the Cherokee language.  It was so simple in its concept that it could be mastered in less than a week.

In 1821 he submitted his new written language to the Cherokee leaders.  As a demonstration Sequohah wrote a message to his six-year-old daughter.  She read the message and responded in kind.  The tribal council immediately adopted the system.  And Cherokee of all ages started learning the written language.

The Cherokee were divided into two groups, Sequohah’s in Georgia and Tennessee, and the western Cherokee in Oklahoma.  In 1822 Sequohah went to Oklahoma, and taught the alphabet to the Cherokee there.

Finally, on February 21, 1828 the first printing press with Cherokee type arrived in Georgia.  Within months, the first Indian language newspaper appeared.  It was called the Cherokee Phoenix.

Sequohah later went to Mexico to teach Cherokee there the language.  While in Mexico he became ill with dysentery, and died.  Great monuments to the man who developed the Cherokee alphabet stand today along the northern California coast.  They are the giant redwood trees called the Sequoia.

Bat Masterson – Gunfighter

Bat Masterson - GunfighterI find Bat Masterson one of the more intriguing men of the Old West.  He is known as a gunfighter, but he was in very few gun fights.

The last gunfight he was in took place on this day back in 1881.  It was to help out his brother Jim.  Jim owned a business in Dodge City and was having trouble with Al Updegraff, a business partner.  It had even involved gunfire.

I don’t know if Jim actually said the words, “I going to get my big brother and he’ll beat you up,” but Bat, in Tombstone at the time, heard about the conflict and jumped on a train to Dodge City.

Not a man to mince words, Bat immediately spotted Updegraff and brother-in-law Peacock and said, “I have come over a thousand miles to settle this.  I know you are heeled, now fight!”  All three men immediately drew their guns.

In the fracas Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.  The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns and stopped the shooting.  No one was mortally injured in the shooting, and in accordance with Old West standards, the gunfight was fought fairly.  So Masterson was fined $8.  He paid the fine and took the next train out of Dodge City.

As an aside, had Bat not left Tombstone to help his brother, the chances are excellent he would have been around to help his friend Wyatt Earp in another gunfight…The one that took place at the OK Corral.

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