Denver’s First Trial

When the cry of silver or gold goes out, immediately hundreds and even thousands of people flock to the area. Overnight, the area is dotted with crude structures called homes. And stores, restaurants and the mandatory saloons pop up right along with the homes. What doesn’t happen immediately is the town’s infrastructure… regulations to insure people are civilized, and a means of enforcement when people aren’t civilized. That’s what happened with Denver, Colorado. But, on January 13, 1859, some of the citizens of Denver decided it was time for law and order. This led to Denver’s first trial.
               
A makeshift court was assembled along the Platte River, which would always be known as the locale of Denver’s first trial. The hardened criminal was brought before the court. The man was charged with stealing… six cans of oysters. That’s right oysters. They were a delicacy to the miners. And, those six cans were probably the last oysters in town. Besides, they were valued at $30.
 
He was found guilty. And, since there was no jail in the area, his punishment was 20 lashes. However, there were those who thought he should be hanged.
 
When they discovered that he was drunk at the time he stole the oysters, and, since most of the jury were probably heavy drinkers themselves, the final verdict was amended. They decided the offender should be banned from the settlement.
 
However, realizing that the draw of gold might mean that he would sneak back, they added one more caveat to his sentence. That was that if he returned to the village anyone could shoot him on sight.
 
I understand he was never heard from again. 
Denver's First Trial - Six Cans of Oysters

The Cowboy Kid

Johnny Baker was born on January 12, 1869. While still a young kid he met and became enthralled with Buffalo Bill Cody. At the age of 9 little Johnny would hold Buffalo Bill’s horse, and run errands for him. At this time Buffalo Bill was appearing on the stage and the subject of many a dime novel. About five years later Buffalo Bill came up with the idea of starting a Wild West show. Johnny Baker was only 14 years of age… but he talked both his parents and Buffalo Bill into letting him join up. It was discovered that Johnny was a pretty good shot. So he became the shows trick shot expert under the name “The Cowboy Kid.”
The Cowboy Kid, Johnny Baker
One of the features of the Wild West show was a shootout between Annie Oakley and The Cowboy Kid. Whether planned or not, the Cowboy Kid never won.
 
Even after the Wild West show closed, Johnny remained loyal to Buffalo Bill. And, after Buffalo Bill’s death Johnny tried resurrecting Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. But it didn’t last long. Still wanting to be a part of the circus atmosphere, he went to work for the Miller 101 Shows, which were more like a rodeo. For a while Johnny was their arena director. And then they closed their doors.
 
Johnny still yearned for the excitement he experienced while traveling with Buffalo Bill. He started working with the town of Denver, Colorado to open a museum. And in 1921 the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum was opened.
 
Johnny Baker ran the museum until his death. It stands today, not just a monument to a great showman, but also an indication of the love Buffalo Bill’s unofficial foster son had for the showman.

Heard Around the Bunkhouse #2 – Old West Terms

Old West TermsIn our feature Heard Around the Bunkhouse we bring you Old West terms and sayings that they used back in the Old West. Hope you enjoy them, and send us your favorite terms from those past times.

FISH – A cowboy’s rain slicker.  Slicker was manufactured by a company whose trademark was a fish.

RICH – Amusing, funny, improbable.

BILK – Cheat.

THE WHOLE KIT AND CABOODLE – The entire thing.

BAZOO – Mouth as in “Shut your big bazoo.”

GONER – Lost, dead.

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

Old West Book Review: The Ranger Ideal, Texas Rangers in the Hall of Fame

The Ranger Ideal; Texas RangersThe Ranger Ideal, Texas Rangers in the Hall of Fame, Volume 1, Darren L. Ivey, University of North Texas press $39.95, Cloth. 672 p.p., Photos, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

For anyone interested in the history of the Texas Rangers, this book is a must read.  It is the first of a three-book series telling about the lives of the most important men involved with the founding of the Texas Rangers.  The time period it covers is from 1823 – 1861, and includes Stephen F. Austin, John C. Hays, William A. A. “Big Foot” Wallace, Samuel H. Walker, John S. Ford, and Lawrence S. Ross.  All of these men have been inducted into the Hall of Fame and Museum at Waco, Texas.

The author points out in his Preface that several of these men are well-known, but the others have been mostly overlooked and do not have biographies or even extensive coverage in history books.  All of these men are honored in the Texas Ranger Museum at Fort Fisher located near the Texas city of Waco. Visitors to the museum find Ranger displays including guns, clothing, saddles, equipment and artwork.  The museum opened to the public in 1968, and continues its work educating the public about the important contributions Rangers made to Texas.

Readers find a timeline of Ranger history to help us better understand the enormous upheavals Texas went through beginning in 1821 when Americans established a colony on land that originally belonged to Mexico.  Political changes are explained as Texas went from Mexican control to annexation to the United States in 1845.

Each of the seven men featured here were vastly patriotic, and did not hesitate to join in any and all of the fights, shoot-outs, military campaigns, long marches, sometimes capture and imprisonment in Mexico, and including every hardship imaginable.  By the 1860s, two Rangers featured here joined the Confederate Army when civil war was declared and Texas went with the South.  The battle records of these men are shown here, their adventures and derring-do included a multitude of battles and skirmishes reminiscent of Bruce Catton’s Civil War books where readers follow the amazing courage these soldiers displayed under the most difficult circumstances.

In 1860 Ranger John Ford was involved in the recovery of the highly publicized white woman Cynthia Ann Parker who, when still a child, was taken captive by Comanches.  By the time she was rescued years later, she had mostly forgotten her white way of live, and even how to speak English.

Of the seven Rangers featured in the book, only three ever married while the others seem to have dedicated their lives to Texas.  Two of these men died fighting.

The author has done an impressive job of researching for truths related to this material. Anyone looking for information about the Texas Rangers will find this tome invaluable.

Darren L. Ivey is to be commended for his good writing and careful research into an important topic about the American West.  In addition to The Ranger Ideal, Texas Rangers in the Hall of Fame his writing includes a previously published book on this subject titled The Texas Rangers; A Registry and History.

Thus far, thirty-one individuals have been honored in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. If you are a Texas Ranger fan, you will want this one for your Old West library, and will look forward to reading the next two books in the series.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many books including Death For Dinner; The Benders of (Old) Kansas, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York, 10988-0700. Ph. (845) 726-3434. www.silklabelbooks.com

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

Christmas Day 1890

Christmas Day 1890. How the Various Churches Will Observe the Festival.
There will be Services Appropriate to the Season and in Most of the Churches Special Music.

Christmas Day 1890December 24, 1890, Daily, Woodland, California – In all of the churches of this city Christmas day will be fittingly observed. The sermons and in most of the churches there will be special musical service.

At St. Luke’s Church the quartette choir of St. Luke’s will give a full musical service appropriate to Christmas day, tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock. The choir is composed of Della Prior-Pierce, Minnie Prior, Wilbur Blair and C. W. Bush; Maggie Ellis, organist. Mrs. Pierce will sing the solo to the beautiful anthem of Williams’. “There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Fields,” and Adolf Adams’ famous “Noel” for the offertory.

Dudley Buck’s festival Te Deum will be a feature of the service.

All are cordially invited to be present. Sunday school at 10 o’clock.

There will be special services in the Congregational Church both morning and evening. Rev. Joel Martin will preach at 11 o’clock. Mr. Martin is well known in the East as an earnest, logical and attractive speaker. Since coming to this coast he has held very successful meetings in Oakland, where large audiences have greeted him in the several churches where he has spoken. At 7 p.m. there will be special children’s Christmas concert service in which the children will take an active part and Mr. Martin will speak. Special music has been prepared. On the afternoons and evenings of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Mr. Martin will also hold services in the church. A cordial invitation is extended to all to attend these services.

The services at the Christian Church tonight will be an old-fashioned Christmas tree. A short program will be given by the Sunday school at 7:30 o’clock. The tree will be beautifully decorated, as the young ladies of the church are sparing no pains to make it the most attractive and interesting that they have ever given. The service tomorrow will be of a special nature. Miss Mary Browning will sing “The New Born King” at the morning service. Special music by the choir in the evening. Subject of the morning sermon at the Baptist Church tomorrow, but there will be a meeting of the young people and Sunday school at the usual hours. The Sunday school children will give an entertainment this evening, after which a Christmas tree will be utilized to distribute the favors of good Santa Claus.

At the Church of the Holy Rosary the first mass will be celebrated at 8 o’clock and the second mass at half past 10. The pupils of Holy Rosary Academy will render appropriate Christmas hymns and carols.

At the M. E. Church Rev. J. A. Van Anda will preach Christmas sermons at 11 o’clock in the morning and 7:30 p.m. The music will be of an appropriate character. This evening there will be a Christmas tree in the church to which all friends are invited.
The pastor, Rev. C. O. Steele, will preach a Christmas sermon at the M. E. Church south at 11 a.m. There will also be other appropriate services. The Sabbath school will begin at 10 a.m. At 6:15 the league will meet.

The Second Christian Church will hold Christmas tree exercises next Monday evening.

At the German Church there will be a musical and literary program and a Christmas tree, and tomorrow Rev. J. Endter will preach a Christmas sermon and there will be special music.

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