Old West History Archives

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.

JIM BRIDGER BORN

On this date back in 1804 that great mountain man Jim Bridger was born.

At the age of 20 Jim headed west along the routes that Lewis and Clark had pioneered. At the age of 21 he was the first white to see the Great Salt Lake…Incidentally; he thought it was the Pacific Ocean.

Getting married to the daughter of a Flathead Indian Chief, he decided to settle down and started a trading post, founding Fort Bridger along the Oregon Trail in Wyoming.

At the age of 64 with eyesight failing and rheumatism, he retired in Westport, Missouri and died at the age of 76 on July 17, 1881.

NAMING OF SHOW LOW

I live in the northeastern part of Arizona in the White Mountains. The name of the town where I live is Show Low. How the name came about is a very interesting history.

To hear that story go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCJ4vUTc4sY

 Page 48 of 53  « First  ... « 46  47  48  49  50 » ...  Last »