John Tunstall and Billy the Kid

John Tunstall and Billy the KidJohn Tunstall was an Englishman who came to America with some capital to invest. He wandered over to New Mexico where he met a lawyer named Alexander McSween. McSween suggested that there were good business opportunities in Lincoln County. What he probably didn’t mention was that there was a bit of a rivalry, over government beef contracts, going on between a J. J. Dolan and John Riley, owners of a general store called “The House,” and local cattle ranchers. Thus begins the story of John Tunstall and Billy the Kid.
           
So Tunstall came to Lincoln. He bought himself a cattle ranch… which was bad enough. But then, he and McSween decided to open a general store in competition with The House.
               
Tunstall wasn’t familiar with the ways of the West. He was used to a more genteel country, where disputes were settled in court. In Lincoln County it was might makes right. And the law was controlled by his competition.
 
Unfortunately for Tunstall, his partnership with McSween brought him into the middle of the feud. The owners of The House brought legal action against McSween regarding a debt. Since Tunstall became McSween’s partner, the law was convinced that Tunstall’s debt was also McSween’s. So, on February 18, 1878, a posse, led by men loyal to The House, headed to McSween’s ranch to confiscate some horses. McSween went out to meet the posse, and was greeted with a bullet to the head.
 
Dolan and Riley of The House probably figured McSween’s death would stifle the opposition. And it very well could have, had it not been for McSween’s 19 year old friend named William Bonney who became a whirlwind from hell. Incidentally, for anyone who may not know it, William Bonney is better known as Billy the Kid.

Chuckwagon: Railroad Cake

Railroad Cake1 cup sugar
1 tablespoonful of butter beaten to a cream
3 eggs beaten to a froth
1 cup flour
3 tablespoonsful sweet milk
1 teaspoonful cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoonful soda
1/2 teaspoonful salt

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, blending well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mix slowly, alternating with lemon juice and buttermilk. When well blended, turn out into two 8-inch cake pans that have been well-greased and floured. Place in a preheated oven. Done when an inserted toothpick comes out dry.

(from an 1888 cookbook)

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

John Daly and the Vigilante Committee

John Daly and the Vigilante CommitteeJohn Daly was born in New York. As a young man, he migrated to California. Leaving a string of dead men behind him, he then went to the gold mining town of Aurora, Nevada. The mining company and the town fathers were looking for someone to protect their interests from the criminal element. Since Daly carried himself well, and seemed to know how to handle a gun, they hired him as a deputy city marshal. No one ever thought they would one day need a vigilante committee.
           
Daly convinced everyone that he needed some policemen to help him, so he hired Three Fingered Jack, Italian Jim, Irish Tom and a couple of other men who seemed to be of questionable character.
               
In a short time, the men augmented their income by shaking down the local merchants. Also, people who protested ended up in the local graveyard.
 
Finally, one of Daly’s policemen attempted to steal a horse from a local merchant by the name of William Johnson. In the process, Daly’s man was killed. It took a few months, but on February 1, 1864, Daly and his associates made an example of Johnson. He was clubbed, shot in the head and his throat cut.
 
The honest citizens had looked the other way long enough. They formed the Citizens Protective Order, which is a fancy phrase for a vigilante committee. Daly and his gang were arrested and jailed. For a short time…a very short time, if seems as if the men were going to be tried before a judge and jury. But on February 10 the Citizens Protective Order the gang out of jail, escorted them to a scaffold, and ended the whole affair right then and there.
 
This action angered Governor James W. Nye so much that two days later he headed for Aurora with a Provost Marshal Van Bokkelen and United States Marshal Wasson and was going to call out the troops from Fort Churchill to put down the vigilantes. After the Marshal looked into the facts, no action was taken against what was now called the “Citizen Safety Committee.”

Bloody Bill Anderson

"Bloody" Bill AndersonThe Anderson family resided in Jefferson County, Missouri. Although they were farmers, the Anderson men had a tendency to augment their income with armed robbery. From these family roots sprung Bloody Bill Anderson.
 
In 1862, Confederate Quantrill raided the town where the Andersons lived. As a result, Union troops came to the area, and four days later, two of the Anderson men were hanged as Confederate sympathizers. This angered 25-year-old Bill Anderson to the point that he dropped his plow and joined Quantrill’s raiders.  
 
Later Bill Anderson’s three sisters were arrested for being spies. And, while in prison, the building collapsed killing one of them. As you can imagine, this pushed an angry Bill Anderson over the edge. Any civility he had was gone to the point people started calling him “Bloody” Bill Anderson. Becoming one of Quantrill’s chief lieutenants, at the massacre of Lawrence, Kansas, the men under his command supposedly killed more people than anyone else. At a raid in Centralia, Missouri, he was responsible for prisoners being stripped and shot.  
 
October 27, 1864, just a year and a half after he joined Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson was shot and killed by Union soldiers. A silk scarf reportedly was found with 53 knots in it. Supposedly, the scarf belonged to the sister who was killed with the collapse of the jail. And each knot represented a person killed.  
 
But then there were other reports that someone else was riding Bloody Bill’s horse, and he was shot instead. Bloody Bill realizing this was a good opportunity to get the bloodhounds off his back, quietly went to Texas and then Oklahoma. I’m sure he met up with Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and all the other outlaws who were also fortunate enough to have had someone else die in their place.  

Old West Book Review: They Called Him Buckskin Frank

Buckskin FrankThey Called Him Buckskin Frank, Jack Demattos an Chuck Parsons, University of North Texas Press, $29.95, Cloth, Photos, Notes, Bibliography, Index.

The name Buckskin Frank Leslie seems always to appear in the old Tombstone stories.  Doc Holliday the Earps, Johnny Ringo and some others had some association with him, but he was always on the “fringe.”  (No pun intended.) He was tagged with the name “Buckskin Frank” probably because he nearly always wore a buckskin jacket.

The reality was that he handled guns, sometimes rode with the sheriff, scouted for the Army during the Geronimo campaign, and owned saloons in Tombstone.  He was notorious for having shot and killed his girlfriend but never really became a major figure in the Tombstone story we have seen in countless movies and television shows.

The authors of this book have sorted through the wild tales and incomplete history of Buckskin Frank, but information such as exactly where he was born, and parental history remain vague.  He claimed to be college educated, and this may very well be true.  A long letter he wrote for a San Francisco newspaper in 1900 detailing his participation in trailing Apaches is extremely well-written.  This alone shows he was probably educated beyond the usual Tombstone cowboys of that time.

Buckskin Frank was short in statue, but handsome nonetheless, able to attract the ladies in droves.  He had a long list of girlfriends, lovers and wives. He shot and killed the husband of one of his future wives, he left others in divorce court or simply vanished when convenient.  One lady scheduled to be his wife was left quite dead as a result of the business end of his shootin’ iron after a drunken brawl at his ranch near Tombstone.  Her grave marker in the Arizona desert says “Mollie Williams”, but her real name was Mollie Edwards.  The result of her death sent Buckskin Frank to Yuma Territorial prison for eight years.

He was a model prisoner, put in charge of the prison pharmacy, and was released early due to his good behavior on November 17, 1896.  He was met at the prison gates by a love-sick widow whom he married fifteen days later.  After promising her a honeymoon trip to China, he dumped her in April.  Apparently China was the farthest thing from his mind.

He spun some good yarns about himself, which got mixed up with reality thus making it difficult for biographers to sift through the information, real and otherwise.

 For instance he claimed to have been a scout for General George Armstrong Custer, but no military records can be found giving proof of this.  He did scout during the Geronimo Campaign in Arizona, having gone deep into Mexico hunting for runaway Apaches. He did kill several men in gunfights, and he was involved in the Spanish American War in Cuba.

The authors have trailed Buckskin Frank to San Francisco where he continued to move from one house to another, frequented billiard parlors and saloons, had mining interests South of the Border, and eventually in his old age disappeared all together.  It is suggested he was the victim of foul play, complete with skeletal remains, outside Oakland, California.

This book is enchanting, putting some old fictionalized tales regarding Buckskin Frank to rest, but also pointing to some new and tantalizing information about the man. Buckskin Frank’s life was certainly filled with unusual adventures. Gambler,

Who really was Buckskin Frank Leslie?  This book is a fascinating read.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la 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.siIklabelbooks.com

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

 Page 9 of 102  « First  ... « 7  8  9  10  11 » ...  Last »