Heard Around the Bunkhouse #3 – Old West Slang

Cowboys & Old West SlangIn our feature Heard Around the Bunkhouse we bring you Old West slang and sayings that they used back in the Wild West. Hope you enjoy them, and let us know your favorite terms from those past times.

HEAP – A lot, many, a great deal.

MAKE A MASH – Make a hit, impress someone. It was usually a woman.

HEELED – To be armed with a gun.

DREADFUL – Very. “Oh, her dress is dreadfully pretty.”

HARD CASE – A worthless person or bad man.

DOWN ON – Opposed to. “His wife is really down on drinking and cigars.”

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

Old West Book Review: According To Kate – Tale of Big Nose Kate

According to Kate - Big Nose Kate bookAccording To Kate, Chris Enss, Two Dot, $24.95, Cloth. Non-fiction, Photos, Notes, Bibliography, IndexThis book chronicles for the first time the life story of Mary Katherine Horony, known as Big Nose Kate.  Previously small parts of her life have been entwined with stories regarding her association with the Earps and Doc Holliday.  If not for her relationship with Doc, it is likely that nobody would have heard of her, or even cared.  Kate was a prostitute, a soiled dove, a lady of easy virtue who traveled throughout the rough Kansas cow-towns and mining camps in Arizona.

Her early life seems to have been stable.  Her father was a doctor.  She claimed to have had one early marriage and a child who died.  However, she soon took up life on the wild side and stuck with it until old age caught up to her.

According to Kate, which is the title of this book, she hated the Earps and the nickname Wyatt bestowed upon her, “Big Nose Kate.”  This name had little to do with the size of her nose, but because she stuck her nose into other people’s business.  Kate and Wyatt contended for the attention and loyalty of Doc Holiday; Wyatt usually won.

After Doc Holliday’s death of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Kate married George Cummings, a mining man/blacksmith.  In time she left this abusive drunk, and became a housekeeper at a tiny hotel in Cochise, Arizona.  From here she became a housekeeper for Jack Howard, a mining man living in Dos Cabezas, Arizona.  Thirty years later when Jack Howard died, Kate, nearly destitute was admitted to the Pioneer’s Home in Prescott, Arizona.  She spent the last ten years of her life (to age 90) complaining about the food and accommodations white attempting to sell her memoirs to writers who might use the material for a book.  There were no takers willing to give her money for her stories.  Kate died at the Pioneer’s Home and is buried there.

This book is an accumulation of Kate’s lifetime adventures.  Much of Kate’s story here is gleaned from a combination of her memoirs, some accurate and some not, plus the author Chris Enss’ having gathered historical facts from legal documents, census records, and newspaper articles.

Readers of this book should understand that Kate’s personal letters and memoirs have been picked over tong ago by Earpiana researchers.  Nothing here is really new, but it is now well organized.  There are only three photos of Kate in the book that are authentic.  We have seen them long ago.  A fourth shows an attractive teenage girl on the book cover, but it is hard to imagine this is really Kate.  Mary Katherine Horony was not a pretty woman.  She told some windies in her memoirs probably to help sell her story, but we can excuse an eighty-year-old lady for this.  She had no idea that after her death legions of professional researchers would sift carefully through every facet of the lives and times of the Earps and their associates, including “Big Nose Kate.”

Author Chris Enss has done a creditable job accumulating information, both factual and fictional concerning a famous Old West figure who survived hard times; living to old age still feisty and determined to the end According To Kate is a fascinating read, worthy of inclusion in your Old West library.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous published books about the Old West, including 9 Days At Dragoon Springs, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York 10988. www.silklabelbooks.com.

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

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.

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