Chuckwagon: Cowboy Catsup

Cowboy CatsupTo make Cowboy Catsup take one gallon skinned tomatoes, three heaping tablespoonfuls of salt, some black pepper, two of allspice, three of ground mustard, half dozen pods of red pepper and add to a large pot.

Stew all slowly together in a quart of vinegar for three hours.  Strain liquid, and simmer down to half gallon.  Bottle hot and cork tight.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Old West Book Review: Nighthawk Rising

Nighthawk RisingNighthawk Rising, Diana Allen Kouris, High Plains Press, $19.95, Paperback 416 pp, Photos, Maps, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

Nighthawk Rising is the fascinating story is the biography of “Queen” Ann Bassett, an accused cattle rustler living in Brown’s Park in the 1880s through the turn of the century.  Brown’s Park is a wildly beautiful area spanning the rugged mountains throughout western Utah, southern Wyoming, and eastern Colorado.  This is the land of the Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, deadly range wars and Tom Horn.

Ann Bassett’s parents settled here, trying to make a living in the difficult cattle business.  Ann’s mother ruled the roost, a tough woman who rode sidesaddle while directing her cowboys.  Ann’s father was a quiet gentleman more likely to be found at home writing poetry.

Ann and her three siblings grew up learning self-sufficiency.  The little girl was a tough cookie, riding the most spirited broncs, and refusing sidesaddles.  She dressed in buckskin trousers, was a top hand with a lariat, and could handle guns.  Headstrong and resisting discipline, as a teenager she roped a grizzly cub and got her horse killed when mama bear came to the rescue.  Ann got a well-deserved spanking from one of the cowboys who saved her life, but even that did not deter the girl from adventuresome deeds.  She was always in the middle of things, whether driving cattle in a snow storm or crawling into a cave to kill coyote pups.

Sadly, Ann’s mother died suddenly of appendicitis.  It now fell on Ann to be a leader in the family.  These changes in the girl’s life coincide with the range war sweeping through Brown’s Park as the big ranchers tried to rid themselves of competition from smaller outfits.  Tom Horn was hired as a “range detective”.  Unsolved murders occurred thereafter, including the shooting death of Mat Rash, a handsome young cattleman who dated Ann Bassett and was destined to become her husband until his bullet-riddled body was found in the hills, most likely murdered by Tom Horn.

This tragic loss undoubtedly shaped Ann’s personal life thereafter.  She never had a young husband.  She had several husbands, all older men, and divorces.  Her life seemed forever in turmoil in her effort to protect her ranch way of life.  She moved from one place to another, was involved in legal disputes, was accused of being a “”rustler”, and nicknamed “Queen Ann” because of her rebellious nature.

Don’t look here for a hard riding bandit queen leading a gang of outlaws.  Ann’s day by day life shows a gritty woman determined to survive against powerful men and forces beyond her control.

Diana Allen Kouris, the author of Nighthawk Rising, herself grew up in the Brown’s Park region. Her family is in the cattle business.  Even though she was born many years after Queen Ann rode the range, Kouris has been able to relate to Brown’s Park and the people.  Her writing is filled with original detail.  We detect the author really knows what she is writing about, generating a feeling of respect and empathy for Queen Ann when readers turn the last page: a truly haunting story.

Publisher’s Notes: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including Death For Dinner, the Benders of (Old) Kansas, Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York, 10988.  Ph. (845) 726-3434. www.silklabelbooks.com

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Heard Around the Bunkhouse #1: Cowboy Phrases

Cowboy PhrasesHeard Around the Bunkhouse is a new feature on Cowboy to Cowboy where we will bring you cowboy phrases and sayings that they used back in the Old West. Hope you enjoy them, and send us your favorite terms from those past times.

OLD STATES – Back east.

PILGRIM – Cowboy term for an easterner or novice cowboy.

SHAVER – Slang for a young boy.

BLOW-UP: A fit of anger.

CALIFORNIA WIDOW: A woman separated from her husband, but not divorced.  From when pioneer men went West, leaving their wives back home.

DICKER: Barter, trade.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

The Great Diamond Hoax

The Great Diamond HoaxWith the discovery of gold in California fake gold and silver mines became common. Swindlers and con men fooled many a greenhorn with “salted” mines. But there were few con men who did as great a job as two cousins from Kentucky named Philip Arnold and John Slack. They perpetuated the Great Diamond Hoax.
           
In early 1872 Arnold and Slack showed up in a San Francisco bank attempting to deposit a bag of uncut diamonds. When questioned, the men immediately left with the diamonds. Curious, the bank’s director, William Ralston found Arnold and Slack, and discovered that the diamonds came from a mine the men had found. The banker, assuming he was dealing with a couple of country bumpkins, schemed to take control of the mine. 
               
A mining expert looked at the mine, and he reported back that it was rich with diamonds and rubies. The banker, Ralston, formed a mining company and capitalized it to the tune of $10 million. He was able to buy the country cousins off with a meager $600,000.
 
The Great Diamond HoaxA young geographical surveyor by the name of Clarence King was suspicious of the stories he heard about the mine. It took one visit to the mine to realize it had been salted… Some of the gems he found had already been cut by a jeweler.
 
On November 25, 1872 the whole scheme collapsed. Banker Ralston had to refund the investors, with much of the money coming from his own pocket. The two country bumpkins? They disappeared back in Kentucky; along with the meager $600,000 they had been given.
 
Incidentally, the young man who exposed the Great Diamond Hoax, Clarence King, became the first director of the United States Geological Survey.

Curly Bill Killed Fred White

Curly Bill Killed Fred WhiteAlthough Western movies often show a villain or hero’s dexterity with a pistol, much of that dexterity or trick shooting was fiction. But there was one incident where it may have taken place. It was when Curly Bill killed Fred White.

Even though western movies like Tombstone showed cowboys with the ability to do fancy tricks with pistols, or even tin cups, very few cowboys could, or even cared to do, fancy tricks. Success in a shootout was determined by steadiness and accuracy, not gun twirling. But, on October 28, 1880, a fancy gun trick was supposedly used.
           
Curly Bill Killed Fred White

Fred White

Tombstone was barely three years old. Fred White was the town Marshal, and Wyatt Earp was County Deputy Sheriff. A group of drunken cowboys was shooting it up in town. As White and Earp headed toward the cowboys, the group scattered. They cornered Curly Bill Brocius, a ne’er-do-well member of the Clanton gang. 

               
Marshal White asked for Curly Bill’s gun. It’s here that the story goes in two different directions. One says that Curly Bill offered his cocked pistol to Marshal White barrel first. And, either White grabbed the gun, or Wyatt Earp grabbed Curly Bill, but, in either event, the gun went off, killing Marshal White.
 
The other version says that Curly Bill handed the gun to Marshal White butt first, and as White reached for the gun, Curly Bill spun the butt into his own hand, cocking and shooting the pistol in what has come to be known as the “border draw.”
 
But, in either event, the outcome was the same… Marshal White was dead. What’s interesting is that as Marshal White was dying, he said the shooting was an accident. And, when Curly Bill’s gun was examined, there was only one spent shell. Quite possibly, he was just an innocent bystander who got swept up in a raid.
 
Whichever it was, the outcome was good for Curly Bill. Although Curly Bill killed Fred White, he was found innocent.
 
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