Remember Goliad and the Alamo!

When Mexico gained their independence from Spain, Mexico gave the Anglo-Texans considerable autonomy. But in 1835, Santa Anna proclaimed himself dictator of Mexico; he imposed martial law, which fed the flames of the Texan’s resistance. So, Santa Anna decided to personally lead his army to wipe out these Anglo-rebels.
 
Early in March of 1836, while Santa Anna was attacking and defeating a small force of Texans at an abandoned mission called the Alamo, Santa Anna’s chief lieutenant, General Urrea was heading toward another group of 400 Texans defending a town called Goliad.
 
As General Urrea’s 1400 man army approached, James Fannin, the leader of the Texans, was indecisive as to whether he should defend Goliad or rush to the aid of the Alamo. At the last minute, Fannin decided to retreat. By then General Urrea’s men had surrounded the Texan force. Trapped on an open prairie Fannin realized there was no escape, so he surrendered.
 
Fannin and his men felt they were soldiers surrendering as prisoners of war. Unfortunately, Santa Ana had stated before that he considered the rebels to be “perfidious foreigners” or in a more common term “traitors,” and they would be treated as such.
 
On March 27, 1836, General Urrea took the over 340 prisoners and shot them at point blank. Those who didn’t die during the first volley were hunted down and killed by bayonet or lance. Then General Urrea and his men moved on, leaving the dead Texans unburied.
 
When news got out about the Goliad massacre, the battle cry became “Remember Goliad and the Alamo!”
Tiburcio Vasquez

Developing The Cherokee Language and Alphabet

Sequohah, born in 1760 in Tennessee, grew up among his mother’s people, the Cherokee. He became a metal craftsman, making beautiful silver jewelry. As a young man he joined the Cherokee volunteers who joined Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. While with the American soldiers, he became intrigued with what he called “talking leaves,” or words on paper that somehow recorded human speech. Although Sequohah had no formal education, he somehow comprehended the basic nature of the symbolic representation of sounds.

In 1809 he began working on a Cherokee language. At first he tried picture symbols, but soon found them to be impractical. Then he started looking at English, Greek and Hebrew. He finally developed 86 characters that would express the various sounds in the Cherokee language. It was so simple in its concept that it could be mastered in less than a week.
In 1821 he submitted his new written language to the Cherokee leaders. As a demonstration Sequohah wrote a message to his six-year-old daughter. She read the message and responded in kind. The tribal council immediately adopted the system. And Cherokee of all ages started learning the written language.
The Cherokee were divided into two groups, Sequohah’s in Georgia and Tennessee, and the western Cherokee in Oklahoma. In 1822 Sequohah went to Oklahoma, and taught the alphabet to the Cherokee there.
 
Finally, on February 21, 1828 the first printing press with Cherokee type arrived in Georgia. Within months, the first Indian language newspaper appeared. It was called the Cherokee Phoenix.
Sequohah later went to Mexico to teach Cherokee there the language. While in Mexico he became ill with dysentery, and died. Great monuments to the man who developed the Cherokee alphabet stand today along the northern California coast. They are the giant redwood trees called the Sequoia.

Old West Book Review: Riding Lucifer’s Line

Riding Lucifer's LineRetired lawman and veteran writer of more than a dozen non-fiction books about Old West history, Bob Alexander again writes a hard-hitting book.  Riding Lucifer’s Line is a collection of 24 profiles about Texas Rangers who lost their lives on the Mexico-Texas border known as “Lucifer’s Line.”  The chosen time period covers the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century through the first quarter of the Twentieth Century.

Carefully researched including newspaper accounts, personal letters, courtroom papers and official Texas Ranger documents, Alexander shows how the hard riding, straight-shooting Rangers rode with boldness into mortal danger.  Their weapons of choice included Winchesters and the Colt’s .45 caliber six-shooters.  They relied on horses for transportation, and faced every weather condition while crisscrossing the vast and untamed land.  From choking dry desert and cactus-studded hills, to the swampy, mosquito infested marshes to the south, these men answered the call.

Alexander points out that Texas Rangers were sometimes hated and despised by the Hispanic population, even referred to as “devils”, by those who naturally resisted the new boundary after Texas split from Mexico.  And while not all of the Rangers were angels on horseback, they dealt with the harsh realities of an unforgiving adversary good at ambush and body mutilation.

Sonny Smith was the youngest Ranger killed in the line of duty.  At seventeen years he was shot down ambushed by a wounded desperado hiding in the weeds near a pond.  John McBride and Conrad Mortimer were caught in a crossfire, trapped inside a shack by a Mexican lynch mob.  Sam Frazier was killed by people he had threatened, and George R. “Red” Bingham was shot through the heart during a running gun battle with outlaws.  Frank Sieker’s death was the result of a “terrible mistake” when Rangers mistook two Mexicans as horse thieves who were really leading horses of their own that had escaped, but due to language differences, the fight was on.  Charles Fusselman was shot in the head during an ambush while chasing cattle thieves.  Grover Scott Russell was ambushed inside a grocery store by the mother of the man he was trying to arrest. The lady used an axe.

The list of murdered Texas Rangers goes on and on, as readers find out what happened to whom, who the killers were and if they were brought to justice.  These stories are real, and there are no happy endings when a young man in the prime of life is suddenly left dead riddled with bullet holes, or his skull crushed with an axe.

Two sections in the book provide photographs of many of these men and some others. A brief history of the Texas Rangers is explained in the book’s Foreword, and the Afterword gives yet another brief history lesson in what it took to be a Texas Ranger, details of their enlistment requirements and pay.  Bob Alexander also explains how life on the Texas-Mexico border continues to this day to be a dangerous proposition.  Horse and cattle rustling have now become mostly a war with drug cartels and human smugglers.

This book is a fast-paced, sentimental eye-opener into the lives of these twenty-four brave men who were determined to make Texas a safer place, but forfeited their own lives in the name of law and order.  The struggle continues to this day.

Bob Alexander’s vast experience in law enforcement, border issues, and his love of Texas history once again come through in this latest book. Get your copy HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including Silk and Sagebrush, Women of the Old West, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 www.silklabelbooks.com

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

Chronicling the West For Harper'sChronicling the West For Harper’s. This fascinating book tells the story of two French artists, Paul Frenzeny and Jules Tavernier who were employed in 1873 by Harper’s Magazine to travel for one year across the great American frontier to chronicle immigrant migration.  The men began in New York City and wound their way to San Francisco.

Paul Frenzeny was the son of a Hungarian nobleman.  He had been a soldier in the French army, and eventually traveled to Mexico where he served as an artillery officer in the army of Maximilian.  When Maximilian was defeated by the Juaristas, Frenzeny beat a hasty retreat back home to France by way of New York City.  Here he became enamored with America and by using his considerable artistic talent and writing skills; he began working for Harper’s Magazine.

Jules Tavernier was the son of a British candy maker and grew up in France where he studied art with a Parisian master.  After a stint in the military, he sailed for New York City were he immediately began building a reputation by producing expert artwork for important books and magazines, including Harper’s where he met Frenzeny.

When Harper’s cooked up the idea to publish realistic artwork showing immigrants crossing America, the magazine sent Frenzeny and Tavernier on a yearlong jaunt Out West.  This book follows their trail from coast to coast as these two remarkable artists produced intricate drawings taken from their experiences as they traveled across the continent.  Their sketches were transferred to wood cuts, and sent back to New York each week so readers could follow their adventures visually as well as in print.  The result was a weekly flow of exceptional artwork combined with explanations of life on the frontier.

The men traveled by train, stagecoach and even horseback as they depicted life including glimpses of the manufacture of iron, and coal mining in Pennsylvania, plus train travel across Missouri, Kansas and Texas.  There are log cabins, market days, sunsets, grazing cattle, homesteaders, woodcutters, Native Indians, prisoners en route to Ft. Smith, trader’s stores and even a vigilance committee preparing to hang outlaws for horse stealing.

Frenzeny and Tavernier worked relentlessly from place to place, following the immigrant trail, always looking for details surrounding everyday life.  Their expert artistic talents picked up each and every nuance showing playful children, concerned mothers, thin over-worked animals, and dangers that lurked.

The book contains more than 130 marvelous illustrations along with the history lessons of author Claudine Chalmers whose keen eye directs readers’ attention to each important detail in the drawings.  Chalmers has an uncanny way of observing what the artists must have seen as they watched argumentative washerwomen, snoozing pigs, defensive mother bears, dangerous river crossings, bustling cotton-gins, sugar-making in Texas, exciting deer hunts, market days and even abandoned towns after the railroads changed course.  Coyotes digging through trash barrels and gnawing on dry bones in front of a dilapidated store tell the story. You’ll see prairie gnawing on dry bones in front of a dilapidated store tell the story.  You’ll see prairie fires, buffalo slaughter, and Indian ceremonies. These wonderful illustrations include the Red Cloud Agency, work at a stone quarry, the emotions of a group of Mormon wives, and even the last of the Shoshone Indians begging at a railroad depot.  The journey ends with scenes from San Francisco’s China Town.

This marvelous book combines history lessons from the 1870s era, along with exciting artwork you will marvel at time and again. It belongs as a special treasure in your Old West library. Get your copy HERE.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many books including Silk and Sagebrush; Women of the Old West, published by Silk Label Books, P. 0. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988-0700 www.siIklabelbooks.com

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

SAMUEL COLT

Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt’s single action revolver, known as the “peacemaker” is a staple to any story about the Old West.  But chances are we wouldn’t have ever heard of Colt had it not been for an event that took place on January 4, 1847.

As the story goes in 1830, on a sea voyage to Singapore, Samuel Colt whittled out a wooden model of his revolving handgun.  A year later he made two working models, and applied for a patent.

At the time of Colt’s invention, pistols were though of as dueling weapons.  The much more accurate rifle was preferred for long distant shooting.  For close up self-defense fighting most men preferred knives.

But Colt was sure his pistol would be in great demand.  And by 1836 Paterson Colts were coming off the assembly line in Paterson, New Jersey.  The Texas Rangers started using the Colt pistol.  But they found it to be light, and didn’t hold up well when used as a club to hit someone on the head.  So, Samuel Colt made a heavier model, and called it the Walker Colt after Texas Ranger Samuel Walker.

But the demands for Colt pistols weren’t great enough to keep his plant going.  And in 1842 Samuel Colt went bankrupt.  Giving up gun making all together he started designing submarines.

Then the war with Mexico broke out, and the U. S. government started looking for weaponry.  And on January 4, 1847 the government placed an order with Samuel Colt for 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers.  Colt .44’s served the military so well that the government kept placing orders.

 Now infused with capital, Colt developed a system of mass production and interchangeable parts, making his pistols affordable for the average person.  And Samuel Colt never looked back.  From 1850 to 1860 he sold 170,000 small “pocket” revolvers and 98,000 larger “belt” revolvers…mostly to civilians.

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