Old West Myth & Fact Archives

The “New” Lost Dutchman’s Mine

Lost Dutchman’s Mine In the past we have told the stories of two of Arizona’s lost treasures. One was the Lost Dutchman’s Mine located in the Superstition Mountains a short distance from a busy Phoenix freeway. Another was a treasure comprised of gold coins lost when a dam broke on the Hassayampa River just north of Phoenix.
This week we’re going to learn about another Arizona lost treasure.
It all started on May 10, 1881. A Wells Fargo Stage was taking passengers and mail from Canyon Diablo to Flagstaff. On the way the stagecoach was robbed by five bandits.
Two mailbags were taken containing $125,000 in gold, silver and coins. When the stage made it to Flagstaff the authorities were notified and a Cavalry detachment was dispatched to run down the outlaws. And that’s just what they did. A shootout ensued and all the outlaws were killed. But, the loot wasn’t found.
Now, fast forward some 32 years to 1913. The regulars were enjoying their libations at Black’s Saloon in Flagstaff when an excited Jimmy McGuire came into the saloon and ordered a drink. Quickly downing it, he ordered another. And Jimmy didn’t stop until he had four empty glasses in front of him.
He then pulled some gold coins from his pocket to pay for the drinks. They were immediately recognized as coming from the 1881 stage robbery. A crowd gathered around asking about the treasure. As Jimmy started explaining where he found them, he began gasping and holding his chest. In no time Jimmy was on the floor dead of a heart attack. And the location of the treasure died with him.

Denver’s 1863 Fire

 A constant fear for western towns was fire. The buildings were wood, and with the dry weather, they soon became kindling. During Denver’s 1863 fire that fear became a reality. A pile of garbage behind the Cherokee House Hotel ignited. A wind whipped up the flames into a citywide inferno. The resulting damage was estimated to be in the range of $350,000, which doesn’t sound like much, but in the 1860’s that was most of Denver.
               
As with most tragedies, it brought out the worst and the best in men. When it came time to rebuild the area the local Kountze Brothers Bank announced that they were willing to give loans to merchants… The best in men? Not really. The interest was a whopping 25% per year… And we think interest rates are high today.
 
Prior to the fire there was quite a bit of animosity between Denver City and neighboring Cherry Creek. With both cities adversely affected, they put aside their animosity and worked together… Truly the best in men.
 
One of the individuals who borrowed money from the Kountze Brothers Bank was a Black entrepreneur by the name of Barney Ford. He operated a barbershop that was destroyed in the fire. Barney borrowed $9,000 at the going rate of 25% interest.
 
But, Barney Ford didn’t use it to reopen his barbershop. He used it to open the People’s Restaurant. Along with great food, the restaurant advertised fresh oysters and Havana cigars. How did Barney Ford do? Well, even at the high interest rate, he paid off the loan in just 90 days. 
Denver's 1863 Fire

Judge Roy Bean

Before Judge Roy Bean became “The law west of the Pecos”, he had quite a life. He killed a couple of people, broke out of a jail where he was being held for attempting to kill another person, and he had a stiff neck with scars, the result of an unsuccessful hanging.
           
In 1882, at the age of 55, a bearded, rum-soaked, fat Judge Roy Bean purchased a tavern in a place on the Pecos River called Vinegaroon, Texas, and he got elected justice of the peace. 
               
Bean saw a picture of Lily Langtry, a stage performer from the east, and fell in love with her; changed the name of the town to Langtry; and the saloon, which was also his courthouse, to the Jersey Lilly.
 
His pronouncements as a judge were often unique to say the least. Finding a pistol and $40 on a dead man, he fined the man $40 for carrying a pistol, and confiscated the gun. He freed a man for killing a Chinese because the only law book he had didn’t say anything about a law against killing Chinese. Another time he let a friend off because, “the Mexican should not have gotten in front of the gun my friend happened to be firing.”
 
After a number of years handing down his unique brand of justice, Roy Bean was thrown out of office when the number of votes for him way exceeded the number of eligible voters.
 
During his time as a Judge, Roy Bean wrote Lily Langtry, asking her to visit him. Finally, in September of 1903 Lily Langtry came to Langtry, Texas. Unfortunately, Judge Roy Bean didn’t get to meet her… He had died six months earlier, on March 14, 1903.
 
Judge Roy Bean holding court in Langtry, Texas

Cynthia Ann Parker Kidnapped Twice

In 1833, when she was a child, the family of Cynthia Ann Parker and several other families came to Texas. One day when the men were in the fields working, a Comanche raid took place. Seven residents were killed and five, including Cynthia Ann Parker kidnapped. They were able to find and rescue all of the captives… except Cynthia Ann Parker. 
               
Cynthia Ann Parker Kidnapped Twice
Cynthia Ann, kidnapped at the age of nine, became the wife of Peta Nocona, the tribal chief. Cynthia had three children by him. Now, normally a Comanche chief would have a number of wives. Peta Nacona was happy with only Cynthia Ann.
 
In 1860, while the men were out hunting, some Texas Rangers and military troops raided the tribe’s village, completely catching them off guard. Cynthia Ann was captured, along with her youngest child.
 
Cynthia Ann Parker didn’t feel as if she had been rescued, it seemed as the same ‘Cynthia Ann Parker kidnapped’ story once again. She often tried to leave the white society, and the daughter that Cynthia Ann had brought with her died. And in mourning, Cynthia Ann starved herself to death. In addition, her Comanche husband, Peta Nocona, also died in mourning.
 
Cynthia Ann’s oldest son, Quanah Parker became the chief of his tribe. By 1870 the Comanche had been defeated and were being relocated to the Fort Sill reservation… All that is except Quanah and his people. They were raiding settlements throughout the Texas frontier.
 
In his many battles with the army, Quanah was never defeated. Finally, in 1875, as if the anger was gone from his heart Quanah Parker gave up his fight against the army, relocated to a reservation, and started fighting for Indian rights in the political arena. On February 22, 1911 Quanah Parker died.
 
The question remains, would Quanah Parker have gone on the warpath if his mother had been allowed to stay with her Comanche family? Probably not. 

Curly Bill Killed Fred White

Curly Bill Killed Fred WhiteAlthough Western movies often show a villain or hero’s dexterity with a pistol, much of that dexterity or trick shooting was fiction. But there was one incident where it may have taken place. It was when Curly Bill killed Fred White.

Even though western movies like Tombstone showed cowboys with the ability to do fancy tricks with pistols, or even tin cups, very few cowboys could, or even cared to do, fancy tricks. Success in a shootout was determined by steadiness and accuracy, not gun twirling. But, on October 28, 1880, a fancy gun trick was supposedly used.
           
Curly Bill Killed Fred White

Fred White

Tombstone was barely three years old. Fred White was the town Marshal, and Wyatt Earp was County Deputy Sheriff. A group of drunken cowboys was shooting it up in town. As White and Earp headed toward the cowboys, the group scattered. They cornered Curly Bill Brocius, a ne’er-do-well member of the Clanton gang. 

               
Marshal White asked for Curly Bill’s gun. It’s here that the story goes in two different directions. One says that Curly Bill offered his cocked pistol to Marshal White barrel first. And, either White grabbed the gun, or Wyatt Earp grabbed Curly Bill, but, in either event, the gun went off, killing Marshal White.
 
The other version says that Curly Bill handed the gun to Marshal White butt first, and as White reached for the gun, Curly Bill spun the butt into his own hand, cocking and shooting the pistol in what has come to be known as the “border draw.”
 
But, in either event, the outcome was the same… Marshal White was dead. What’s interesting is that as Marshal White was dying, he said the shooting was an accident. And, when Curly Bill’s gun was examined, there was only one spent shell. Quite possibly, he was just an innocent bystander who got swept up in a raid.
 
Whichever it was, the outcome was good for Curly Bill. Although Curly Bill killed Fred White, he was found innocent.
 
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