Old West History Archives

Black Faced Charlie and the Dalton Gang

Marshal Ed ShortIt seems that everyone in the Old West had nicknames… And some of them were strange. But, none was as strange as Charles Bryant’s. He was called “Black Faced Charlie.” It seems that when he was a young man he was shot point-blank in the face. The bullet just creased his cheek. But, the burnt powder coming out of the pistol imbedded in his face, giving him his nickname.  
 
Bryant joined the Dalton gang. And during the gang’s shootout with a posse was heard to say something like, “Me, I want to get killed in one heck of a minute of action.” Well, Bryant put it out there, and on August 23, 1891, he got his wish. 
 
Being arrested, Bryant had to be transported to jail by Deputy U.S. Marshal Ed Short. Marshal Short was transporting the handcuffed Bryant in a train baggage car when he had to visit the john. Marshal Short gave his pistol to the railroad messenger and left. The messenger put the pistol in a desk drawer and went about his chores.  
 
Unnoticed, Bryant moved around to the desk and got the pistol, just as Marshal Short entered the baggage car. Bryant placed one shot into Marshal Short’s chest. Short, carrying a rifle, shot Bryant… severing his spine. Bryant continued firing his pistol until it was empty. The rest of his shots went wild.
 
Bryant was killed in one heck of a minute of action as he wished. Marshal Short helped the messenger pick up Bryant’s body. Marshal Short then laid down on the cot and died. He was also the victim of heck of a minute of action.
 
Both bodies were left on the train platform at the next stop. 

Texas Ranger Frank Jones

Texas Ranger Captain Frank JonesBorn in Austin, Texas in 1856, Frank Jones joined the Texas Rangers at the age of 17. He saw his first action when he and two other Rangers were sent after some Mexican horse thieves. The horse thieves ambushed the Rangers. Frank’s two companions were immediately taken out, but Frank was able to kill two of the bandits and capture a third.
 
Frank was promoted to corporal and later to sergeant. Once again while chasing a large gang of cattle rustlers, Frank and his six Ranger companions were ambushed. Three of the Rangers were killed, and Frank and the other two Rangers were captured.
 
Now, it would have been much better for the rustlers if they had also killed Frank, for while the rustlers were congratulating themselves on their victory, Frank grabbed one of their rifles, and proceeded to kill all of them.
 
A few years later, now a captain, while traveling alone, Frank was again ambushed. This time by three desperadoes who shot him, and left him for dead. With a bad chest wound, Frank tracked the three men down on foot until he found their camp. He waited until dark; took one of their rifles; shot one and brought the other two back to stand trial.
 
Over the next few years Frank continued his confrontations and victories over outlaws. But on June 29, 1893 Frank went on his last mission. He and four other Rangers went after some cattle thieves on the Mexico border. This time they did the ambushing. But it didn’t turn out well for Frank. In the ensuing gunfight this man of many lives was finally killed.

Sierra Mountains Telegraph Line

 For development to take place there has to be men of vision.  Men of vision developed the pony express to deliver mail to the western frontier faster than stagecoach.  Unfortunately for the pony express, at the same time other men of vision were developing a faster way to connect the east with the west.
One such man was Fred A. Bee. Fred lived in Virginia City, Nevada. On July 4, 1858 he and four partners started the Placerville, Humboldt and Salt Lake Telegraph Company. Carson Valley residents had passed a bond referendum for $1,200 toward the project, and so they started immediately. By fall of that year the telegraph had connected Placerville, California with Nevada. Six months later it arrived in Carson City, and finally it stretched all the way across Nevada.
 
In the process of doing this, they had to cross over the rugged Sierra Mountains. Less than ten years later the Central Pacific Railroad would spend about 20 million dollars crossing those same mountains. The ground was granite. The winds were strong, and the snow deep.
With limited funds and manpower Fred Bee decided that rather than blast holes in the granite for telegraph poles, they would string the wire on the pine trees that had been able attach themselves to the granite and withstand the winds and snow. So, the telegraph wire was strung from treetop to treetop with some spans of wire being quite long. This led people to nickname the Placerville, Humboldt and Salt Lake Telegraph Company, “Bee’s Grapevine Line.” But when it was completed, even the skeptics used it with pride.
 
Two years later Congress authorized constructing the Overland Telegraph Company, and Fred A. Bee’s Grapevine Line became a major link in the completion of the transcontinental telegraph.
 
 

Henry Brown, The Criminal Marshal

Henry Newton Brown was born in Missouri in 1857. Migrating west, he did some buffalo hunting. At the age of nineteen he ended up in Lincoln County, New Mexico during the time of the Lincoln County War. Brown became a member of the Regulators, the quasi-legal group led by Billy the Kid. After being involved in a couple of the shootouts, he was indicted for murder. Before warrants could be served, Brown took off to Texas.

Henry Brown didn’t smoke, drink or gamble. He frequently dressed in a suit, and he could handle a gun…the perfect candidate for a lawman. So, he was appointed deputy sheriff of Oldham County. Shortly afterward he went up to Caldwell, Kansas where he became deputy marshal. And when the city marshal resigned, Brown stepped into that position. Brown did so well that the citizens of Caldwell gave him a handsomely engraved Winchester rifle.
 
On April 30, 1884, after his third appointment as marshal, Henry Brown and his assistant, Ben Wheeler took a few days off to go up to Medicine Lodge, Kansas. The purpose of their trip wasn’t to get in a few days of rest, but to rob the Medicine Lodge bank. In the process Brown killed the bank president and Wheeler killed the cashier.
 
The men were captured and locked away in jail. However, that night a mob stormed the jail with ropes in hand. Henry Brown tried to escape. But before he could get far, a shotgun blast ended the whole affair. The people of the Old West could accept their lawmen having a criminal background, but not committing crimes while wearing a badge.

Wild Bill Hickok Kills Dave Tutt

In the early 1860’s two men of strong will, Dave Tutt and a William Hickok had a couple of meetings which ended in fist fights.
In 1865, working on the principal of “the third time’s a charm,” they met again. This time William Hickok, or Wild Bill Hickok, as he was now known, seemed to get along with Dave Tutt. Part of the reason could have been that Dave had his comely sister with him, and Wild Bill took a likin’ to her. Dave Tutt was doing much better financially than Wild Bill, and Dave loaned Bill money from time to time.

Now enters the wild card. A Susanna Moore came to town. Wild Bill had supposedly known her during before this. So Wild Bill started sparking her along with Dave Tutt’s sister. Susanna was not a woman to share her man, so she started flirting with Dave Tutt.
 
The whole affair came to a climax on July 20, 1865. Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker when Dave Tutt came up to him and grabbed his pocket watch that was lying on the table. Dave said it was payment for what Wild Bill owed him. Wild Bill allowed Dave to take the watch, but let it be known not to wear the watch in public.
 
The next morning Wild Bill saw Dave on the street wearing the pocket watch. With his pistol held at his side, Dave started walking toward Wild Bill. In response to a warning from Wild Bill, Dave shot off a round. Making sure he didn’t hit the pocket watch, Wild Bill shot Tutt through his heart.
 
Wild Bill learned that a person can’t play two fiddles at one time and make pretty music.
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