Old West History Archives

Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Tall Bull

Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Tall BullTall Bull was a fairly common name for the Cheyenne, had by several braves. But the Tall Bull known by the whites of the Old West was Cheyenne Dog Soldier Chief Tall Bull. And under his leadership, they became one of the toughest foes of the United States government in the bloody Plains Indian Wars.      
 
Tall Bull and his Dog Soldiers spent the winter and spring of 1867 attacking stages and stage stations. Although, in no way defeated, they agreed to talk peace that fall. Even though the treaty they signed stated differently, they had a verbal agreement to be able to hunt the grounds above the Arkansas River as long as there were buffalo there.          
 
The next spring Tall Bull took his warriors above the Arkansas to hunt, and while they were there, they also did some raiding. With soldiers pursuing him, Tall Bull was successful in attacking them on several occasions. So, the army put together a special force under General Eugene Carr to get Tall Bull.
 
On July 11, 1869, believing he had outdistanced the pursuing force, Tall Bull and his warriors made camp at Summit Springs, Colorado. But, Carr’s Pawnee scouts had found the village, and the soldiers were able to get next to the village, undetected, before attacking. 
 
During the battle Tall Bull, and many Dog Soldiers were killed. Although the Cheyenne fought for another ten years, because of this battle, the Dog Soldiers were never again a major force. 
        
Incidentally, even though, Carr’s civilian guide, Buffalo Bill Cody, claimed to have killed Tall Bull, others in the battle say there was no way to tell who killed him, because everyone was shooting at him.  

Martin Sweeny Indian Agent

Martin Sweeny Indian AgentMartin Sweeny, Indian Agent, was born in Massachusetts in 1845, and decided to head out West at the age of 23. He ended up in Arizona shoeing horses on the Apache reservation. Here he learned the Apache language, and developed an appreciation for their lifestyle.      
 
During this time as well as Apache who were on the war path, there were those who helped the military. Because Sweeny knew the Apache language, he was hired to teach the peaceful Apache military tactics, to help them fight in conjunction with the cavalry. Sweeny worked so well with the Apache that when the local Indian agent resigned, Sweeny was offered the job.         
 
But Sweeny was looking at other opportunities. For the last couple of years he had been investing in silver mines around the Tombstone, Arizona area. One of them, the Grand Central, was beginning to do quite well. So Sweeny left the Apache Reservation for Tombstone. 
 
On June 24, 1878 Sweeny was visiting the Grand Central mine with one of his partners, an Oliver Boyer. A disagreement arose between the two men. Voices were raised, and a shove or two took place. Now, Sweeny was a large man, and was noted for his skill as a fighter, but he didn’t carry a gun. However, his partner did. And Boyer pulled his pistol, and killed Sweeny. Boyer was arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison. 
        
Although there were those shootouts that give the Old West the excitement we like to hear about, the vast majority of people who were killed by a gun, like they are today, were defenseless. 

Billy Wilson and Pat Garrett

Billy Wilson and Pat GarrettDuring the Old West men changed names so freely that sometimes there’s confusion as to their real ones, and their aliases. Some say the subject of today’s story’s real name was Billy Wilson; others David Anderson. In reality, what a man calls himself isn’t important; it’s what he does while using that name. Under the name of Billy Wilson, our man came to Lincoln County, New Mexico and bought a livery stable. Later he sold it, and was paid in crisp new $100 bills. Unknown to him, they were counterfeit. On the run for passing counterfeit money, he joined Billy the Kid and his renegade posse.     
 
In 1881 Pat Garrett arrested our man. Wilson was sentenced to 25 years for counterfeiting. But, he escaped jail, and went to Texas. There he used another name… David Anderson.        
 
Our man, using his new identity, bought a ranch. This time he used real money, got married, had children and became a respected citizen of the area. But, eventually his real identity was discovered, and it seemed he would be returned to New Mexico to serve his sentence.          
 
But a strange thing happened. The governor of New Mexico filed a petition to have our man given a Presidential pardon. Accompanying the petition were about 25 letters, including one from Pat Garrett, the man who originally arrested him. Our man was granted his pardon. 
 
David Anderson eventually became the county sheriff. But on June 14, 1918, unarmed, David confronted a young man who was causing a disturbance. The kid pulled a pistol, and killed Sheriff Anderson. Unlike Anderson, the young man was given no chance to reform his life. Within an hour of Anderson’s death, he was hanged.  

Robert Leatherwood – Accidental Hero

Robert Leatherwood was not a big man. He stood only 5’ 5” tall, and weighed about 130 pounds. He was born in North Carolina in 1844. Robert served on the Confederate side during the Civil War, and eventually migrated to Tucson, Arizona where he became a lawman. Because of his size and fearlessness, Leatherwood was given the nickname the “Little Giant.”    
 
His greatest contribution was that of serving the public, both as a lawman and as a politician. He served a couple of terms as county sheriff, on the Tucson city council, as Tucson’s mayor and three terms in the territorial legislature. One of his greatest accomplishments was bringing the railroad to Tucson.       
 
Leatherwood was a blustery man who was almost illiterate. The story is told of him betting a fellow poker player $20 that he didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer. The other man took him up on the bet, and started “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Leatherwood interrupted him, and said “OK. OK. You win,” and threw him a twenty dollar gold piece.         
 
The heroic deed that started Robert Leatherwood off on his political career took place on May 22, 1886. He and two other lawmen were chasing Geronimo and 14 Apache, who had a white captive. On this date the three lawmen accidentally stumbled into the camp of the Apache. Leatherwood’s two companions pulled back on their horse’s reins and turned to run. But Leatherwood charged into the Apache camp, sending Geronimo and the others running for the hills. For weeks Leatherwood was hailed a hero. Then, finally he confessed that he had also tried to turn his horse… but the gunfire spooked the horse and it ran out of control through the Apache’s camp.  
Robert Leatherwood

Red Beard the Terror

Edward T. Beard was born in Illinois in 1828. As a young man he got married, and had several children. Feeling a married life in the mid-westwas boring and confining, Edward abandoned his wife and children to head out west and become a terror to everyone he met. Edward had red hair and beard, so people naturally to call him Red Beard.    
 
In 1873, Red Beard decided to settle down and open a dance hall in Delano, Kansas, just outside Wichita. The dance hall provided spirited drinks and spirited women for members of the 6th Cavalry stationed nearby. On the evening of June 3 a drunken soldier got into an argument with a soiled dove named Emma Stanley. The upset soldier pulled his pistol and shot Emma in the leg.       
 
Red Beard immediately jumped over the bar, and pulled his pistol, shooting wildly. One soldier was shot in the neck and the other in the leg. Unfortunately, neither was the culprit who shot Emma. He had bugged out the back door, and was never seen again.          
 
The shooting incident didn’t set well with the soldiers. And two nights later thirty soldiers showed up at Red Beard’s dance hall, and proceeded to shoot up the place. In the process three people were shot, including poor old Emma Stanley, who was shot in the other leg.
 
The soldiers then set fire to the dance hall, and watching from the street, cheered as it burned to the ground.
 
After this, Red Beard decided to give up the life of a legitimate businessman, and went back to being an outlaw, only to be shot and killed five months later.  
Red Beard
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