Old West History Archives

TIME ZONES

Have you ever wondered how time zones came about?  Well, wonder no more.  All you have to do is to click on the video link below and you’ll know the whole scoop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EKHRnnonxE

 

BAT MASTERSON

I find Bat Masterson one of the more intriguing men of the Old West.  He is known as a gunfighter, but he was in very few gun fights.

The last gunfight he was in took place on this day back in 1881.  It was to help out his brother Jim.  Jim owned a business in Dodge City and was having trouble with Al Updegraff, a business partner.  It had even involved gunfire.

I don’t know if Jim actually said the words, “I going to get my big brother and he’ll beat you up,” but Bat, in Tombstone at the time, heard about the conflict and jumped on a train to Dodge City.

Not a man to mince words, Bat immediately spotted Updegraff and brother-in-law Peacock and said, “I have come over a thousand miles to settle this.  I know you are heeled, now fight!”  All three men immediately drew their guns.

In the fracas Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.  The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns and stopped the shooting.  No one was mortally injured in the shooting, and in accordance with Old West standards, the gunfight was fought fairly.  So Masterson was fined $8.  He paid the fine and took the next train out of Dodge City.

As an aside, had Bat not left Tombstone to help his brother, the chances are excellent he would have been around to help his friend Wyatt Earp in another gunfight…The one that took place at the OK Corral.

BUTCH CASSIDY

On this date back in 1866 Robert Leroy Parker was born in Beaver, Utah Territory. But we know him as Butch Cassidy.

Supposedly, he picked up the name “Butch” from the short period of time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming butcher shop. The last name came from a minor criminal mentor by the name of Mike Cassidy…I also suspect he didn’t want to bring shame on his strict Mormon family by using Parker.

Although Butch’s organizational skills and personality were probably suited more for a legitimate business life, he assembled a group of ruffians known as the “wild bunch.” Even though they could be considered misfits, Butch was able to meld them into a sophisticated criminal operation.

By the 1900’s the wild days of the West were fading and law enforcement was becoming more effective. So Butch, The Sundance Kid and Etta place fled to Argentina.

Here’s where legend and fact get blurry. Some say Butch and the Sundance Kid were killed by Bolivian troops. However members of his family maintain Butch came back to the United States and died of old age under another name.

Just as an aside. There are more than a dozen Old West outlaws, including Billy the Kid, who were supposedly not really killed, and they lived a long life under an alias. Sometimes I wonder if any Old West outlaw was ever killed.

PONY EXPRESS

On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express mail riders, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously left St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for mail delivery.

Before the Pony Express a letter was delivered by ship or Butterfield Express, which could take from one to several months. So the ten day delivery was quite an improvement.

Unfortunately, as the Pony Express riders were riding east and west, they would come across men putting poles in the ground and stringing wire for the first transcontinental telegraph, which was completed in October 1861. With the transcontinental telegraph, there was no need for the Pony Express, and it ceased operations.

GOLIAD

We all know of the Texan’s battle cry of “Remember the Alamo” during their battle with Mexico. But there was a second part to that battle cry.

On this date back in 1836 Santa Anna’s army defeated a group of Texans at Goliad. When they surrendered he took 417 revolutionaries out and executed them.

His thinking was that an inexplicable act such as this would break the rebel’s spirit. Instead it inspired them, and the battle cry became “Remember the Alamo and Goliad!”

Less than a month later, Texan forces under General Sam Houston dealt a stunning blow to Santa Anna’s army in the Battle of San Jacinto, and Texas won its independence.

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