Back in 1823, explorer and fur trader Major Andrew Henry took a group of men to explore what is now northwestern South Dakota. One of the adventurers who went on the trip was a man named Hugh Glass. On May 8 Hugh went on a hunting trip and didn’t return. Some of the other men went to find him. On the way they came across a wounded grizzly bear. Shortly after dispatching it, they found the mangled body of Hugh Glass. Obviously, the grizzly and Hugh had tangled, and Hugh had gotten the worse of the battle.

Since Hugh was near death, Major Henry decided to push on. Being a bit compassionate, Major Henry offered to pay two men $40 if they would stay until Hugh died, and then bury him. The volunteers were John Fitzgerald and a 19 year old, future famous mountain man, named Jim Bridger.

Fitzgerald and Bridger waited only a few hours before deciding they had enough, and leaving him still alive, they appropriating Glass’ rifle and other equipment, and caught up with the rest of the group, stating that Glass was dead and buried.
Even in his bad state, Hugh Glass had heard the men talking and knew what had happened. With vengeance burning inside him, and surviving on berries and whatever else he could scrape up, he crawled 150 miles to Fort Kiowa.
Hugh Glass survived and tracked down both Fitzgerald and Bridger. But by the time he found them, the fire of vengeance was down to a few smoldering embers, and he merely gave each of them a lecture on their unethical behavior. I don’t know about Fitzgerald, but I can assure you that Jim Bridger never pulled that trick again.

Chuckwagon: Cooked Cabbage Salad

1 Pint or more of chopped cooked cabbage

1 Egg well beaten
¼ Cup vinegar
1 Tsp butter
Dash of salt and pepper

Sweeten to suit taste. Simmer a few minutes and add ½ cup of thick fresh cream. Serve immediately.

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

A Great Rhode Island Cowboy

Abel Head Pierce was born in Rhode Island on June 29, 1834. At the age of twenty he stowed away on a schooner and ended up in southern Texas. Abel took a job for a cattleman named Grimes. Starting out doing odd jobs, Abel worked his way up to trail boss, taking cattle to New Orleans.

Abel Head Pierce was a 6 foot, 5 inch bearded giant of a man who had a habit of wearing spurs with extra large rowels, and strutting around town. Someone remarked that Abel looked like a Shanghai rooster, and he became Shanghai Pierce. Now, that’s a name any cowboy would be proud of.
After serving in the Civil War, Shanghai returned to Texas and started accumulating cattle. Shanghai took a couple of years out in Kansas… supposedly to let things cool down in Texas after lynching a couple of rustlers.
He ended up with a 250,000 acre ranch appropriately called the Rancho Grande. Obviously, Shanghai was a major factor in the Texas cattle industry.
Looking for cattle that would be resistant to ticks that was causing problems with Texas cattle going north, and a breed that would produce more meat, Shanghai went to Europe and ended up bringing home some Brahma cattle, which he crossed with the Texas Longhorns.
By the end of the 19th century Shanghai Pierce’s Rancho Grande approached a million acres. When Shanghai felt his life was close to coming to an end he hired a San Antonio sculptor to make a larger than life statue of himself to be placed over his grave. Asked why, Shanghai responded, “I knew that if I didn’t do it, no one else would.”

Book Review: The Sundance Kid

Sundance KidThe Sundance Kid; The Life of Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, Donna E. Ernst, University of Oklahoma Press, (405) 325-3200, $19.95, Paper, Photos, Maps, Notes to the Chapters, Bibliography, Index.

OId West outlaw history has many “kids”, and the Sundance Kid is among the most popular.  He teamed up with Butch Cassidy, and the two robbed banks, blew up railroad cars, stole money, buried loot, rustled horses, broke jail and foiled lawmen all the way from the United States to South America.

Along the way many romanticized stories cropped up.  Books, magazine articles, and even one popular movie had Butch and Sundance appearing in a variety of exciting situations.  lt’s true they belonged to The Wild Bunch, or Hole in the Wall Gang of robbers and rustlers in Old Wyoming.  At one point in their career, they brazenly posed for a group photograph in a New York studio with members of their gang.

They rode hard, shot straight, plotted brazen holdups and get-aways, and even ran with a beautiful and mysterious woman known as Ethel (or Etta) Place.  She traveled from New York to South America with them, was thought to be a Texas soiled dove, but disappeared from history before the men were hunted down and killed in Bolivia.  All the possibilities surrounding Ethel’s life and what might have ultimately happened to her are explored here.

The author of this book is Donna Ernst, a member through marriage of the Longabaugh family, and she has spent many years delving into historical archives, family records, Pinkerton documents, letters and news accounts.  Ernst has determined to set the story straight and takes the reader step by step from Harry Longabaugh’s childhood all the way to his death in Bolivia.  She explains her sources of information and covers thoroughly Harry’s movements from childhood, to his work as an honest cowboy horse trainer, to his involvements in crime.  She corrects some information about crimes he was blamed for, but other escapades she shows what part he played.

His crime spree began in the United States, and he spent some time in jail.  Each time he was released he promised to go straight, but, but it always seemed too easy for him to drift back to a life of crime with his old pals.  Eventually, when he was closely followed by American law enforcement authorities, he and Butch and Ethel departed for South America where they planned to become honest ranchers.  However, the Pinkertons and other sheriffs were quick to figure out their whereabouts, and soon the trio was back on the run.  They made friends in South America, but once they again began their outlaw ways, the locals naturally turned on them.

According to Ernst, down to their last two bullets, Butch and Sundance died of suicide in a shack surrounded by Bolivian police throwing Iead.  Many writers show Burch and Sundance slipping back into the U.S. where they drifted in and out of their family’s lives.  Several old men even claimed to be Butch or Sundance well into the 20th century.  According to Ernst, one clever self-promoter may very well have been a Longabaugh relative, but certainly not Sundance himself.

The author makes a very strong case with good documentation that both Butch and Sundance died in Bolivia.  This fascinating book takes the reader in a clear and concise writing style, along the outlaw trail of a man who might have been an upstanding, worthwhile citizen, but instead chose a life on the wild side.

This memorable book belongs in your Old West library.

Publisher’s Note:  The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the OId West including The Apache Kid, published by Westernlore Press, P0. Box 35305,Tucson, Arizona 85740.

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


Chuckwagon: Dutch Oven Trout

As soon as possible after catching your trout, clean them and wipe the inside and outside of the trout with a cloth wet with vinegar water.  Don’t put the trout in the water.  Roll the trout in a mixture of flour, dry powdered milk, cornmeal, salt and pepper.  Heat deep fat in a Dutch oven and fry until crisp and golden brown.       

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

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