BUCKSKIN & THE KID HAVE IT OUT

Although Tombstone, Arizona is known for the OK Corral Shootout, on November 14, 1882 another shootout took place between two Old West characters with unique nicknames. The shootout was between gunslinger Franklin “Buckskin” Leslie and Billy “The Kid” Claiborne.

Tombstone was the home to many gunmen who never achieved the fame of Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday. Probably one of the most notorious of these forgotten outlaws was “Buckskin” Frank Leslie.

Little is know of his early life. At different times, he claimed to have been born in both Texas and Kentucky. Although there is no supporting evidence, he also said he studied medicine in Europe, and had been an army scout in the war against the Apache Indians.

Drawn by the moneymaking opportunities of the booming mining town of Tombstone, he opened the Cosmopolitan Hotel in 1880. That same year he killed a man named Mike Killeen during a quarrel over Killeen’s wife, and he married the woman shortly thereafter.

When John Ringo was found dead in July 1882, a young friend of Ringo’s named Billy “The Kid” Claiborne, was convinced that Leslie had murdered Ringo. A cocky young man who took on the nickname “The Kid” after Billy The Kid, seeking vengeance and the notoriety that would come from shooting a famous gunslinger, unwisely decided to publicly challenge Leslie, who shot him dead without hesitation.

 Deacon Jim Miller

Deacon Jim MillerDeacon Jim Miller was a little man who was quiet, and he never cussed. He dressed like a traveling minister, and was an avid churchgoer. At the same time, he was one of the most ruthless assassins of the Old West. It’s estimated that 40 or more people died from lead that came from his guns… Some of them were even his relatives. His contracts were usually carried out on unarmed men from behind a rock or tree, while using a rifle.
           
There are those who say he was involved with the death of Pat Garrett, the lawman who shot Billy the Kid. A man named Brazel confessed to killing Garrett. But at the time, a mysterious man, who fit Deacon Miller’s description, by the name of Adamson, was negotiating the purchase of the ranch. Some feel that if he didn’t actually pull the trigger, he paid Brazel to do it. But like many theories about events from the Old West, we’ll probably never know the truth.
               
Deacon Miller’s last contract kill was on a lawman named Gus Babbitt. As was his style, Miller ambushed Babbitt. Unfortunately, Babbitt lived long enough to describe Miller. Miller and his three helpers were arrested.
 
Now, Deacon Miller was noted for being a smooth-talker. And he bragged that with his ability to con, and a high-priced lawyer, he was going to beat this rap. Some of the Ada, Oklahoma locals believed him. So, on April 19, 1909 they broke Deacon Miller and his three friends out of jail; escorted them to a barn; and hanged them. Deacon Miller went to his reward. And there was little doubt by anyone who knew him, the direction of that reward. 

Bloody Bill Anderson

"Bloody" Bill AndersonThe Anderson family resided in Jefferson County, Missouri. Although they were farmers, the Anderson men had a tendency to augment their income with armed robbery. From these family roots sprung Bloody Bill Anderson.
 
In 1862, Confederate Quantrill raided the town where the Andersons lived. As a result, Union troops came to the area, and four days later, two of the Anderson men were hanged as Confederate sympathizers. This angered 25-year-old Bill Anderson to the point that he dropped his plow and joined Quantrill’s raiders.  
 
Later Bill Anderson’s three sisters were arrested for being spies. And, while in prison, the building collapsed killing one of them. As you can imagine, this pushed an angry Bill Anderson over the edge. Any civility he had was gone to the point people started calling him “Bloody” Bill Anderson. Becoming one of Quantrill’s chief lieutenants, at the massacre of Lawrence, Kansas, the men under his command supposedly killed more people than anyone else. At a raid in Centralia, Missouri, he was responsible for prisoners being stripped and shot.  
 
October 27, 1864, just a year and a half after he joined Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson was shot and killed by Union soldiers. A silk scarf reportedly was found with 53 knots in it. Supposedly, the scarf belonged to the sister who was killed with the collapse of the jail. And each knot represented a person killed.  
 
But then there were other reports that someone else was riding Bloody Bill’s horse, and he was shot instead. Bloody Bill realizing this was a good opportunity to get the bloodhounds off his back, quietly went to Texas and then Oklahoma. I’m sure he met up with Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and all the other outlaws who were also fortunate enough to have had someone else die in their place.  

The Son of Sam Houston – Temple Houston

Son of Sam Houston - Temple HoustonTemple Houston was the son of Texas’ founding father Sam Houston. He was an independent young cuss… so independent that at the age of 13, as a rawboned boy with shoulder length hair, he became a cowboy on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. 
 
On his way back home, Temple ran into a friend of his father’s who talked him into going to Washington D. C. and becoming a Senate page. After three years as a page, Temple decided to study law. So, he went back to Texas, enrolled in Baylor University and at the age of 19 got a law degree. Within a year he was practicing law… Now, I think we can all agree that Temple Houston packed a heck of a lot of stuff in those first 20 years. And he did slow down afterward. 
 
On August 25, 1881, at the age of 21, Temple made a speech on the battle of San Jacinto, bringing tears to the eyes of the audience, and his first glimmer of fame. 
 
Temple became the prototype of the modern day celebrity lawyer. He had a shooting match with Billy the Kid, which, Bat Masterson promoted. And Temple supposedly won.
 
Temple was married and moved to Woodward, Oklahoma where he got into a courtroom row with Al Jennings, which resulted in his killing two of Al’s brothers in a saloon brawl. While defending a woman accused of operating a brothel, he drew the Biblical parallel by saying, “as your Master did twice, tell her to go in peace.” And they did.
 
Back in Texas, Temple Houston was a district attorney and served in the Texas state legislature. Until his death on August 15, 1905 at 45 years of age, Temple worked on only the most difficult cases. And there was the life of the son of Sam Houston.

Lost Mines & Buried Treasures

Lost Mines and Buried Treasures. This dandy little book is fun to read, easy to understand, and is chock full of ideas about hunting for lost treasure in Wyoming.

The author, W.C. Jameson has long been interested in searching for hidden loot, and when still a boy, helped cart gold bars out of the Guadalupe Mountains in Old Mexico.  Thus gold fever hit him hard.  Now Jameson writes books, conducts writer’s workshops, plays a guitar and sings his Western songs all across the United States.  I myself met Jameson in El Paso, Texas some years ago when he was the president of Western Writers of America.  Cordial, witty, and easy to like, wearing a beard and long Wyatt Earp coat, he helped aspiring writers find publication.  He was even instrumental in having the SPUR awards televised that year at the Camino Real on the Mexican border.

Inside this latest book readers will find 16 stories about lost treasure and how it came to be.  Some have to do with stagecoach robberies, holdups and bank shoot-outs that went wrong.  Others tell of gold nuggets glistening under the water of cold mountain streams.

Sometimes robbers hid the loot, only to be gunned down by local posses before they could tell the location of buried strong boxes.  Other individuals panned gold from creeks only to be murdered by Indians.  Some men found the gold all right, but were unable to carry it out of the hills and when they returned later with help, they became disoriented and never could pinpoint the location of the stash.

The idea of sinking a shovel into the earth, hitting a strongbox, and pulling up a million dollar bonanza is a fantasy to many of us, but some brave souls really do strike out with maps and shovels to try their luck.  Here you will find the Lost Cabin Gold Mine where rich men lost their lives to marauding Indians and the Snake River Pothole Gold where glistening nuggets lured men to their deaths. The Birdseye Stage Station Gold heist resulted in $30,000 in gold coins buried somewhere near the robbery site.  But who can find it now?

Indian raids, lost jade deposits, shoot-outs and the usual double-cross when gold is involved fill these pages.  Jameson makes the stories sound believable since he gives directions and information gleaned from original sources.  My particular favorite is the buried treasure of Nate Champion, whom I have always considered one of the heroes of the Johnson County Range War.  Nate Champion single-handedly held off a passel of hired Texas gunmen.  Alone inside his cabin, Champion kept a diary of what happened throughout that long day so those who found his body would know what happened there.  According to the Jameson account, Nate had a stash of gold buried outside the cabin his killers never found.

There is the story of Big Nose George Parrot who was not only the ugliest man alive, but a killer and gun-slinging outlaw reported to have buried $150,000 in stolen loot.  Of course George died with his lips sealed and his neck stretched by vigilantes.  The desecration of his body parts by the local doctor gets even worse as Parrot’s tanned hide became a pair of shoes, and the top of his skull an ashtray.  To this day folks still hunt in vain for poor Parrot’s buried treasure.

I suspect the sale of this book will provide more loot than might be found buried beside a burned-out cabin, but readers will have a grand time exploring these tales and who knows?  You might be the lucky one.

Jameson’s stories are always fun.  Sometimes his topics are controversial, like who is really buried in Billy the Kid’s grave.  You will have a good time reading his stories, but remember Jameson might just be pulling your leg. You can join in on the fun and grab this book HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many published books about the Old West. Her most recent is a novel titled Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid 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.

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