John Heath – Old West Lynching

John Heath old west lynchingOn December 16, 1883, five masked men attempted to rob a store in Bisbee, Arizona. The robbery went bad, and the masked men started shooting at bystanders. They killed two men instantly. A third man died later. Tragically, a pregnant woman with her child, watching from a window in a nearby building, was also killed. This led to an old west lynching.
           
In response to these brutal murders, a posse was assembled. John Heath, a local businessman, volunteered to lead it. When the posse returned empty handed, there was quite a discussion as to which way the killers had gone. Most of the posse members felt John Heath had done a poor job of tracking the robbers.
               
Although the robbers wore masks, several residents recognized them as men who had been hanging around Bisbee, and over the next couple of weeks townspeople started remarking about seeing John Heath and the killers together prior to the robbery.
 
It was later discovered that John Heath was actually the leader of the gang. The plan from the beginning was for John not to participate in the robbery. And, when the posse was formed, he volunteer to lead it not toward the fleeing murderers, but away from them.
 
John Heath was tried, and convicted of second-degree murder. Not satisfied, Heath’s lawyer asked for a new trial. There was universal dissatisfaction in Bisbee with the second-degree murder conviction. In addition, they didn’t like the possibility that John Heath might be set free in a new trial. And in the Old West when there was dissatisfaction with a verdict the people took action.
 
A group of almost 500 people got John Heath out of jail, and strung him up to a telegraph pole. The citizens of Bisbee would not be trifled with.     

I See By Your Outfit, Historic Cowboy Gear of the Northern Plains

I See By Your Outfit, Historic Cowboy Gear I See By Your Outfit, Historic Cowboy Gear of the Northern Plains, Tom Lindmier & Steve Mount, High Plains Press, Glendo, Wyoming. $19.95, Paperback. Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index.

Here is yet another non-fiction winner published by High Plains Press.  Authors Tom Lindmier and Steve Mount have joined forces, writing a wonderfully accurate book filled with information about what real cowboys of the late 1800s looked like and wore on the American Northern Plains.

Every bit of clothing is described, from hats to boots, including favorite equipment used with their horses. Saddles, bits, bridles and spurs, ropes, saddle blankets and more fill these pages.  Readers find a list of names of providers of clothing and horse equipment like Montgomery Ward, Sears, Roebuck, and Porter Saddle and Harness Company appear, including the prices.  Additionally, the authors have not forgotten the guns.  Every type of shootin’ iron the old-time cowboys used are pictured and discussed.  Names like Spencer, Sharps and Winchester fill the chapter on revolvers and rifles.

The book is filled with original photographs showing cowboys wearing shotgun chaps, mohair “woolies”, and batwings.  Most men wore vests, a garment practical for all weather besides having pockets to stuff watches and other valuables.  You won’t see fancy Stetsons, but a different shaped, mostly-flat brimmed hat meant to resist gusty winds.  It was known as “Boss of the Plains” and looked nothing like the hat Roy Rogers wore.  The book explains how the cowboy clothing and horse gear was mostly meant for practicality rather than rodeo flair.  These cowboys needed jeans, shirts and gloves to protect them from all the harsh elements from saddle sores to rope burns.  Spurs were meant to keep a horse alert to sudden starts, and bits with rollers and chains had their practical uses, too.

Page after page keeps the reader intrigued with good information as well as some personal letters written by the cowboys themselves as they told about life on a cattle drive.  The many photographs are particularly intriguing showing the men at work, or sitting on the ground beside a campfire.  Near the chuck wagon stands a sullen cook wiping his hands down his greasy apron while a cigarette dangles from his lip.  (This leaves you wondering what may have fallen into the stew.)  The dust, the campfire smoke, the rough and ready cows and horses are all pictured here.

The chuck wagon was home. Pots, pans, Dutch ovens, water barrels and stacks of coffee, flour, sides of bacon, beans, sugar, dried apples and peaches, plus rice made up the load.  There were canned tomatoes mixed with the emergency medical supplies.  Chuck wagons and how they operated is explained, while another vehicle called a “bed wagon” was included in the roundups, but is seldom seen in movies.  This wagon carried the cowboy’s gear…blankets and bedrolls, and other personal items necessary for the long trips.

Readers learn something new with every page, the old-time pictures are marvelous.  Some studio photos the cowboys had made of themselves shaved and clipped gives us a glimpse of their showoff side, too.

Several of the pictures taken on the range show Nate Champion, a hero of the Johnson County War.  Nate, a brazen tough-guy who stood up to the big ranchers, was murdered by a gang of Texas gunslingers for hire.  Nate’s tragic story is told elsewhere, but he’s shown right here in the middle of things, riding with his pals reminding us what a real western hero was all about.

Whether you are reading for fun, or a serious writer/researcher working on an old-west project requiring authenticity, this is the book for you.

Publisher’s Note: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de Ia Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including Death For Dinner, the Benders of (Old) Kansas, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York 10988. www.silklabelbooks.com

Chuckwagon: Buffalo Stew For An Army

Buffalo StewBuffalo Stew For An Army:

2 large size buffalo

Lots of brown gravy

Cut buffalo into bite size pieces. This may take up to two months.

Put in a very large pot and add enough gravy to cover the meat.
Add vegetables as desired.

Cook stew over a fire for about 4 weeks at 400 degrees.

Periodically add water and stir.

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

Benjamin Rush Milam – Texas, Mexico and the Anglos

Benjamin Rush Milam Texas, Mexico and the AnglosBenjamin Rush Milam was born in 1788 in Frankfort, Kentucky. He served in the War of 1812, and in 1818, along with other Anglos, he went to Texas, and as was necessary for land ownership there, became a Mexican citizen. During this time, Texas, Mexico and the Anglos had a difficult relationship. Mexico both welcomed and feared the Anglos coming to Texas. Eventually, Mexico started imposing unfair regulations on the Anglos. And, in 1835, when Santa Ana established himself as dictator, Milam renounced his Mexican citizenship and joined the rag-tag army of Anglos fighting for the independence of Texas.
Following the Texas army’s capture of Goliad in which he participated, Milam was sent on a scouting trip to the southwest. When he returned, the Texas army was on the outskirts of San Antonio. But, to Milam’s disappointment, the Texas generals had decided to postpone the attack on San Antonio until spring. Milam was aware that Santa Ana’s forces were heading toward Texas with enough troops to suppress the rebellion, and he worried that to hesitate meant defeat. So, he went before the troops and made an impassioned plea asking: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?”
Three hundred men volunteered. And on December 5, they started their attack on San Antonio. The fighting took place house-to-house and hand-to-hand. Four days later, on December 9, with 200 Mexican soldiers dead and as many injured, the commanding general surrendered the city to the Texans.
Unfortunately, Benjamin Milam wasn’t there to celebrate. He had been shot by a sniper two days into the battle. Incidentally, had he survived, he would have probably been one of the Texans defending the Alamo from Santa Ana the following March.

Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee

Wyatt Earp, Boxing RefereeWyatt Earp had left behind his days in Tombstone. He was now living as a gentleman in San Francisco. Because of his interest in boxing and his celebrity status, on December 2, 1896, Wyatt was asked to referee a championship-boxing match between Fitzsimmons and Sharkey. The purse was $10,000. Winner take all. Here is the story of Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee:
           
Things didn’t start out well for Wyatt. He arrived at the arena with a gun. It had to be taken away by the police.
               
Boxing was considered the sport of the common man… but this match was different. Prominent businessmen, police commissioners and superior court judges were there. Even women attended the event… Most wore veils, but some were brazen enough to go bare faced.
 
Fitzsimmons was the favorite, and most of the money was on him. Even though Fitzsimmons told his corner men at the end of the third round that he would finish Sharkey in the next round, it didn’t happen. Sharkey held up his side of the fight until the seventh. And then he started fading.
 
Now Sharkey had a reputation of sneaking in low blows, and maybe this experience was used to accomplish what happened next, because in the eighth round Sharkey, after a mix-up of blows, fell to the mat claiming a foul. Referee Earp, agreed, and declared Sharkey the winner.
 
No one in the arena saw the foul, and people started mumbling about a fixed fight. Fitzsimmon’s people took it to court. The judge declared that since boxing wasn’t legal, the courts were not in a position to make a determination on the outcome of the fight.
 
Proof of a fixed fight was never established. But right after the fight, Wyatt Earp chose to leave the city by the bay.        
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