Old West Myth & Fact Archives

They Played Poker For Cattle

Poker For CattleMay 9, 1885, Arizona Champion, Phoenix, Arizona – The Kansas City Journal tells of a game of poker played recently in that city between a Texan and Major Drumm.  The Texan had no money, but plenty of cattle and an immense desire to play poker with the Major.  The latter is known around the stock yards for his great natural resources, and he swept away the seemingly insurmountable difficulty by proposing a game of one steer ante, two steers come in and no limit.  They played poker for cattle on this basis.

Major Drumm dealt and the gentleman from Texas anteed one steer.  Both came in and the game opened with four steers on the table.  Major Drumm drew two tens and caught an unexpected full, while the gentleman from Texas struck a bobtail snag and passed out.

The third was a jackpot and it took three deals to open it.  The gentleman from Texas finally drew two jacks and opened the pot with a fine breeding bull, which counted six.  Major Drumm covered this with five steers and a two-year-old heifer, and went him twelve better.  The gentleman from Texas, who drew another jack, saw the twelve cows and went him fifty steers, twenty two-year-old heifers, four bulls and twenty-five heifer calves better.  Major Drumm looked at his hand and placed upon the table six fine Alderney cows, five imported Durham bulls, one-hundred grass-fed two-year-olds, fifty prime to medium corn-fed Colorado half-breed steers, with a side bet of a Normandy gelding to cover the bar bill.  The man from Texas made his bet good with an even two hundred and fifty straight Kansas wintered Texas half-breeds and ten Scotch polled cattle, fourteen mustangs and the northeast ¼ of the southwest ¼ of section 10 of the Panhandle of Texas, and called.

Major Drumm held three aces, and put in his hip pocket 750 steers, heifers, etc., and a big stock ranch.

The Electrical Corset


Reprinted from Dakota Livesay’s Chronicles of the Old West column in Cowboys & Indians magazine:

November 5, 1890, Enterprise, Riverside, California – I’ve always been opposed to this promiscuous courting; this vicious system which permits a young man without any intentions to waste a girl’s time with his attentions. At last I have devised a remedy. The electrical corset solves the difficulty. It will no longer be possible for a young man to slip his arm around a girl’s waist or lay his head upon her shoulder without giving the alarm. The “ting-a-ling-ling” will instantly bring her pa, ma or big brother into the room, and the offender will be summarily ejected.

The electrical corset has a great future. Its influence upon the moral tone of society is destined to be incalculable. We shall have no more of these hasty marriages, which end so speedily. Many a young man under the inspiration of the moment when his arm is encircling a girl’s waist breathes a love, which he would otherwise have left untold. This is all wrong. The electric corset will put an end most effectually to this practice.
But let parents be on their guard. These boys will devise means to beat the electric bell of this new corset, just as the conductors did the bell punch.

Wrong Men Hanged From The Gallows

It was 1864 in Jackson County, Missouri.  Two men, Dick Merrick and Jeb Sharp had murdered a horse trader by the name of John Bascum.  The two men were arrested and put on trial.  The jury found them guilty.  The judge sentenced them to be hanged from the gallows.  And, he said it must be done within twenty-four hours…There wasn’t much of an appeals process in the Old West.

So, on September 6, the townspeople frantically started building a gallows.  Just before the twenty-four hour deadline was up, the two men were grabbed, sacks were put over their heads, and they were led to the gallows.  Ropes were placed around their necks.  The trap door sprung.  Before the deadline, their lifeless bodies were hanging from the end of ropes.  The townspeople congratulated themselves on a job well done.

Sheriff Clifford Stewart went back to his office to take care of the final paperwork.  But, when he stepped inside his office, Sheriff Stewart had the surprise of his life.  There in the cell were the murders Dick Merrick and Jeb Sharp.  At first, he thought it surely was a mirage.  But it wasn’t.

Within a matter of hours, the situation had been sorted out.  It seems that the night before two men had been arrested for drunkenness, and the anxious citizens had grabbed them by mistake.  The men were still to drunk to protest, and Merrick and Sharp sure weren’t going to tell anybody they had the wrong men.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Since the judge had required the sentence be carried out within twenty-four hours, and it wasn’t, the two killers were set free.

This story should persuade any person of the merits of living a temperate life.

Old West Wind Wagon

Wind WagonIn the 1860’s when a pioneer family headed out west, they usually did it in a covered wagon pulled by horses or oxen.  One man, Samuel Peppard, didn’t have horses or oxen, but that didn’t stop him. His idea was a Wind Wagon.

On May 9, 1860 Samuel Peppard headed out west.  This was during the time of the Pike’s Peak gold rush, and Samuel wanted to do some gold prospecting.  He didn’t have any horses or oxen, and he didn’t want the obligation and expense of taking care of them.

But, he did live in the Kansas Territory.  And anyone who has been through Kansas knows it’s pretty flat, and the wind tends to blow rather strongly.  Being a creative person, Peppard decided to take advantage of the resources at hand, and so he designed the world’s first wind-sailor.  Built like a small boat, it was about 8’ long and 3’ wide, and it had four large wagon wheels.  Weighing about 350 pounds, it was designed to hold 4 people.

The first time out, the wind blew the wagon over.  So Peppard reconstructed the sails, rudder and brakes.  By now everyone called it “Peppard’s Folly”.

With three of his friends aboard, Peppard raised the sails, and “Peppard’s Folly” took off across the prairie.  Depending on the strength of the wind, it got up to 30 miles per hour.

On days when there was no wind, Peppard and his three friends just sat back, smoked a cigarette, and swapped stories.

They traveled about 500 miles before a dust devil came along and turned the wind wagon into a pile of rubble.

Peppard and his friends finally made it to Denver, but like most seekers of gold, they didn’t find anything.

Peppard later went back to Kansas, and lived to the ripe old age of 82.  But he was always known as the guy who sailed to Denver.

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.
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