Lone Survivor Of Little Big Horn

Following George Custer’s defeat at the Little Big Horn the military was looking for a bright spot. That bright spot was the lone survivor on the battlefield, Comanche. Now, I said Comanche, not a Comanche. For Comanche was the name of Captain Myles Keogh’s horse. Let me explain.
It all started on April 3, 1868 when the army purchased a 15-hand bay gelding. The horse was taken to Fort Leavenworth and received a “US” brand. Captain Keogh, looking for a backup mount, bought the horse for $90.
In September of 1868, Captain Keogh was involved in the Sand Hills battle with Comanche Indians. Keogh rode his backup mount during the battle. The horse was shot with an arrow in the right hindquarter, but showed no signs of the injury, which wasn’t discovered until after the battle. Keogh immediately made his backup horse; his primarily mount, and named him “Comanche.”

Keogh rode Comanche until the Battle of the Little Big Horn where he was killed. Following the battle, Comanche was found casually drinking water from the Little Bighorn River. He had seven wounds.

The Indians had either killed or taken all the military horses, but not Comanche. The reason was that during the battle Keogh had dismounted, holding the reigns in one hand as he shot his pistol with the other. When Keogh was killed he maintained a hold on the reigns. And no Indian would take the horse when a dead man was holding it.

Becoming a symbol of the men who had fallen, Comanche was retired and spent time at various military posts, until his death at the age of 29. He was then stuffed and put on display at the University of Kansas.

Book Review: Six-Shooters and Shifting Sands

512-Y18uBYL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Author Bob Alexander had a long career in law enforcement.  Combining this with his love of Texas, he now specializes in writing the biographies of various outlaws as well as lawmen, and here he takes aim at Captain Frank Jones of the Texas Rangers.

The book contains carefully researched information about the life and times of this brave man who was born in 1856 and died young, at age 37 in 1893.  Jones’ remarkable career is filled with straight-shooting combined with faithful adherence to the laws of his State of Texas.  These Rangers withstood unbelievable hardship as they helped create a safe environment for ranchers, settlers, townsfolk and adventurers alike.  They dealt with never ending long days in the saddle, cold and heat, sudden political harangues and many uncertainties regarding their jobs and futures.  Many of these men had no real personal lives, they were expected to be nearly superhuman in their promise to keep the peace.

Captain Frank Jones was born during tumultuous times in Texas during which Comanche swooped down on homesteaders, often kidnapping and murdering men, women and children.  Comanche raiders combined with white rustlers, robbers, Mexican bandits and many miles between settlements and help was not a place for folks lacking grit.  Frank’s mother Keziah Jones gave birth to her son on their lonely ranch while marauding Comanche terrorized the neighborhood.

Keziah’s photograph shows a severe, straight-laced and grim woman whose stare alone could stop most Comanche in their tracks.  This photo and many others in the book show Frank’s family members, Ranger cronies, and important political figures he knew.  With surnames like Hogg, Outhouse and Outlaw, this is better than what any fiction writer could possibly make up.

When Frank Jones joined the Frontier Battalion (later known as the Texas Rangers) he began chasing outlaws, and riding to the scenes of robberies, cattle rustling, fence cutting, murder, and every other depredation imaginable.  No one could ask for a more exciting profession.  Guns, horses, brawls, skulduggery. . . , it’s all here.

The book delves mostly into the career of Frank Jones, and touches only briefly upon his personal life.  We find out he was married twice, his first wife was in fragile health and died soon after the couple’s second child was born.  Frank had to put both children to live with relatives while he pursued his career.  Sadly, the second child soon died.  Several years later Frank married a divorced woman who had one son from her first marriage.  Her ex was also a lawman, and a friend of Frank’s.  She was pregnant with Frank’s son when Frank was killed during an ambush perpetrated by a gang of Mexican outlaws at a place called Pirate Island.

Frank Jones’ story ends with a tragic and fiery shoot-out between his group of Texas Rangers, and a Mexican gang well-hidden behind adobe walls.  The Rangers rode right into a trap, and were cut down in a thunderous fusillade, leaving Captain Jones mortally wounded but still fighting back until his dying breath.

Today Frank Jones lies buried beneath his memorial monument in a cemetery near Ysleta, Texas.  A sentimental photograph shows his old pals and comrades in arms circling his grave in remembrance.  We see tough old Rangers in their twilight years respectfully resting their hands on the grave marker, their eyes shining with sadness, courage and respect.  Some of these men were with Frank at Pirate’s Island the day he died.

Bob Alexander has once again written a valuable and memorable biography of an old-time Texas Ranger who deserves to be remembered.  This book belongs in your Texas Ranger collection.

Author’s Note:  The Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many published books, including the novel Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 (845-726-3434)  www.silklabelbooks.com.

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

Book Review: Killer of Witches

Killer of WitchesIn Killer of Witches, the Spur Award winning author W. Michael Farmer delivers a carefully researched story of a Mescalero Apache’s adventures. Beginning in 1865, the boy, along with a small group consisting of his family and friends, “jump” the reservation at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico Territory where they have been unhappily confined.

Their well-planned escape in dead of night is rewarded when they join a larger group of Apache fugitives hiding in Mexico. The reader is swept along with the Apaches, particularly Yellow Boy, as he grows into a much-feared warrior. He rides, shoots, becomes expert with bow and arrow as well as guns and practices all the rituals and traditions of his People. Along the way he meets some famous Apaches such as Juh and Victorio.

The location of the story includes New Mexico Territory, Arizona Territory, and Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. The reader really feels the descriptions of a harrowing life on the bronco trail. Heat, cold, storms, water shortages, dangers from wild animals and possible ambush by American troops, Mexican soldiers or renegade killers along the border is constant.

Yellow Boy dreams of a girl he likes, but wisely chooses another more suited to his dangerous lifestyle. Juanita fights beside him and is a woman to be counted on. She’s strong and smart, and totally devoted to her man.

A cantankerous old white man named Rufus Pike takes Yellow Boy under his wing and teaches him passable English as well as the expert handling of guns. Yellow Boy is tough and determined yet a thoughtful young man who tries to understand the rituals of the Apache god, Ussen. Both Apache and Spanish words and phrases are found throughout the story including their meanings.

As the story progresses, Yellow Boy has a frightening dream during which he thinks he has been spoken to by Ussen. He is warned that a mysterious apparition too horrible to think about has attacked Yellow Boy’s family campground in the mountains. When Yellow Boy rides to the rescue he discovers that sure enough, a sort-of Comanchero cross between a Mexican and a Comanche giant has murdered many of Yellow Boy’s relatives including his beloved father.

Known as “The Witch”, this hideous individual has taken over a hacienda and surrounds himself with captive women, fellow marauders, scalp hunters, murderers and thieves. The Witch, covered with tattoos, bird feathers and paint, dresses in an odd getup found only in poor Yellow Boy’s wildest nightmares. Armed with a pet owl trained to kill humans, this Witch becomes the villain of all villains. Quite likely the guy has smoked a little too much peyote.

Yellow Boy, armed only with his aged grandfather, his favorite gun, and two boyhood pals, must settle the score. The reader knows he’s being put-on by a clever and imaginative author who keeps readers glued to their book far into the night.

Well…, not too far into the night. I suggest you finish the story in the morning in the light of day when The Witch’s horrible face, his murderous rages, his gang of cutthroats, his mistreatment of women, and his diabolical urges to torture and kill anybody defying his authority won’t seem so scary. Besides, we have to find out what happens.

Does Yellow Boy beat The Witch? Read the book. You won’t be disappointed. But be careful, this book is the first of a trilogy featuring Yellow Boy and his nemesis, so we suspect even after turning the last page, there is still a lot more hard riding to do. Get your copy HERE.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many books including Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988-0700. www.silklabelbooks.com

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

Colorow and His People

ColorowThis story is about an Indian chief who used intimidation and psychological warfare, more than warfare to keep the whites out of his land.
Colorow was a 300-pound surly leader of a band of Northern Ute. His weight was the result of his love for biscuits covered in syrup, which he regularly got by intimidating settler housewives in the Denver area.
But Colorow wasn’t always that size. As a boy he was a Comanche captured by the Ute. However, because of his skills in battle and his leadership qualities, he was made a chief. Although Colorow never really declared war with the whites, he was a persistent thorn in their sides. In 1876 the Ute owned 32 million acres in western Colorado, and Colorow and his people made sure they kept it by threatening and intimidating any miners or settlers who entered the area.
In 1878 a new Indian agent arrived in town. Agent Nathan Meeker’s objective was to transform the Ute into farmers. At the same time Colorado elected a governor on the platform that “the Utes must go.” It was only a matter of time before the sparks lit the gunpowder. And it happened when Meeker, fearing an uprising…because he cut the Ute’s rations to a bare starvation point…called in troops. Colorow ambushed the troops, killing 13, and wounding 43. At the same time another group attacked Meeker’s family, and killed all of them. A truce was arranged. And the Ute who killed the Meekers were punished, but Colorow’s attack was considered an engagement of war.
Again in 1887 a skirmish broke out. As with the one before, it was needless. This one ended when both sides ran out of ammunition.
Finally, on December 11, 1888, Colorow died. It has been estimated that Colorow’s persistent psychological intimidation of any white entering the Ute lands probably delayed the settling of the central Rocky Mountains by at least a decade.

Elizabeth Ann Clifton

Elizabeth Clifton     Do you think you’ve had a rough life? I can assure you that when we get through with the story of Elizabeth Ann Clifton; you’ll feel your life is a piece of cake.

     Born in 1825, Elizabeth Ann Clifton had no schooling and suffered with bouts of epilepticy. At the age of sixteen, she married Alexander Carter. They became ranchers outside of Dallas. Elizabeth managed the ranch, and ran a boarding house. Her husband and his father ran a freight company. In 1857, both her husband and his father were mysteriously killed.

A little over a year later Elizabeth married a Lieutenant Sprague. He disappeared eighteen months later. Elizabeth continued with the boarding house and ranch, becoming one of the most prosperous people in the area. At the age of 36, Elizabeth married a third time…one of her ranch’s cowboys. They were married a year and a half when he was murdered.

Surviving three husbands was tough enough to bear. But the worse was yet to come. In 1864, when she was 39, her ranch was attacked by Comanche, during which Elizabeth’s daughter and daughter’s son were both killed. Elizabeth, her thirteen-year-old son and two surviving granddaughters were taken captive.

Elizabeth was sold to the Kiowa. One of her granddaughters froze to death during the winter of 1864. The other spent nine months as a captive. The Comanche tattooed her arms and forehead before releasing her.

After spending twelve months in captivity, Elizabeth was rescued. And on August 27, 1866, at the age of 41, she headed home. Elizabeth reunited with her granddaughter. Three years later, she married again, and lived quietly until her death at the age of 57.

Truly, it took strong women to survive in the Old West.

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