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STUDEBAKERS

If you go to a classic car show, you’ll see a number of Studebaker cars and trucks.  But, did you know that the StudebakerStudebaker family started making vehicles back in 1852?

Here’s the story. The Studebaker family was known for being great blacksmiths.  Looking to take advantage of the westward movement, brothers Henry, Clem and John started the “H & C Studebaker Company” to make their version of a Conestoga wagon.  They started with $68 in capital. After a year, they had sold two wagons.

Realizing they needed more capital to be able to buy materials in quantity, brother John agreed to go to California and get some capital in the gold fields.  When he got to what is now Placerville, he realized he could generate more money by making wheelbarrows for the gold miners than mining gold.

John did well.  In a couple of years, he had saved $8,000.  On his way home, John picked up a copy of the great promoter, P. T. Barnum’s book The Art of Money Making.  When John got back to Indiana, he was totally excited with the possibilities of making a fortune.

By December 31, 1860 the Studebaker brothers, John and Clem…Henry had decided to leave the business and become a farmer…had 14 employees and a successful business.

During the Civil War, the Studebakers made supply wagons and ambulances for the Union Army.  The two brothers were so busy that they grew beards to save time normally used for shaving.

It became an annual ritual to tally the books at the end of each year. Following the Civil War, on December 31, 1867, John tallied the assets.  That year they had profits of $223,269.

Texas RangersBack in 1835 there was an area of North America that, like the United States some fifty plus years earlier wanted to become independent of their mother country. On October 17, the people of that rebelling area approved the forming of a group of armed and mounted men whose duty was to range the borders and protect them. Some 175 years later that organization is still in existence and going as strong as ever.

That area of North America seeking independence? It was Texas. That group of armed and mounted men? The Texas Rangers.

In 1835 Texas comprised of isolated pockets of frontier settlers. And Texas leaders needed someone to “range” the frontier and protect the borders from Santa Ana’s soldiers as well as hostile Indians within the territory. And that’s exactly what the Texas Rangers did.

Then, a year later when Texas got its independence, it was decided to upgrade this semi-official force into the primary law enforcement authority.

Although they were created by the Texas government, they were an irregular group of civilians who provided their own horses and guns.

They were given considerable independence, carrying out the duties that would normally be done by the army…such as fighting Indians, and law enforcement agencies…tracking down cattle thieves, train and stage robbers and murderers.

As Texas entered into the 20th century the Texas Rangers were still very much an independent agency. But, they were receiving more and more criticism about their using excessive violence and ignoring the finer points of the law. So, in the 1930’s, the state got control of the Rangers, making them a modern and professional law organization.

FIRST EXPRESS SERVICE

If you wanted to send a valuable package in the early 1800’s, your only option was to find an honest looking person going there, and then ask them to carry your package. But all that changed on October 10, 1839.

Sending any type of valuable package in the early 1800’s was a very risky process. First you would try tWells Fargoo persuade a stagecoach driver or steamboat captain to take it for you. If they didn’t want the responsibility, you would then look for a passenger with an honest looking face to take it. And sometimes that “honest person” and your package would disappear.

But on October 10, 1839, a former railroad conductor by the name of William Harnden came up with what could be called the first express company. He started out modestly with deliveries between Boston and New York. Most of the items carried were business documents, bank drafts, currency and newspapers.

The fee was a few cents to a few dollars, depending not on the size of the document, but its value. At first William Harnden made the deliveries himself, carrying the items in a carpetbag.

By 1841, just two years later, he had offices in Philadelphia, Albany, London and Paris. An employee by the name of Henry Wells suggested that instead of expanding to the east, he should expand to the west.

Harnden looked to the west and saw nothing but wilderness and Indians and routes that were hardly traveled, as opposed to messengers traveling by steamship or stagecoach over populated areas. So William Harnden told Henry Wells to “do it on your own account.”

William Harnden died at the age of 33, the result of tuberculosis and overwork. And he was not able to see what happened when Henry Wells took his advice, and along with a partner named William G. Fargo started a company with a name that’s familiar even today, called Wells-Fargo.

ARIZONA COWBOY POETS GATHERING

We’re getting reCowboyPoetsWebady to head over to the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, AZ.

We’ll be there Friday and Saturday enjoying the music and poetry, as well as having conversations with the entertainers and attendees for our weekly radio show.

I would highly recommend this event. Hope to see you there.

Their web site is: http://www.ycpac.com/portfolio/arizona-cowboy-poets-gathering/

TOM CUSTER

It is said of George Armstrong Custer that his officers fell into two categories: Those who hated him and those who were related to him… and five of them were related. This story is about one of those relations… his brother Tom.

Tom Custer was five years younger than George, and heTom Custer spent his life in the shadow of his older brother.  Although he wasn’t as flamboyant as George, Tom was his own man.  For instance, unlike his brother, Tom liked his liquor.

In 1870, while camped with the Seventh Cavalry near Hays City, Kansas, where at the time Wild Bill Hickok was the marshal; Tom supposedly got drunk, and was chased out of town by Hickok.  Tom vowed revenge.  A short time later Hickok had a shootout with three troopers from the Seventh.  It’s though that Tom Custer had something to do with the affair.

In 1874 Tom led an expedition into the Yellowstone River area and arrested a chief by the name of Rain-in-the-Face.  Rain-in-the-Face later escaped, vowing to someday cut out Tom’s heart.  Quite possibly Rain-in-the-Face got his wish for Toms body was so mutilated in the Little Big Horn battle that his initials, T. W. C., tattooed on his arm was the means of identification.

Although Tom never got the fame of his older brother, during the Civil War Tom’s exploits resulted in his accomplishing something no other soldier had done before him and few have accomplished since…Tom won two Congressional Medals of Honor…Tom Custer has been compared to Alvin York of World War I and Audie Murphy of World War II.

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