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OLD WEST NEWSPAPER

PrinterWith frontier towns springing up over night, and disappearing as fast, an Old West newspaper had to be on the move to keep customers. This week’s story is about one such newspaper.

Following the Civil War two brothers, Legh and Fred Freeman, were hired to publish a newspaper out of Fort Kearney, Nebraska.  During this time the railroad passed through the area.  While the railroad was being built in the area things boomed.  As the railroad moved on, taking the workers with it, there was a bust.

 The Freeman brothers hit on the idea to create a newspaper that would move along with the railroad.  So, they bought a hand press, type, ink and paper, named their newspaper the Frontier Index, and hired wagons to take them to the next town where the railroad was to arrive.  As the crews arrived with men anxious to read the latest news, they did a booming business.  Merchants were willing to pay outrageous prices for advertising, and marked their goods up accordingly.

The masthead of the Index changed each time they moved to a new town.  During its existence the Index was published in 25 different cities.  Sometimes the Freeman brothers moved so fast that they outran their supplies.  One time they had to print the newspaper on wrapping paper.

 The Index came to an end in Bear River City.  As the population of the city grew, the lawless element started arriving along with the railroad workers.  The Index wrote an editorial stating, “Bear River City has stood enough of the rowdy criminal element.”  The next day, November 15, 1868, some of “the rowdy criminal element” grabbed a rope, and headed to the tent that headquartered the Index newspaper.  The Freeman brothers were able to escape, but when they returned nothing remained of the Index but ashes.  The lifespan of the Frontier Index was but two years.  Which, incidentally, was a long time for a frontier newspaper.

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.

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.

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.

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.

PEARL GREY

Pearl Grey was born on January 31, 1872. He was a talented baseball player, and played for the University of Pennsylvania while getting a degree in dentistry.  Pearl was scheduled to follow in his father’s footsteps as a dentist.  Looking for excitement, he played some semi-pro baseball.  But that didn’t satisfy his need.Zane Grey Picture

Incidentally, Pearl never liked his first name, which was thought by everyone to be a woman’s name.  So he decided to change it to his mother’s maiden name, Zane.

Pearl, or as we know him now, Zane Grey never wanted to be a dentist.  He wanted to be a writer.  His first novel was a forgettable one about one of his ancestors.  But his life was changed when in 1908 he met Colonel C. J. “Buffalo” Jones.  Buffalo Jones convinced Zane to write his biography.  So Zane could get a feel of the atmosphere of Buffalo Jones’ life, Jones took the 36-year-old writer out west.

While out west, Zane Grey experienced the excitement of the west, like roping mountain lions.  Grey was fascinated with the people and landscape.  The biography of Jones, “The Last of the Plainsmen” was completed that same year.
  Although it got little attention, Zane Grey had found his calling.

About four years later Zane Grey published a novel that gained him lasting fame…Riders of the Purple Sage.  This novel was about a weak easterner who became a man because of his exposure to the culture of the West.  It was a theme that Zane would repeat in the almost 80 books he published during a life that lasted 64 years.

GOLD DISCOVERED IN CALIFORNIA

On January 24, 184Gold Mining8, John Marshall and John Sutter discovered gold at a sawmill construction site near Sacramento, California.

When James Marshall told Sutter of the gold discovery, his first thought was not of the potential of vast wealth, but of how it would adversely affect an empire he was developing called New Switzerland.

Even though Sutter owned 50,000 acres of land, the mill was on public land.  At that time, California was in the process of being transferred from Mexican to U.S. ownership.  With no government authority, Sutter and Marshall exchanged clothing and other trinkets with local Indians for a lease of land surrounding the site.  Even though they tried to keep the discovery a secret, in no time the whole world knew about it.

As men were panning for gold, Marshall was busy cutting lumber, and Sutter was tending his crops.  Within a year, both of their businesses failed.  Without a clear title, James Marshal was eventually run off the land where the mill was located.

John Sutter’s 50,000 acres came from two Spanish land grants.  One was declared void, and squatters took over the other.

Eventually, both men tried mining for gold.  But they failed.  John Sutter died penniless in 1880…And James Marshall did the same in 1885.

Although Sutter and Marshall, the discoverers of gold, never saw a profit from the discovery, during the first 25 years following the discovery, over 978 million dollars worth of gold was taken from the area of Sutter’s mill.

OLD WEST ROCK STAR

Solid MuldoonDo you think that rock stars are a creation of modern history?  Not necessarily so.  Back in 1877, the Old West had a rock star.

It was 1877, and Darwin’s theory of evolution was a hot topic of conversation.  To support his theory, in March of that year, a giant petrified man was found in Colorado, along with a petrified turtle and fish.  It was announced by its finders that, “We have found the missing link which Darwin claims connects mankind with the beast creation.  It is certainly the petrified body of a man with a tail.”

It was named “The Solid Muldoon.”  The Solid Muldoon made a tour of the United States ending up in New York.  People stood in line to pay money to see this “missing link.”  Although Darwin himself, only seeing pictures, felt the whole thing might be an imposture; others said it was definite proof of evolution.

It was February 15, 1878…less than a year after the Solid Muldoon was discovered, that one of the members of the exhibition company, feeling he wasn’t being paid enough, spilled the beans about the missing link.

It seems that back in 1877 two men met to see if they could make some money in connection with the excitement over Darwin’s theory of evolution.  One of the men was George W. Hull.  Eight years earlier Hull had made money by creating and exhibiting a Cardiff giant he had made with 2,900 pounds of cement.  The other was a P. T. Barnum, the great showman and promoter.  Hull took some cement and cast the Solid Muldoon along with the turtle and fish.  Then they had it hid in the Colorado wilderness, so they could later find it.

With the exposure of the Solid Muldoon as only a piece of rock, this star of the Old West faded. But P. T. Barnum continued showing us just how gullible we really are.

EMPEROR OF THE UNITED STATES

Emperor Norton20,000 TURN OUT FOR EMPEROR NORTON FUNERAL

January 10, 1880, Call, San Francisco, California – Emperor Norton I, first citizen of San Francisco, was laid to rest today at the Masonic Cemetery in a service that saw a royal cortege more than two miles long. An estimated 20,000 citizens came to say farewell to this self-appointed supreme leader of the United States of America. He was laid to rest in a black robe with a white starched shirt and black bow tie.
He died shortly after collapsing on California Street near Grant on the evening of January 8th on his way to a debate at the Academy of Science. Businessman William Proll was first to arrive to his aid, and knowing him to be a temperate man, believed the Emperor was distressed. A police officer ordered a carriage to convey him to the hospital. Alas, by the time a hack arrived, Emperor Norton had departed this life.
Joshua Abraham Norton, born London, England on February 14th, 1819, came to this city in 1849 from South Africa. Although he arrived with a $40,000 fortune, a failed attempt to corner this city’s rice market in 1854 separated him from his money. His venture, the result of a rice famine in China, caused the price of rice to skyrocket from four cents to 37 cents a pound. Norton bought the entire cargo of the first ship of rice arriving from Peru for 12 cents a pound, little realizing that more Peruvian rice-laden ships were due to arrive the following day. The glut of rice to this city dropped the price to three cents a pound. Norton, gold-seeker turned rice-seeker, was financially ruined.
Penniless but not without temerity, he arose again and on September 17, 1859, he proclaimed himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States in a declaration concluding:

“In virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different Sates of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”

Many citizens of San Francisco were amused by the Emperor’s Decrees, but many citizens saw him as an honest and noble man, and above all, a diviner with an eye to the future. Under the Emperor’s imperial hand, proclamations were published, most notably: dissolving the Union (July 16, 1860), barring Congress from meeting (October 1, 1860), abolishing both the Democratic and Republican parties (August 12, 1869), that a suspension bridge be built between San Francisco and Oakland Point (September 21, 1872), and that a Bible Convention be held “for the purpose of eliminating all doubtful passages contained in the present printed edition of the Bible, and that measures be adopted toward the obliteration of all religious sects and the establishment of a Universal Religion,” (January 2, 1873). Perhaps most far-reaching was his call upon the leaders of the world to form a League of Nations where disputes could be resolved peacefully. His letters to Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria were seriously deliberated.
With the completion of the transcontinental railroad, tourist arrived daily to this city, and Emperor Norton offered them fine sights worthy of their trip. San Franciscans knew Emperor Norton to be a temperate man, and although he had no visible means of income, he issued paper notes in denominations of fifty-cents to ten dollars with which to obligingly pay his bills, signing and dating each to make the transaction official. He had been known to disperse riots against the city’s population of Chinese by reciting the Lord’s Prayer before the aggressors.
This city will miss him walking with his dog, returning the salute of police officers, ordering the cleanliness of our streets, tempering foul language, and in general, making San Francisco a more royal city for his presence.

STUDEBAKERS

If you go to a classic car show, you’ll see a number of Studebaker cars and trucks.  But, did you know that the StudebakerStudebaker family started making vehicles back in 1852?

Here’s the story. The Studebaker family was known for being great blacksmiths.  Looking to take advantage of the westward movement, brothers Henry, Clem and John started the “H & C Studebaker Company” to make their version of a Conestoga wagon.  They started with $68 in capital. After a year, they had sold two wagons.

Realizing they needed more capital to be able to buy materials in quantity, brother John agreed to go to California and get some capital in the gold fields.  When he got to what is now Placerville, he realized he could generate more money by making wheelbarrows for the gold miners than mining gold.

John did well.  In a couple of years, he had saved $8,000.  On his way home, John picked up a copy of the great promoter, P. T. Barnum’s book The Art of Money Making.  When John got back to Indiana, he was totally excited with the possibilities of making a fortune.

By December 31, 1860 the Studebaker brothers, John and Clem…Henry had decided to leave the business and become a farmer…had 14 employees and a successful business.

During the Civil War, the Studebakers made supply wagons and ambulances for the Union Army.  The two brothers were so busy that they grew beards to save time normally used for shaving.

It became an annual ritual to tally the books at the end of each year. Following the Civil War, on December 31, 1867, John tallied the assets.  That year they had profits of $223,269.

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