Freed Slaves Head West

It was early 1877. The Civil War had been over for more than ten years. But blacks still didn’t have the freedom they had hoped for. Tenant farming had replaced the plantation system. Because of the price of rented land, and supplies, the black farmer seldom broke even at the end of the year. So, they started looking for somewhere else that would give them true opportunity.
 
Prior to the Civil War, by the vote of the residents, Kansas had changed from a slave to a free state. Although blacks had moved to Kansas on an individual basis, the first serious attempt to establish a black colony was on March 5, 1877 when Benjamin Singleton led a group from Tennessee to Baxter Springs located in the southeast corner of the state. Cherokee County Colony, Singleton Colony, Hill City, and Nicodemus Town followed. Most failed because of poor leadership, the transient nature of the emigrants, and having only marginal land available for settling.
 
It’s estimated that between fifteen and twenty thousand blacks migrated to Kansas in just a two-month period. Realizing the loss of cheap labor, southern landowners tried to stop the migration with intimidation and attacks against those involved in the “Colored Exodus.”
 
The biggest obstacle for blacks was that they had little or no money when they started their trek to Kansas. Many had only the possessions they could carry on their backs. However, they were assisted with relief efforts along the route from churches and private citizens.
 
By 1879 word got back to the south that the Kansas immigrants were facing tremendous problems in establishing a new life, and almost as fast as it started, the Kansas immigration dropped off to a trickle, and stopped.
Stephen Austin

Chuckwagon: Cowboy Slang

Cowboys are noted for developing their own vocabulary.  Sometimes it was because they couldn’t pronounce the word correctly as used in the language of origin.  They were famous for perverting Spanish words.  Cowboys also named items because the item reminded them of something else.  However they came about, cowboys had a vocabulary that was colorful and their own.  Below are some words used in reference to chuck, or for the non-cowboy, food, while they were on the trail.

    • Calf Slobbers – Meringue on a pie.
    • Fried Chicken – Bacon rolled in flour and fried.
    • Chuck Wagon Chicken – Fried bacon.
    • Charlie Taylor – A substitute for butter. A combination of molasses and bacon grease.
    • “Man at the Pot!” – Term yelled at a person pouring himself a cup of coffee. A cowboy’s way of saying, “Pour me a cup too.”
    • Spotted Pup – Cooking raisins in rice.
    • Stacked to a fill – Compliment to the chief following a great meal.
    • Dry Camp – A camp that has no water available.
    • Prairie or Mountain Oysters – Calf’s testicles.

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

Old West TV: Samuel Maverick

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the term “Maverick”? Cattle and the Old West are the discussion of this particular story of Chronicle of the Old West with Dakota Livesay.

Old West Book Review: The Lady Was A Gambler

Lady GamblerThe Lady Was a Gambler, Chris Enss, Twodot Publishing, 800-962-0973, $12.95, Paperback.

The stories in this book are about thirteen women gamblers who lived by their wits.  Some were the product of hard times; others chose their profession simply because they liked adventure.  The book is fun to read, the chapters are short with stories told right to the point.  A bibliography appears at the back of the book offering information about each lady if the reader is inclined to do additional research.  Unfortunately the bibliography regarding Calamity Jane omits the best biography written about her to date titled Calamity Jane, by James D. McLaird, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, 2005, and was reviewed in this column a while back.

In any case, this book, written for light entertainment, does a good job in picking out a variety of interesting women, albeit some better known than others.

Kitty LeRoy was a bigamist, cardsharp, and knife-wielding saloonkeeper who dressed like a gypsy.  She hailed from Dallas, Texas eventually making her way north to Deadwood Gulch, South Dakota where she ran a saloon, cheated at cards, and married multiple times without bothering with divorces.  Her last jealous husband shot her to death at the Lone Star Saloon before taking his own life.

Belle Ryan Cora was a glamorous gambler whose father was a minister.

Abandoned by her first husband, the distraught Belle fled to New Orleans.  Here she worked as a prostitute, and met a handsome gambler.  The pair moved on to the California goldfields, settling in San Francisco where they ran a profitable brothel and gambling den.  When her lover was hanged by vigilantes, Belle died of a broken heart after giving most of her money to local charities.

Alice Ivers was known as Poker Alice, and worked the saloons in Deadwood, South Dakota.  An attractive blonde, she was an expert at five-card draw, faro, and blackjack.  After her husband was killed in a mine accident, she began earning her living exclusively at the gambling tables.  Alice traveled throughout many western states, where she gambled, drank whiskey, smoked cigars and swore mightily whenever she lost a hand.  A friend of Wild Bill Hickok, she was nearby the night he was killed. In her old age, she dressed like a man and sold bootleg whiskey.  Alice was reported to be worth millions in her youth, but died a pauper in 1930 after a short illness.

Gertrudis Maria Barcelo was a sultry vamp living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Born in Sonora, Mexico in 1800, her wealthy parents lavished their beautiful daughter with every gift including a good education.  To the dismay of her parents, Gertrudis married a gambler, and the pair headed north to Santa Fe where she spent her dowry on an elaborate gambling house and bordello known as The Palace.  Meanwhile, “Madam Barcelo” invested her money in mines, hotels and freight lines.  She worked as an American spy, supporting the U.S. in its interest to remain separate from Mexico.  Her affair with the governor of New Mexico led to the breakup of her marriage, but she remained a gambler to the end, becoming the richest woman in Santa Fe. When she died in 1852, her elaborate funeral was complete with music, cowboys, horses, speeches by church and city officials, barbecues, and merrymaking that was long remembered.

Belle Siddons, Lottie Deno, Belle Starr, Eleanora Dumont, Jenny Rowe, Minnie Smith and others are found in this entertaining book.  These true stories remind us that women were rough, tough and headstrong in the Old Days, and would have laughed at political labels such as “Women’s Lib” because even in the 1800s, nothing could stop a woman who really wanted to blaze her own trail.

Editor’s Note: The Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many published books, including Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 (845-726-3434) www.silklabelbooks.com

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

Dave Rudabaugh and Billy the Kid

Stephen AustinDave Rudabaugh was born in Missouri in 1841. Early in life he moved to Kansas. At the age of 18, Dave started a gang that rounded up and sold other people’s cattle. By the age of 29 he and his gang moved on to robbing payroll trains and railroad construction camps.
 
Obviously, the railroad didn’t like Rudabaugh’s activities. So they hired Wyatt Earp to stop them. But Wyatt’s pursuit didn’t inhibit Rudabaugh’s activities. For in January of 1878 he and his gang robbed a pay train in Kansas. Unfortunately for Rudabaugh, this was an area protected by Bat Masterson. Before Rudabaugh’s gang had a chance to spend the rewards of others labors, they found themselves in jail. Being a man lacking in character, Rudabaugh turned states evidence against his comrades and gained his freedom.
 
During the summer of 1880 Rudabaugh joined the gang of a New Mexico ruffian by the name of Billy the Kid. About 6 months later Rudabaugh and Billy the Kid ran into a posse led by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Rudabaugh was arrested, tried and sentenced to hang.
 
Facing a rope, Rudabaugh went underground. He dug a tunnel and high tailed it to Old Mexico.
 
For 5 years Dave Rudabaugh created all kinds of havoc in Mexico. Then, finally, this man who had lived in the shadow of other more famous men got his moment of glory. For on February 19, 1866 the local Mexican villagers fed up with Rudabaugh’s escapades, killed him. They then cut off his head, stuck it on a pole, placed the pole in the center of the village and had a fiesta. For once Dave Rudabaugh or at least part of Dave Rudabaugh was the center of attention.
 Page 1 of 65  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »