Old West TV: Texas John Slaughter

Texas John Slaughter was cheated out of his win by Barney Gallagher. To retrieve his money, Slaughter went all the way to New Mexico, where he found him on Chisum’s ranch and shot him down. Dakota Livesay gives us an explanation of this and also how Tombstone was won!

Old West Book Review: Riding For The Brand

RidingRiding For The Brand. Author, rancher, researcher and historian, Michael Pettit is a Cowden family descendant who chronicles his sentimental journey about trailing his family history in this book.  His ancestors began migrating toward Texas in the 1850s, seeking land and opportunities in a country where few white settlers had gone before them.  From place to place, the Cowdens found fertile valleys and water thinking this was their final stop.  However, drought and vagaries of Comanche wars plus uncertain boundary lines caused them to move yet again.  Over the years they migrating all the way across Texas and eventually into New Mexico where some family members remain today on their 50,000 acre ranch near Santa Rosa, in the western part of the state.

Pettit follows his family trail using personal letters, oral accounts, plus newspaper stories and legal documents found in libraries and courthouses.  He visited lonely graveyards, always seeking the names of relatives who passed this way. They were born, lived, fought the elements, while standing up to every conceivable difficulty that made ranching pioneers tough.  Cowdens lost family members from old age, childhood plagues and ranch accidents, but still they persevered.

Life for the Cowden women going back to the old days was never easy. Early graves are scattered across Texas, showing how many of these women died young.  We can only imagine the hard work and drudgery on these ranches combined with moving to new locations and setting up households yet again inside hardscrabble shacks and raising large families many miles from friends and neighbors, town and supplies, or doctors and medical attention.  These ranch women put in long, hard days and learned self-sufficiency.

While discovering facts about his family, Pettit finds a wealth of information about the land, weather conditions, Indian culture, economic woes, the oil business, cattle raising and cowboy life.  He delves into old time cattle drives, and the stories of cowboys who worked for the ranchers.  The book explains how early ranchers eventually organized Cattle Raisers Associations to protect themselves from rustlers and other woes.  Brand inspectors were hired, while new brands and symbols were registered.  Ranchers shared information regarding disease, vaccinations, predators, and opportunities in the cattle market.

Meanwhile, Pettit spends time on his relative’s ranch in New Mexico, telling the history of the outfit while helping with modern day ranch work.  The horses, the branding, the care of livestock and life inside the bunkhouse telling tall tales for entertainment makes reading a combination of Old West history entwined with present-day life on a large working cattle ranch.

Pettit’s storytelling is straightforward, honest, and always with an eye for accuracy.  He keeps a diary which in itself is filled with important data as he makes the rounds each day.  He knows his family, understands the people and tries to explain how life on these ranches is never easy.  As the book evolves, it becomes apparent that modern-day Cowdens have continued their ancestral way of life.  Perhaps they now have telephones, pickup trucks and other modern conveniences, but this rugged existence is never easy and certainly not for the frivolous or faint of heart.  However, the Cowdens wouldn’t have it any other way.

Riding for the Brand is warmly written and gives readers a wonderful insight into modern day ranching as well as an appreciation for the old Texas cattle ranching days. Saddle up and get this book HERE.

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

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

Texas Joins The United States

In 1837 Mexico didn’t like Texas being an independent nation. And then, when Texas became our 28th state, it was just too much. With diplomacy breaking down, in 1846 President Polk declared war on Mexico.
 
In battles it wasn’t unusual for the Mexican forces to outnumber the U. S. forces as much as four to one. But superior weapons and battle tactics gave the American forces victory. And in less than a year and a half, American soldiers occupied Mexico City.
 
Envisioning the possibility of additional slave states, southern politicians started calling for the conquest of all of Mexico. The northern states, not wanting additional slave states, not only opposed the conquest of Mexico; they introduced bills that said “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” would exist in any territories acquired by the Mexican War.
 
Finally, on February 2, 1848, after three months of negotiations, a treaty was signed in the Mexican city of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
 
The treaty said the United States would pay Mexico 15 million dollars. The U. S. would take care of any claims American individuals had against Mexico, by paying these Americans 3.25 million dollars. In turn the United States got over one million square miles of territory. It included all or part of what is now California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.
 
Counting the money given to Mexico and the Americans, it cost the United States about $15 a square mile. Not a bad deal.
Stephen Austin

The Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny

President James Monroe

Two speeches, each delivered on December 2, that happened to be 22 years apart, resulted in affecting the development of the west more than any other single action during the 1800’s.

On December 2, 1823, during his seventh speech before Congress, President James Monroe introduced the concept that, for reasons of national security, all European influence should be removed from the areas immediately surrounding the United States.  So, the United States started peacefully acquiring territories owned by European countries.  This policy came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine.

On December 2, 1845, 22 years later, President James Polk made his first address to Congress.  During that speech he reasserted the Monroe Doctrine.  But President Polk went one step beyond, by stating his willingness to use force, if necessary, in removing European influence from areas determined for the expansion of the United States.  President Polk felt that the expansion of the United States was its “manifest destiny.”

President James Polk

President Polk wanted the United States to annex Texas, acquire California and gain total control of the Oregon territory.  Standing in the way of our doing this were just the countries of Mexico, Great Britain and France.

Fortunately, Great Britain peacefully surrendered its claim on the Oregon territory south of the 49th parallel.  With the annexation of the Republic of Texas into the United States, Mexico declared war.  As the United States entered into the war, President Polk was afraid that Great Britain and France would come in on the side of Mexico.  But that never happened.

In 1846, with the defeat of Mexico and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hadalgo, the vision of President Polk’s speech of December 2, 1845 was realized.  The final pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place.  The United States now controlled the areas that one day would become the Pacific Northwest, Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

Old West Book Review: Dragoons in Apacheland

Dragoons in Apacheland Dragoons in Apacheland details the fifteen years from 1846 through 1861 when the U.S. Army was engaged in dealing with the Apaches in southern New Mexico Territory. The conflicts and misunderstandings led to daily turmoil as the dragoons tried bringing peace and order to the region.

Deadly Apache raids, heat, dust, long marches in the desert, lack of decent food and shortages of equipment were only part of what the men were forced to put up with.  Army posts usually consisted of crude huts, shabby tents, harsh weather, sick horses and mules, and sometimes squadrons of mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, civilian leaders and politicians from Washington to the Territorial governors, lawmen and regional mayors only added to the confusion.  No one seemed to agree on how to handle this new land with its new problems.  At the same time, various Apache bands including Mescalero, Mimbres, Mogollon and Chiricahua fought to hold their ancestral homelands.  Indian raiding, kidnapping, horse and mule rustling and murder occurred regularly.  Some of these Indians took the blame for others, while a few wise old leaders like Mangas Coloradas tried to negotiate peace.  Mangas knew instinctively that the wave of white settlers would eventually wipe out the Apache bands by sheer numbers alone.  He held off the inevitable as long as he could.  The disputes raged endlessly between military men, Apaches, Mexicans, white settlers, and adventurers crossing the territory.

The author gives detailed accounts of the many skirmishes and battles between Apaches and the U. S. Military during those fifteen years prior to the Civil War.  Anyone doing research about the Apache Wars and what led up to the 1880s Indian Wars will find this a valuable source of information.  Readers will find this book a wonderfully detailed and accurate account of the pre-Civil War period in New Mexico Territory not often written about.  This time period seems to have been skimmed over until now, perhaps because people think of the Indian Wars having always to do with the names we are familiar with such as Geronimo, who came much later.

Kiser points out the Apaches presented an obstacle to those politicians, ranchers, farmers and businessmen working toward civilizing the new frontier.  Meanwhile, the Apaches driven from their land had good reasons of their own to offer resistance to those encroaching on their old way of life.  Both sides of the problem are presented here in careful detail, without taking sides.  The reader is given the opportunity to judge for his or herself what can happen when one civilization takes over another.

The book has maps showing the Chiricahua Apache homelands that extended from New Mexico (part of what is now southeastern Arizona) and far into Sonora, Mexico.  Eventually part of New Mexico Territory would split off and become Arizona Territory.  At the outbreak of the Civil War, the American troops were called back east for the horrific fighting about to begin. At that time New Mexico was not a priority for the United States government until the Civil War ended, and troops returned to the Western Frontier.

Carefully written and accurately documented, the author has gleaned his information from military records, U.S. government documents and publications, newspaper accounts and important books and papers on the subject.  Personally, he explains how when he was a child, his father took him to some sites of the old abandoned forts.  Here, sifting through the debris with a metal detector, he found a few precious mementos that piqued his interest to eventually write this book, an important addition to your Old West library. Be sure and get your copy HERE.

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

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

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