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ZWING HUNT

Zwing Hunt was a minor character in the Old West.  But his story is one that has been repeated many times over.  Zwing was born in 1858 in Texas.  He grew up to be an honest young man.  According to one report he was generous to a fault and brave. Zwig Hunt It was also said that he was a child of circumstances and a creature of excitement.

At the age of 22 he came to Tombstone, Arizona where he palled up with a ne’er-do-well named Billy Grounds.  With the excitement of Tombstone’s low life tugging at his shirttails, he started hanging around the Clanton Gang that comprised the likes of Curly Bill Brocius and Johnnie Ringo.

After pulling a job or two with the Clantons, Zwing and his friend Billy Grounds decided they could do the same on their own.  One evening in the early spring of 1882 the two of them entered the Tombstone Mill & Mining Company with robbery on their minds.  In the ensuing excitement they killed a man.

A warrant was issued for their arrest; a posse was assembled; and the chase was on.  In a shootout Billy Grounds and a member of the posse were killed, and Zwing Hunt was shot in the lung.

Zwing was taken to the Tombstone hospital where about 3 weeks later, his brother smuggled him out.  This is where the story gets interesting.  Supposedly, on May 31, 1882 while Zwing and his brother were hiding out, a band of Indians attacked them and killed Zwing.  After chasing off the Indians, his brother supposedly buried Zwing in the Chiricahua Mountains.  But, the Zwing Hunt legend also says that he wasn’t really killed; that the prodigal son returned to Texas to live a full life.

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.

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.

BILLY THE KID PARDON

At one time outlaw Billy the Kid came close to becoming an honest man.  But things didn’t work out the way he had hoped.

The year wBilly the Kidas 1879.  The Lincoln County War was all but over.  Lew Wallace, the governor of New Mexico, was in Lincoln County, taking a personal interest in getting to the bottom of the conflict.

Houston Chapman, an attorney had just been murdered, and Governor Wallace wanted his killers.  Although it was generally known who the killers were, someone had to testify against them in court.  The Governor knew that William Bonney, later to be known as Billy the Kid, was that man, because Bonny had already written him saying he would testify in exchange for immunity.  So, on March 17 Bonney and Governor Wallace met.  It was agreed there would be a mock arrest, and after the testimony, Wallace would give Bonney a pardon.


But, before the arrest, the killers of Chapman escaped.  However, Governor Wallace assured Bonney that the deal was still on.  So, on March 21, as per the arrangement, Bonney surrendered to the Lincoln County Sheriff.  In April the two accused murderers were captured again.  A grand jury was called.  But before Bonney could testify, he was taken away to Dona Ana County to stand trial for the murder of Sheriff William Brady, who was killed a year earlier. Bonney and two others were indicted for murder.  Although Bonney was still getting assurances that his deal was still in place, he sensed it was turning sour.  But he still went through with his part of the agreement by testifying against his friends.

Now feeling he had no bargaining power, and that things were still going bad, in May, William Bonney decided to give up trying to go straight, escaped his captors, went back to cattle rustling, and became Billy the Kid.

LUKE SHORT

Growing up in Texas, Luke Short became a cowboy.  At about 5’ 5” and no more than 150 pounds, he found the cowLuke Shortboy life hard work and little pay, so he became a merchant in Nebraska.  Immediately Luke discovered there wasn’t money in selling general merchandise to the settlers, so he decided to sell bootleg whiskey to the Indians.

The army caught Luke, and put him in jail. Escaping jail, Luke headed to Leadville, Colorado where he discovered a way to work with his hands that wasn’t strenuous or illegal.  It was dealing cards.

A Leadville bully thought Short should give him money for gambling.  Short chose to give him led instead.  After the killing, Short headed over to Dodge City where he became friends with Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.  When Wyatt went to Tombstone, Luke followed him.

February 25, 1881 Luke Short ran into another bully named Charlie Storms.  A drunk Charlie Storms and Luke Short had a gambling disagreement.  Storms pulled his gun and challenged Short to a gunfight.  Short pulled his gun and shot Storms twice…once in the heart and once in the head.
Although it was self-defense, Charlie Storms had a number of friends, and Luke didn’t want to spend his life watching his back, so he took the next train out of Tombstone.  Eight months later the shootout at the O.K. Corral took place.

It is generally agreed that if Luke Short were still in Tombstone at the time of the O.K. Corral shootout, today we would be talking about the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday and Luke Short in the same breath.

MESA VERDE

On December 18, 1888, the fantastic ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde located in southwest Colorado was discovered by Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law.

The Wetherill family had been ranching the rugged southwest lands of Colorado since 1881, and Richard and his brothers often explored the canyons and mesas for Indian ruins.  Once, while looking up the mouth of Cliff Canyon, Wetherill was approached by a Ute Indian named Acowitz who supposedly told him, “Deep in that canyon and near its head are many houses of the Ancient Ones.  One of those houses, high, high in the rocks, is bigger than all the others.  Utes never go there, it is a sacred place.”  Although Wetherill was intrigued, his ranching duties kept him from exploring the area.

One day Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charles Mason, were searching for stray cattle on top of a broad mesa when a heavy snow began to fall.  Fearing they might ride over a cliff in the blinding snow, they dismounted and were moving ahead on foot when they came to an overlook point.  From across the canyon they saw a snow-blurred image of a magnificent stone city three stories high and perched high up a cliff wall under a massive rock overhang.  Fascinated, Wetherill and Mason abandoned their search for the stray cattle and climbed up and explored the ruins for several hours.

Archaeological studies found the Cliff Palace, as it became known, was built during the 13th century, when the Anasazi moved from the top of the mesas onto ledges and caves along the canyon walls, presumably to better defend themselves against invaders.  Eventually a prolonged drought that started around 1275 forced the Anasazi to abandon their magnificent cliff dwellings.

Wetherill collected thousands of artifacts from the Cliff Palace.  Most of the artifacts ended up in museums, where they could be studied by professional archaeologists and viewed by the public.  In order to protect the site from further looting and degradation, the Congress created Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.

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