Old West Lifestyle & Stories



I’m excited to announce my long awaited book…at least it was long awaited for me…is now available. The book is titled “Living The Code” and is based on seven principles that represent the precepts developed on America’s frontier and made us a great country.

Since 2004 I’ve been promoting these principles through Chronicle of the Old West publication and our radio shows.

This is a book I truly believe has the capability of changing a person’s life. To get more information go to www.LivingTheCode.com.


He had blue eyes, light brown hair and pale skin. He was one of the greatest cavalry tacticians of his time. When he was born, his name was simply “Curly.” However, when he was a teenager his father gave him his name, which was “Crazy Horse.”

Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux chief who showed his skills in war as he took part in the Fetterman fight, the Hayfield fight and the Wagon Box fight. And, he harassed the outposts along the Bozeman Trail until the government abandoned them.

In 1876 when the War Department ordered all Sioux to come to reservations, Crazy Horse ignored their order. Crazy Horse and his people joined Sitting Bull, who had also defied the War Department. In June of 1876, he played a major role in the defeat of Custer.

After the battle, most of the Indians migrated to Canada. But, Crazy Horse and his people stayed in Montana. In May of 1877 he came in and was placed on a reservation near Camp Robinson in Nebraska.

Fearing Crazy Horse was going to leave the reservation, a party was sent to arrest him. On September 5, 1877, while being transferred to jail in the company of soldiers and Indian police, a soldier bayoneted Crazy Horse, and he died.


This Friday we’re headed down to Tombstone, Arizona for the Labor Day weekend’s Rendezvous of Gunfighters.

For 31 years our friend Ben Traywick has been hosting this gathering of gunfight groups from around the country.  The groups will be performing their shows in the O.K. Corral.

The festivities begin Saturday, September 1st and run through Monday, September 3rd.  An 1880’s costume parade will be held on Sunday, September 2nd at 12:00 pm.  During the parade a panel of independent judges will choose the most authentic appearing costumes for the 1880-1890 era in the following categories:  Gunfighter, Cowboy, Male Townsperson, Madame, Saloon Woman, Female Townsperson, Children (16 & under).

If you happen to be in the area, stop by and say hi as we walk the streets of Tombstone.



Today’s story is a lesson about quitting.

Back in 1869 John Wesley Powell took an expedition of 11 men and 4 wooden boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It was an under-financed project, and virtually every day the expedition was on the verge of destruction.

On this date, near the lower end of the canyon, the party saw a giant rapids. They spent the night on the shore. Powell wrote, “The billows are huge and I fear our boats could not ride them…There is discontent in the camp tonight and I fear some of the party will take to the mountains but hope not.”

The next day, convinced the rapids were impassable, three of Powell’s men did leave. On this day in 1869, Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland, and William H. Dunn said goodbye to Powell and the other men and began the long climb up out of the Grand Canyon.

The remaining members of the party steeled themselves, climbed into boats, and pushed off into the wild rapids. Amazingly, all of them survived and the expedition emerged from the canyon the next day.

When Powell reached the nearest settlement, he learned the three men who left had been less fortunate–they encountered a war party of Indians and were killed.


I would think most of you are familiar with the National Festival of the West, and the fact that it didn’t take place this year.

I spoke to Mary Brown…the founder of the event. She said the event will be back on line in 2013. It will take place from March 21 to 24 at Westworld in Scottsdale.

If you are interested in keeping up with things as they move along visit their web site: www.festivalofthewest.com.

We’re always sorry when we loose an Old West venue, but happy when it comes back.


This coming Monday we’ll be celebrating the birthday of Phoebe Ann Moses…If you don’t know who she is by the picture, it’s “Little Sure Shot,” Annie Oakley.

From the time she shot a squirrel for the family’s stew pot at the age of eight, she knew she had a special talent.

We all know about her talent, but what most people don’t know about is the love she and her husband had for each other, Frank Butler.

Frank Butler was also a sharpshooter with his own traveling show. On Thanksgiving in 1876 they had a match, and Phoebe Ann beat Frank.

By June of the next year they were married in Oakley, Ohio. Phoebe Ann changed her name to “Annie Oakley”, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Even though over the years, Annie Oakley’s popularity far outdistanced her husband’s, Frank’s love for Annie grew even more. And they were always together.

After injuries from a train accident and later an auto accident she retired, and Annie and Frank moved to Greenville, Ohio.

Annie Oakley died in 1926 at the age of 66. Frank Butler was so devastated that he stopped eating and died 18 days later.


For anyone who’s a fan of John Wayne…Actually, I don’t know anyone who isn’t…Michael F. Blake turned me on to a great piece done by Roger Ebert.

One thing about John Wayne, you knew where he stood.  And that was 100% behind the United States.

To read the piece go to:




We’re headed down the hill to Phoenix to catch a flight to Seattle, Washington to go on our Following the Legends Cruise to Alaska.

Sunny and I, along with a group of Old West enthusiasts are going to be spending a week on Princess Cruise traveling along the inland passage.

During the Alaska gold rush Wyatt Earp, John Clum…founder of the Tombstone Epitaph and mayor of Tombstone…Nellie Cashman…the miner’s angel, both in Alaska and Tombstone…and con-man Soapy Smith were all up there.

In addition it was extremely tough for the gold miners. They had to take a year’s supply of food with them. The food and equipment would weigh about 2,000 pounds. To get these provisions to the gold fields, a prospector would have to make 30 round trips for a total of 2,500 miles. The picture shows the line of miners on the trail.

We’re going to have a lot of fun…Wish you were here.


Did you know that back in the 1870’s the United States was ruled by an Emperor? Well, even back then most of the citizens didn’t know it. Our Emperor was Emperor Norton, and he lived in San Francisco.

If you visit this link you’ll get the full story:



We all think of Doc Holliday as a deadly shootist, killing scores of men. But, in this case our thinking is wrong. In reality, it can only be verified that Doc killed two men…One of them on this date back in 1879.DOC HOLLIDAY

Doc Holliday was a partner in a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico. A former army scout named Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of Holliday’s saloon girls to quit her job and run away with him. When she refused, Gordon became upset, and he went out to the street and began to fire bullets into the saloon. After the second shot, Holliday calmly stepped out of the saloon and dropped Gordon with a single shot. Gordon died the next day.

Incidentally, the second killing took place the following year. You may have heard about it. It’s was during the OK Corral Shootout.


Friday I picked up a DVD of the mini series TV adaption of Louis L’Amour’s Sackett books…I got it at Walmart for $5.00.

And Saturday afternoon I watched it. It was made in 1979. The movie starred Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Glenn Ford and Ben Johnson as well as a slew of other great character actors like Slim Pickens, Jack Elam and Buck Taylor.

I had watched it when it originally came out, but sure did enjoy seeing Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott back when they were much younger…just as I was.

It was well worth the $5.00 investment.

What ever happened to Jeff Osterhgage who played Tyrel Sackett?


On this date back in 1866 construction on Fort Phil Kearny, one of the most important army outposts of the Old West began.

It was one of a series of forts that were to guard the Bozeman Trail.
Three years earlier John Bozeman had blazed a trail that headed northwest to the gold fields of Montana. The area of the trail was the traditional hunting grounds of the Sioux, and violated a treaty with Chief Red Cloud. So Red Cloud conducted raids along the trail.

Colonel Henry Carrington did the design and supervised the construction. It was the size of three football fields.

Even with the forts the army found it impossible to stop the Indian attacks. So, in 1868 the forts were abandoned and the trail closed in a peace treaty with the Indians. Immediately after the fort was abandoned, the Indians burned it to the ground.


On this date back in 1889 “Buckskin” Frank Leslie murdered his lover, a Tombstone prostitute Millie Williams.

This wasn’t his first killing. Buckskin was noted for having a mean temper, especially when he was drunk. He had killed the husband of an earlier lover; that incidentally was declared self-defense. Some say he killed Johnny Ringo. It is known that he shot Billy Claiborne.

Then on this date back in 1889 Buckskin, while drunk, murdered Mollie Williams. In the Old West to kill a woman…for any reason…was the lowest thing a man could do. It wasn’t unusual for a woman killer to be immediately lynched. Nor only was Buckskin not lynched, he only got 25 years at Yuma Territorial Prison for the killing. While at the prison he had a cushy job and was pardoned after 7 years.

There are those who say it wasn’t that Buckskin was lucky, but that he had powerful friends who pulled strings to protect him…Evidence is that those powerful friends were employed by Wells, Fargo and Company.


We’ve all heard about bringing a knife to a gun fight. Well, on this date back in 1900 that’s just what James, Morgan, Virgil and Wyatt’s little brother did.

After participating in Wyatt’s ride of vengeance because of the cowboy’s wounding of Virgil and killing Morgan, Warren went to live with his parents in Colton, California

With Warren regularly getting into trouble, his father got fed up with him and sent him packing. Warren ended up in Willcox, Arizona where he did a little cowboying and a lot of drinking. On July 6, 1900, Warren got crossways with a John Boyet. Some say it was because of a woman, others say it was a carry-over from the Tombstone days. In a confrontation, Warren kept pushing Boyet, until Boyet finally pulled his gun and killed Warren. This was a case of bringing a knife to a gunfight. For, it was discovered that Warren didn’t have a gun. But he did have a knife.

It seems that, to his dying day, Warren was trying to live up to the reputation of his brothers Wyatt and Virgil by being able to buffalo a man, and disarm him.


On this date back in 1876 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna died. I know of no other Old West character whose life was more of a roller coaster.

Born to middle-class parents in Mexico, as a teenager he joined the army. In 1821 he gained national prominence as a military leader in Mexico’s fight for independence against Spain.

This resulted in his being elected the President of Mexico in 1833. And just two years later he proclaimed himself the dictator of Mexico.

During this time the Anglos in the area that is now Texas were agitating for independence.

Determined not to let this happen, Santa Anna took command of the army and invaded Texas. As we all know Santa

Anna was captured and Texas became an independent republic.

While he was a captive of Texas, he was deposed. Eleven times over the next two decades, Santa Anna regained and lost his dictatorship. The last time was in 1855.

The once mighty Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna died embittered and impoverished.



We’re headed to End of Trail that’s taking place at the SASS Founder’s Ranch east of Albuquerque.

This is the International Championships of the Single Action Shooters Society. There will be participants from most states and several foreign countries. Cowboy Action Shooting is truly an international sport. As well, it’s a family sport. Not only men, but their wives and children participate.

If you happen to be attending either as a contestant or visitor, stop by our booth and tell us you’re a part of Cowboy to Cowboy. We’ll give you a free CD or Old West stories.


We all know that Texas was an independent republic before becoming a state. But did you know that California was an independent republic too?

Although owned by Mexico, back in 1846 there were very few Mexican settlers in California. In reality there American settlers comprised the largest segment of the population.

On June 14, 1846, anticipating a war with Mexico, 33 Americans lead by William Ide invaded the Mexican outpost of Sonoma, north of San Francisco. They surrounded the home of Mexican General, Mariano Vallejo. With a bloodless victory, the Americans took a cotton sheet and with red paint they made a flag of a grizzly bear and single red star…A reference to the Texas Republic…and printed the words on the flag “California Republic”. The revolt was known as the Bear Flag Revolt.

Three weeks after California became an independent republic; American forces took control of Monterey and officially raised the American flag over California. Since this was what the American rebels wanted, they dissolved their government.

Incidentally, that Bear Flag became the official flag of California.



On June 6, 1865 William Quantrill died of wounds encountered in a skirmish with Union Soldiers.

At one time I referred to Quantrill as a man without any redeeming qualities. I was promptly told not to go into the Deep South and say that. I may not return under my own steam.

William Quantrill was Frank and Jesse James’ mentor. He was born in Ohio and after getting into trouble in Utah and Kansas he fled to Missouri where he became a strong supporter of slavery, even getting into violent conflicts with neighbors.

When the Civil War broke out…It’s also referred to by some as “the war of Northern aggression”…he formed a group of gorilla irregulars. As indicated earlier, Frank and Jesse James were members of Quantrill’s Raiders.

Quantrill not only attacked Union forces, he would attack unguarded pro-Union towns; most notably Lawrence, Kansas where the raiders shot every man and boy they could find. After killing 150 civilians, they left the town ablaze.

Incidentally, since Quantrill’s guerillas weren’t considered legitimate soldiers, they were never given amnesty after the conclusion of the war.


Just when everyone thought the wild Old West was gone, on this date back in 1899 a small slight woman by the name of Pearl Hart and her boyfriend held up a stagecoach in the Florence, Arizona area.

Their take was a little over $400. But they weren’t able to spend it, because in a short time they were captured and jailed.

Shortly afterward, with the help of some men, Pearl escaped. But, because of her fame, she was recognized and returned to jail.

Pearl and her boyfriend were tried and convicted. The boyfriend got 30 years and Pearl got 5.

Pearl’s life after she got out of jail is surrounded in myth. Some say she became “The Arizona Bandit” with Buffalo Bill and in vaudeville. Others say she married a Calvin Bywater and settled down to a life of domestic bliss.

Whichever one it was, Pearl never got crosswise with the law again.


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.

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?



Today the United State Postal Department is issuing a new set of Forever Stamps. These stamps will be honoring four great filmmakers. They are John Ford, Frank Capra, John Huston and Billy Wilder.

Of particular interest to western film fans is the John Ford stamp. The background of the stamp recalls a scene from the great classic movie The Searchers starring John Wayne.

The Great Film Directors stamps are being issued in self-adhesive sheets of 20 (5 of each design). I’m sure they won’t be around long, and could become a collector’s item.

I have a picture and sheet of the “Legends of the West” series of stamps that came out back when first class stamps were 29 cents.


On this date back in 1836 one of the Old West’s most tragic events began to unfold.

At the age of nine, Cynthia Ann Parker’s family was killed and she, along with some other children, was kidnapped. The Comanche took her, and she lived with them for 25 years.

She became the wife of Peta Nocona, and gave birth to two boys and a girl. Comanche warriors normally take more than one wife. Nocona was happy with just Cynthia Ann.

In December 1860 a group of Texas Rangers attached Nocona’s village and rescued Cynthia Ann and her daughter.

Rather than feeling she had been rescued, Cynthia Ann felt she was kidnapped a second time. Cynthia Ann resigned herself to a life among a people she no longer understood. In 1863 her daughter died. And she died seven years later of influenza brought on by self-imposed starvation.

Incidentally, her son Quanah Parker became the last great war chief of the Comanche tribe. One wonders if he would have gone to war had Cynthia Ann not been kidnapped.


We’ve all watched Dr. Quinn Medicine Women…actually it’s still in reruns and still looks as good as it did the first time around. Have you ever wondered where they got the idea for the show?

I’m not exactly sure, but it could have been Bethena Owens. Go to the link below and you’ll know what I’m talking about.



OK folks. We’ve all heard about the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger movie. And you’ve probably wondered what Johnny is going to look like…Well, here it is.

He was inspired to update Native American Tonto’s look after seeing a painting by the artist Kirby Sattler.

According to Depp; “I looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it. The stripes down the face and across the eyes . . . it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean.”

Sorry Johnny, I don’t know what you mean.