Old West History Archives

REPUBLIC OF CALIFORNIA

We all know that Texas was an independent republic before becoming a state. But did you know that California was an independent republic too?

Although owned by Mexico, back in 1846 there were very few Mexican settlers in California. In reality there American settlers comprised the largest segment of the population.

On June 14, 1846, anticipating a war with Mexico, 33 Americans lead by William Ide invaded the Mexican outpost of Sonoma, north of San Francisco. They surrounded the home of Mexican General, Mariano Vallejo. With a bloodless victory, the Americans took a cotton sheet and with red paint they made a flag of a grizzly bear and single red star…A reference to the Texas Republic…and printed the words on the flag “California Republic”. The revolt was known as the Bear Flag Revolt.

Three weeks after California became an independent republic; American forces took control of Monterey and officially raised the American flag over California. Since this was what the American rebels wanted, they dissolved their government.

Incidentally, that Bear Flag became the official flag of California.

 

THE LONG RIDERS

I had a couple of hours downtime yesterday and I decided to watch a western movie. I picked one from my collection of DVD’s that I hadn’t seen in a while…The Long Riders.

This movie was written and produced by Stacey and James Keach. It’s about the James-Younger gang. As far as I’m concerned it’s an extraordinary film. The unique thing is that actor brothers play outlaw brothers. The Carradines are the Youngers, and the Keachs are Jesse and Frank. Even Robert Ford and his brother are played by brothers.

Historically, it’s fairly accurate as well. Probably Bell Starr had a bigger role in the movie than she did in the life of Cole Younger.

What’s your opinion of the movie?

PEARL HART

Just when everyone thought the wild Old West was gone, on this date back in 1899 a small slight woman by the name of Pearl Hart and her boyfriend held up a stagecoach in the Florence, Arizona area.

Their take was a little over $400. But they weren’t able to spend it, because in a short time they were captured and jailed.

Shortly afterward, with the help of some men, Pearl escaped. But, because of her fame, she was recognized and returned to jail.

Pearl and her boyfriend were tried and convicted. The boyfriend got 30 years and Pearl got 5.

Pearl’s life after she got out of jail is surrounded in myth. Some say she became “The Arizona Bandit” with Buffalo Bill and in vaudeville. Others say she married a Calvin Bywater and settled down to a life of domestic bliss.

Whichever one it was, Pearl never got crosswise with the law again.

OLD WEST PHOTOS

Our good friend Michael F. Blake turned us on to some unbelievable Old West pictures that were taken between 1867 and 1884.

It’s just amazing the skill of photographers during this time. Especially when you consider if they can take a dozen pictures a day they’re working hard.

Here’s the link: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/05/the-american-west-150-years-ago/100304/

CYNTHIA ANN PARKER

On this date back in 1836 one of the Old West’s most tragic events began to unfold.

At the age of nine, Cynthia Ann Parker’s family was killed and she, along with some other children, was kidnapped. The Comanche took her, and she lived with them for 25 years.

She became the wife of Peta Nocona, and gave birth to two boys and a girl. Comanche warriors normally take more than one wife. Nocona was happy with just Cynthia Ann.

In December 1860 a group of Texas Rangers attached Nocona’s village and rescued Cynthia Ann and her daughter.

Rather than feeling she had been rescued, Cynthia Ann felt she was kidnapped a second time. Cynthia Ann resigned herself to a life among a people she no longer understood. In 1863 her daughter died. And she died seven years later of influenza brought on by self-imposed starvation.

Incidentally, her son Quanah Parker became the last great war chief of the Comanche tribe. One wonders if he would have gone to war had Cynthia Ann not been kidnapped.

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