Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Tale: The Sluice Box Ghost

American and Chinese Miners at a Sluice Box 
By Tom Correa

It was an extremely cold night in late October of 1875. The wind whipped through the small valley with a chill that went right to the bone.

With the exception of a few bigger older oaks, many of the trees in Mosquito Gulch had been all but cleared away. Folks used the wood for everything from building shacks and cabins and barns, to making wheel-barrels, keeping warm, and of course constructing sluice boxes.

Sluice boxes are one of the most practical methods of gold prospecting. Many were built with heavy wood planks and logs, and often times a river's current was diverted through the sluices so that gravel bearing gold could be processed far quicker than using the laborious "hand panning" method.

Sluice boxes were lined with raised obstructions that were placed in a vertical position to the flow of the current. These obstructions were referred to as riffles. When the gold-laden gavel is dumped into the upper end of the sluice, the flow of water carries the material down the length of the box. The lighter gavels, the tailings, would be carried in suspension down the entire length of the sluice and then discharged.

The heavier material, such as gold, would quickly drop to the bottom of the box, where they became trapped by the riffles. Once the riffles collected a large quantity of concentrated black sand and hopefully gold, a "cleanup" was implemented.

The flow of water through the sluice would be slowed down using a water gate. Then the riffles would be removed, allowing access to the heavier materials which had collected during the "run." That remaining material often contains gold nuggets and flakes, the stuff that dreams were made of.

The sluice boxes in the days of the 1849ers were very similar to the one Raymond Spencer used on his claim. Sluice boxes were built of heavy wood planks because lumber was cheap and easily obtainable. It wasn't shipped in. Instead, it was milled locally.

During the Gold Rush sluice box were first used to work the extremely rich bench deposits "terrace gavels" which lined the banks of many Mother Lode Rivers. As time passed it became clear that sluice boxes could be used for working other types of gold-bearing materials, this included ancient river channel deposits located hundreds of feet above the existing stream beds. Raymond Spencer was lucky in that his claim was on a creek.

"California isn't supposed to get this cold," Raymond thought while loading his new mail-order Winchester Model 1873 rifle.

Knowing the night was cold didn't help Raymond's disposition that night. He was already angry over the fact that sluice boxes were being robbed all through Mosquito Gulch. His own sluice box was hit twice in the last month.

He wasn't a happy man indeed. The whole situation concerning his claim bothered him. He worried asking how could he work so hard and then have it taken away from him by those who haven't put in an once of sweat into it.

He'd been working his claim all day, and now his anger at someone wanting to take what was his was even worse because he'd have to stay up all night guarding his sluice. He was tired and cold.

His wife was sewing in the light of an oil lamp, even with the help of a mirror the light wasn't that bright. Their two children were fast asleep on the far side of their cabin.

As he dropped the last .44-40 round into his new Winchester, he hoped tonight would be the night. While he knew what had to be done, he hoped it would be someone else who would call out across the dark valley. He hoped it would be someone else that got the robber who had been stealing so much of their gold. He hoped it would end so he would be able to sleep a full night.

Granted he was used to hearing a mountain lion scream as they stepped through the manzanita. Granted he saw many step soft through the tall pine as they made their way over Alabama Hill and down into Mosquito Gulch. Granted that a bear at the window or scratching at the door of their cabin wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't so much of a surprise either.

Black bears were bad enough, but Raymond hated the California Grizzly that roamed these hills. Black bears seemed easy to scare off compared to a Grizzly.
Grizzlies aren't scared of anything, he thought warming his hands near his wife's lamp. They are definitely not afraid of man, he thought. Grizzlies see man as something small, slow running, without a growl or claws. They see man as another animal on the menu.

Part of Raymond's concern about his sitting out in the bushes waiting for the Sluice Box Robber, as he became known, was that instead of the thief in the dark -- that it might be a grizzly in the middle of the night.

He kissed his wife, then placed the Winchester by her and reminded her how to use it. She looked at him knowing he was tired. And yes, while maybe thinking, "Thank you dear, but I already know how to use a rifle" -- she did not say it.

He then picked up his father's shotgun which he had loaded for bear - literally. He knew that at night, in the dark, that he'd have a better chance of hitting something with his shotgun then he would if he were using his new rifle.

He figured that even if he were off a little bit with a shotgun, at least a few of the shot may find their mark and bring down the robber. Raymond Spencer knew he put it off long enough and pulled up is collar on his heavy red woolen coat and closed the door behind him.

After closing the door behind him, he stood still in the night. He did this trying to get his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He then moved over to where he was thinking about building a lean-to for a hog or two. There was a stump that he'd been using to sit up against as a back-rest.

He'd been using this spot for the last few weeks ever since the robber has struck Mosquito Gulch. It was a spot where he could see the road to his cabin and his sluice pretty clearly.

Tonight wasn't a full moon, but more than a half moon really, he thought as he sat in the darkness. But yes, he knew it gave just enough light to see figures come and go. While it wasn't enough light for him to see faces, in fact he really couldn't see his own hand, it was enough to make out a deer over by his sluice.

Yes, Raymand Spencer was comfortable knowing that he could make out a person in the night if he needed to.

He was out there for a few hours when he heard something that caught his attention more than just a few deer stepping through the fallen leaves. He waited and strained his eyes to see.

Yes, he thought, it's a boy. Then he saw another, there were two.

He tried to hear what they were saying but couldn't. It sounded like gibberish, none-sense, just sounds. Then as they came closer, he heard it clearly, it was Chinese that he was hearing. He had heard the Chinamen in the other camps talk to each other. While he did not understand a word of it, he knew what it was. He knew it just as clearly as if he himself could speak it.

"Closer! Closer!" he said to himself hoping he'd get one with each barrel of his old side-by-side.

He knew the Chinese could be tough ruthless people. He remembered hearing about the Tong War and what happened in Chinese Camp in 1856, less than 20 years ago.

He slowly unbuttoned his heavy coat so that he would be able to get to his knife - just in case it came to that. He watched as one finally made his way to his sluice box, the other close behind but more hesitant.

Raymond heard the scraping of the sluice box riffles, so he stood and yelled, "Stand where you are!" With that Raymond saw one turn and run while the other scrambled up the bank.

Raymond fired first at the Chinaman running and next at the one trying to get up the bank. The shoots echoed through Mosquito Gulch, then everything went quiet.

After firing, he moved a few yards to his left. Once there he stood very still.

Cloud cover seemed to move in and cast even more darkness out of the clear dark night, the darkness became black. Raymond couldn't see a thing, it was as if the robbers had vanished. Then from his cabin, his wife called out worriedly, "Are you alright?"

Not a moment later a neighbor called out, "Did someone get him?"

Another who was also guarding his claim also called out, "Who fired the shots?"

Another yelled out, "Was it a bear, or the Sluice Box Robber?"

And another called out, "I think it was Raymond Spencer!"

Raymond remained quiet and didn't move for what seemed like forever. He remembered his time in the Civil War when green sentries would shoot at just about anything that moved. He knew better than to give away his position in case they weren't dead, and were instead waiting for him to make his move so they'd be able to shoot him.

Waiting seemed eternal and Raymond knew that he had to move to get to his cabin. He knew that he needed to reassure his wife who sounded worried. He himself worried that she would come out with a lantern and give the Chinamen an easy target, if indeed they were still alive and armed. So ever so slowly he made his way to their cabin.

Once inside, he told her "not to worry that there were two what sounded like Chinamen."

He went on to tell her that he shot at them after telling them to stand where they were. He shot only when they made a run for it. He said, "it was dark and I was shooting at shadows. I don't know if I hit them or not."

He blew out the oil lamp and asked his wife to go to bed. She did, but first she checked on their children who were still fast asleep. He would sit up for a while in the dark -- a sentry guarding his family in case he missed the Chinamen and they now wanted revenge.

Then through their window small lights started to appear in the darkness, and he saw what looked like flames slowing moving along the road to his cabin. This time he grabbed his Winchester and opened the cabin door slowly. He saw that it was torches and they were headed to his sluice.

The torches made targets of those carrying them. The torches moved throughout his pasture and finally two stopped at one spot. Then a voice called out, "Here, here he is!" 

And soon, before you knew it, a few torches gather around the wounded Chinaman.

"Mr. Spencer, is your family unharmed?" a friendly voice asked. "We found him. You got the Sluice Box Robber!"

"We're fine, but there are two! Chinamen from what I could tell. One was in the creek. It was dark." Raymond answered.

Just then a neighbor said, "Here's the second one. This one's close to dead."

Then a voice called out, "This one's lame, but he'll live."

Another said, "Get a rope. They hit my claim too many times to let 'em live!"

Another man said, "Mine too! Get a rope!"

Someone brought out a rope and went over to an old oak tree at the edge of the road where the stage rumbles through the Gulch.  The rope was thrown over a limb. Soon a few miners picked up the wounded Chinaman and drug him over to the tree.

They stretched the rope until the Chinaman was well in the air. The rope creaked in the night as the Chinaman danced a hanged man's dance high in the air.

As the wind picked up, the cloud's moved and the moon shown on the Chinaman as the rope creaked in the night. It was a ghastly sight, but it did not stop some of the men returning to where the dying Chinaman was on the bank.
To their surprise, he was gone.

Many believed he crawled away somehow, so using their torches the miners searched the pasture, the brush, and the creek. But he couldn't be found. Fact is that he was never found.

The next morning anyone passing saw one of the thieves hanging there from that old oak. A note pinned on him said, "Sluice Box Robber!" The note was a warning to others wanting to do the same thing.

Over the years the legend of what happened that night has changed a bit here and there, but basically the story stays the same. Today some say the Old Spencer property is haunted. Some say they've seen old miners with torches searching that pasture and the dry creek still looking for the other half-dead Chinaman who crawled away.

The Spencer family stayed in Mosquito Gulch long after it was renamed Glencoe. In fact, the Spencer family can be traced down the family lines of many families that still live in this area.

Many folks love to talk about who all is related to who and how. They joke about the family tree of some families in our area is how their tree does not have so many branches. The one thing that most up here don't joke about is the Old Spencer place where that tree still sits on the side of what is now two lane state California State Highway 26.

Call it superstitious, or call it smart, but the fact is that no one up here wants to talk about the sight of a Chinaman hanging from that tree all bloody and blue face from the rope around his neck. Even though over a 135 years have passed, it is a sight that many up here have seen for themselves.

Yes indeed, driving down Highway 26, drivers have stopped their cars because they've seen the hanging robber. Many say they see him in their headlights yet once they stop and get out of their car to check -- the lynched Chinaman is gone.

Many around here know that the Chinaman doesn't rest and swings by a creaking rope from that old oak tree along the road. Many have seen him dance at the end of that rope. Some say they can still hear the rope creaking in the night.

It happens, especially on those extremely cold nights in late October when the wind whips through here with a chill that runs right to your bones. It happens on those cold dark nights when the moon throws shadows that bleed in the night.

The End



Friday, October 28, 2011

Do Liberals Want To Suspend The U.S. Constitution?

Yes, it's true. Like Forest Gump's Mom said, "Stupid is as stupid does!"

In this case it's what North Carolina's Democrat Governor Beverly Perdue said that may garner her the Forest Gump award for stupidity. 

Unless of course it wasn't stupidity, and in reality it was actually a slip pertaining to her real desire?  Maybe she let slip the real Liberal agenda?  Either way slip or stupidity, her way of thinking should bother Americans everywhere.

On September 28th, she actually suggested that Congress suspend elections for two years so lawmakers can get to work stimulating the economy unencumbered by anxiety about what voters think.  In essence saying that Congress should suspend the U.S. Constitution.

Her exact words were, ""I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,"

Then she went on to say, "I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. You want people who don't worry about the next election."

The North Carolina's Governor's office later tried writing it off by saying that she was only joking. But a lot of Americans weren't really happy with Governor Perdue, especially when many folks realized that she was talking about suspending our rights and privileges under the United States Constitution.

It bothered me a lot that someone elected to office would say such a thing.  It wasn't only the fact that she isn't very smart when it comes to one of the most pivotal moments in American History, but also the fact that she was advocating suspending the United States Constitution for no reason at all.  That, my friends, is scary!

I personally believe that she's no real student of American History at all, if she was then maybe she would know how horrible her suggestion really was.

My friends, in the middle of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln had already declared Martial Law in many parts of our country - many of his advisers wanted him to suspend and postpone the upcoming Presidential Election of 1864.

The Presidential Election of 1864 became one of the most important moments in American History.

It was, first of all, remarkable that it even took place because we were a nation at war.  Washington D.C. was an armed camp and rebel victories were mounting. There were huge riots and anti-Lincoln sentiment was high.  If the election would be held, it was believed that Lincoln would surely lose the White House.

But the election took place. It took place in the Union States, bloody civil war or not, with no precedent for voting in a divided nation, and with seemingly ample justification for postponement.  Yes, it took place. 

President Lincoln believed that it had to take place because it spoke to the heart of who we were as a nation.

Yes, their was spirited debate but all in all it was an orderly process. Surprisingly Chicago style Politics was even alive and well back then, but there was really little corruption and negligible violence.  The election became, as one writer put it, "a sterling example and vindication of the democratic process itself."

And more, the Election of 1864 was an election in which voters cast ballots to determine crucial questions about the direction of the war, about their government, and about American society.  The questions that Americans had to look at were huge to say the least.

Should the war which had already been fought since 1861 go on?   Should, as Lincoln's Democrat opponent argued, there be a settlement sought with the South?   It's true that the Democrat Party wanted peace at any price.  But Americans were being asked what they wanted, and not what the Democrat Party want. 

Voters were asked to think about the future and ask themselves if America should be color-blind?  They were asked to vote knowing that a vote against Lincoln would mean the continuation of slavery in the South for certain.  They were asked what role did they think blacks, former slaves, would play in the war and in a post-war American society? 

Those and similar questions raised some of the most fundamental issues to be considered since the founding of the republic. It was a pivotal moment in American History.

At the time, Americans everywhere in the Northern States, the baker, the merchant, the candlestick maker, the soldier in the field of battle who probably wanted the war to end more than anyone, all knew what was at stake.  Their votes would decide, most likely forever, if Americans would forever be part of two nations.  Their votes for the defeatist Democrats would mean an America to be split in two, and a South with its slavery still intact would win the war. 

Contrary to the pols and the Newspapers who hated him and tried to gin up resentment against him, Abraham Lincoln won.  He heard loud and clear what Americans in the North wanted.  Contrary to what the Democrat Party said, Americans did not want Slavery or a divided United States of America. 

Just as today, Americans are tired of being slaves to Federal and State regulations.  Many Americans today see the federal government as the oppressor instead of working for us.   Many Americans today believe the Democrat Party is a Political Party with a set objective to divide and change our Republic.  Liberals who have consistantly demonstrated a desire to destroy our basic American values, have also shown a real desire to turn our America into a Socialist State with the power belonging to the state instead of the people. 

One way of meeting their objective of changing our Republic is to weaken the American voter. And the best way to weaken the American voter, yes, it is to suspend our rights and privileges under our Constitution. Why want a nation where the government rules the people instead of what we have now where the people rule the government?  It is beyond me as to why because I simply don't understand the Liberal thinking enough to understand their basic hatred of America.    

Many believe that it's for personal and political gain that the Liberals create division and dessension, conflict and strife.  It fits into their plan by creating instability and a need for Federal action.  Crisis gives Liberal Democrats a reason to act without authority.  And yes, one way to act without authority is to suspend the Constitution of the United States and especially the Bill of Rights - our fundamental protections.  

As for Governor Perdue, well her office tried to say she was joking. But a joke without sense or thought is brainless blather, not even a joke at all.  Usually humor has some grain of truth in it, especially if it wants to be funny.  This is especially true in satire and sarcasm. 

So maybe she wasn't joking at all, after all, as a famous writer once said, "there's truth in jest." Maybe she was just tipping her hand about what she and other Liberals want in the future?

As for her idea of suspending the elections of 2012 so that it can give the Democrats time and an edge to repair their Political Party's weak leadership in Washington?  Well, my friends, they should rethink messing with our Constitution. 

And honestly, if their leadership is their problem then the Democrat Party should work on it without violating the rights of all Americans and destroying the Constitution of the United States in the process. 



Story by Tom Correa

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One of My Favorite Statues - The Frontier Marshal

There is a great piece of art located at the United States Marshals National Memorial in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The statue is called "The Frontier Marshal."

Until recently, I didn't know what the full story was behind the statue. 

This is from the website of the U.S. Marshals Service. I hope that you're as impressed with this piece of work as much as I am.

For the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Marshals Service, a larger-than-life bronze sculpture, it is titled the "Frontier Marshal."

It was donated to the Marshals Service by famed leathersmith John Bianchi, who is a member of the original U.S. Marshals foundation Board of Directors and founder of Bianchi International which is a holster and sporting equipment manufacturer.

"The frontier era in which the Marshals Service gained such renown occurred in about the halfway point of our 200 plus year history," said former Marshals Service Director Stanley E. Morris in 1986 when the statue was dedicated to the U.S. Marshals Service.

He went on to say, "The sculpture thus seems a fitting symbol of the dedication of Marshals and their Deputies during those two centuries, and reminds us of the self-sacrifice and dangers so often associated with upholding the law."

The 10-foot tall work of art was created by Dave Manuel of Joseph, Oregon, a widely acclaimed painter and sculptor of western themes.

The bronze portrays a confident, very dignified U.S. Marshal.  In one hand, he holds a 10 gallon hat and what appear to be court papers.  The other hand rests on his gun belt, as his long duster is blown back just far enough to reveal the pistol in the holster on the gun belt.

His face in the wind, looking into the distance, he'd do the big job ahead of him.


Sculptor Dave Manuel and the "Frontier Marshal"

(Left to right) William E. Hall, former Director of the Marshals Service; K.M. Moore, former Director of the Marshals Service; John Bianchi, former member of U.S. Marshals foundation Board of Directors; Stanley e. Morris, former Director of the Marshals Service; and artist Dave Manuel participated in the ceremony which dedicated the U.S. Marshals National Memorial. The program included the unveiling of the bronze sculpture.


Story by Tom Correa

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Old West - Interesting Facts - Part Two

Well, it seems that folks like Old West trivia as much as I do. 

One good friend took me to task about something that I wrote about the Kennedy Mine in Jackson. 

Since Jackson is our big town around these parts, it didn't take too long to verify my information and make the adjustments to clarify the facts.

Gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill near Coloma, California in 1848. 

On an icy cold morning early in 1848, James Wilson Marshall, a carpenter from New Jersey, picked up a few nuggets of gold from the the trailrace of the sawmill that he was building for John Sutter. 

In the following year hundreds of thousands of gold-seeking adventurers journeyed to California.  Prospectors from the Eastern parts of the United States and from Europe came across country and sailed around Cape Horn. 

Some hiked across the Isthmus of Panama from South America.  Ships poured into San Francisco from Asia, and yes, even from Hawaii. 

These California immigrants were called "Forty Niners" because most of them arrived in 1849.

According to the State of California, nearly $2,000,000,000 in gold was taken from the earth before mining became dormant.

So did you know that outlaw Jesse James used to write his own Press Releases and hand them out during his hold ups?  It's true.  So besides being a murderer and a robber, it sounds like Jesse was pretty vain as well. 

It might seem hard to believe.  In the late 1890s, Wyatt Erap operated a Saloon in Nome, Alaska.  One night Earp got slapped acros the face and had his gun taken away from him by U.S. Marshal Albert Lowe for brandishing a firearm.  It happened after Earp threatened the Marshal saying he'd show the Marshal how guns are handled "down Arizona way." 

Wyatt Earp was a lucky man, because brandishing a firearm to a bad hombre like Federal Marshal Albert Lowe could have gotten him killed that night. 

Wyatt Earp may have suffered from being a man who believes his own press.  This again falls under the heading, sometimes it's not smart to let your mouth write checks that your ass can't cash.  On a visit to San Francisco in May of 1900, he was knocked senseless in a fist fight with a local prizefighter named Mike Mulqueen after Earp mouthed off to him. 

Another interesting fact of Wyatt Earp has to do with his being arraigned twice in Los Angeles on Bunco Charges.  The word Bunco that many today associate with the friendly dice game was once a term used to when talking about scams, swindlings and confidence games.  By the 1880s many Police Departments had their own Bunco Squad that were used to investigate those confidence games. 

The last time Wyatt Earp was arraigned for running a Bunco Game was in 1911, when he tried to fleece a Mr. Patterson out of $25,000.  And friends, that may be a lot of money these days - but it was even moreso back then. 

One of my favorite stories about Vigilante Justice took place in Bannack, Montana where Sheriff Henry Plummer secretly led a band of outlaws who robbed or killed more than a hundred victims.  In 1864, his secret was discovered - Plummer and his gang were hanged by Montana Vigilantes.

Outlaws and Lawmen were interchangeable in the Old West. 

Some Outlaws became Lawmen and others became Outlaws.  The Dalton Gang brothers, Grat, Bob and Emmett all wore badges before moving to the other side of the law.  Actually many outlaws turned lawmen. Most, if not all, would change their name in the process.  Frank Canton, outlaw turned U.S. Marshal was a good example of men changing their ways - well, sort of.

The famous Goodnight-Loving Trail was established in 1866 between Fort Belknap, Texas and Fort Sumner, New Mexico.  Oliver Loving was later killed by Comanche Indians on the trail bearing his name. In contrast Goodnight, on the other hand, died a wealthy man in his nineties in 1929.

Texas, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Colorado, are the states and territories where most of the Old West shootings occurred. 

On November 24, 1835, the Republic of Texas established a force of frontiersmen volunteers called the "Texas Rangers."  The Texas Rangers were paid $1.25 per day for their services. The members of The Texas Rangers were said to be able to "ride like a Mexican, shoot like a Kentuckian, and fight like the Devil."

Despite his fame as a gunfighter, Clay Allison died an accidental death while working on his ranch.  On July 3, 1887, Allison was hauling a wagon load of supplies when the load shifted.  A sack of grain fell from the wagon, and Allison fell from the wagon as he tried to catch it.  A wagon wheel rolled over him, breaking his neck.  His death was almost instantaneous.  He was 47 years old.  And yes, for a gunfighter - he lived a long life.

Black Jack Ketchum was the only person ever hung in Union County, New Mexico. According the annals of American Jurisprudence, he was the only criminal decapitated during a hanging.  The only other recorded example was in England in 1601.

So why was he decapitated?  Well that's an interesting fact all by itself.  Fact is that while Ketchum was being tried and than awaiting his execution, he simply put on more weight than what the Hangman allowed for.  He lost his head over the extra weight he put on.

And since we're on Black Jack Ketchum, another interesting fact is that after his head snapped off - his head was sewn back onto the body for viewing.

The Pony Express was in operation for only nineteen months from April 1860 through October 1861. The Pony Express carried almost 35,000 pieces of mail over more than 650,000 miles during those nineteen months and lost only one mail sack. The typical Pony Express rider was nineteen years old and made $100-$150 per month plus room and board.

In 1884, the citizens of Montana Territory were fed up with lawlessness and forming a large-scale vigilante force, they executed thirty-five horse and cattle thieves that year.

The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral only lasted about thirty seconds.

William Blake, also known as Tulsa Jack Blake, died in the Spring of 1895 in Dover, Oklahoma.  Cause of death?  Well, he was killed by a posse when one of the lawman's bullets struck Blake's cartridge belt and exploded a shell causing a wound that resulted in his death.   Imagine that!

Mattie Blaylock was a prostitute who was one of the companions and common-law wives of Wyatt Earp.  She was living with Earp in Tombstone during famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  She committed suicide with an overdose of laudanum on July 3, 1888 in Pinal, Arizona.  Supposedly, she was despondent because Earp had left her for another woman.

Billy the Kid was shot at the home of Pete Maxwell by old friend and lawman, Pat Garrett.  Supposedly Pat Garrett was sitting on the edge of Pete's bed when he shot Billy. 

Gunslinger Jack Slade's most vicious killing happened in Cold Springs, Colorado in the 1860s when Slade tied a Beni Jules to a hitching post -  then used him as target practice. 

After firing several shots into Jules' arms and legs, Slade then stuck the barrel of his gun into the almost deadman's mouth and pulled the trigger.  Slade then cut off the deadman's ears and kept one for his watch fob.

But wait, there's more to that story.  Before that ever happened, we have to go back to the Spring of 1860 when Jack Slade rode into the stage station where Beni Jules was living. 

Beni Jules established a trading post on the border of Colorado and Nebraska in 1859.  He catered to the pioneers heading west. He named his trading post and way stop for the wagon trains "Julesburg." 

Not long after that the Overland Stage established a home station at Julesburg to take advantage of this profitable trade with pioneers.  Jack Slade was put in charge of this new section of the line and proceeded to improve the quality of all the services by upgrading the livestock, personnel and stage stations. 

This put him into immediate conflict with Jules.  On one occasion, Slade came to Beni’s ranch and found horses that clearly belonged to the Overland Stage.  Slade proceeded to confiscate them.  Jules Beni swore vengeance and disliked Slade intensely.

So when in the Spring of 1860 he sees Jack Slade ride into the stage station unarmed, Jules sees his chance to kill Slade. 

After Slade dismounts and starts to enter the General Store and Saloon, Jules came running up to Slade shooting him with a 32 caliber pistol.  His shots rang true and hit Slade with all six shots from his small pistol.   Seeing Slade still alive and not satisfied with that, Jules runs back in to get a shotgun  - and yes, Jules emptied both barrels into the helpless Slade. 

Satisfied that he had finished the job, Beni Jules tells a couple of bystanders at the Saloon door, "When he is dead, you can put him in one of those dry goods boxes and bury him."

Legend has it that Jack Slade looked up from the ground and said, "I’ll live long enough to wear your ears on my watch chain."  Jules just laughed.

With help from others, Jack Slade didn't die that day and instead lived to vow revenge upon Beni Jules.  In time, Beni Jules was killed by Slade.  And as we know, after being tied to a hitching post, Slade took out his knife and cut off Jules' ears.  

And yes, it's true that he did in fact wear them on his watch chain.  It was not missed by anyone because the rotting ears put off an horrible stench.

Talk about Halloween ghoulishness!

For more click:

Old West - Interesting Facts - Part One

Old West - Interesting Facts - Part Three


Story by Tom Correa

A True American Icon - Sam Colt

They say that "God made all men, but Sam Colt made them equal."

To start at the beginning, Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of a farmer who had moved his family to Hartford. 

Sam's mother, Sarah Colt Caldwell, died before Samuel was seven years old. Christopher Colt remarried two years later to Olive Sergeant.

The Colt family was a large family which included eight siblings - five boys and three girls in all. Two of the sisters died in childhood and the other, Sarah Ann, committed suicide later in life, but it's said that Sam's brothers were a huge part of his professional life.

In 1841, his brother John Colt killed a creditor with a hatchet.  The New York City jury found him guilty of the murder, but John committed suicide on the day of execution.

Sam's father "hired out" Sam as an indentured servant on a farm in Glastonbury at the age of 11. There Sam  did labor's work, but he also had the opportunity to attend school.  It was there at Glastonbury that he was also introduced to the "Compendium of Knowledge." 

 It was a scientific encyclopedia of the time. The encyclopedia contained articles that fascinated him.

His attention was drawn to reading about Robert Fulton and gunpowder. Of course, Robert Fulton was an American Engineer and Inventor who developed the first commercially successful Steamboat.

In fact, in 1800, Robert Fulton was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus which was the first practical Submarine in history in history.

So with an attraction to mechanical engineering and gunpowder, Sam Colt found that both provided him with all sorts of motivation and ideas. Motivation and idea that would influence him throughout his life.

It is said that while Sam read about Fulton that, "he discovered that Robert Fulton and several other inventors had accomplished things deemed impossible — until they were done." The thought motivated him.

Later, after hearing soldiers talk about the success of double barreled rifles and the impossibility of a reliable gun that could shoot five or six times, a young Sam Colt "decided he would be an inventor and create the 'impossible' gun".

In 1829, Sam Colt began working in his father's textile plant in Ware, Massachusetts. There he had access to tools and materials, and also something that he learn to prize - craftsmanship and expertise.

In 1830, his father sent him to sea to learn to be a Sailor. The Seaman's trade was tough and it would help discipline the teenager who was know as a bit of a prankster. 

Being a hard worker and willing to tackle tasks put in front of him, Sam took to the sea aboard the Corvo, a ship that embarked on a nearly yearlong voyage in 1830.

Aboard the Corvo, Colt became fascinated with the ship's wheel, particularly the way it could alternately spin or be locked in a fixed position through the use of a clutch.

He translated this controlled rotation to firearms and a means whereby a single-shot pistol could be adapted to fire multiple rounds in quick succession.

Later, Sam Colt credited his inspiration for the whole concept of the revolver to his observations of the ship's wheel during his first voyage.

He discovered that "regardless of which way the wheel was spun, each spoke always came in direct line with a clutch that could be set to hold it, and that's how the revolver was conceived!"

During that voyage, Colt made a wooden model of a pepper-box revolver.  He carved his six-barrel cylinder, locking pin and hammer all out of wood. 

Although this prototype for a pistol featured multiple rotating barrels, in later versions Colt would opt instead for a rotating cylinder containing multiple bullet chambers to reduce the gun's weight and bulk.

Then when Sam returned to the United States in 1832, he went back to work for his father, who financed the production of two guns, a rifle and a pistol.

The guns turned out to be of poor quality because Christopher Colt believed the idea to be foolish and only hired poor craftsmen. The first completed pistol exploded when it was fired, but the first rifle performed well.

Later, Sam learned about something called Nitrous Oxide. Yes, he learned about laughing gas from the factory chemist.

With that knowledge Sam took a portable lab on the road and earned a living performing laughing gas demonstrations across the United States and Canada billing himself as “the Celebrated Dr. Coult of New York, London, and Calcutta."

According to Colt historian, Robert Lawrence Wilson, the "Dr Coult lectures launched Colt's celebrated career as a pioneer Madison Avenue-style pitchman."

His public speaking skills were so convincing and efficient that these skills were pressed into service to cure an apparent cholera epidemic on board a riverboat. Imagine that! Now that's putting what you know to use!

It was during this time that he made arrangements to begin building guns using proper gunsmiths from Baltimore, Maryland. Then in 1832, at the age of 18, Colt applied for a patent on his revolver and declared that he would "be back soon with a model."

In 1835, Samuel Colt traveled to England, following in the footsteps of American Inventor Elisha Collier, who had patented a revolving flintlock in England. And yes, the English officials issued the patent after no fault could be found with the gun.  It was Sam's first patent, British Patent Number 6909.

Interestly, Colt never claimed to have invented the revolver, as his design was merely a more practical adaption of Collier's revolving flintlock, which was patented in England

Samuel Colt received a British patent on his improved design for a revolver in 1835, and right after that he received two U.S. patents in 1836, one in February (U.S.Patent 9430X) and the other in August (U.S.Patent 1304).

The year 1836 was the same year that he found his first corporation for arms manufacturing. He called his new company the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey, Colt's Patent. 

But success was not his to be had, because of production and quality problem his company closed in 1842.

Between 1842 and 1848, Samuel Colt collaborated with the Whitney armory of Whitneyville, Connecticut, which was run by the family of Eli Whitney of Cotton Gin frame.  Eli Whitney Jr (born 1820), the son of the Cotton Gin developer patriarch, was the head of the family armory and a successful arms maker and innovator of the era. 

Sam Colt used a combination of renting the Whitney firm's facilities and subcontracting parts to the firm to continue his pursuit to produce revolvers.

In 1847, Captain Samuel Walker and the Texas Rangers, who had acquired some of the first Colt revolvers produced during the Seminole War, ordered an additional 1,000 revolvers to use in the Mexican-American War.

The large order allowed Colt to re-establish his firearm business. Because he no longer owned a firearm factory, or even had a model of a firearm, Colt hired Eli Whitney Blake, who was already established in the arms business to make his guns.

Sam Colt and Captain Walker drew up a new improved model from which Whitney produced the first thousand-piece order known as the Colt Walker. The company then received an order for a thousand more. Colt took a share of the profits at $10 per pistol for both orders.

During the Mexican–American War, 1846–1848, Colt's revolvers found favorability with the Texans and thus was the fuel to start Colt manufacturing revolvers.

In 1848, Sam Colt was able to start up a whole new corporation of his own. He founded the Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut.  

The 1850s were a decade of phenomenal success for Colt.  He was one of the early influential companies in the race to widely commercialize the total use of interchangeable parts throughout a product. One reasons for his success was that he brought in German gunsmiths and craftsmen to ensure top of the line workmanship.

At London's Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, Colt demonstrated his product to an amazed crowd.  Ten Colts were disassembled and then reassembled using different parts from different guns.  Then they were shown to function completely reliably. 

It was a time of tension in Europe and though the U.S. wasn't directly involved in the Crimean War (1854-1856), Colt weapons were used by both sides.  Fact is that with a virtual monopoly on reliable well produced firearms, Sam Colt sold his pistols in Europe where demand was high due to tense international relations.

It's said that by telling each nation that the others were buying Colt's pistols, that he was able to get large orders from many nations who feared falling behind in the arms race at the time. 

In 1855, Colt unveiled his new state-of-the-art armories in Hartford, Connecticut, and London, England.  The new armories were fitted with the latest machine tools, some of which were Colt’s own design. 

Much of the machinery was actually built by Francis Pratt and Amos Whitney who would later create their own enterprise which would become world known.

His London factory had its problems.  Colt's presence in the British gun market caused years of resentment and lawsuits between Colt and the other gun makers. 

The problem was that the British believed that guns needed to be made by hand, and subsequently they hated the whole concept of the new American system of manufacturing and industrialization. 

Many British gun makers went so far as to question the validity of Colt's original British patent. 

They viewed Colt as a sort of showman and pirate. And yes, it actually took many years and the involvement of the British government to satisfy the British gun makers. 

In 1855, Sam Colt bought a large piece of land beside the Connecticut River where he built a larger factory.  He called it the Colt Armory.  Then in 1856, he built a manor that he called Armsmear as a place for employee housing if it was needed.

In many many ways, Sam Colt was ahead of his time. 

He established a ten-hour work day for his employees.  He installed washing stations in the factory, and he mandated a one-hour lunch break.  He even built the Charter Oak Hall which was a club where employees could enjoy games, newspapers, and there was discussion rooms available.

On June 5th, 1856, Samuel Colt married Elizabeth Jarvis.  They had one son together. 

In 1860, Colt produced a new revolver model for the United States Army.  This Colt Army Model 1860 appeared just in time for the Civil War. 

At  the outbreak of the Civil War, Samuel Colt was commissioned a Colonel by the State of Connecticut in the 1st Regiment Colts Revolving Rifles.  All of the troops were issued the Colt revolving rifle, but that unit did not see action during the war. 

Samuel Colt died in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1862. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. He left a wife a son, and an incredible legacy.

At the time of his death, Colt's estate, which he left to his wife and son, was estimated to be valued at around $15,000,000 - I've read where that's about $420 million by today's standards.

Before Sam Colt's revolving cylinder, it was said, "a shooter could only obtain a flintlock pistol with one or two barrels." The Colt revolver signaled a revolution in ballistic weaponry, transforming the tedious reloading process and low rate of fire.

Some folks have read my articles on James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, Wyatt Earp and others, and have asked if there were any so-called Icons of the Old West who I actually liked?

Well, there are a lot of real Heroes of the day that I truly admire. Sam Colt is one of them.

Sam Colt was no Dime Novel Hero and he might have never come West - but all in all his American ideals of hard work and perseverance made him a man to be admired.

Sam Colt's legacy lives on as the company bearing his name continues to sell Colt revolvers today. And yes, we are a better nation for his being an American.


Story by Tom Correa



Monday, October 24, 2011

Foreign Aid To Buy Influence Is Dumb!

So is Washington finally getting a clue that there is something very stupid about giving Foreign Aid money as a way of gaining influence in that country - especially when that country is one of the top 3 economic powers in the world?

It was in the News today that a few Democrat Senators are outraged that the U.S. is giving Millions of Dollars in Foreign Aid to China - while we are borrowing Billions of Dollars from China.

No shit! Well, it's about time!

China is one of the biggest economies in the world, if not The Biggest, and it grew at more than 9% over the last year while our economy only grew at 2%.

China has loaned us, the United States, more than One Trillion Dollars to fund our Politicians need for deficit-spending.  Deficit-spending. That sounds sort of clinical doesn't it? 

If I spend what I don't have coming in, its not called "Deficit-spending."  It's called selfish, stupid, callus behavior. Washington calls it "poor fiscal management."  My wife would call it, "dumb!"

So how has a couple of Democrats come to realize that while we in the U.S. borrow from Communist China that we turn around and send Foreign Aid to the same Communist that we keep borrowing from?

I have no idea.  Maybe they attended a Tea Party rally and found out that that's the sort of thing we talk about at the rallies?  Maybe they are seeing the light? Maybe they are seeing their time Representing us as coming to a close because of their stupidity. Who knows?

Is it just plain nuts?  Of course it is!  Is it borderline insanity to repeat the same action over and over again when you know it's crazy to do so?  Of course it is!

"Why in the world would we be borrowing money and then turn around and giving it back to the countries that we're borrowing it from?" Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said. "If they have enough of a surplus to loan us money, they have enough of a surplus to take care of their own needs."

Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia asked the same question in a recent appearance on Fox News, "Hey, in the crisis that we're in right now, should we really be continuing to send American taxpayer dollars over to China for these purposes?"

And I love the way this was reported, quote "It isn't a lot of aid -- tens of millions in bilateral aid, much more through international institutions to which the U.S. contributes."

That's not a lot of money to who?  It sure the Hell is a lot of money to Americans! China shouldn't be getting any Foreign Aid at all! 

It's the same with a lot of the countries that we give Foreign Aid to, including the United Nations.  Why allow the United Nations to stay in New York?  Why not have them relocate to somewhere more appropriate to their problem?  They should relocate to Somalia so that they can see for themselves what their policies have wrought.

Why pay the U.N. a single dime?  The U.N. is nothing but a place that breeds Anti-Americanism, spreads Islamic terrorism, and gorges itself on greed! 

Why pay any Foreign Aid to any one?  First thing is that the money only goes to making Dictators rich.  The money never ever trickles down to those in need.  Besides, we have starving children here in America.  We have many of the problem that many in other countries have, right here.  Why can't we take care of us first, before we concentrate on the problems of others. 

As for the Chinese, well friends, we buy Chinese goods galore.  They are everywhere!  Wal-Mart, which I used to buy more from, has an inventory made up almost entirely of merchandise made in China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Chili, and many other countries. 

Yes, merchandise from many countries, but not merchandise from the United States.  If you think I'm kidding, please check where all of Wal-Mart's stuff comes from.  Clothing, tools, picture frames, you just about name it.  And yes, it's enough to make a man angry!

Fords are made overseas just like General Motors are, while Toyota's and Honda's are made here.  And yes, those foreign auto-makers are employing Americans while American auto-makers are sending our jobs overseas. 

So who do you buy from?  American Companies get Taxpayer Bailouts and build more factories overseas to use cheap foreign labor, while at the same time Foreign Companies are hiring American workers in factories here. 

I know where I stand.  If it were me, I'd stripe the Tax and Tariff Breaks that American Companies are getting while building anything overseas.  If it were me, I'd penalize General Motors and Ford for building cars and trucks in foreign countries.  Maybe we should give tax breaks to companies that hire Americans? 

America can use the Foreign Aid if Congress or Obama wants to send it our way?  Maybe we can use the money for our own children, and in places around our own country where our people are living in poverty and despair.

So why should a nation like China that's competing with the U.S. economically and politically in every corner of the globe get any money from the U.S.?  They shouldn't.

"I think the Chinese are just laughing whenever they receive a check," said Dan Ikenson, a trade economist at the CATO Institute. "How silly this is of the United States to be subsidizing the faster-growing, second-largest economy in the world."

On the other side, we have people like Dan Runde of the Center for Strategic and International Studies who say, "The hope and the operating assumption is that to the extent that we engage them in a variety of ways, that we can stay influential. And we can influence them." Although he does admit that the Foreign Aid that we send China has little positive impact.

No kidding! He's probably a highly educated man.  To bad he doesn't have the common sense that everyday Americans have.  Everyday Americans can probably explain to people like Dan Runde, that just because we give money to a nation - that that in itself does not guarantee that we will have any influence on those people.

Heck, if that were the case, than a whole lot of countries would have been influences by American money.  We have put out $ Trillions upon Trillions of Dollars with hardly anything to show for it.  It is just a stupid idea and a dumb policy. 

Our government should have learned a long time ago that no matter how much money we put out to other countries, friends they are just going to do what is in their best interest - and if that means taking our money and laughing at us while they promise us their allegiance - than so be it.

The whole matter leaves Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma completely disgusted. "You know, it's stupidity. There's no other explanation for it, other than we're stupid in Washington to continue to do that."

While the Senate had recently passed a bill to punish Chinese currency manipulation, the House is about to examine Chinese trade policy across the board. But all in all, while lawmakers debate the issue, it is good that at least a few Senators and Congressman are asking the simple question, "Why do we keep sending money to countries that obviously shouldn't get it?"

So is Washington finally getting a clue that there is something very wrong with the way that they do business on our behave?  I can only hope so.

If you're curious where your elected Representative stands on giving away taxpayer money to people who obviously shouldn't be getting it - maybe it's time to call or write them to find out where they stand?

Story by Tom Correa

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Old West - Interesting Facts - Part One


Dear Friends,

There are many interesting facts about the Old West. Many have eluded history books for one reason or another. Many facts simply weren't sensational enough for Hollywood to pick up and include in a script or two.

First thing one should know is that not all of the Old West was a hotbed of gunfights and murders. In fact, in the year 1880, the wide-open mining and cow towns of Virginia City, Nevada, Leadville, Colorado, and Dallas, Texas, had no homicides at all. That's right, none for the entire year.

In Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell, Kansas, for the years from 1870 to 1885, a 15 year span, there were only a total of only 45 total homicides combined. This means that that equates to a rate of approximately 1 murder per 100,000 residents per year. And by the way, 16 of those 45 homicides were committed by duly authorized Peace Officers.

And another thing, other than only two towns, Ellsworth in 1873 and Dodge City in 1876, none of the other cow towns ever had as many as five killings in any one year period. Can you imagine how peaceful things would be today if we had such a low homicide rate? We'd almost have no need for the police.

In the summer of 2012, Detroit had a string of homicides that left 20 people dead in 10 days. They, like Chicago and Los Angeles, have hundreds of homicides each year.

Places like Detroit, Michigan, Oakland and Stockton, California, and of course Chicago, Illionois which has a higher murder death rate by gun shots than the war zone in Afghanistan, would all love to say that they compared to Dodge City in 1876 - but they don't by a long shot.

I've read where in Abilene, Kansas, supposedly one of the wildest of the cow towns, did not have a single person killed in 1869 and 1870.

Abilene Town Marshal Tom "Bear River" Smith was killed on November 2, 1870, but he was killed 12 miles out of town. An interesting fact of the Old West is how town Marshal Tom "Bear River" Smith died. It wasn't in a gunfight out in the middle of the town at High Noon on Main street.

It was on November 2nd, 1870, Thomas James "Bear River" Smith was cruelly executed by two farmers, Andrew McConnell and Moses Miles, in the countryside 12 miles outside Abilene. While trying to arrest McConnell, who was the larger of the pair and who had recently murdered a neighbor, the brave Smith suffered a severe gunshot wound.

But that did not kill him, in fact during the ensuing scuffle with the two, Tom Smith was viciously slashed by an axe blow administered by Miles as the lawman futilely struggled.

Another interesting fact of the Old West is that Tom "Bear River" Smith was the personal hero to one famous man from Abilene. He was in fact the hero of President Dwight David Eisenhower. Supposedly President Eisenhower was not impress by Wild Bill Hickok who became Town Marshal of Abilene later. Shows Ike knew about Hickok at an early age.

A couple of interesting facts about James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok is that before being written about and subsequently being made famous in Dime Novels, he was known as "Duck Bill" because of his huge nose.

And yes, it's true that Buffalo Bill Cody fired Hickok from their stage act because "Hickok had a voice like a girl"- that's per Cody.


The picture above was supposedly taken in Leadville, Colorado, in 1879. Left is said to be Joseph “White Eye” Anderson, who accompanied Wild Bill Hickok to Deadwood in 1876, and his friend E. B. “Yankee” Judd on the right. Judd is packing a First Model Army Merwin Hulbert revolver in his holster. His rifle appears to be a Sharps Borchardt 1878 rifle.

First discovered in the 1860s, the Kennedy Mine, a gold mine located in Jackson, California, served as one of the richest gold mines in the entire world. In 1898, the Kennedy Mine's East Shaft reached a vertical depth of 5,912 feet (1,792 m), the deepest vertical depth gold mine in North America at the time.

At the time of its closing in 1942, the mine had produced some $34.3 million (according to the California Department of Conservation) when gold was valued at $20.67 and $35 per ounce. Imagine what those numbers would be today at today's gold price of $1,705.00 per once.

First discovered in 1876, the Homestake Mine, a gold mine located in Lead, South Dakota was in fact the largest and deepest gold mine in North America when it closed in 2002.

Yes, it's true that sometimes Cowboys referred to beans as "Deceitful Beans" - because "they talked behind your back."

The Navajo, our Nation's largest Native American Group, have a reservation that covers 14 Million Acres. The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering 27,425 square miles (71,000 km2), occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. It is the largest land area assigned primarily to a Native American jurisdiction within the United States. That, my friends, is no small piece of ground!

Some folks think it was the California Gold Rush of 1849 that was the first gold strike in the Old West, and they'd be wrong for thinking so. Fact is that the first gold strike in the Old West was made by Jose Ortiz in 1832 just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in what would quickly become the boom town of Delores.

Since Henry the Kid would have sound like a wimp, Henry McCarty took to being called Billy the Kid. Fact is that Henry was born in New York City on September 17, 1859. And as for those 21 men he supposedly killed, well fact is is that it was more like 4.

And where is the Oldest U.S. Military Post in the United States that has been in continuous operation West of the Mississippi? Well, established in 1827, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is the oldest military post in continuous operation west of the Mississippi.

The oldest human skeleton ever found in the Western Hemisphere was discovered in 1953 near Midland, Texas. It was first believed that the skeleton, the remains of a 30-year-old woman, was 10,000 years old. However, the latest estimates are that she is much older. Just show how some women can hold their age better than others.

We can thank Dodge City for many things such as the hub for the famous cattle drives. But the fact is that we can also thank Dodge City, Kansas for the term "red light district." It came from the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City. The front door of the building was made of red glass and produced a red glow to the outside world when lit at night. The name carried over to refer to the town's brothel district.

The Outlaw Clay Allison was described in a physician’s report as being "maniacal with a personality where emotional or physical excitement produces paroxysmal of a mixed character." Can you say Criminally Insane?

Estimates of how many people lived in North America before the arrival of the European explorers vary from 8.4 million to 112 million. This population was divided into about 240 tribal groupings speaking an estimated 300 different languages.

Another fact about the Indian tribes in the United States is that they waged cruel and inhumane War upon each other long before the Spanish or the Whites ever arrived. Their Wars were waged not for territory, but simple rivalry. The goal was to exterminate the other tribe.

An interesting fact is what was done to all of the Buffalo bones that were strewn across the Great Plains after the mass buffalo hunts of the 1870s and 1880s? Fact is that they were bought by Eastern firms for the production of fertilizer and bone china. "Bone pickers" earned eight dollars a ton for the bones. The Great Plains were picked clean.

Trivia about Texas? Well around 1541, the present state of Texas was called "Tejas" which is a Spanish version of the word "Caddo" which means "Allies."

Wyatt Earp trivia is always fun. Most only know the story of Wyatt Earp from Hollywood. Fact is that he was indicted for horse theft in Van Buren, Arkansas on May 8, 1871.

He escaped trial by jumping bail, escaping from jail through a skylight, and fleeing to Kansas. many don't know that Wyatt and Morgan were also arrested many time for being Pimps in Illinois. And yes, there is proof that Wyatt was never a Buffalo Hunter at all. He may have drove a hide wagon, but it is probable that he never shot Buffalo.

Wyatt Earp was neither the town marshal in Tombstone, Arizona nor the county sheriff at the time of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. His brother Virgil was in fact the town marshal, Morgan was his deputy. Virgil had temporarily deputized Wyatt and Doc Holiday prior to the gunfight. By trade, Wyatt was a bartender and Faro dealer at the time of the shootout.

More interesting facts have to do with where some traditions start. For example the tradition of spreading saw dust on the floors of bars and saloons is believed to have started in Deadwood, South Dakota due to the amount of gold dust that would fall on the floor. The saw dust was used to hide the fallen gold dust and was swept up at the end of the night. Yes, folks are always creating ways to get all they can - one way or another.

And by the way, let's talk about Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 set off one of the last great gold rushes in the country. In 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills. That’s where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold, Deadwood was born.

The longest Morse code telegram ever sent was sent from Nevada. It was the Nevada State Constitution. Sent from Carson City to Washington D.C. in 1864. The transmission must have taken several hours.

Here's an interesting fact about famous outlaw Cole Younger. After serving more than twenty years in prison, Cole Younger got a job selling tombstones, worked for a while in a Wild West show with Frank James, and he died quietly in 1916 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri where he was known as an elderly churchgoer. Imagine that!

An interesting fact about the famous Oregon Trail, which extents from Independence, Missouri to Fort Vancouver, Washington, it that it measured 2,020 miles. And yes, amazingly, of an estimated 350,000 emigrants took the Oregon Trail, 1 out of every 17 pioneers did not survive the trip. The most common cause of death was cholera.

Hollywood made him more famous in death than he was in life. Fact is that Harry Longabaugh became known as "the Sundance Kid” because he served a jail term for horse stealing in Sundance, Wyoming.

Here's a interesting story! Mike Fink was a keel boatman along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He was also an expert marksman. He loved to drink and was a known brawler. Davy Crockett is supposed to have described him as "half horse and half alligator."

One of Fink's favorite games was to shoot a mug of brew from the top of some fellow's head. However, on one night in 1823, he had drank so much that it didn't matter how good were his shooting skills. He missed and killed the guy who was wearing the mug on his head. In no time, the dead man's friends retaliated by killing Fink.

For whatever reasons, back in the 1800s, Mike Fink's legend was being told for decades along with the likes of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. Imagine that!

Another strange fact has to do with the state of Nevada, Camels were used as pack animals in Nevada as late as 1870.

The Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was built in 1610 which makes it one of the oldest public buildings in all of America.

Texas was the most active gunfighting state in the Old West with some 160 shoot-outs from the 1850's through the 1890's.

Back in the 1800s, it took the entire state of Texas over 40 years to record what Oakland, California, does all by itself in a few monthsthese days. And yes, as for Chicago, 160 shoot-outs sounds like what takes place on any given weekend between the gangs there today. Imagine that!

During the Old West, a Gunman was also known as a "Leather Slapper," a "Gun Fanner," a "Gun Trapper," "Bad Medicine," a "Curly Wolf," and a "Shootist" among other things.

The telephone was invented in 1876. The first community to have a telephone after the White House telephone was installed was Deadwood, South Dakota. Imagine that!

Cowboys driving cattle to the market could expect to make between $25 and $40 per month. A Trail Boss might make as much as $125 per month.

The Colt Peacemaker was manufactured in 1873 by Colt’s Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. At the time it sold for $17.00.

Contrary to popular believe, many people did not carry the "expensive" Colt Peacemaker. In a time when the average salary was about $30 a month, a $17.00 pistol which was not really designed for anything other than killing men was just not practical to buy and own.

Samuel Clemens was struck by silver fever and tried his hand at prospecting in the town of Unionville, Nevada in 1862. Having more luck in trading mining claims than actually producing silver, he wound up leaving the area. A short time later Clemens, changed his name to Mark Twain and becomes one of the greatest writers of American Literature. And yes, he got his start right here in Calaveras County.

On December 21, 1876, outlaw Clay Allison shot and killed Deputy Sheriff Charles Faber at the Olympic Dance Hall in Las Animas, Colorado. If it weren’t for the fact that Clay Allison was purposely stomping on the feet of other dancers, the law probably would never have been called.

Heroin was used by the Bayer company as a cough suppressant and "antidiarrhoeal" medicine. It was administered along with counseling for its consumers. It was first created in 1874 by H.C. Alder Wright, and today Afghanistan produces 95% of the world's heroin.

The infamous Dalton Gang only operated for one year and five months, beginning with a train robbery in Wharton, Oklahoma on May 9, 1891 and ending at the shootout at Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892. So no, Outlaw gangs contrary to Hollywood did not have longevity.

An interesting fact about the Old West is that during Stage Robberies women would not be robbed. Actually in most cases the passengers would not be bothered. It was the cash box that the robbers were after.

If you think about it, it makes sense, the strong-box on a stage may be carrying thousands in gold - why bother with the passengers when their is obvious bigger riches to be had.

More about the O.K. Corral? Well, the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral DID NOT take place at the O.K. Corral. Fact is that when the Earps and the Clantons and McLaury's shot it out in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, their famous battle took place in a narrow vacant lot between Fly’s Photograph Gallery and the Harwood house on Fremont Street. It was a little bigger than an ally.

And yes, since the shootout took place 2 years before the introduction of Smokeless Powder in 1883, and all there shot-it-out using Black-powder cartridges, that ally must have resembled a London Fog!

The O.K. Corral was located nearby, and yes, somehow its name became attached to the now famous shootout.  Why do I say "now famous?" Well, that's because at the time, hardly anyone other than locals heard of it. It simply wasn't a big deal. Fact is that there were much bigger gunfights that took place in the West during that time.

The O.K. Corral really became "known" and then famous when Wyatt Earp tried selling his fictionalized life story to Hollywood in the 1920s. His life story was published the year that he died and he then became a "famous".

Prior to his death, Wyatt Earp was known nationally as being part of those responsible for fixing a prizefight. Yes, as the referee of the Heavyweight Championship fight, Wyatt Earp is known to have fixed the Tom Sharkey and Bob Fitzsimmons fight on December 2nd, 1896.

As another piece of Wyatt Earp trivia, before he died he was selling Real Estate in Orange County California, and was arrested for running a con-game to steal thousands from an unsuspecting victim.

And lastly for part one of interesting facts of the Old West, though the term "Stick 'Em Up" is widely used in Western films - no friends, it wasn't actually coined in the Old West.

A Highwayman or Robber would call out, "Stand and Deliver" when stopping a stage. Like the fast draw in the middle of main street and the low slung holster, the term "Stick 'Em Up" was started in Hollywood in the late 1920's.

It's just make-believe Hollywood. Just like dancing with wolves and six-shooters that don't need reloading, a lot of what we think went on in the Old West is all Hollywood!

For more great Old West trivia: