MAX BRAND

On this date back in 1919 western story novelist Max Brand published his first novel.  Max Brand was only one of 21 pen names that Frederick Faust wrote under.

He wrote under pen names because he was embarrassed about writing pulp fiction.

Frederick claimed to dislike the American West and spent most of his adult life in Europe.  And he made no pretense to writing historically accurate western novels.  He wrote about the west of his imagination and he could tell a great story.

During his life Frederick Faust wrote more than 500 western serials and short stories.

Do we, as fans of the Old West, require more authentic fiction than a century ago?  If Max Brand were an unpublished author today, do you think he could find a publisher?

NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY

I received news today from Bethany Braley, the Executive Director of the National Day of the Cowboy, that the Wyoming State Legislature has passed a resolution recognizing one day a year as “The Day of the Cowboy.”  This is the first year they’ve passed the resolution and they made it permanent.

This year’s designated day is July 28.  If you’re not familiar with the National Day of the Cowboy, do visit their web site: www.nationaldayofthecowboy.org

It’s a cause in which anyone who’s interested in the Old West should be involved.

SO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO THE OLD WEST?

In searching some old files I came across the following information.  This is how it was at the end of the 1800’s.

  • The average life expectancy in the U.S. was forty-seven.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.
  • The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
  • Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education.  Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as “substandard.”
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month!  When they did they used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • The five leading causes of death in the U. S. were:
  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke
  • One in ten U.S. adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

APACHE KID

I just finished putting together our weekly radio show that will be aired the week of March 19 – 25. As a part of Arizona’s centennial celebration, it included a conversation with Phyllis de la Garza about the Apache Kid. Phyllis has written a couple of books about him.

The Apache Kid, raised on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, became a sergeant of the Indian Scouts under Al Sieber. While Sieber was away, some Apache had a tiswin party. Unable to break up the party, Apache Kid joined in.

The Kid and some other scouts ended up going AWOL. When they returned, they were tried for being AWOL and sentenced to hang. Eventually, the sentence was changed to life. And after a year and a half, they were pardoned.

All of this took place in a military court. Next, Apache Kid was tried in civilian court for shooting Al Sieber in the leg…Although he was present at the shooting, there is no evidence he knew or had anything to do with the shooting.

On the way to Yuma Territorial Prison, with several other prisoners, the guards were overcome and everyone escaped. The Apache Kid was never captured. From that point, any atrocity that took place in the area was blamed on the Apache Kid.

I relate this story, not because I think the Apache Kid was a totally innocent person, but to show how events, rather than the person involved in the events can control so much of our lives.

END OF KANSAS TRAIL DRIVES

It seems that Kansas had a love-hate relationship with Texas cattle and the cowboys that brought them up.

The love part was the profits to be made providing supplies to the cattle drives and a good time to trail-weary cowboys.  Frontier struggling towns like Dodge City, Caldwell, Ellsworth, Hays, and Newton competed with Abilene to be the top “Cow Town” of Kansas.

But, as Kansas started getting less “frontier” and farming became more important, residents, anxious to attract businesses other than saloons and places of ill repute, started getting less enamored with the Texas cattle industry.

Although the Texas cattlemen tried to stay away from cultivated farmland, according to one cowboy “there was scarcely a day when we didn’t have a row with some settler.”

In addition to this, the Texas cattle carried a tick fever and hoof-and-mouth disease for which they were immune, but the Kansas cattle weren’t.

So, on this date back in 1885 the Kansas Legislature passed a bill that barred Texas cattle from the state between March and December 1.

This, along with the closing of open range with barbed wire fences, signaled an end to the cattle drives to Kansas.

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