Old West TV: Luke Short

Dakota Livesay tells us the story of the notorious Luke Short. He may have been at the famous OK Corral shoot out if it were not for some other life changing circumstances!

Chuckwagon: Jerky Gravy

Jerky, ground or chopped fine Little fat or grease
Flour Salt & pepper
Milk

Fry the jerky until done. Remove meat from grease, and add flour. Add milk, and salt & pepper. Cook gravy. Add meat to gravy.
The amount of each ingredient depends on how much gravy you want.

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

Tough Texas Town Is Killed

December 24, 1884 began like any other day in the small town of Helena, Texas. Helena was known as the toughest town on earth… and the town was filled with cowboys waiting for the spring cattle drives going north, Civil War veterans, highwaymen and gunmen.

Meanwhile, at one of the bars, a drunken cowboy shot off his pistol, a normal occurrence at the bars in Helena… But this bullet accidentally killed a 23-year-old Emmett Butler. Now, typically an accidental killing was given little notice. But Emmett Butler was the son of William G. Butler, the wealthiest rancher in the area.

Upon hearing of his son’s death, William Butler came to town demanding his son’s killer be turned over to him…And when the town refused, he left vowing to, “Kill the town that killed my son.”

Around Helena, little was thought of his remarks. No one, no matter how wealthy, could kill a town as prosperous as Helena, Texas. Besides, it was the county seat.

A year after Emmett Butler’s death, the San Antonio Railroad was laying track through the area. William Butler offered the railroad free right of way and $35,000 on one condition… And that was that the railroad would build its tracks seven miles southwest of Helena, Texas.

The railroad agreed, and after the track was laid, the new town of Karnes City, Texas sprang up next to the railroad tracks… and Helena businesses started moving to Karnes City.

The final blow came nine years later, almost to the day, after the death of Emmett Butler… when on December 21, 1893, the citizens of the county voted to move the county seat to Karnes City.

And Helena, Texas, true to the promise of William Butler… died.

Old West TV: Al Sieber

Cowboy To Cowboy is adding a new feature to our website, starting today we will be adding Dakota Livesay’s various television shows, appearances and documentaries to CowboyToCowboy.com. All pertain to the Wild West, and feature both the most fascinating characters of the Old West and his take on the events they participated in. We start the series off with renowned Indian scout Al Sieber:

Dakota Livesay tells us the story of an Arizonan that was tough through and through! Al Sieber was a scout, lawman and many other things all rolled into one.

Old West Book Review: Agnes Lake Hickok

agnes-lake-hickokAgnes Lake Hickok, Linda A. Fisher and Carrie Bowers, University of Oklahoma Press, 1-800-627-7377, $29.95, Hardcover.

The amazing story of the wife of Wild Bill Hickok appears for the first time in this wonderfully written and carefully researched volume.  Beginning with the early life of the girl born in Germany in 1826, the book tells how Agnes Messmann immigrated to the United States after a long ocean voyage.  Some family members died during the harrowing trip, but the rest eventually arrived at a German-speaking community north of Cincinnati, Ohio where they farmed.

At age twelve, Agnes witnessed her first circus.  After a sixteen-mile trip to town by wagon, the family was entertained by an elephant, an animal act featuring lions and leopards, trick dogs, an Indian rubber man, clowns and dancing horses.  Apparently this event impressed young Agnes so much that by her 19th birthday she declared her independence and eloped with a circus man named William Lake she met when another circus came to her hometown.

Against her family’s wishes, Agnes took up the grueling, albeit exciting life of a circus performer.  For nearly forty years the couple criss-crossed the eastern and southern United States working for a variety of circuses.  Lake himself had done equestrian acts, plus tricks and stunts with dogs and other animals, but he was primarily known for his clown act.  The Lakes even crossed the Atlantic to perform one season in Germany.  Back in America, Agnes was famous for her equestrienne “high school” routines riding highly trained horses, as well as her daring feat as a slack-wire walker.  Later, she worked as an animal trainer with lions and tigers.  Her daughter became famous as an expert circus equestrienne, too.  Agnes raised several children, and experienced the tragic deaths of two infants.  She understood the hard days of constant travel by wagon and later by train.  The shocking death of her husband at the hand of a murderer, tossed her into the position of running the circus by herself for several seasons.

In Abilene, Kansas, Agnes now widowed, met the dashing bachelor and town marshal known as “Wild Bill” Hickok.  Various versions of this encounter include the two people being instantly attracted to one another.  However, it was five years later when they met again, and married on March 5, 1876.  Their union has always been a curiosity since Hickok was an avowed bachelor, and Agnes was much older than him.  Shortly after their marriage, Hickok ventured to the Black Hills to make arrangements for the couple to settle on a ranch when he was murdered in August of 1876 in a Deadwood barroom while playing cards.

This is where popular history and Agnes Lake Hickok part company.  When he was killed, Wild Bill was already a legend in the west.  Since he had been acquainted with Calamity Jane, novelists and newspaper writers were quick to team those two up romantically. In reality, it is highly unlikely that Wild Bill and Calamity had any serious personal relationship.  Calamity Jane was a rollicking drunkard who made up enormous lies about herself, and Wild Bill was never known to consort with lewd women.  However, dime novels, plays, and eventually Hollywood movies found wonderful grist for their mill, thus Agnes was forgotten in connection with the life of Wild Bill.

Be that as it may, Wild Bill and Calamity rest in peace a few yards away from each other as a tourist attraction in a Deadwood cemetery.  Agnes died of old age in 1907, and rests in the family plot in Cincinnati, Ohio beside her first husband.

Agnes is seldom mentioned in connection with Wild Bill, but she had tremendous strength and fortitude and was one of the most admired circus performers of her day.  Bill and Agnes Lake’s Hippo-Olympiad and Mammoth Circus was one of the largest traveling tent shows in the United States.  It boasted of 240 men and horses and over the years entertained millions of people across the country. Known as the “Circus Queen,” with or without Wild Bill, Agnes Lake Hickok is a legend in her own right.

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

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

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