Alexander Todd Strikes “Gold” in 1849

Orlando RobbinsAlexander Todd got gold fever. But when he got to California he realized he didn’t have the physical stamina to work the gold fields.
However, it didn’t take Alexander long to see a need and fill it. The gold miners yearned for word from home. But the nearest post office was in San Francisco. It was a two-week trip there and back, and the miners couldn’t leave their claim that long.
So, on July 14, 1849 Alexander Todd started charging $2.50 to take a letter to the San Francisco post office. There was a $1.00 fee just to inquire if a miner had a letter at the post office, and $16.00 for each letter he brought back.
On his first trip some merchants wanted him to deliver $150,000 in gold to a company in San Francisco. He gladly did it, for $7,500.
When Alexander handed the clerk at the San Francisco post office the long list of names, the clerk showed his entrepreneurial capability. He swore Alexander Todd in as a postal clerk so he could search the stacks of letters himself. Incidentally, the clerk charged Alexander 25 cents for each letter he found.
That didn’t bother Alexander because he had discovered another way to make money. He bought a stack of old New York newspapers for a dollar each… which he sold for eight dollars back at the gold fields.
For his trip back to the gold fields Alexander bought a big rowboat for $300, and charged people to be transported back to the gold fields… and incidentally, they did the rowing. At the end of the trip he sold the boat for a $200 profit.
Alexander Todd made a fortune using what was to become known as goodold American ingenuity.

Chuckwagon: Winter Red Flannel Hash

       Red Flannel HashA great way to use left over corned beef is to add a few new ingredients and create Red Flannel Hash.  Who knows who came up with the beets, but it really is colorful, and sticks to the ribs.

            1 ½ Cups chopped corned beef

            1 ½ Cups chopped cooked beets

            1 Medium onion, chopped

            4 Cups chopped cooked potatoes

    Chop ingredients separately, then mix together.  Heat all ingredients in a well- greased skillet, slowly, loosen around the edges, and shake to prevent scorching.  After a nice crust forms on bottom, turn out on a warmed plate and serve.  If it seems a little dry add a little beef broth.  Try with a couple poached eggs, for a hearty meal.

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

Harry Wheeler – Too Late For The Old West

Harry Wheeler
Harry Wheeler was born on July 23, 1875 in Jacksonville, Florida… the wrong part of the country and too late to be an active part of the wild Old West. But, today Harry Wheeler is considered one of the premier lawmen of that era we generally call the Old West.
Orphaned at the age of one, he was adopted by a military officer named William Wheeler. Raised around the military, Harry knew this was the life he wanted to live. But, he was unable to enter West Point. Some say it was because of his short stature.
This didn’t stop Harry from becoming a military man. He joined the 1st Oklahoma Cavalry until he had to retire because of an injury. When the Arizona Rangers were formed in 1903, Harry signed up. Four years later he became the Ranger’s top officer.
Harry Wheeler never shirked his duty. During 1904 in Tucson a man came running out of a saloon and told Wheeler, “Holdup inside! Don’t go in!”
Wheeler responded, “That’s what I’m here for,” and went inside and stopped the robbery by killing the holdup man.
After the Arizona Rangers were disbanded Wheeler was appointed a deputy U.S. Marshal for Tucson. Then he was elected the Sheriff of Cochise County. When World War I broke out Wheeler volunteered, and was sent to France as a captain. And to cap off his career, Harry Wheeler traveled Europe as a trick shooter with the Miller 101 Wild West Show.
One can only surmise that if Harry Wheeler had been born 25 years earlier, we would have talked about Wild Bill, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt and Harry all in the same breath.

Old West Book Review: Tracing The Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe TrailThis photographic journey along the Santa Fe Trail is a treasure of outstanding color photos combined with a detailed, step by step history of this important trail wending its way across the American West between the Missouri river valley and northern Mexico.

Readers turn the pages of history from 1821 through 1880, witnessing caravans of freight wagons, lumbering oxen, stoic Missouri mules, and faithful horses traveling this international route used by military men, hunters, pioneers, homesteaders, tradesmen, bullwhackers and every sort of adventurer.  By 1880 the railroads put the Santa Fe Trail out of importance but before trains on rails edged out horses and mules, this road seethed with adventure.

Maps inside the book give a detailed description of the trail running from St. Louis, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  As we turn the pages, magnificent photos combined with carefully written essays tell the story. Scenes of trapper’s tents along the Missouri River, historical markers explaining old battle scenes, patient oxen ready for work, military forts, restored buildings in Kansas boom towns, and haunting wagon ruts are still visible across the prairie.

The author takes us along this spectacular tour of historical places while explaining the importance of each scene. We get an emotional glimpse of what it must have been like to walk or ride along this trail. We imagine the squeak of freight wagons, the clank of trace chains, and can almost feel the lonesome prairie vastness surrounding brave travelers as they went along their way.

Every type of conveyance from buggies to huge Conestogas lumbered along.  Trade goods included salt, tools, furs, medicine for fever and malaria, castor oil and opium. Some packages contained wines and brandies, chess sets, violin strings, playing cards, cooking utensils, cloth and leather goods as well as silver and gold. Businessmen Russell, Majors and Wadell, who would eventually come up with the idea of a Pony Express, first ran a freight business that consisted of over 3,500 freight wagons carrying thousands of tons of material.

Fortunes were made and lost, armies tramped cross-country while cemeteries sprang up along the way.  This book is filled with surprising historical tidbits that we sometimes forget existed.  For instance, we see pictured the historical landmark of Fort Osage built to house soldiers guarding the new Louisiana Territory.  Pictures of the soldier’s quarters give us insight about how they lived.  Plank floors, spartan bunk beds and a wood kitchen counter remind us of days gone by.  Turning the pages we find everything from old adobe buildings to the Palace of the Governor in old Santa Fe. There are churches, Pueblos and Indian kivas inviting exploration.

Every page of this book causes the reader to reflect on the thoughtful and sentimental scenes chosen by the photographer. Faithful mules pulling a U.S. Army wagon, crumbling stone walls of an 1860 stage station, gushing water at a river crossing, remnants of two-hundred year-old cottonwood trees and historical grave markers show what lined the old Santa Fe Trail. We are filled with awe and admiration for the people who braved the new and dangerous land.  Photographer Ronald J. Dulle is to be congratulated for his beautifully orchestrated photography combined with this important history lesson.  This book belongs in your Old West library. You can grab this beautiful book HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including The Apache Kid, published by Westernlore Press, P.O. Box 35305, Tucson, Arizona 85740

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

Cowboy CoffeeArbuckles’ Ariosa Cowboy Coffee was a staple of chuckwagons, restaurants and hotels back in the Old West, and to this day you can still enjoy the coffee that has always been Best in the West. Dakota Livesay and his granddaughter Quinn recently shared a word about this great product. Get your coffee order in HERE.

From Dakota: “I discovered if I do a video with one grandchild I had to do one with the other. Because it was the choice of Old West cowboys we had to do a video about Arbuckles’ Cowboy Coffee.

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