Heard Around the Bunkhouse #5 – Cowboy Lingo

In our feature Heard Around the Bunkhouse we bring you cowboy lingo and slang that they used back in the Wild West. Hope you enjoy them, and let us know your favorite terms from those past times.

BEND AN ELBOW – Have a drink.
BANG UP JOB – First Rate
PONY UP – Hurry Up
ROOSTERED – Drunk

Cowboy lingo

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

Chuckwagon: Simple Cowboy Chicken

 This is a recipe for  simple cowboy chicken (when they had them) or any other game bird, used often by the frontier settlers.  Start with 3 to 4 pounds of foul.                                                                      

                                     ¼ tsp sage                                       ¼ tsp pepper

                                    ½ tsp salt                                           ¼ tsp allspice

                                    ¼ tsp basil                                         ¼ tsp coriander

    Wash the bird or birds, and pat dry.  Sprinkle cavity with mixed seasoning, except basil.  Place in Dutch oven and sprinkle with basil.  Cover and bake for 4 to 6 hours until tender.

cowboy chicken

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

One Who Yawns aka Geronimo

One Who Yawns - GeronimoOne Who Yawns was born in 1823. He was known as an easygoing person. But, as a young man, while the men were away, Mexicans attacked his village and killed the women and children, among who were his mother, wife and three children. This instilled in him a hatred for Mexicans that lasted throughout his life. A year after the attack on his village, One Who Yawns and some other braves retaliated, killing several Mexicans. In this battle he won his more popular Spanish name… Geronimo.
 
Although he was a great leader, Geronimo was never a chief, and always deferred to his people’s true chiefs. For decades he succeeded in keeping settlers off Apache lands using little more than a handful of braves. Although Geronimo never used a firearm himself, he made sure his braves had the best available. And they used field glasses for distance reconnaissance. He was a brilliant strategist who for years was able to evade the best the army could send. 
 
By 1886 Geronimo was in his 60’s, and the number of whites in the area kept growing. So, on September 4 at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, Geronimo surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles becoming the last American Indian warrior to formally surrender to the Army. 
 
A number of times over the years Geronimo agreed to live on a reservation, and later, with justification, left it. So this time his people were shipped to Florida. After several years in Florida the army moved him to Oklahoma where he became a popular celebrity. He even rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. Geronimo died at the age of 86, a romantic symbol of the Wild West.

Dentist Clay Allison

Dentist Clay AllisonClay Allison was a hard-drinking, prankster of the type who becomes a legend in his own time. During his lifetime, Allison only killed four people. But the stories about him that didn’t involve killing are as entertaining as those that did. There’s the story of Dentist Clay Allison looking up gunman Mace Bowman with the object of killing him. But, Bowman was a congenial person, and the two men ended up getting drunk together. Still curious about who was the fastest, they decided to test each other’s speed with some fast draws. Allison found Bowman was faster than he was. So, Allison suggested they strip to underwear, and shoot at each other’s bare feet to see who could move faster. They were either poor shots or fleet of feet, because a short time later the two men, out of breath, bellied up to the bar for another drink.

Then, there was the time on August 16, 1874, when Allison arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had a raging toothache. Now, Cheyenne had two dentists. So, Allison chose the closest one and climbed in his chair. The dentist drilled away at the tooth, only to discover he was drilling the wrong one. When the dentist announced his mistake, Allison angrily jumped out of the chair, and went over to the other dentist’s office. The other dentist took care of the problem.

With his pain gone, Allison returned to the first dentist, and pinned the dentist in his chair. Grabbing the dentist’s forceps, Clay Allison proceeded to pull, according to different stories, one, three or all of the dentist’s teeth. I can assure you that dentist never drilled on the wrong tooth again.

Clay Allison, you sure are a card.

Old West Book Review: The Cornett-Whitley Gang; Violence Unleashed in Texas

Cornett Whitley gangThe Cornett-Whitley Gang; Violence Unleashed in Texas, David Johnson, University of North Texas Press, $29.95, Cloth. Non-fiction, 320 pages, Illustrations, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

The time period for this book is the late 1880s, the location is Texas, and the topic is about a gang of train robbers.  The names of these men are mostly unfamiliar to readers of today.  None of them stood out above the rest in romantic familiarity.  Don’t look for Butch and Sundance, or the James brothers.  These men came together in a secret hide-away, made their plans, and then held up the trains.  Afterwards they parted, at least for a while, and did a good job of fooling law enforcement.  Some were married with children, most were solitary drifters who kept low profiles.

There were three important train robberies that made headlines.  One at McNeal Station, another at Flatonia, and finally a third robbery at a place called the Verdigris Bridge.  All three robberies were daring, well-planned, done ruthlessly and with precision.  Some people got hurt, a few were killed, one lady passenger was pistol whipped for being too slow in turning over her valuables.  Money and personal items were grabbed before the gang mounted up and disappeared into the darkness.

The book tells how law enforcement was blamed and even chided in newspaper accounts, embarrassed by the Media for their inability to catch the bad guys right away.  The Texas train robberies made headlines all across the United States and even some foreign countries.  Newspaper editors were certain all the bad publicity would be detrimental to the financial growth of Texas.

Law enforcement entities such as the Texas Rangers, federal marshals, railroad detectives and Wells Fargo eventually worked together sharing information until most of the robbers were caught.  Some of this work remains in place even to this day.  However, in the old days before computers and telephones, news about the robberies moved laboriously via telegraph, word of mouth or riders on horseback.

Letters at the back of the book contain personal accounts from various individuals who were involved in all this.  Some romantic stories told were clarified.  It seems a lot of people had a lot to say as the robbing of trains made big news.  Eventually arrested, one robber, “Bud” Powell, alias John Thompson wrote a lengthy autobiographical account filled with original detail as he explains about some of his adventures after he left the gang.  He traveled for several years evading the law and claimed he tried to “go straight.” Words coming directly from the outlaw give readers much to think about.

The author of the book, David Johnson has penned other important nonfiction books including John Ringo, King of the Cowboys; The Mason County “Hoo Doo” War, and The Horrell Wars.  All of David Johnson’s books are well-researched, easy to read, and packed with plenty of information.  If you are particularly interested in Texas train robbers, this book is for you.

Publisher’s Notes: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including Death For Dinner, the Bender of (Old) Kansas.  Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York, 10988. Ph. (845) 726-3434. www.silklabelbooks.com

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

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