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Rattlesnake Dick

As a teenager, Charlie Lazure came out west to the New Mexico Territory where he got into a shooting fracas. It’s not known what happened to the other guy, but Charlie was shot in the leg, which resulted in his having a limp for the rest of his life.

Charlie stole a horse and mule, and before long there was a posse after him. He escaped to the Arizona Territory, eventually ending up in Tombstone, where his luck ran out. He was arrested and returned to New Mexico. But fortunately, for Charley, the complainant failed to show up, and he was released.
 
Two years later, in 1885, Charley got into another shootout in Silver City. Again Charley was arrested. But he was released on a bond posted by County Sheriff, Harvey Whitehill. Quite possibly Harvey stepped forward with the bond because he and Charley had been involved in some illegal dealings together… for later Harvey Whitehill was indicted on a number of crimes.

While out on bond, Charley again stole a couple of horses. And again, he was arrested and brought back to Silver City. This time the complainant showed up, and no one posted bond. As a result, Long Neck Charley spent two years at the Santa Fe Territorial Penitentiary. 

On May 4, 1887, Charley Lazure was released from prison. Not wanting to have anything to do with prison again, he dropped out of sight.Then again, maybe that’s how he picked up the nickname, Rattlesnake Dick. Charley Lazure mayhave just slithered under a rock somewhere.

The Oxbow Stage Route

By 1858, the population of California and the west had grown considerably, and there were a number of people traveling from the East to the West, and the West to the East. Stage routes were a series of undependable smaller lines. So Congress decided to pass legislation to authorize the establishment of one line that would transport passengers and mail from St. Louis to San Francisco.
 
As the Northern legislators saw it, the stage line would follow the great emigrant trail… a route that was a straight line between the two cities. However, the Southern legislators had a different view of the route. According to the legislation, the choice of the route was up to the Postmaster General. And the Postmaster General was from Tennessee.
 
The Postmaster General decided there would be two starting points… St. Louis and Memphis, his hometown. This was nearly 1,000 miles longer than necessary, and it lay across vast amounts of unsettled country. The press dubbed it “the oxbow route.”
 
 The contract, with a $600,000 a year subsidy, was given to John Butterfield. A lesser man would have failed… but not Butterfield. On September 15, 1858, the first stage started down the oxbow route. The route was to have been traveled in 25 days. But Butterfield scheduled his stages to make it in 24 days.
 
 
 

 

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the oxbow route was suspended. However, by that time The Butterfield Overland Stage Line was delivering more mail to the West than all the ships at sea.

Black Faced Charlie & The Dalton Gang

It seems that everyone in the Old West had nicknames… And some of them were very strange. But, none was as strange as Charles Bryant’s. He was called “Black Faced Charlie.” It seems that he was shot point-blank in the face. The bullet just creased his cheek. But, the burnt powder coming out of the pistol imbedded in his face, giving him his nickname.
Later, Bryant joined the Dalton gang. And during the gang’s shootout with a posse was heard to say something like, “Me, I want to get killed in one heck of a minute of action.” Well, Bryant put it out there, and on August 23, 1891, he got his wish.
 
Being arrested, Bryant had to be transported to jail by Deputy U.S. Marshal Ed Short. Marshal Short was transporting the handcuffed Bryant in a train baggage car when he had to visit the john. Marshal Short gave his pistol to the railroad messenger and left. The messenger put the pistol in a desk drawer and went about his chores.
 
 
Unnoticed, Bryant moved around to the desk and got the pistol, just as Marshal Short entered the baggage car. Bryant placed one shot into Marshal Short’s chest. Short, carrying a rifle, shot Bryant…severing his spine. Bryant continued firing the pistol until it was empty. The rest of his shots went wild.

  

Bryant was killed in one heck of a minute of action just as he wished. Marshal Short helped the messenger pick up Bryant’s body. Marshal Short then laid down on the cot and died… also the victim of heck of a minute of action.
 
Both bodies were left on the train platform at the next stop.
 

Seth Bullock

   BullockIn the Old West there were men who seemed to be everywhere and do everything. Today you’re going to be introduced to one of those men. His name is Seth Bullock.
In 1867, at the age of twenty, Seth Bullock left Canada to come down to the Montana Territory and do some gold mining. Four years later he was elected to the territory’s state senate. Next Seth took a horseback ride around the Yellowstone area, and sent back reports that helped influence its becoming our first National Park.
Then he became a county sheriff and proceeded to face down a lynch mob, as well as legally hang the first man in the Montana Territory.
Deciding to move on to new territory, he went to Deadwood in 1876. With no law, and no official process of selecting a sheriff, by popular demand, he became the town’s first lawman.
Also being a good businessman, he served as the president of a mining company and a bank.
As a lawman, while trailing an outlaw named Crazy Steve, he ran into a posse led by a deputy U. S. Marshall from the Dakota Badlands who had just caught Crazy Steve. The U. S. Marshall and Seth became lifelong friends. Incidentally, the marshal’s name was Theodore Roosevelt.
Although Seth became a captain in Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, he was never sent to Spain.
After Roosevelt became the President, he sent for Seth, and told Seth that he was needed in Washington. Seth responded that, “There’s just one job that would get me to live in this town, and you’re filling it just fine.” Seth settled for the job of a U.S. Marshal.
Seth served with distinction until his death on September 23, 1919. Roosevelt had called Seth Bullock the ideal American. But he wanted only one word on his tombstone…Pioneer.

A STRONG MAN & HORSE

Horse Ride

In the Old West men and horses were called upon to perform great feats.  But no man and horse did more in a short period of time than John Phillips and a big gray thoroughbred.

It was a cold December in 1866. Fort Phil Kearny was being harassed by Red Cloud and his band of Sioux.  On the 21st of December Captain John Fetterman and 80 men left the fort to chase after a small group of Indians.  The Indians were decoys, and Fetterman’s command was ambushed.  Within minutes everyone was killed.

It was necessary for someone to travel to Horseshoe Station, 190 miles away, and telegraph Fort Laramie for reinforcements.  That responsibility fell on John Phillips.  He wasn’t a member of the military, but a local prospector who had brought his family to the fort for protection.

Riding a big gray thoroughbred, given to him by the fort commander, John started on the trip wearing a buffalo coat to protect him from the severe cold spell they were having.

Hiding during the daylight hours, John still ran into war parties, but the long legged thoroughbred was able to outrun the smaller Indian ponies.  On December 24th John arrived at Horseshoe Station, but they were unable to send a telegraph to Laramie, because the line was down…either the result of Indian activity or the weather.  Jumping back on his horse, he rode the remaining forty miles to Fort Laramie.  A Christmas party was in progress when John arrived.  A half frozen John Phillips entered the hall, told his story, and collapsed on the floor.  Early Christmas day a column headed for Fort Kearny.

Although, at the time no one thought the 230-mile ride from Fort Kearny to Fort Laramie was anything more than a long cold ride, but shortly afterward it reached the level of myth…a man and horse enduring devastating weather and wild Sioux to save a beleaguered garrison.

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