Chuckwagon: Cornmeal Pudding

3 Cups cornmeal mash
2 Tablespoons flour
5 Beaten eggs
½ Cup melted butter
1 Cup molasses
½ Cup milk
Juice and rind of 1 lemon

Stir altogether and bake ½ hour in a very moderate oven.
Serve with a sweet sauce

Medicine Man Isatai At War

In 1843 a trading post was built in what is now Hutchinson County, Texas. Over the years the trading post was abandoned, and it fell into disrepair. Thirty years later, about a mile away from the original post, another trading post was established. It comprised of a store, saloon, blacksmith shop and another building. Whites called it Adobe Walls.

 
Chief Quanah Parker considered its existence an act of war. His medicine man, Isatai, also known as “Little Wolf”, convinced Parker that the Great Spirit had told him any Indian who attacked Adobe Walls painted with a special yellow paint would be invincible to bullets.
 
Because of their log construction and sod roofs, the buildings were virtually impregnable. In addition, the buildings contained 29 buffalo hunters, including Bat Masterson, all with 50 caliber “buffalo guns.”
 
On June 27, 1874, 700 Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Arapaho warriors attacked Adobe Walls head on. With the buffalo guns taking their toll, and his horse shot from beneath him, Quanah Parker realized the yellow paint wasn’t working.
 
Four buffalo hunters were killed. Three were caught outside the buildings, and the fourth died of an accidental self-inflicted wound. It’s not known exactly how many Indians were killed, because most of the dead and wounded were carried away.
 
Medicine man, Isatai, tried his best to come up with excuses for the failure. He discovered a brave had killed a skunk prior to the battle, and said that the skunk’s killing had caused the Great Spirit’s spell to be broken. But the braves would have none of it. Later, when asked what Isatai meant in English, the Indians said it was “Coyote Droppings.”
 

Old West Book Review: Reshaw

ReshawReshaw; The Life and Times of John Baptiste Richard, Jefferson Glass, High Plains Press (307) 735-4370, $19.95, Paper.  286 pages, Photos, Notes to the Chapters, Bibliography, Index.

A Frenchman, his surname Richard was pronounced “Reshaw”, by those who knew him, and this 1850s Old West character crisscrossed the frontier in what is now known as Wyoming and Colorado.  While reading the book, it occurs to us that perhaps Reshaw was the inspiration for the Pasquinel character featured in James Michener’s Centennial.

Richard was a contradiction who could be at one time very generous and at other times confrontational.  The Indian tribesmen gave him a name in Sioux that meant “Always has plenty of meat” because he was willing to share with those in need.  On the other hand, he could display a vicious temper and it was said that during a whiskey-drinking spree, he wildly drove his carriage into an emigrant train causing a stampede that killed several people.

Richard bought and sold commodities such as bacon in St. Louis, and sold it at highly inflated prices to the miners and travelers.  He was a fur trapper, buffalo hide trader, whiskey peddler, livestock dealer and all around opportunist who always looked for ways to make money.  By the time he was fifty years old the 1860 Colorado census records show his personal estate was worth $50,000, a huge sum for those days.

He married an Indian woman, and some of their children were eventually sent to St. Louis to be educated.  This book goes into great detail about the lives of Richard’s children as well as his many business associates, as well as information about the history of Wyoming and Colorado, fights between the U.S. military and Indian tribes, attacks at stage stations and the numerous depredations that took place.

One of Richard’s most lucrative business ventures had to do with a toll bridge he constructed across the North Platte River near present day Casper, Wyoming.  Richard was quick to see the advantage of charging the emigrant trains to cross their wagons, livestock and equipment over his bridge as they made their way west.  He ran this operation for many years, but around 1865 he departed from his toll bridge business on the North Platte.  It was suggested that due to his family connections with the Sioux Indians and other tribesmen, he was warned that big trouble was coming between the Indians and the U.S. government, and he would be wise to make himself scarce before it was too late.  The Plains Indians were on the prod following the Sand Creek Massacre, and retribution would be forthcoming.

Even without his toll bridge business, Richard continued to be involved in various business ventures.  He died a violent death where he camped along the banks of the Niobrara River.  Supposedly he was transporting a large quantity of gold.  While his body was recovered, it was never known for sure who the killers were.  Both boot prints and moccasin tracks were found at the murder scene.  Some men were suspected, one was arrested, but due to lack of evidence the murder of John Baptiste Richard remains an unsolved mystery.

This man was kind, he was clever, he was mean, he was generous, he was complicated.  A husband, father, trail blazer, entrepreneur, he was a fascinating character that history has mostly overlooked until now.

The author has done a huge amount of careful research, presenting here not only the life of John Baptiste Richard but including a great deal of Wyoming and Colorado history.  One photo in the book may or may not be that of John Baptiste Richard.  It was labeled differently by several different historians.  We might never know exactly what he looked like which only adds to his mystique.

Editor’s Note:  The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York. 10988-0700. Www.silklabelbooks.com

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

Killer Deacon Miller

Deacon Miller was a little man who was quiet, and never cussed. He dressed like a traveling minister, and was an avid churchgoer. At the same time, this Jekyll-Hyde character was one of the most ruthless assassins of the Old West. It’s estimated that 40 or more people died from lead that came from his guns… Some of them were even his relatives. His contracts were usually carried out on unarmed men from behind a rock or tree, while using a rifle.
 
There are those who say he was involved with the death of Pat Garrett, the lawman who shot Billy the Kid. A man named Brazel, who was renting Garrett’s ranch confessed to killing Garrett. But at the time, a mysterious man, who fit Deacon Miller’s description, by the name of Adamson, was negotiating the purchase of the ranch. Some feel if he didn’t actually pull the trigger, he paid Brazel to do it. But like many theories about events from the Old West, we’ll probably never know the truth.
 
Deacon Miller’s last contract kill was on a lawman named Gus Babbitt. As was his style, Miller ambushed Babbitt. Unfortunately, Babbitt lived long enough to describe Miller. Miller and his three helpers were arrested.
 
Now, Deacon Miller was noted for being a smooth-talker. And he bragged that with his ability to con, and a high priced lawyer, he was going to beat this rap. Some of the Ada, Oklahoma locals believed him. So, on April 19, 1909 they broke Deacon Miller and his three friends out of jail; escorted them to a barn; and hanged them. Deacon Miller went to his reward. And there was little doubt by anyone who knew him, the direction in which that reward was located.

Chuckwagon: Molasses Pie

3 eggs
1 teacupful of brown sugar
½ of a nutmeg
2 tablespoonfuls of butter

Beat well together. Stir in 1 teacupful of molasses with above ingredients. If you have no molasses, maple syrup will work. Bake in pie shell.

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

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