Chuckwagon: Pie Plant Pie

Pie Plant Pie3 cups pie plant (rhubarb)
1 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon full flour 
1 teaspoon full butter
Pie crust for top and bottom

Wash pie plant, do not skin; cut into small pieces.

Mix sugar and flour well with pie plant.

Place in crust, dot with butter and cover with upper crust.

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

Hog Ranches of Wyoming; Liquor, Lust and LiesThe Hog Ranches of Wyoming; Liquor, Lust and Lies Under Sagebrush Skies, Larry K. Brown, High Plains Press, (800-552-7819) $9.95, Paperback.

When the comment is made by those who know little about the Old West, “The Wild West is a Hollywood myth,” I always chuckle.  I can’t imagine life getting much wilder than at the “Hog Ranches” that appeared near almost every military fort on the old frontier.  Whiskey, women, card games, shoot-outs, music and murder were all part of these establishments built for the express purpose of separating lonely soldiers, wayward frontiersman and even cowboys from their wages.

This book centers around those infamous establishments far from law and order where good guys, bad guys, lawmen, cowpokes, soldiers and highwaymen gathered for a good old time.  The author has sifted through newspaper articles, court documents, letters and census records, Military Post Returns, and diaries for the facts regarding some Wyoming Hog Ranches we don’t usually read about in history books.

The origin of the name “Hog Ranch” suggests a certain unpleasantness about the property, but it is pointed out while hogs were sometimes raised here, the name probably referred to the lowdown characters who inhabited these walls.  How the name came to be has never been entirely proven, but what has been proven are the illicit activities that drew lonely people to these dens of iniquity.  Here they found camaraderie and enjoyed the crude buildings, rustic furniture, out-of-tune pianos, earthen floors, missed spittoons and mortal injuries that sometimes ended the careers of those who paid their money and took their chances.

With names like “Bad Man Charlie Anderson’s Hog Ranch”, and “Six Mile Hog Ranch”, they were visited by members of the Wild Bunch and even Alfred Packer, the notorious cannibal who had escaped from prison after dining on at least seven of his fellow travelers during a snow storm in the Rockies.

To say the characters found at these places were dangerous, is putting it mildly.  Calamity Jane worked for a time at the Six Mile Hog Ranch.  She is pictured in the book dressed in garb once worn by her military customers.  Calamity stares back at the camera while showing off a big pistol on her hip.  Other stories include women who helped their husbands run the saloons at these ranches and tell how they cheated customers when selling drinks.  One interesting character was “Old Mother Featherlegs” who ran her place of entertainment on the Cheyenne-Black Hills stage route in 1876.  The lady was said to have flowing red hair and wore a pair of long red pantalettes.  When riding horseback, she was compared by a local wag to a “feather-legged chicken in a high wind.”  In cahoots with some local road agents, Featherlegs hid their stolen money under her shack, but got mixed up with a trapper nicknamed “Dangerous Dick” who eventually murdered her for the dough.  Her body was found shot in the back; Dick’s moccasin prints were recognized nearby.

Murder, shoot-outs, venereal disease and double-cross were all part of the game people played when they associated with the hog ranches.  Tragedy struck in other ways as was evidenced by the tiny graves on nearby hillsides where some soiled doves buried children born here.  Cold, snow, dust and disease were all part of the desolate lifestyle known to these girls.

Some of the stories related here are humorous, some are harsh and sad.  This book is only 120 pages in length, but is filled of interesting material including photographs of some buildings, a few felons, a couple of sheriffs, and a peek into the wild side of life on the Old Frontier.

Grab a copy HERE.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale de la Garza is the author of numerous books including Wild Women of the Old West, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988-0700 (845) 726-3434

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

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?In 1826 Stephen Austin authorized a force of men to fight Indians. This group was the inspiration that inspired the Texas Legislature to form the Texas Rangers on November 24, 1835. They were formed, not as a law enforcement group, but to protect the Texas frontier from Comanche Indians and Mexican banditos crossing over the border. Why are they called Rangers? They were called Rangers because their job was to “range” over wide areas.
           
A private in the Texas Rangers would receive $1.25 per day. With this he took care of his food, clothing, ammunition and horse.
               
When the Civil War broke out, Texas went on the side of the Confederacy. Although the Rangers, as a group didn’t join the Confederacy, some of the members did. They formed a group called “Terry’s Texas Rangers.” And incidentally, this group was credited with originating the rebel yell.
 
After the Civil War; the conquest of the Indians; and Texas becoming a state, the Texas Rangers became the law enforcement agency of Texas.
 
Probably the most unique individual job the Rangers engaged in involved Judge Roy Bean, the law west of the Pecos. The Texas Rangers liked Roy Bean because he always handed down swift judgments. His justice may have been convoluted, but it was immediate, leaving the Rangers free to bring in more lawbreakers.
 
In 1896 Judge Bean was putting on a heavyweight prizefight, which was highly illegal in Texas. Although the fighters and the fans came from the U. S., the actual fight took place on a river sandbar just inside Mexico.
 
Making sure that all Texas laws were observed, a group of Texas Rangers stood on the Texas border, and observed the fight that, unfortunately, only lasted 90 seconds.        

Lindsey Applegate, Indian Agent

 Indian Agent Lindsey Applegate

Indian Agent Lindsey Applegate was born in Kentucky in 1808, later moving to Missouri. In 1822, fur trader William Ashley advertised for 100 “enterprising young men” for a fur trading expedition to Yellowstone. Even though he was just 14, Lindsey joined the expedition. After the expedition Lindsey came back to Missouri and worked in various businesses with his family.

           
At the age of 35 Lindsey, along with his two brothers migrated to Oregon, eventually moving to southern Oregon near present-day Salem. When the Rogue River War broke out in 1853, Lindsey formed a company to fight in the war. Following the war a treaty with the Umpqua Indians was developed and signed in Lindsey Applegate’s cabin. This, incidentally, was the only treaty signed with the Umpqua, and was not violated by either side.
               
In 1864 the Klamath and Modoc Indians signed a treaty with the government establishing the Klamath Reservation. Because of Lindsey’s favorable treatment of Indians, the tribes requested him to become the Indian agent for the reservation. This almost never happened in the Old West.
 
Unfortunately, Lindsey only served four years in this ill-fated post. Although the Klamath and Modoc Indians spoke a similar language, they were in no way friends. The Modoc, being the smaller of the two in size had a tough time. And when a group of them under the leadership of Captain Jack left to go back to their traditional grounds in California, Lindsey felt he was a failure and resigned his duties as an Indian Agent.
 
Lindsey Applegate died 27 years later on November 28, 1892. He always regretted not being successful in getting the Klamath and Modoc Indians to live peacefully on the same land, a failure that was more the result of the government’s lack of understanding of the Indian’s tribal differences.   

Old West Book Review: The Mysterious Private Thompson

Mysterious Private ThompsonThe Mysterious Private Thompson, Laura Leedy Gansler, Free Press a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., $25.00, Hardcover.

It is not unusual for women to become soldiers in our day and age, but back in the 1860s, it was shocking to think a girl would don men’s clothing, cut off her hair, change her name and join the Union Army.

This is the fascinating story of Emma Edmonds, born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1841.  The last of six children, five of whom were girls, Emma grew up on a hard-working farm in a remote wilderness with a father who let it be known he wanted sons.  In an effort to please her father, Emma learned to ride and shoot, follow a plow, split logs and work in the fields like a man to please her pa.  However, she was never quite good enough.  The girl developed a deep resentment toward men, read lots of books, and dreamed of becoming a missionary.  She finally ran away from home at seventeen when her father tried to marry her off to an elderly, newly widowed neighbor with a passel of children who needed a mother.

Hiding in the back of a carriage while her father was in the fields, Emma made her escape.  She worked briefly in a millinery store in town but feared her father would find her.  Desperate not to be dragged back to the farm, Emma hacked off her hair, dressed as a boy, and dared to answer an ad in an American newspaper advertising for help as a subscription salesman and book agent in the vicinity of Hartford, Connecticut.  Practicing masculine walk and talk, Emma ventured to the United States and got the job.  Having changed her name to Frank Thompson, she embarked on this daring lifestyle, always careful not to become too friendly with anyone who might discover the truth.

Cherishing her freedom as a man, she became a successful book salesman, continually moving about and even enjoying a few “dates” to keep up appearances.  By 1860, with Civil War looming, Emma got caught up in the excitement of North vs. South, and vowed to perform her duty.  She enlisted in the Union Army as a member of the Michigan Brigade.  Fortunately for her, physical examinations during those early days consisted of mere questioning by the military doctors to determine a recruit’s health.

It has been estimated that between 250 and 500 women disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War, so Emma was hardly the only woman to do this.  Nevertheless, Emma, now known as Frank Thompson, knew she would not like to carry a gun so she volunteered to work in the field hospitals.  This turned out to be easy since most recruits shied away from the ghastly chores associated with assisting battlefield doctors under crude field conditions.  Too, among her duties, she became a mail courier since she was lighter than most men and excelled in riding horses at a quick pace over long distances.

The book tells about battles fought, Emma’s spy escapades, her falling in love with a fellow soldier, her desertion and ultimate return to life as a civilian female.

The author of the book, Laura Leedy Gansler follows Emma all the way to her life in Kansas where she applied for her military pension, wrote about her escapades, and surprised her fellow soldiers-in-arms when they discovered the courier and hospital attendant they knew during Civil War days was really a woman.  Even after Emma became a married woman with children, she wore pants around town, rode her horse astride, and was known as an eccentric who did not care what her neighbors thought of her.  Mrs. S.E.E. Seelye of Fort Scott, Kansas had never been one to worry about wagging tongues. That said, you can get this amazing book HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many published books, including Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, 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.

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