Benjamin Rush Milam – Texas, Mexico and the Anglos

Benjamin Rush Milam Texas, Mexico and the AnglosBenjamin Rush Milam was born in 1788 in Frankfort, Kentucky. He served in the War of 1812, and in 1818, along with other Anglos, he went to Texas, and as was necessary for land ownership there, became a Mexican citizen. During this time, Texas, Mexico and the Anglos had a difficult relationship. Mexico both welcomed and feared the Anglos coming to Texas. Eventually, Mexico started imposing unfair regulations on the Anglos. And, in 1835, when Santa Ana established himself as dictator, Milam renounced his Mexican citizenship and joined the rag-tag army of Anglos fighting for the independence of Texas.
Following the Texas army’s capture of Goliad in which he participated, Milam was sent on a scouting trip to the southwest. When he returned, the Texas army was on the outskirts of San Antonio. But, to Milam’s disappointment, the Texas generals had decided to postpone the attack on San Antonio until spring. Milam was aware that Santa Ana’s forces were heading toward Texas with enough troops to suppress the rebellion, and he worried that to hesitate meant defeat. So, he went before the troops and made an impassioned plea asking: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?”
Three hundred men volunteered. And on December 5, they started their attack on San Antonio. The fighting took place house-to-house and hand-to-hand. Four days later, on December 9, with 200 Mexican soldiers dead and as many injured, the commanding general surrendered the city to the Texans.
Unfortunately, Benjamin Milam wasn’t there to celebrate. He had been shot by a sniper two days into the battle. Incidentally, had he survived, he would have probably been one of the Texans defending the Alamo from Santa Ana the following March.

Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee

Wyatt Earp, Boxing RefereeWyatt Earp had left behind his days in Tombstone. He was now living as a gentleman in San Francisco. Because of his interest in boxing and his celebrity status, on December 2, 1896, Wyatt was asked to referee a championship-boxing match between Fitzsimmons and Sharkey. The purse was $10,000. Winner take all. Here is the story of Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee:
           
Things didn’t start out well for Wyatt. He arrived at the arena with a gun. It had to be taken away by the police.
               
Boxing was considered the sport of the common man… but this match was different. Prominent businessmen, police commissioners and superior court judges were there. Even women attended the event… Most wore veils, but some were brazen enough to go bare faced.
 
Fitzsimmons was the favorite, and most of the money was on him. Even though Fitzsimmons told his corner men at the end of the third round that he would finish Sharkey in the next round, it didn’t happen. Sharkey held up his side of the fight until the seventh. And then he started fading.
 
Now Sharkey had a reputation of sneaking in low blows, and maybe this experience was used to accomplish what happened next, because in the eighth round Sharkey, after a mix-up of blows, fell to the mat claiming a foul. Referee Earp, agreed, and declared Sharkey the winner.
 
No one in the arena saw the foul, and people started mumbling about a fixed fight. Fitzsimmon’s people took it to court. The judge declared that since boxing wasn’t legal, the courts were not in a position to make a determination on the outcome of the fight.
 
Proof of a fixed fight was never established. But right after the fight, Wyatt Earp chose to leave the city by the bay.        

Chuckwagon: Pie Plant Pie

Pie Plant Pie3 cups pie plant (rhubarb)
1 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon full flour 
1 teaspoon full butter
Pie crust for top and bottom

Wash pie plant, do not skin; cut into small pieces.

Mix sugar and flour well with pie plant.

Place in crust, dot with butter and cover with upper crust.

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

Hog Ranches of Wyoming; Liquor, Lust and LiesThe Hog Ranches of Wyoming; Liquor, Lust and Lies Under Sagebrush Skies, Larry K. Brown, High Plains Press, (800-552-7819) $9.95, Paperback.

When the comment is made by those who know little about the Old West, “The Wild West is a Hollywood myth,” I always chuckle.  I can’t imagine life getting much wilder than at the “Hog Ranches” that appeared near almost every military fort on the old frontier.  Whiskey, women, card games, shoot-outs, music and murder were all part of these establishments built for the express purpose of separating lonely soldiers, wayward frontiersman and even cowboys from their wages.

This book centers around those infamous establishments far from law and order where good guys, bad guys, lawmen, cowpokes, soldiers and highwaymen gathered for a good old time.  The author has sifted through newspaper articles, court documents, letters and census records, Military Post Returns, and diaries for the facts regarding some Wyoming Hog Ranches we don’t usually read about in history books.

The origin of the name “Hog Ranch” suggests a certain unpleasantness about the property, but it is pointed out while hogs were sometimes raised here, the name probably referred to the lowdown characters who inhabited these walls.  How the name came to be has never been entirely proven, but what has been proven are the illicit activities that drew lonely people to these dens of iniquity.  Here they found camaraderie and enjoyed the crude buildings, rustic furniture, out-of-tune pianos, earthen floors, missed spittoons and mortal injuries that sometimes ended the careers of those who paid their money and took their chances.

With names like “Bad Man Charlie Anderson’s Hog Ranch”, and “Six Mile Hog Ranch”, they were visited by members of the Wild Bunch and even Alfred Packer, the notorious cannibal who had escaped from prison after dining on at least seven of his fellow travelers during a snow storm in the Rockies.

To say the characters found at these places were dangerous, is putting it mildly.  Calamity Jane worked for a time at the Six Mile Hog Ranch.  She is pictured in the book dressed in garb once worn by her military customers.  Calamity stares back at the camera while showing off a big pistol on her hip.  Other stories include women who helped their husbands run the saloons at these ranches and tell how they cheated customers when selling drinks.  One interesting character was “Old Mother Featherlegs” who ran her place of entertainment on the Cheyenne-Black Hills stage route in 1876.  The lady was said to have flowing red hair and wore a pair of long red pantalettes.  When riding horseback, she was compared by a local wag to a “feather-legged chicken in a high wind.”  In cahoots with some local road agents, Featherlegs hid their stolen money under her shack, but got mixed up with a trapper nicknamed “Dangerous Dick” who eventually murdered her for the dough.  Her body was found shot in the back; Dick’s moccasin prints were recognized nearby.

Murder, shoot-outs, venereal disease and double-cross were all part of the game people played when they associated with the hog ranches.  Tragedy struck in other ways as was evidenced by the tiny graves on nearby hillsides where some soiled doves buried children born here.  Cold, snow, dust and disease were all part of the desolate lifestyle known to these girls.

Some of the stories related here are humorous, some are harsh and sad.  This book is only 120 pages in length, but is filled of interesting material including photographs of some buildings, a few felons, a couple of sheriffs, and a peek into the wild side of life on the Old Frontier.

Grab a copy HERE.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale de la Garza is the author of numerous books including Wild Women of the Old West, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988-0700 (845) 726-3434

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

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?In 1826 Stephen Austin authorized a force of men to fight Indians. This group was the inspiration that inspired the Texas Legislature to form the Texas Rangers on November 24, 1835. They were formed, not as a law enforcement group, but to protect the Texas frontier from Comanche Indians and Mexican banditos crossing over the border. Why are they called Rangers? They were called Rangers because their job was to “range” over wide areas.
           
A private in the Texas Rangers would receive $1.25 per day. With this he took care of his food, clothing, ammunition and horse.
               
When the Civil War broke out, Texas went on the side of the Confederacy. Although the Rangers, as a group didn’t join the Confederacy, some of the members did. They formed a group called “Terry’s Texas Rangers.” And incidentally, this group was credited with originating the rebel yell.
 
After the Civil War; the conquest of the Indians; and Texas becoming a state, the Texas Rangers became the law enforcement agency of Texas.
 
Probably the most unique individual job the Rangers engaged in involved Judge Roy Bean, the law west of the Pecos. The Texas Rangers liked Roy Bean because he always handed down swift judgments. His justice may have been convoluted, but it was immediate, leaving the Rangers free to bring in more lawbreakers.
 
In 1896 Judge Bean was putting on a heavyweight prizefight, which was highly illegal in Texas. Although the fighters and the fans came from the U. S., the actual fight took place on a river sandbar just inside Mexico.
 
Making sure that all Texas laws were observed, a group of Texas Rangers stood on the Texas border, and observed the fight that, unfortunately, only lasted 90 seconds.        
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