A TOWN TREED

JuanHunters are known to tree a mountain lion or a bear now and then, but in 1859, a gang of thugs treed a whole town. That’s right, a whole town.

It was the mid 1800’s. Anglos from other parts of the United States were coming to Texas in groves, and taking over land previously owned by Mexicans.

Juan Cortina, saw his family’s land holdings shrink. When he became a man, Juan put together a gang of disgruntled Mexicans and started taking back some of the land. In mid September of 1859 one of Juan’s men was arrested in Brownsville, Texas. Juan and his men shot the Marshal and freed the gang member. This, of course, infuriated the citizens of Brownsville. For days they talked about putting together a posse and getting revenge. But it seems that talk was all they were want to do.

Juan Cortina, on the other hand, wanted action, and getting tired of waiting for the posse to come after him, on September 27 he led a thousand cutthroats into Brownsville, captured Fort Brown, and took over the town. After killing anyone who had previously caused him grief, Juan demanded one hundred thousand dollars in gold or he would burn down the town.
News of the Brownsville situation got out and a contingency of men came to the rescue. Unfortunately, for them, news of what Cortina was doing also reached his friends and his gang had grown to a much larger size. After defeating the relief column, Cortina went after Edinburg, Texas and then took on Rio Grande.

Cortina then wisely retreated back to Mexico where for 15 years he made raids across the border. Finally in 1875, the Texas Rangers decided to put an end to Juan Cortina’s shenanigans, and went down to Mexico and kicked his butt. From then on Juan stayed south of the border and played politics there.

BATTLE OF BEECHER’S ISLAND

Beecher's IslandThe summer of 1868, Indians were conducting major raids on railroad work camps and homesteads. Major George Forsyth was ordered to put together a detachment of 50 volunteer frontiersmen to teach the Indians a lesson.

The first part of September they arrived at Kansas’ Fort Wallace, and immediately took after a group of Indians who had stolen some stock. On September 16, Forsyth and his men, low on rations, camped on the banks of the Arikaree River.

Unknown to Forsyth 4,000, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux had been following him for three days. The morning of September 17 Major Forsyth and his men were awaken by the sounds of war cries. The 50 volunteers, with their animals, retreated and dug into a 40-yard by 150-yard sandbar.

By 9 A.M. the Indians had killed all of the volunteers’ horses and mules. Now there was no way of escape. A half hour later 300-mounted warriors, headed directly for the 50 volunteers. But, what the Indians didn’t realize was that all of Forsyth’s men were equipped with Spencer seven-shot repeating rifles and Colt pistols. Waiting until the last second to start firing, the charge was broken.

For eight days the Indian attacks continued, and the Spencer rifles kept them away from the volunteers. Two of the volunteers were able to get away and make it to Fort Wallace for help. By the time reinforcements arrived, the bulk of the Indians had left, with only a small contingency staying to starve out the volunteers.

Technology had made it possible for 50 men to face and essentially defeat a force of 1,500 warriors. During the battle, 10 of the volunteers were killed, and 20 wounded. But Indian causalities were estimated to be around 50 killed and as many as 200 wounded.

CRAWFORD GOLDSBY

In the Old West it seemed necessary to have the appropriate name before a person could make a reputation.  That sure was true witCrowford Goldsbyh a man named Crawford Goldsby.

If someone came into a bank in the Old West and announced, “I’m Crawford Goldsby, and this is a hold-up,” the teller would probably have laughed.  That’s why you’ve never heard of outlaw Crawford Goldsby.

Crawford was born in 1876.  His mother was a combination of black, Cherokee and white.  His father was white, Mexican and Sioux.  At the age of 16 Crawford had a dispute with a man who proceeded to whip him.  He got a gun and shot him.  Although it wasn’t fatal, Crawford hightailed it to the Indian Territory.

Next, Crawford came up with a name with a little more pizzazz.  He became “Cherokee Bill.”  Now he could build a reputation.  And he wasted no time doing it.

On June 26, 1894 Cherokee Bill killed his first man…a posse member that was chasing him.  His sister’s husband had beaten her.  Shortly afterward, the brother-in-law was dead.  Next a railroad agent was killed in a holdup.  A railroad conductor was killed when he tried to throw Cherokee off a train.  And then a bystander was shot during another holdup.

Cherokee Bill was finally arrested, brought before Hanging Judge Parker, convicted, and sentenced to hang.

Cherokee Bill walked up the 12 steps to the hangman’s noose.  When he got to the top he looked at the crowd, smiled and said, “Look at the people.  Something must be going to happen.”  When asked if he had anything to say, he replied, “I came here to die, not to make a speech.”

He died at the age of 20, after killing almost 13 people in just two years…An obvious result of changing his name from Crawford Goldsby to Cherokee Bill.

TODAY’S HERO – TOMORROW’S BUM

Often things moved fast in the Old West.  Today’s hero is sometimes tomorrow’s bum.  Or, in Caldwell, Kansas toGeorge Flattday’s hero is tomorrow’s dead bum.

Born in Tennessee, George Flatt, went out to Caldwell, Kansas.  George had a bit of a stubborn streak that came out in July of 1879.  After more than a few drinks, a couple of cowboys in the Occidental Saloon started shooting their pistols.  Constable Kelly and a posse that included George Flatt came to take care of the problem.  The posse cautiously entered the saloon, and saw the two cowboys with their guns pointed at them.  The cowboys started for the door.  But Flatt stepped forward and blocked the door.  Carrying two guns, the cowboys demanded that he drop them.  Flatt responded, “I’ll die first.”  A shot from one of the cowboys whizzed past Flatt’s head.  Flatt went into action.  Each gun took out a cowboy.

Things moved fast in Caldwell.  In a matter of weeks, George Flatt advanced from posse member to the city’s first marshal.  And capitalizing on his new found fame he went into partnership with William Horseman operating a saloon.

But many times as fast as things go well, just as fast they turn bad.  Flatt was a heavy drinker.  And within a year not only had his partnership with Horseman fallen apart, but Horseman had even replaced him as city marshal.

Then on Saturday evening, June 19, 1880 after spending some time drinking in the bars, George Flat headed for home.  From the dark a rifle shot rang out.  It hit Flatt in the skull.  Once he was down, three more slugs filled his body.  Yes, things moved fast in Caldwell, Kansas…From a marshal and businessman to a dead drunk laying face down in the dirt in less than a year.

SEMINOLE-NEGROES

Seminole-NegroOn April 8, 1875 four soldiers encountered 30 Comanche.  Three of those four soldiers received the Congressional Metal of Honor.  This was but one escapade in the life of a most unusual group of soldiers.

During the 1870’s there was a small group of men who guarded the Texas–Mexico border against Comanche Indians.  These men were the Seminole-Negroes.  They were runaway slaves who had gone to Florida and lived with the Seminole Indians. When the Seminole were chased west, the black families went with them.

In 1870, looking for extra help in fighting the marauding Comanche, the Seminole-Negroes were hired as a special unit to track down the Comanche Indians.  Although the Seminole-Negroes were a rag-tag looking bunch with a combination of military and Indian attire, which even included war bonnets, they had the ability to follow trails that were weeks old and live on nothing but rattlesnakes.

The commander of this group was a white Lieutenant by the name of John Bullis.  Lieutenant Bullis had the respect of the Seminole-Negroes, because he was willing to live and fight right along side of his men.  One time while on a patrol Lieutenant Bullis and three of his enlisted men encountered some 30 Comanche.  Being vastly outnumbered, the soldiers retreated.  Unfortunately, in the process Lieutenant Bullis was captured.  Not willing to leave their commander behind; the men changed into the midst of the Comanche, rescuing Lieutenant Bullis.  Each enlisted man received the Congressional Metal of Honor.

For their service, the government had promised the Seminole-Negroes land, but, mysteriously, when it came time to pay up, the War Department had run out of land.  But, living up to their commitment, and ever hopeful, they stayed on until their job was done.

Incidentally, as an indication of their skill as scouts and fighters, during the service of the Seminole-Negroes, not one was ever killed or injured in battle.

MORGAN KILLED

1881 wasn’t a good time for the Earps with the O. K. Corral shootout in which Virgil and Morgan were seriously shot.  And then later Virgil was shot again.  It was hoped that 1882 would be a better year.  But it wasn’t.Morgan Earp

Morgan Earp was the youngest of the three Earps who participated in the O. K. Corral shootout.  He was also the friendliest of the clanish Earps who were not known for having a smile on their face.

For a while in Tombstone, Morgan was a shotgun guard for Wells Fargo.  But realizing dealing faro was more profitable and less dangerous, he got a job at the Occidental Saloon.

During the O. K. Corral incident Morgan was seriously shot through the right shoulder.  Over the next few months he healed to the point that by the following March he could participate in his favorite activity, billiards.

It was March 18, 1882. Morgan and Wyatt had just attended a play.  Afterward they went to Hatch’s Saloon so Morgan could play a game of billiards with owner Bob Hatch.  As Morgan was chalking up his cue, two 45-caliber gunshots blasted through the saloon window.  The first shot hit Morgan.  The other barely missed Wyatt…Quite possibly both Morgan and Wyatt were both marked for assassination.  But, as was the story throughout Wyatt’s life, the second bullet missed.

When the smoke cleared Morgan was on the ground in a pool of blood.  The 45 had shattered Morgan’s spine.  The doctors said there was no hope.  With brothers Wyatt, Virgil, James and Warren by his side, Morgan said, “This is the last game of pool I’ll ever play.”  Then he whispered something to Wyatt.  Morgan was dead in less than an hour from the time he was shot.

Later Morgan was dressed in one of Doc Holliday’s suits and brother Virgil took him to Colton, California to be buried where his parents lived.

KANSAS CATTLE TOWNS

To Texas cattlemen Dodge City, Abilene, Caldwell, Ellsworth, Hays and Newton were all spelled with dollar signs.

They were the end of the trail for cattle drives.  In reality, were it not for cattle and the cowboys, they would Cattle Driveprobably have never grown beyond a few shacks and a dusty road.

But, on March 7, 1885, the Kansas legislature passed a bill that prohibited Texas cowboys and their cattle from coming into Kansas between March and December.  What’s going on here?

Actually, four things…first, the future of Kansas’ “Cow Town” industry was very shaky at best.  Railroads were being built directly to Texas, and soon Kansas railheads would no longer be needed.  Second, it had been discovered that the plains of Kansas were good for more than just providing feed for passing cattle.  Farmers were turning over the sod and planting crops.  Although the cattlemen attempted to respect the farms, strays inevitably created havoc with crops.  For some drives, conflict with farmers was a daily event.

The third, and probably most important reason was that Texas cattle were carriers of a tick fever.  Over the years Texas cattle had become immune to the disease, and since it didn’t affect humans, there was no big concern.  But, as the cattle passed through Kansas, ticks would leave the Texas cattle and infect the local dairy cows.

And then there was the preverbal straw that broke the camel’s back.  The residents of these famous “Cow Towns” were getting fed up with the rowdy cowboys and the messy cattle.

So, the bottom line was that, as least this time, most of Kansas was behind this seemingly radical move by the legislature.

SEQUOHAH

The subject of today’s story was considered an ingenious natural mechanic…and his invention changed the life of his people forever.

Sequohah, bSequohahorn 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.

FIRST DAYLIGHT BANK ROBBERY

No one noticed a group of men who rode into Liberty, Missouri on February 13, 1866. But, a short while later, when they rode out, everyone noticed them, because they had just done what no one had ever done before.

It was FebrJesse & Frank Jamesuary of 1866.  The Civil War was over.  Supposedly, Jessie James was at his mother’s home in Kearney, Missouri recovering from a war wound, and his brother Frank was spending his time with Jessie reading books.

About ten miles away, on February 13, Valentine’s Day, a dozen men rode into Liberty, Missouri.  They wore long military coats.  It was a cold day, and the streets were deserted.  Three men dismounted and took casual positions on the street.  The others rode up to the Clay County Savings Association. Two went inside.

A clerk and cashier were inside.  One of the men in long coats walked up to the clerk and asked him to change a ten dollar bill.  The long coated man then pulled his pistol, and casually asked for all the money in the bank.

These men were doing something that had never been done before…holding up a bank during operating hours.  A gain sack was filled with gold and silver coins, paper money and securities totaling $60,000.

After the robbery, the men mounted their horses, and riding at full gallop, whooped, and shot their way out of town.  Unfortunately, a 19-year-old college student, George Wymore, was walking down the street.  One rider fired at him four times, and Wymore fell dead.  A later examination of Wymore discovered that any one of the four shots would have killed him.

In spite of their alibis, this first bank robbery was led by the two James boys from nearby Kearney.  Over the next few years they robbed at least twelve other banks, more than a handful of trains, almost a handful of stagecoaches, and even a county fair.

FRONTIER PHARMACY

From:
Current Newspaper, Carlsbad, New Mexico
February 13, 1896Frontier Pharmacy

Catnip – The leaves can be made into a tea and fed to babies with colic.

Chicory – Young leaves can be eaten as a spring green and the roots dried and roasted as a coffee substitute.

Dandelion – The leaves and small flower buds are a sought-after spring green. Dried and roasted roots make a coffee substitute. Can also be used as a remedy for dropsy.

Goldenrod – The flowers can be used for dying yarn. The leaves can be made into tea for nausea.

Milkweed – The “fluff” from this plant makes a great stuffing for mattresses and pillows. The leaves can be used to make chair seats; shoots, roots, and young lower buds are all edible.

Red Raspberry – The leaves can be dried and made into a tea for dysentery, to ease childbirth pains and as a wash for sores.

Rose Hips – Tea made from these berries can be used as a treatment for scurvy.

Sassafras – The inner bark of the roots can be boiled in water for a spring tonic and as a beverage with meals.

Willow – The inner bark can be used to make tea for reducing fever.

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