Old West News Archives

Phantom of the Black Hills – Hellbilly Music

When we started Cowboy to Cowboy we said we would have an occasional “off the wall” item.  Well, here’s one. We old farts are always concerned about young people appreciating and getting involved with the history of the Old West.  Maybe the group named The Phantom of the Black Hills could be an avenue to bridge that gap. They play what is called Hellbilly Music.

Phantom of the Black Hills - Hellbilly Music

Although they call themselves a cowpunk band, they do have an interesting message.  One of their songs is directed to the government:  “First you take my money, then you take my guns.”

You can view one of their videos by going to:


What do you think?

Newspapers Report on the Discovery of Gold

discovery of goldThe year was 1848. The headline was the discovery of gold. The West would never be the same.

The California and California Star newspapers were the first to run stories about the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill. But they ceased reporting on the gold fields after a couple of months.

It was January of 1848 when James Marshall, working at John Sutter’s sawmill, discovered a couple of gold-colored rocks in the race that could be beaten into different shapes, but not broken. It was gold.

The first mention of the discovery of gold in a newspaper was on May 3. Admitting that the discovery was just a rumor, the Californian newspaper said that “Seven men with picks and spades could gather $1,600 worth of gold in fifteen days.” That’s the equivalent of more than $280,000 in today’s money.

Then, on May 6 Samuel Brannan, a reporter for the California Star, returned from the gold fields stating that the diggings had “full flowing streams, mighty timber, large crops, luxuriant clover, fragrant flowers, and gold and silver.” He concluded by saying, “Great country, this.”

By May 26, according to the Californian, “The whole country, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and from the seashore to the base of the Sierra Nevadas, resounds with the sordid cry of gold! Gold!! GOLD!!! While the field is left unplanted, the house half built, and everything neglected, but the manufacture of shovels and picks.”

That was the last report the Californian newspaper made on the gold field, because three days later the Californian closed its doors. All the employees, including editor Benjamin Beckelew, went to seek gold.

With great joy the California Star reported that their competitor was dead. And the verdict of the inquest was gold fever. But, the California Star didn’t have long to gloat, because in less than a month, the California Star’s editor, Edward Kemble, headed out to the gold fields and the California Star also folded.

Shot His Wife Because She Loved a Second-Rate Barkeeper

April 9, 1889, Daily Record-Union, Sacramento, California – Mrs. Mary Sanders was shot and probably fatally wounded last Saturday night by her husband, who then attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the neck.  The couple were married about eighteen months ago at Whitesboro, Mendocino County, and they lived happily together until the wife became infatuated with Dan Callaghan, a Eureka saloonkeeper, and ran away with him about six months ago.  They were followed to this city by Sanders, who traced his wife to 508 Pine Street, where she was living with Callaghan.  He went there bent on killing Callaghan, but bloodshed was averted as Callaghan happened to be out at the time.  There was reconciliation between husband and wife, and the police say that they next heard of Mrs. Sanders was in a DuPont Street bagnio, where she was placed by her husband.  Sanders then commenced drinking heavily, and his wife left him.  He started in search of her but it was not until about 7 o’clock Saturday night that he found her, on Fourth Street, near Mission.  He asked her to return to him and she refused, whereupon he drew a revolver and fired three shots at her.  One of the bullets took effect above her right hip and ranged inwards, indicting a wound which it is believed will cause her death.  When she fell to the sidewalk Sanders, believing his murderous work complete, placed the muzzle of the pistol to his mouth and fired.  The bullet lodged in his neck, producing a painful but not fatal wound.

Doc Holliday Obituary

Doc Holliday obituaryDoc Holliday Obituary, originally published in the November 12, 1887 edition of the Ute Chief, Glenwood Springs, Colorado J. A. Holliday died, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado Tuesday, November 8, 1887, about 10 o’clock a.m., of consumption.

J .A. Holliday, or “Doc” Holliday as he was better known, came to Glenwood Springs from Leadville last May, and by his quiet and gentlemanly demeanor during his short stay and the fortitude and patience he displayed in his last two months of life, made many friends.  Although a young man he had been in the west for twenty-five years, and from a life of exposure and hardship had contracted consumption, from which he had been a constant sufferer for many years.

Since he took up his residence at the Springs the evil effects of the sulphur vapors arising from the hot springs on his weak lungs could readily be detected, and for the last few months it was seen that a dissolution was only the question of a little time, hence his death was not entirely unexpected. From the effects of the disease, from which he had suffered probably half his life, Holliday, at the time of his death looked like a man well advanced in years, for his hair was silvered and his form emaciated and bent, but he was only thirty-six years of age.

Holliday was born in Georgia, where relatives of his still reside.  Twenty-five years ago, when but eleven years of age, he started for the west, and since that time he has probably been in every state and territory west of the Mississippi river.  He served as sheriff in one of the counties of Arizona during the troublous times in that section, and served in other official capacities in different parts of the west.  Of him it can be said that he represented law and order at all times and places.  Either from a roving nature or while seeking a climate congenial to his disease, “Doc” kept moving about from place to place and finally in the early days of Leadville came to Colorado.  After remaining there for several years he came to this section last spring.  For the last two months his death was expected at any time; during the past fifty-seven days he had only been out of his bed twice; the past two weeks he was delirious, and for twenty-four hours preceding his death he did not speak.

He was baptized in the Catholic Church, but Father Ed Downey being absent, Rev. W.S. Rudolph delivered the funeral address, and the remains were consigned to their final resting place in Linwood cemetery at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of November 8th, in the presence of many friends.  That “Doc” Holliday had his faults none will attempt to deny; but who among us has not, and who shall be the judge of these things?

He only had one correspondent among his relatives – a cousin, a Sister of Charity, in Atlanta, Georgia.  She will be notified of his death, and will in turn advise any other relatives he may have living.  Should there be an aged father or mother they will be pleased to learn that kind and sympathetic hands were about their son in his last hours, and that his remains were accorded Christian burial.

Tombstone, Az. Sheriff John Behan

John BehanJohn Behan was the sheriff of Cochise County, the county that contained Tombstone, at the time Wyatt Earp was there. He was a friend of the cowboys, the political power at the time. We know of him as a foe of Wyatt. And, the result of movies about the O. K. Corral shootout, we know him as a corrupt lawman. But, just who was John Behan?
John Harris Behan was born in Missouri in 1845. As a young man he went to California, and then to Prescott, Arizona where he became the sheriff of Yavapai County. And, according to locals was trustworthy, brave and intelligent. He even served a couple of terms in the state assembly.
When Tombstone was founded Behan moved there. Then in 1881 Tombstone was made the county seat of the newly formed Cochise County, and Behan was appointed the county sheriff. The conflict between Behan and Wyatt Earp was probably more the result of two men displaying their testosterone than a conflict between good and bad.
After being voted out of office, Behan became the superintendent of the Territorial State Prison at Yuma, Arizona, the most severe federal prison in the southwest. Later Behan served as a U. S. agent along the Mexican border fighting smuggling. He joined the military during the Mexican-American War. And continuing his service to his country, served as a “secret agent” for the United States in China during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1901, he was living in Willard’s Hotel at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.. The census gave his occupation as “Promoter”.
Finally, at the age of 67, on June 7, 1912, after spending most of his life in service to his government, he died in Tucson, Arizona.
I believe you can agree John Harris Behan was much more than just a corrupt sheriff who opposed Wyatt Earp.
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