Old West History Archives

Bloody Prize Fight in Dodge City

Bloody Prize FightJune 16, 1877, Times, Dodge City, Kansas – On last Tuesday morning the champion prize fight of Dodge City was indulged in by Messrs. Nelson Whitman and the noted Red Hanley, familiarly known as ‘the red bird from the South: An indefinite rumor had been circulated in sporting circles that a fight was to take place, but the time and place was known only to a select few.  The sport took place in front of the Saratoga, at the silent hour of 4:30 a. m., when the city police were retiring after the dance hall revelry had subsided, and the belles who reign there were off duty.  Promptly at the appointed time, the two candidates for championship were at the joint.  Col. Norton acted as rounder up and whipper-in for both fighters, while Bobby Gill ably performed the arduous task of healing and handling and sponging off.  Norton called “time,” and the ball opened with some fine hits from the shoulder.  

Whitman was the favorite in the pools, but Red made a brilliant effort to win the champion belt.  During the forty second round, Red Hanley implored Norton to take Nelson off for a little while till he could have time to put his right eye back where it belonged, set his jaw bone and have the ragged edge trimmed off his ears where they had been chewed the worst.  This was against the rules of the ring, so Norton declined, encouraging him to bear it as well as he could and squeal when he got enough.  About the sixty-first round, Red squealed unmistakably, and Whitman was declared winner.  The only injuries sustained by the loser in this bloody prize fight were two ears chewed off, one eye busted and the other disabled, right cheek bone caved in, bridge of the nose broken, seven teeth knocked out, one jaw bone mashed, one side of the tongue chewed off, and several other unimportant fractures and bruises. Red retires from the ring in disgust.

Old West Newspaper Battle

old west newspaper battle

William Byers

In 1859 the Pikes Peak Gold Rush was a bust. The settlements of Cherry Creek, Montana City and Denver City were on the verge of becoming ghost towns when another gold vein was discovered, and people came running. This set the stage for the first Old West newspaper battle.

           
John Merrick decided the area needed a newspaper. He bought an old press and headed to Cherry Creek. Not seeing any reason for haste, Merrick took his time putting his newspaper together.
               
But, four days after Merrick had arrived; William Byers arrived from Omaha, Nebraska also with a printing press and the same idea. Byers immediately located an office in the best building in town… It happened to be an attic of a tavern, and the roof leaked so bad a canvas had to be hung over the press to keep it dry.
 
old west newspaper battle

First Office of the Rocky Mountain News

A race was on. Bets were placed, and everyone cheered on their favorite editor. Finally, on Saturday evening, April 23, 1859, William Byers’ Rocky Mountain News hit the streets just twenty minutes before the first copy of John Merrick’s Cherry Creek Pioneer. In the news industry, a scoop of twenty minutes is like a lifetime. So, John Merrick sold out and left for the gold fields.

 
William Byers had the area to himself. However, his troubles weren’t over. There was a battle between two neighboring towns on either side of Cherry Creek. So that Byers couldn’t be accused of favoritism, he moved his equipment to a building that was virtually astride Cherry Creek. Not a good move. Four years after he started his newspaper, the area flooded, and washed away the building. His press wasn’t found until 35 years later. 

History of Deadwood, South Dakota

history of deadwoodThe history of Deadwood centers around discovery of gold in the southern Black Hills in 1874. This set off one of the great gold rushes in America, and in 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills. That’s where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold and Deadwood was born. Practically overnight, the tiny gold camp boomed into a town that played by its own rules that attracted outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers along with the gold seekers. Wild Bill Hickok was one of those men who came looking for fortune. But just a few short weeks after arriving, he was gunned down while holding a poker hand of aces and eights. This hand has come to be known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

Calamity Jane also made a name for herself in these parts and is buried next to Hickok in Mount Moriah Cemetery. Other legends, like Potato Creek Johnny, Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen, created their legends and legacies in this tiny Black Hills town.
Deadwood has survived three major fires and numerous economic hardships, pushing it to the verge of becoming another Old West ghost town. But in 1989 limited-wage gambling was legalized and Deadwood was reborn.

Today, the town is booming once again. You’ll find modern-day casinos, resort hotels, full-service spas, big name concerts, and some of the best parties in the entire United States. You can walk in the footsteps of Deadwood’s legends and make history in Deadwood. They’ve been entertaining guests since 1876.

To get more information about Deadwood visit their web site: www.deadwood.com.

Old West Phrases

old west phrasesAt Cowboy to Cowboy we get intrigued with Old West phrases. Here are some of our favorite descriptive terms:

PRAIRIE TENOR – A coyote.

BARKIN’ AT A KNOT – Doing something useless.

WEARING THE BUSTLE WRONG – A pregnant woman.

ROUND BROWNS – Cow chips.

TEAR SQUEEZER – A sad story.

COLD AS A WAGON WHEEL – Dead

BEAR SIGN – Cowboy term for doughnuts. They were highly regarded.

SHAVE TAIL – A green, inexperienced person.

KICK UP A ROW – Create a disturbance.

THE WHOLE KIT AND CABOODLE – The entire thing.

BAZOO – Mouth as in “Shut your big bazoo.”

GONER – Lost, dead.

Kansas Trail Drives Come to an End

Kansas Trail DrivesIt seems that Kansas had a love-hate relationship with Texas cattle and the cowboys that brought them up. The love part was the profits to be made providing supplies to the Kansas trail drives and a good time to trail-weary cowboys.  Frontier struggling towns like Dodge City, Caldwell, Ellsworth, Hays, and Newton competed with Abilene to be the top “Cow Town” of Kansas.

But, as Kansas started getting less “frontier” and farming became more important, residents, anxious to attract businesses other than saloons and places of ill repute, started getting less enamored with the Texas cattle industry.

Although the Texas cattlemen tried to stay away from cultivated farmland, according to one cowboy “there was scarcely a day when we didn’t have a row with some settler.”

In addition to this, the Texas cattle carried a tick fever and hoof-and-mouth disease for which they were immune, but the Kansas cattle weren’t.

So, on this date back in 1885 the Kansas Legislature passed a bill that barred Texas cattle from the state between March and December 1.

This, along with the closing of open range with barbed wire fences, signaled an end to the cattle drives to Kansas.

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