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Hiram Rhoades Revels, First Black Congressman

Hiram Rhoades RevelsIn 1870 Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Black ever to sit in Congress.

During the Civil War, Revels, a college-educated minister, helped form Black army regiments for the Union cause, started a school for freed men, and served as a chaplain for the Union Army.  Revels remained in the former Confederate state after the war and entered into Reconstruction-era Southern politics.

In 1865, Revels left the AME Church, the first independent black denomination in the US, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was assigned briefly to churches in Leavenworth, Kansas, and New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1866, he was called as a permanent pastor at a church in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters. He became an elder in the Mississippi District of the Methodist Church, continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

During Reconstruction, Revels was elected alderman in Natchez in 1868. In 1869 he was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate.

It’s interesting to note that the Senate seat Revels held was once held by Jefferson David, the former president of the Confederacy.

The Passing of the Old West Boots

Considering the popularity of Old West boots today, here is an interesting article from 1894.

Disuse of Foot Gear Once Popular East and West.

Old West BootsNovember 7, 1894, Evening News, El Paso, Texas – The diminished use of boots is a matter of concern to the manufacturers of them and to the producers of heavy leather and heavy calfskins.  Twenty years ago the calf boot industry was a leading one in New England.  Whole towns were studded with factories, which produced calf boots exclusively.  For a decade the sale has been gradually falling off, and today it is of hardly any importance.

A few manufacturers of shoes include boots as a specialty, but the demand is too light to amount to much.  When calf boots were more in vogue, manufacturers consulted the partialities of the cowboys, to whom price was a secondary consideration.  The legs were frequently corded with silk stitching.  The star and crescent and other fanciful ornamentations were inlaid on the legs of the boots.  There were high heels, and boots were striking specimens of mechanical art.  The soles were inlaid with copper, zinc and brass nails.

The cowboys no longer pay $15 for a pair of boots.  They want substance instead of show.  But they were not the only wearers of calf boots.  They were extensively worn.  Many men prefer them today, though the number is growing less.

The old-fashioned stoga boots were formerly sold in large quantities.  They are well nigh obsolete.  There followed a demand for a lighter and more stylish article.  A kip boot of finer texture was produced, about equal in appearance to the best calf boot, but this, too, has fallen somewhat into disuse, and the sales this season are scarcely over one-half the usual amount.  Even the farmers are using heavy shoes instead of boots, and if it becomes a necessity to wear long legged boots they buy rubber.

Marion Hedgepeth and H.H. Holmes

Marion Hedgepeth was born and raised in Missouri. As a young man, he went out west to Montana, Wyoming and Colorado where he learned the art of rustling, robbery and killing. Afterward, Marion headed back to St. Louis where he formed a gang known as “The Hedgepeth Four.”    
 
Marion was one of the most debonair outlaws ever to appear on a wanted poster. He was always immaculately groomed with slicked down hair hidden by a bowler hat. He wore a well-cut suit with topcoat. His wanted poster noted that his shoes were usually polished.   
 
The Hedgepeth Four committed a series of train robberies. Eventually Marion was caught and put on trial. Because of his dapper dress and good looks, the courtroom was filled with women and his cell was filled with flowers. But he was still sentenced to 25 years in the state prison. 
 
While waiting for transfer to prison, Marion’s cellmate was a H. H. Holmes, who was awaiting trial for swindling. Holmes confessed to Marion that he had murdered several women. Marion shared the information with the authorities, hoping it would lighten his sentence. This, along with petitions from women, got him pardoned after 12 years.
 
Riddled with tuberculosis, Marion continued his life of crime, and was arrested in Nebraska, where he served two more years. Now a physical wreck, on the evening of December 31, 1910 Marion entered a Chicago saloon with the objective of robbing the cash drawer. Unfortunately, a policeman interrupted the robbery, and Marion was shot dead.
 
Hearing of his death, Allan Pinkerton said of Marion Hedgepeth, “He was a bad man clear through.”    
Marion Hedgepeth and H.H. Holmes

Sierra Mountains Telegraph Line

 For development to take place there has to be men of vision.  Men of vision developed the pony express to deliver mail to the western frontier faster than stagecoach.  Unfortunately for the pony express, at the same time other men of vision were developing a faster way to connect the east with the west.
One such man was Fred A. Bee. Fred lived in Virginia City, Nevada. On July 4, 1858 he and four partners started the Placerville, Humboldt and Salt Lake Telegraph Company. Carson Valley residents had passed a bond referendum for $1,200 toward the project, and so they started immediately. By fall of that year the telegraph had connected Placerville, California with Nevada. Six months later it arrived in Carson City, and finally it stretched all the way across Nevada.
 
In the process of doing this, they had to cross over the rugged Sierra Mountains. Less than ten years later the Central Pacific Railroad would spend about 20 million dollars crossing those same mountains. The ground was granite. The winds were strong, and the snow deep.
With limited funds and manpower Fred Bee decided that rather than blast holes in the granite for telegraph poles, they would string the wire on the pine trees that had been able attach themselves to the granite and withstand the winds and snow. So, the telegraph wire was strung from treetop to treetop with some spans of wire being quite long. This led people to nickname the Placerville, Humboldt and Salt Lake Telegraph Company, “Bee’s Grapevine Line.” But when it was completed, even the skeptics used it with pride.
 
Two years later Congress authorized constructing the Overland Telegraph Company, and Fred A. Bee’s Grapevine Line became a major link in the completion of the transcontinental telegraph.
 
 

Chuckwagon: Cooked Cabbage Salad

1 Pint or more of chopped cooked cabbage

Add:
1 Egg well beaten
¼ Cup vinegar
1 Tsp butter
Dash of salt and pepper

Sweeten to suit taste. Simmer a few minutes and add ½ cup of thick fresh cream. Serve immediately.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

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