Wrong Men Hanged From The Gallows

It was 1864 in Jackson County, Missouri.  Two men, Dick Merrick and Jeb Sharp had murdered a horse trader by the name of John Bascum.  The two men were arrested and put on trial.  The jury found them guilty.  The judge sentenced them to be hanged from the gallows.  And, he said it must be done within twenty-four hours…There wasn’t much of an appeals process in the Old West.

So, on September 6, the townspeople frantically started building a gallows.  Just before the twenty-four hour deadline was up, the two men were grabbed, sacks were put over their heads, and they were led to the gallows.  Ropes were placed around their necks.  The trap door sprung.  Before the deadline, their lifeless bodies were hanging from the end of ropes.  The townspeople congratulated themselves on a job well done.

Sheriff Clifford Stewart went back to his office to take care of the final paperwork.  But, when he stepped inside his office, Sheriff Stewart had the surprise of his life.  There in the cell were the murders Dick Merrick and Jeb Sharp.  At first, he thought it surely was a mirage.  But it wasn’t.

Within a matter of hours, the situation had been sorted out.  It seems that the night before two men had been arrested for drunkenness, and the anxious citizens had grabbed them by mistake.  The men were still to drunk to protest, and Merrick and Sharp sure weren’t going to tell anybody they had the wrong men.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Since the judge had required the sentence be carried out within twenty-four hours, and it wasn’t, the two killers were set free.

This story should persuade any person of the merits of living a temperate life.

Chuckwagon: Calf’s Head Soup

Calf’s Head Soup: From an 1879 cookbook.

Chuckwagon: Calf's Head SoupScald and clean the head, and boil in two gallons water with:

A shank of veal. A small piece of bacon.
2 carrots. A bunch of sweet herbs.
3 onions.

When boiled a half hour, cut meat off head and shank. Let the soup boil half an hour longer, and then strain it. Put meat back in the soup and season. Thicken with butter and brown flour.
Let boil an hour longer. Just before serving add tablespoon of sugar browned in frying pan and a half pint wine. Good substitute for turtle soup.

Cowboys Go On Strike

Cowboys Go On StrikeIn the late 1860’s and the 1870’s a cattle rancher’s life was simple.  He lived in a small cabin, and worked along side the cowboys on his ranch.  A cowboy respected his boss, and he would give his life for the rancher and his cattle.  As they phrased it, “They rode for the brand.” No one would have thought that cowboys go on strike.

By the 1880’s things were changing.  Ranch owners were now living in large homes or were absentee landlords…They were often Eastern, British or Scottish investors.  They had ranch foremen to work with the cowboys.  When these “foreign” owners did come out west, they brought with them customs unfamiliar to the cowboys.  The gap between the cowboy and the owner became wider and wider.

During the spring of 1883, the cowboys from three ranches in the Texas panhandle were rounding up strays together.  And, one evening while setting around a campfire, the cowboys were doing their usual griping about working conditions, when they decided to do something about it…to go on strike.

Their demands were simple.  Among them, a cowboy’s income would increase from $30 to $50 per month.  A cook would get $50 per month.  And the head of an outfit would get $75 per month.

Unfortunately, for the cowboys, they quickly drank and gambled away their strike fund, and the area was full of drifters looking for a job.  So the strike didn’t last more than a couple of weeks.  Some of the cowboys went back to work.  Others left the area.

This strike ended up being just one more nail in the coffin of the Old West cowboy as ranchers set up rules to confine even more their traditional activities.

Old West 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. His idea was a Wind Wagon.

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.

Chronicle of the Old West Chronicle of the Old West is a 20-page newspaper that contains articles from actual 1800s publications and currently written articles written as if the event has just happened. You would swear it was found in your great grandfather’s old trunk. For more info click HERE.

From Dakota “Here’s another video featuring Kaine, my grandson. Oh yes, I’m in it too. Chronicle of the Old West is probably one of the more unique publications around today. We’ve had wives email us complaining (tongue in cheek, of course) that when Chronicle of the Old West arrives in the mail they know not to speak to their husband until he’s read it cover to cover. Maybe it’s not that bad. It does get him out of her hair for a couple of hours.”

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