Old West Myth & Fact Archives

The Son of Sam Houston – Temple Houston

Son of Sam Houston - Temple HoustonTemple Houston was the son of Texas’ founding father Sam Houston. He was an independent young cuss… so independent that at the age of 13, as a rawboned boy with shoulder length hair, he became a cowboy on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. 
 
On his way back home, Temple ran into a friend of his father’s who talked him into going to Washington D. C. and becoming a Senate page. After three years as a page, Temple decided to study law. So, he went back to Texas, enrolled in Baylor University and at the age of 19 got a law degree. Within a year he was practicing law… Now, I think we can all agree that Temple Houston packed a heck of a lot of stuff in those first 20 years. And he did slow down afterward. 
 
On August 25, 1881, at the age of 21, Temple made a speech on the battle of San Jacinto, bringing tears to the eyes of the audience, and his first glimmer of fame. 
 
Temple became the prototype of the modern day celebrity lawyer. He had a shooting match with Billy the Kid, which, Bat Masterson promoted. And Temple supposedly won.
 
Temple was married and moved to Woodward, Oklahoma where he got into a courtroom row with Al Jennings, which resulted in his killing two of Al’s brothers in a saloon brawl. While defending a woman accused of operating a brothel, he drew the Biblical parallel by saying, “as your Master did twice, tell her to go in peace.” And they did.
 
Back in Texas, Temple Houston was a district attorney and served in the Texas state legislature. Until his death on August 15, 1905 at 45 years of age, Temple worked on only the most difficult cases. And there was the life of the son of Sam Houston.

Wyatt Earp Kills Cowboy in Dodge City

Wyatt Earp
In 1876, Wyatt Earp became a policeman in Dodge City, Kansas. A fellow policeman was Jim Masterson, Bat’s brother. On July 26, 1878, Wyatt and Jim were patrolling the streets. At about 3 o’clock in the morning three cowboys decided to head back to camp after a night of drinking. After picking up their pistols, they passed by the local dance hall. Thinking it would be a great joke, they fired several shots into the dance hall. Wyatt and Jim rushed to where the action was taking place. The cowboys immediately turned their guns on Wyatt and Jim. Had they not been plastered, they would have realized that up until then, what the cowboys had done would have just gotten them run out of town. However, with lead coming their way, both lawmen started shooting back. 
 
The cowboys made it to their horses, and as they rode away both Wyatt and Jim emptied their pistols in their direction. Thinking they had missed, the policemen started walking away when George Hoy, one of the cowboys, fell from his saddle. Hoy had been shot in the arm. Hoy was taken to a doctor, and then jail. Unfortunately for him infection set into the wound and he died four weeks later.
 
Many historians credit Wyatt Earp for the kill even though, with lead flying, it couldn’t be positively determined if Wyatt or Jim’s bullet did the damage. And, with Hoy dying, from what could have been considered a minor wound, quite possibly, it was the doctor that did the killing. But, then, as far as George Hoy is concerned, no matter who did the killing, the results were the same. 
 
 

The Doolin Gang and the OK Hotel Shootout

Bill DoolinIn the fall of 1892 Bill Doolin formed the Doolin gang that robbed trains and banks. He caused enough havoc to rile up the law in the area.  
 
On September 1, 1893, the Doolin gang was resting in Ingles, Oklahoma, when the marshal of Guthrie got information on their location.  
 
Disguised as hunters, about 13 deputies arrived in two covered wagons. Six of the Doolin gang were drinking and gambling in Murray’s Saloon. The seventh, Arkansas Tom, wasn’t feeling well, so he had retired to his room at the O.K. Hotel.  
 
As the two wagons converged on the middle of town, “Bitter Creek” Newcomb left the saloon and jumped on his horse. Thinking Bitter Creek might get away, Dick Speed, one of the deputies, took a shot. It splintered Bitter Creek’s rifle stock.
 
The gunshots caused the ill Arkansas Tom to come to the window of the O.K. Hotel. He put three slugs in Dick Speed. With Arkansas Tom shooting from the second floor of the hotel and the rest of the gang shooting from the saloon, the deputies found themselves in a precarious position… which resulted in the members of the gang in the saloon being able to make a dramatic escape on horseback. 
 
However, Arkansas Tom was still stuck in the hotel. After a threat to blow up the hotel with dynamite, Arkansas Tom surrendered on the condition he wouldn’t be lynched. Even though he had killed two of the deputies, the agreement was honored.
 
Although this shootout has since been known as the Gunfight at Ingalls, it could very well have been known as the gunfight at the O.K. Hotel. But then another group who had a shootout in Tombstone, Arizona eleven years earlier might have sued them for trademark infringement. 

Soiled Dove Madame Mustache

Soiled Dove Madame MustacheSimone Jules was a young French girl who arrived in Northern California at the height of the gold rush. For about four years she worked as a soiled dove in San Francisco’s Bella Union. Accumulating enough money to open her own place, she headed up to Nevada City, California, changed her name to Eleanor Dumont and opened the Dumont Palace gambling saloon. 
 
After a falling out with a male partner, who was getting a piece of both the gambling action and Simone, she turned to drink, and started moving around the mining camps in Nevada, again  as a soiled dove. When Simone, was in her late 20’s the hair on her upper lip began to grow rather dark. One evening a drunken miner called her “Madame Mustache.” And to her chagrin, it stuck.   
 
Later Madame Mustache sold all her gambling interests and bought a cattle ranch near Carson City, Nevada. Now in her early 40’s, Madame Mustache was ready to settle down, and become a cattle rancher. But, along came a con man named Carruthers. Carruthers proceeded to romance Madame Mustache, marry her, have all her assets put in his name, sell the assets, and bug out faster than I was able to say it. But don’t worry; Carruthers didn’t get away Scott free. Madame Mustache caught up with him a little latter, and evened the score with two blasts from a shotgun.  
 
With no money, Madame Mustache went back to working the gambling tables. Now in her late 40’s, with the hair on her face growing ever darker, her features those of a woman much older than her age, and her charm gone, on the evening of September 6, 1879 Madame Mustache took poison and died. She was just another victim of the harsh life of the Old West
 

The Transcontinental Railroad Challenge

In 1850 over 9,000 miles of track covered the Northeastern portions of the United States. By 1860 there were 30,000 miles, more than the rest of the world combined, and the tracks were extending to the Midwest.

As early as the 1840’s Congress began thinking about the possibility of constructing a transcontinental railroad. And then in 1848, with the discovery of gold in California, it became even more important.


Two companies got the contract. The California based Central Pacific started eastward, and the eastern based Union Pacific began in Omaha, Nebraska, moving west. In February of 1863 the great race began. For six years the two railroad giants headed toward each other. And on May 10, 1869 they met at Promontory, Utah.

 
Four special spikes were used for the ceremonial uniting of the rails…two gold, a silver, and one that was a blend of gold, silver and iron. The celebrities lined up to drive the spikes. After several misses, and several, not so subtle snickers from weather-hardened men who had been driving spikes for six years, at 2:47 p.m. the railroad was declared completed.
 
In Washington D.C. a magnetic ball on the Capitol dome fell. A 100-gun salute went off in New York City. The Liberty Bell rang in Philadelphia. 7,000 Mormons celebrated in Salt Lake City. And in San Francisco a banner waved, stating “California Annexes the United States.”
 
You may ask, “What happened to the ceremonial spikes?” Well, as soon as everyone left the area they were pulled and replaced with iron ones. Another interesting fact… the railroad wasn’t actually completed on that date. In order to meet the completion deadline they had skipped building a bridge over the Missouri River between Omaha and Council Bluffs.
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