Friday, August 29, 2014

The Hot Springs Shootout 1899 -- Lawmen vs Lawmen

The hot spring water at Hot Springs, Arkansas, is believed to have medicinal properties. The water's healing effects were legendary among several Native American tribes long before Whites ever arrived there.

In 1832, right after the federal government set up federal protection of the area, the city developed into a successful town where people from all over went there for the healing benefits of the springs.

Hot Springs, Arkansas, should not be confused with Warm Springs, Georgia, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived while not in Washington or at his residence in Hyde Park, New York. President Roosevelt tried to regain his strength in his legs by soaking and exercising in the warm water. People did the same thing in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Hot Springs incorporated on January 10th, 1851, it later became home to illegal gambling, speakeasies and gangsters such as Al Capone in the 1930s, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, and the 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton.
It is said that illegal gambling became firmly established in Hot Springs during the decades following the Civil War. The town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, had a long history of illegal gambling and violence by the late 19th century.

Though it was illegal to gamble there, beginning in the 1870s, two factions, the Flynns and the Dorans, fought one another for control over the illegal gambling inside the city limits. With a population of around 10,000 at the time, it is a little surprising that the two factions were involved in a number of shootouts in and around downtown Hot Springs without raising the ire of the townsfolk to the point of stopping it.

Frank Flynn was the leader of the Flynn faction, and by 1883 he was firmly in control of all illegal gambling in Hot Springs. Through bribes and payoffs that he made to whole of the Hot Springs Police Department, Flynn successfully bought off any sort of problems by local law enforcement. And yes, besides bribes and payoffs to look the other way, believe it or not local deputies from the Sheriff's Office also worked for him as his enforcers. Both the city police and the County Sheriff's made sure he was the sole proprietor of gambling in that town, and yes, they even did his collecting of debts.

The big city mobs had nothing on Frank Flynn who made sure he had the Sheriff and the City Police working for him to look the other way as well as act as his hired muscle to keep other illegal gamblers out of his town. It seems that Frank Flynn owned the town of Hot Springs in the late 1870s.

Was everyone was on the take? With all of the law enforcement on the take, it seemed like that was the case. Though Frank Flynn paid off the County Sheriff's Department, he was said to have paid more money to the local city police department. And no, not everyone was happy about that arrangement.

With seven gambling houses, Flynn controlled all of the illegal gambling in Hot Springs in the late 1890s and was pulling in the dollars as fast as he could. Problems for Frank Flynn started when former Confederate Army Major Alexander S. Doran arrived to open gambling houses of his own in 1884.

Major Doran had a reputation as being good with a gun, and attempts at intimidating him were ineffective. Believe it or not, things got so bad for Flynn that he actually challenged Doran to a duel not long after Doran's arrival.

That didn't work out so well for Flynn as he was shot once in the chest. Lucky for him that it was not fatal. And after that, there were a number of clashes between the two factions which resulted in several people getting killed on both sides.

It is said that Major Doran killed ten men during the struggle for control of Hot Springs gambling before he himself was killed in downtown Hot Springs in 1888.

Flynn remained in business and continued to favor using the city police department to collect debts owed to him or to force competition to leave town.

Thomas C. Toler was the chief of police during that period. He was originally hired in the early 1870s by the first Garland County sheriff, William Little. By the mid-1890s, Toler had a falling out with Mayor W.W. Waters, leading Toler to support William L. Gordon in the 1897 mayoral election. By then the Hot Springs Police Department had a reputation for enforcing whatever Frank Flynn wanted, including collecting unpaid debts or forcing unwanted competition to leave town.

Hot Springs new Mayor Gordon once again appointed Toler as city police chief, but to Toler's surprise the new mayor ordered Toler to enforce new town ordinances that would restrict gambling activities and curb violence associated with vice. Preferring a more liberal policy, Toler is said to have refused to enforce the law. Besides, Toler took orders from Flynn who was a strong Alli that he did not want to lose.

Chief Toler and his police department opposed the new regulations and refused to enforce them. In the mean while Garland County Sheriff Bob Williams supported the mayor and was in favor of the new ordinances but only to gain more power for his department.

Coffee Williams, the sheriff's brother, was also his chief deputy. Coffee Williams, was a heavy drinker and frequented the gambling houses, but was otherwise considered competent in his duties. As tensions built between the two law enforcement agencies over the proposed crackdown on gambling, there were several heated verbal disputes between law enforcement officers.

Yes, this sounds a lot like the Earps versus Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, just a few years before. But unlike Tombstone, when lawmen went to shooting it out among themselves, things got bloody in a hurry in Hot Springs. If you've ever wondered how bad a shootout can really get with participants and bystanders getting hit, this might be the epitome of a horrible situation going to Hell in the Old West. Sadly, it was between lawmen.

It is said that the county sheriff was siding with the mayor to rid Hot Springs of gambling, but in reality it was a clash over whether the county sheriff's office or the city police department would control the illegal gambling profits in the city. Crooked is crooked, and while maybe not all of both departments were crooked. Both law enforcement agencies were extremely crooked to a large degree.

And please don't make the mistake of thinking that crooked cops didn't exist at the time, graft and corruption was actually widespread in police departments from San Francisco to New York back in the day. In San Francisco, the Vigilance Committee of 1851 and then 1856 were organized because of corruption in the that city's police department, and their local government as a whole. While many point at Sheriff John Behan in Tombstone as being corrupt and on the take, a stooge of the Cowboy faction there, some say the feud between to rival gangs being the Earps and Clantons over control of Tombstone. Another famous example of crooked lawmen was Sheriff Plummer of Bannack, Montana. He was said to have worked both sides of the law before being hanged by vigilantes.

The Hot Springs shootout was a fight over control of the city and who was going to be more crooked than the other. And frankly, Garland County Sheriff's Officer was corrupt as can be.

It was Lawmen vs. Lawmen

On the morning of March 16, 1899, mayoral candidate C.W. Fry and several police officers were present, Chief Toler now supported Fry for the upcoming election. After the meeting concluded, a stranger met with Sheriff Bob Williams to inform him of everything said during the meeting.  A list of all those present was given to Williams, who was enraged by the secret meeting.

Williams storm out of his office and went downtown to meet his friend Dave Young who worked occasionally as a deputy. From there the two men entered the Klondike Saloon, where they discussed the earlier meeting at around 1:30 p.m.

At the same time, Hot Springs Police Sergeant Tom Goslee was eating at the Corrinne Remington Cafe. After finishing his meal, Goslee went to the Tobe and York's barbershop at 614 Central Avenue to have his hair cut.

Goslee had left his .44 caliber revolver in his desk at the police station for safe keeping while he got a haircut, but no he was not totally unarmed because he did have a two-shot derringer with him. It was a hideaway gun that he used in emergencies.

Williams and Young left the Klondike Saloon, heading to the corner of Spring Street, where they saw Goslee leaving the barbershop. Sheriff Williams called out to Goslee from across the street, and Goslee crossed over to meet with the pair.

Police Sgt Thomas Goslee
Things became tense as soon as Goslee walked up. And as Sgt Tom Goslee held out his hand to greet Sheriff Williams, his hand was ignored.

Instead Williams gave Goslee a piece of paper containing the names of the men present during the political meeting. Williams then said something to the effect of, "I want to know what you mean by working against me."

Goslee denied nothing, responded calmly, then began to defend Chief Toler. Sheriff Williams became even more angry and called Goslee a liar and a coward, yelling at him the whole time.

When it appeared Williams was reaching for something under his coat, Goslee quickly drew his derringer, saying, "I want no trouble with you, as you are the sheriff of the county, but I will defend myself if forced to."

Young then stepped between both men, placing a hand on each mans shoulder and saying, "Boys, boys, this will not do.” And yes, Young would later tell a friend he believed Goslee would have killed Williams had he not stepped in.

Sheriff Williams opened his coat to show Goslee that he was not armed and continued to yell at him. Williams then saw his son, Johnny, who worked part-time as a deputy, walking out of the City Hall Saloon.

Sheriff Williams walked to him to greet him. But according to witnesses, Johnny passed his father a .44 caliber revolver and then took another from a friend for himself. It was then that Sheriff Williams opened fire on Goslee, who returned fire with his two-shot derringer.

There stands the problem with a two-shot derringer, it only has two shoots. And unless he was carrying a few extra rounds for his backup piece, Goslee knew that with his shots expended he was in trouble. But Goslee was no fool and immediately sought cover while both Sheriff Williams and his son fired at him. Not knowing if Goslee had reloaded, neither the Sheriff or his son moved in to kill him.

Instead Goslee was able to escaped down an alley to the Sumpter House, where he remained until Chief Toler and another officer arrived to escort him to city hall. Toler notified prosecutor David Cloud, who after taking statements from witnesses and the two men, issued a warrant for the arrest of Sheriff Williams.

Fourteen shots had been fired during the exchange. Luckily for Sgt Tom Goslee, he was not hit. And as surprising as it might sound, Chief Toler suggested that Sgt Goslee go meet with Johnny Williams to try to patch things up with him before the situation worsened. He in turn would meet with Sheriff Williams.

It's obvious that Chief Toler was not looking at the situation for what it really was, a war between lawmen. He would soon learn how much of a war it really was.

March 16th, 1899, was a very bloody day in Hot Springs Arkansas. 

Toler called a private meeting at his home, asking Goslee, C.W. Fry, Captain Lee Haley, Arlington Hotel owner Samual H. Stitt, and property owner George M. French to attend. Supposedly the meeting was meant to discuss how to lessen tensions between the two law enforcement agencies.

Toler then contacted Sheriff Williams to arrange a meeting at 5:30pm, which Williams agreed to but said it had to be short as his daughter Florence was having her 21st birthday party.

Sheriff Williams learned after his conversation with Chief Toler that his son Johnny was scheduled to meet with Sergeant Goslee. Williams then contacted his brother, Coffee, to accompany Johnny to that meeting.

Around 5:00 p.m. on the same day, Captain Haley and Sergeant Goslee walked down Central Avenue, meeting Johnny Williams, Coffee Williams, and Deputy Ed Spear in front of the Oliver and Finney grocery store. They greeted one another cordially, even jokingly, with Johnny Williams commenting that he wanted everyone to be his friend.

Chief Toler and Captain Haley went to Lemp's Beer Depot, where Haley's brother-in-law, Louis Hinkle, was bartender. It was there that they were to meet with Sheriff Williams. Coffee Williams and Ed Spear soon joined them in the bar. It was after this that the encounter began to take a turn from bad to deadly.

Capt. Haley said to Deputy Spear, "Ed, I understand you have told people that if I put my head out, you're going to shoot it off."

Spear seemed stunned for a moment, then replied that anyone who said that was lying. Louis Hinkle, standing behind the bar, became enraged and told Spear, "Don't you make me out to be a liar,"

Then, with one swift motion, Hinkle grabbed Spear around the neck, pulled out a knife, and sliced Spear's throat. As Spear struggled to get himself free and stop the bleeding, Haley yelled to Hinkle, "For God's sake, stop!"

Hinkle, however, would not let go. Toler and Goslee moved quickly toward the struggle, but before they reached the men, Spear wrestled free, pulled his pistol, and shot Hinkle in the throat.

As Hinkle staggered backward, wounded, Coffee Williams shot him in the chest one time.

Goslee was then shot by Johnny Williams, who was outside the bar. Williams shot him twice, once in the right knee and once in the groin.

Even though he was hit twice, Sgt Goslee returned fire shooting Johnny Williams in the head. Surprisingly the shot did not kill him instantly. Coffee Williams then shot and killed Sgt Goslee.

Captain Haley had fled when the first shots were fired, leaving Chief Toler outgunned and alone. Toler began shooting at Coffee Williams, who ran into the street and took refuge behind a freight wagon.

Ed Spear, still bleeding badly, began shooting at Toler. So did Coffee Williams.

Toler returned fire toward both. He hit Spear in the shoulder. But when Toler moved to get a better position on Coffee Williams, they exchanged shots and Toler was hit twice killing him on the spot.

One bullet was fired from Coffee Williams, hitting Toler in the head, and one bullet was fired by Spear, hitting Toler in the chest. Either shot would have been fatal. When Toler went down, the shooting stopped. Toler, Goslee, and Hinkle lay dead, and Johnny Williams lay dying.

Bystander Alan Carter had been wounded by a stray bullet. Spear was bleeding badly, but believe it or not he would survive.

But wait, though all were either dead or shot up, the shooting was not over.

Hot Springs Detective Jim Hart was notified by concerned citizens and responded to the shootout. Sheriff Williams had arrived by that time, found his son dying, and received a full report of what had happened from his brother Coffee.

Seeing Hart, Sheriff Williams walked over to him and said, "Here's another of those sons of bitches!" Williams then pointed his pistol and shot Hart point blank in the face.

Deputy Will Watt, nephew to Sheriff Williams, leaned over the sheriff and fired two more bullets into Hart's already dead body.

By this time, Chief Toler's wife had arrived. It is said that instead of crying, she simply glared at Sheriff Williams, who told her, "Yes, we got Toler, and I wish we had you where he is now."

Toler's wife immediately left, retrieved a gun from her house, and returned with the intent to shoot Sheriff Williams. Sadly he had already left the death scene by the time she returned.

By 9:30 pm, Johnny Williams died. And that brought the gunfight at Hot Springs to five killed and two wounded.

Constable Sam Tate and his deputy Jack Archer removed the bodies, taking them to Gross Funeral Home.

Mayor Gordon called an emergency meeting and replaced murdered Chief Toler with L.D. Beldin. And though tourists began fleeing town in large numbers by then, Mayor Gordon and newly appointed Police Chief Beldin found 150 men and armed them to patrol the city.

Newspaper reporters from the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette converged on the town. Headlines streamed out of Hot Springs, such as:

Five Men Shot to Death: Pandemonium at Hot Springs, Arkansas Gazette, March 17, 1899, p. 1.

No Further Trouble Feared, Arkansas Gazette, March 18, 1899, p. 1.

Placed in Jail: Four Participants in the Hot Springs Riot Held Without Bail, Arkansas Gazette, March 19, 1899, p. 1.

The following day an inquest was held with Governor Daniel Webster Jones present to ensure that procedures were carried out within the law.

Sheriff Bob Williams, Ed Spear, Will Watt and Coffee Williams were charged with murder. All four were arrested. In reality, that last headline was false because all made bail.

Soon a  series of trials followed, and Spear and Coffee Williams were found to have acted in self defense. And believe it or not, the trials of Bob Williams and Will Watt for the cold-blooded murder of Detective Hart ended in a hung jury based on conflicting testimony from witnesses who were said to have been threatened before taking the stand.

Jim Hart's wife, who was blind, later filed a $20,000 lawsuit against Sheriff Bob Williams but she lost.

Remember that ire of the townsfolk that I mentioned, well Frank Flynn was forced out of town following the shootout by a "Citizens Commission" formed by Mayor Gordon. Yes, vigilantes.

Sorry to say that illegal gambling in that city did not go away. The corruption within both law enforcement agencies did not go away as well. Some say that gambling was simply too ingrained in the fabric of their society to go away. And as for the animosity between the two law enforcement agencies, it is said to have lingered for generations.

Because many felt that some got away with cold-blooded murder, tensions between the Hot Springs Police Department and the Garland County Sheriffs Office continued well into the 20th century with lawman versus lawman.

I can understand the lingering animosity. Chief of Police Thomas Toler, Officer J.E. Hart, and Officer Thomas Goslee were shot and killed. And over the 160 years that the City of Hot Springs Arkansas has been around, it has lost a total of 8 officers in the line of duty. Three of those officers were murdered by the Garland County Sheriff's Office.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Drone Pilots suffer PTSD?

How can Drone Pilots suffer PTSD?

In an article LiveScience, which is a TechMediaNetwork company, the writer proposes that although drone operators may be far from the battlefield -- that they too can still develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

This follows a new study which supposedly shows that drone pilots stationed in the United States and far away from combat zones supposedly also experience PTSD.

About 1,000 United States Air Force drone operators took part in the study, and researchers found that 4.3 percent of them experienced moderate to severe PTSD.

In comparison, from my research, 20 and 25 percent of those troops returning from deployment overseas typically are diagnosed with PTSD -- either combat related or from trauma experienced while there in one way or another.

Their research said the percentage was lower at 10 to 18 percent.

"I would say that, even though the percentage is small, it is still a very important number, and something that we would want to take seriously so that we make sure that the folks that are performing their job are effectively screened for this condition and get the help that they [may] need," said study author Wayne Chappelle, a clinical psychologist who consults for the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The percentage of drone operators in the study who had PTSD was lower than the percentage of people in the U.S. general population who have the condition, which is 8.7 percent, according to the 2013 data from the American Psychiatric Association cited in the study.

The drone operators in the study completed questionnaires that listed 17 symptoms characteristic of PTSD, such as recurring nightmares, intrusive thoughts, trouble falling asleep and difficulty concentrating.

The researchers also found that "there are really no substantive differences" between symptoms of PTSD in drone operators and other military personnel, Chappelle told Live Science.

The drone operators who had worked for 25 months or more, and those working 51 or more hours weekly were more likely to experience PTSD symptoms than operators who had worked for less time, or fewer hours per week.

Whether someone develops PTSD after a traumatic event depends on how they can process it, Chappelle said. It is not completely clear why some people seem to process events better than others.

"It is likely that multiple factors are at play," such as genetics or past exposure to trauma, in determining whether a person will experience PTSD, Chappelle said.

Although drone operators are not on the actual battlefield, they operate aircraft "that still affect battlefield operations, and many other operations, [and therefore] it is important that we maintain airmen who are healthy, who are fit and that we are able to identify those airmen that may be struggling with some kind of psychological or physical condition that could in fact impair their performance or reduce longevity," Chappelle said.

Drone operators suffering from PTSD could benefit from interventions, he said. If PTSD goes unaddressed, the condition can lead to more severe problems, he said.

So there's the findings from the study's author Wayne Chappelle, a clinical psychologist who consults for the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

I stress Dayton, Ohio, because of a few points.

First, unlike combat troops in the field living day in and day out with the trauma of combat and the stresses involved in an actual deployment, the Air Force personnel studied did not live the life of a soldier or airman or Marine or sailor actually deployed overseas.

Instead, those Drone Operators went to the base as if it were a job in the civilian world where they did their shift and went home.

Yes, unlike our troops overseas who only dreamt of home and wondered and worried if all would be there when they got back, the Airmen in that study left after their shift and went home to support and comfort to regroup and find solace in doing a days work.

Since some of the factors that can increase the likelihood of a traumatic event leading to PTSD, are:

•The intensity of the trauma

•Being hurt or losing a loved one

•Being physically close to the traumatic event

•Feeling you were not in control

•Having a lack of support after the event

How do those sitting at a video console compare their "trauma" to troops in combat or a soldier who has been through a traumatic event overseas?

Where is the intensity, losing a loved one or watching someone die, or feeling not in control or not having a lack of support?

Second, since those Airman are located in the states and not in harm's way -- that element of PTSD where a person experiencing PTSD feels he or she has a shortened lifespan is null and void.

That is unless of course they want to compare their drive to the base in Dayton, Ohio, with those troops deployed who know that an IED might be lying in wait around the next corner, that a bullet might have your name on it, or that the next mission might be your last.
Third, if a Drone Operator sits at a console to steer a drone to its target thousand's of miles from where he sits, why would he or she experience any of symptoms of PTSD such as:
•Having nightmares, vivid memories, flashbacks of the event;

•Feeling as if it’s happening all over again;

•Feeling emotionally cut off from others;

•Feeling numb;

•Losing interest in things you used to care about;

•Being depressed;

•Feeling as if you are always in danger;

•Feeling anxious, jittery, or irritated;

•Experiencing a sense of panic that something bad is about to happen;

•A fear of the experience reoccurring;

•Having difficulty sleeping;

•Having trouble keeping your mind on one thing;

•Having a hard time relating to and getting along with your spouse, family, or friends.

If all you do is sit at a console, and essentially do what has been described as playing video games, why would you allow what you do at a console disrupt your life by:

•Consistent drinking or use of drugs to numb your feelings;

•Consider harming yourself or others;

•Start working all the time to occupy your mind;

•Pull away from other people and become isolated;

•Frequently avoid places or things that remind you of what happened.

Not taking anything away from the mission, Drone Operators do not face a life and death situation that those with PTSD have encountered, or have been put in a place where they feel threatened.

At least I hope not while they are on a base in Dayton, Ohio, and elsewhere in the states where they are safe from danger.

It is important to note that the Air Force has tried to authorize Combat Medals and Awards to those who are stationed in the states and are never deployed overseas.

They have tried to do this even though those men and women are sitting safe far away from harm's way.

Their efforts were shot down because it diminishes the awards given to those who are actually in combat, who are actually risking their lives, who are actually in danger.

It was a shameful effort to harvest medals and awards when they did not deserve them!

This notion of having PTSD from sitting at a video console is ludicrous!

I'm sorry, but I just can't accept the argument that a person in a non-life threatening situation should receive the same medals and awards as those deployed, or experience PTSD which is supposed to be a trauma that effected one in horrible ways.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Food Prices Are Up In 2014


Beef prices have been historically high recently for the beef producer and at the grocery store.

Raising cost to produce and limited supply are the key factors which are responsible for pushing beef prices to historically high levels.

While beef prices started an upward movement back in 2013 in response to the historic low cattle inventory, the total cattle inventory is at its lowest mark since 1951. 
The U.S. cattle herd was downsized 5 to 7 years ago due to widespread drought.

And yes, as taking place in California right now, there have been some very dry years which have limited forage and beef production.

While a weak economy has played a major role as well, the major problem for beef producers is still ever increasing costs of feed, fuel and fertilizer.

The "Big Three," as they are often referred to, are at historic highs which only hurt beef producers by cutting or eliminating their profits.

Yes, it's hard to feed the world when the price of feed, fuel, and fertilizer is putting our beef producers out of business. Of course, government over-regulation doesn't help either.


The good news for both beef producers and consumers who may be experiencing sticker-shock is that this is the second year of good corn and soybean yields, so the industry is expecting lower grain prices.

Corn prices actually sit near a four-year low.

After a very good growing season across the Corn Belt, farmers are expected to post a record harvest which will push down prices more than 20%.

The USDA said last week it expects corn production in the U.S. to top 14 billion bushels, above last year’s historic harvest of 13.93 billion.

Orange Juice

The orange crop in Florida is poised for a historic low harvest this year following a bacterial disease, and analysts say this is causing prices to shoot up.

The agriculture disease, known as Citrus greening, has been cutting off nutrients to the fruit and causing oranges to drop from the trees prematurely.

This presents a major issue for supplies, since the 6,000 citrus growers in Florida supply oranges for 56% of the orange juice consumed in the U.S., according to the Florida Department of Citrus.

It's said that traders will have to wait until October for the first U.S. Department of Agriculture's orange-production forecast for the next crop year, but things are looking bleak.

The USDA's final 2013-14 estimate of 104.4 million 90-pound boxes was the lowest output in 29 years, and another small harvest could push prices higher.

To make things worse, growers are also up against shrinking demand.

Recent reports from both Nielsen and the Florida Department of Citrus shows that consumers are losing their taste for the citrus beverage.

In the four-week period ending August 2nd, believe it or not, sales were down 9.2% from a year ago.

The average retail price of a gallon of orange juice is $6.44, according to Nielsen data. The price increase of 4.1%, year over year doesn't help matters for consumers in a weak economy.

And yes, there are other reasons for the decline of orange juice.

Fact is Americans are cutting back on sugar intake, and nutritional experts have been advising against the sugary fruit drink.

The average glass of orange juice contains about 21 grams of sugar. In contrast, a whole medium orange has about 11 grams of sugar, plus 3 grams of fiber which is missing in a glass of juice.

While one serving of orange juice has more than 100% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.  Americans are under-consuming fruit and vegetables.

Besides that fact, there are simply too many other options out there

With a growing movement to consume less sugar, there has been a lot more new products added to the market such as low-calorie juices and varieties like jug juices.


If orange juice being high isn't bad enough, coffee futures are up more than 70% year-to-date.

Back in June (2014), Starbucks announced that they would be raising prices on some drinks by 5 cents to 20 cents, as well as a $1 increase for the price of packaged coffee that it sells to grocery stores.

Traders worry that crop damage from a January and February drought in Brazil may be worse than previously forecast. Either way, expect to be paying more for a cup of coffee whether it's coffee or some latte' thingamajig.


The price of bacon is surging and the cost of other morning staples, like coffee and orange juice, it is set to rise because of supply problems from droughts to disease on U.S. pig farms.

U.S. food prices have had its biggest increase in nearly 2 ½ years.

While the government still sticks to its story that their adjusted Inflation figures remain low, the increases in food prices are forcing everyday shoppers to search out deals and cut back.

So yes, while Obama and the other fat cats in Washington can take extented vacations completely paid for by the taxpayer, the average American is hit even harder as we try to make ends meet.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Lesson In Absurdity: All Over The Word "Gun"

The old adage that "boys will be boys" doesn't mean much anymore -- especially in schools that owe their allegiance to Political Correctness.

I don't understand how teachers today can't understand that students, both boys and girls, can be so immature that they act out in irresponsible ways.

Why is it so surprising to teachers when students, especially young boys who have not matured yet, behave in a way that's uncalled for.

And no, I'm not making excuses for bullies or violent behavior -- I'm talking about kids acting innocently and not thinking when being kids.

Take for example the South Carolina high school freshman who was arrested, and suspended for using the word "gun" in classroom assignment.

On August 24, 2014, it was reported that a South Carolina high school student was arrested and suspended after handing in a class assignment in which he wrote about killing his "neighbor’s pet dinosaur" with a "gun" he purchased to "take care of the business."

Freshman Alex Stone said it was only a joke. But what he didn't understand is that in today's schools words are banned -- especially the word "gun"

And yes, I can't help but wonder what the school would have done if their students had to write about the Minute Men who carried "guns"?

Or if they had to write about the bombing of Pearl Harbor and tell the story of how the sailors and Marines ran to man the ship's "guns"?

In an America where teachers are no longer educators and are instead Political Correctness Police, more and more we see why schools are failing.

Alex's mother, Karen Gray, was irate after hearing about her son being arrested for such silliness.

Mrs. Gray said Summerville High School administrators acted rashly when they reported her son to cops last Tuesday on the second day of school.

"I could understand if they made him rewrite it because he did have ‘gun’ in it. But a pet dinosaur?" Mrs. Gray told CBS affiliate WCSC.

"I mean first of all, we don’t have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he’s not even old enough to buy a gun."

Alex, 16, got in trouble after he and his classmates were told to write a Facebook-like update about themselves in a few sentences.

And no, don't think Alex has not learned a lesson here.

"I regret it because they put it on my record, but I don’t see the harm in it," Alex told the station.

"I think there might have been a better way of putting it, but I think me writing like that, it shouldn’t matter unless I put it out toward a person."

Yes, instead of telling him to rewrite his paper -- he was arrested. Yes, even a 16 year old can see the absurdity in not asking him to simply rewrite his assignment or being arrested.

His lawyer, David Aylor, said in a statement Thursday that Alex’s arrest “is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense.”

After cops were called they searched Alex's locker and book bag. The school suspended Alex for three days. He returns to school Monday.

To no one's surprise the Summerville Police Department defended the arrest.

They said Alex was charged with disorderly conduct when he became disruptive after school officials confronted him about what he wrote.

"The charges do not stem from anything involving a dinosaur or writing assignment, but the student’s conduct," said Capt. Jon Rogers in a statement, according to WCSC.

So let's see, the police were called because he wrote the word "gun" in a writing assignment and because he protested -- he was arrested.

It amazes me to think what our schools are teaching our children these days.

They fail to understand that the lesson Alex learned by their over-reaction to enforce political correctness is one that Alex will surely remember all of his life.

The police, the school, the teacher involved gave Alex a lesson in absurdity -- the quality or state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable.

It is a lesson that Alex will most likely remember when dealing with their ilk in the future.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part Three

Oliver Milton Lee

Oliver Milton Lee was reared in the tiny town of Buffalo Gap in Burnet County, Texas. At the age of eighteen, Oliver and his older half-brother Perry Altman, led their widowed mother and the rest of the family to a ranch in New Mexico's Tularosa Valley.

Widely known as a crack shot, Lee first fired his guns in anger during a feud with a neighboring rancher, a bully named John Good.

Good's son, Walter, or another Good henchman murdered George McDonald, Lee's closest friend, and a brief but bitter range war resulted.

Lee procured the bullet which had killed McDonald and carried it on a watch chain, and he was one of four men charged with Walter Good's death.

After Lee was released from custody, he began to make great strides in extending his ranching enterprise, eventually carving out a prosperous spread called the Dog Canyon Ranch.

During these years Oliver Lee had been appointed deputy sheriff,  and as a deputy U.S. marshal. In the 1890's, he increasingly came under suspicion in the dastardly and mysterious murders of A. J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son.

After routing a posse led by Pat Garrett, Lee and fellow fugitive James Gilliland sought refuge at the Bar Cross Ranch of Eugene Manlove Rhodes.

Eventually the two men surrendered and, following a sensational trial in Hillsboro, won acquittal. 

Lee returned to ranching, selling out in 1914 to a group of businessmen but staying on as manager. Later he was twice elected to the state legislature, and he served as an officer and director of numerous business organizations until his death in 1941 of a stroke.

Bill Earhart

Born and bred in Jack County, Texas, Bill Earhart arrived in New Mexico in 1883 with his friends Jim and Clay Cooper.

Five years later, while directing a roundup on the Cooper ranch in the Tularosa country, he fell into a dispute with a rugged cattleman named John Good and thereby became involved in a range war directed against the bullying rancher.

Later, Earhart returned to Texas where he was killed in 1896.

John Good

As for John Good, he first became known as a big bullying ruffian who ran a ranch stocked with stolen beef west of Austin, Texas.

After a cattle drive to Newton, he was present when Cad Pierce was killed by Ed Crawford.

Involved in a shooting in 1877, Good moved to Coleman and opened a hotel, but he soon became unpopular, and by 1880 he had moved again. This time to a ranch fifty miles northwest of Colorado City.

A short time later, he migrated to New Mexico, establishing a ranch near La Luz and a relationship with a notorious local woman known as Bronco Sue Yonker.

In 1884, Bronco Sue had killed a man in Socorro and was suspected of further violent deeds.

The relationship soon ended when Mrs. Good and John's children arrived, but Bronco Sue merely took up residence nearby with a man named Charley Dawson -- yes, that made the situation even worse.

In December, 1885, Good killed Dawson, then turned to more practical matters. He built a ten-room adobe house, imported his brother Isham and his large family, and ruthlessly began to accumulate wealth.

In 1888, a young man named George McDonald clashed with Good. 

Later when McDonald was assassinated, his friends blamed Walter Good, one of John's sons. A feud broke out and Walter Good was shot dead.

Surprisingly the senior Good soon gave up the fight, disposed of his property, and drifted into Arizona and then Oklahoma where he was last noted working for small wages.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Sylvester Powell

Here was a man who was said to normally have a quiet demeanor yet could be "rash and deadly". Some described him as "a perfect demon" when drinking.

And yes, the Wichita police and most of the saloon keepers in town were well aware of his trait of being a mean drunk.

Powell was widely rumored to have killed two men before coming to Wichita --supposedly he killed one man with his fists using brass knuckles to get it done.

While in Wichita, Powell was hired as a city bus driver by the Southwestern Stage Company. He was killed after a vicious exchange of gunfire with Marshal Mike Meagher in 1877.

William Anderson

He was a drunken gunman who lived in Delano, the vice district of Wichita, Kansas, during the 1870s. He was forever getting into trouble with the law and, in the spring of 1873, he was involved in a violent argument in a Wichita livery stable.

He pulled a gun, as did others, and a brief shootout occurred where one of Anderson's shots smashed into the forehead of a passerby, killing him. The death was ruled accidental and Anderson was released.

A short time later, on Oct. 27, 1873, Anderson was lounging inside of Rowdy Joe Lowe's Delano bar when an enraged cowhand, Edward T. "Red" Beard, burst into the bar.

He had been jilted by one of the saloon girls, Annie Franklin, and he sought revenge, pulling his gun and shooting the girl in the stomach.

Lowe let loose with his shotgun and blasted Beard who fired back as he staggered outside.

In the exchange of bullets, Anderson was caught in the crossfire, taking a load of buckshot in the head which caused him to become permanently blind, and ended his gunfighting days.

Anderson spent the rest of his days sitting outside cowtown saloons, hat in hand, begging coins. He'd probably be shocked to find his name here.

Edward T. "Red" Beard

The son of the man who founded Beardstown, Illinois, Edward T. "Red" Beard was well educated and married to a cultured woman from Virginia.

Although he was a member of a prominent family and the father of three children, Beard abruptly pulled up stakes in 1861 and went West.

While it isn't known why he left, it wasn't unusual to see men leave everything to chase gold and riches -- if that were indeed the case.

He became a footloose and somewhat notorious character in California, Oregon, and Arizona before being attracted to Kansas by the cattle boom. In Wichita, he built a dance hall with a disreputable reputation. 

In 1873, it's said he engaged in a series of wild shootouts, the last of which caused his death at the hands of Rowdy Joe Lowe.

Whatever happened to him after that is anybodies guess.

Joe Stinson

Joe Stinson is said to have gone to the California gold fields during the 1850's. During the Civil War, Stinson was one of the California Volunteers and marched with the California Column into New Mexico. 

Like many, he actually stayed when peace resumed. As a miner, he built up just enough of a stake to open a saloon in booming Elizabethtown.

In 1871, Stinson killed gunman Wall Henderson, and soon after that he moved his saloon business to Santa Fe with the intention of putting trouble behind him.

The saloon business being what it was, he became involved in four other shooting scrapes -- none resulting in deaths.

By 1890 alcoholism had so seriously debilitated him that he applied for and received a ten-dollar-per-month Veteran's pension. Imagine that.

In 1895 he was admitted as an invalid to the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers near Los Angeles, where he died in 1902.

Tuck Hoover

Here was a South Texas rancher who was in and out of trouble during his life as often as bad luck would have it.

In 1894, he was in a bad shootout in Jake Biushell's saloon in Alleytown, a small town near Eagle Lake. 

Jake Biushell and some fellow Klansmen, yes Klansmen, were sitting playing poker.

The boyfriend of Tuck's daughter, Dora, was working in the saloon and overheard their conversation in which Jake said, "I'm goin get Tuck if I have to burn the house down and kill the whole family."

The boyfriend went and told Tuck the story. Tuck put his pistol in his belt and went over to the saloon to confront Jake.

It's said that he walked in with his pistol cocked and in his hand ready for what may come. There was only Jake and Jake's employee, the bartender there.

Tuck pointed his pistol at Jake's chest and said "Jake, I hear you want to kill me?"

Jake moved his hand inside his coat apparently going for a gun, that dumb move made Tuck pull the trigger and a bullet slammed into Jake.

Tuck then pointed his pistol at the bartender and slowly backed out of the saloon. Tuck went outside and mounted his horse.

It's said that as he rode away he passed the saloon and saw Jake in struggling to die, so Tuck pulled his pistol and shot Jake again from his horse.

The next day Tuck surrendered to the sheriff in Eagle Lake.

Tuck was tried for the murder of Jake Biushell and was given a 20 year prison sentence. But the sentence was overturned and a retrial was planned. It was later ruled self-defense.

If you don't think the Ku Klux Klan was already in Texas by the 1890s, take a look at what happened to Tuck two years later in 1896.

Tuck and his wife went into the general store in Alleytown to buy some supplies. Tuck had his baby daughter in his arms with his back to the door.

He put his daughter down on the counter for a moment to pick up the bag of groceries he had just bought. Just at that very moment in the room next door, a 19 year old gunman hired by the Ku Klux Klan, was aiming his shotgun through a knothole in the adjoining wall. It was aimed right at Tuck's back.

As soon as Tuck put his daughter down, the killer pulled the trigger striking Tuck in the back with 11 of the 12 balls of lead from the one shot.

Eyewitnesses said later that, as Tuck fell, another back-shooting killer walked up and hastily tried to shoot Tuck in the head with a small .22 caliber pistol -- but instead, he shot him in the neck.

Cut in half by that shotgun, and bleeding from the neck, Tuck soon died on the floor of that general store.

It is interesting to note that one of the killers got away while the other was apprehended and later tried. But believe it or not, the killer got off. 

They say the jury let him off because of fear of reprisals from the Klan. Yes, even back then.

If you would like to do more reading on more of Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws, don't hesitate to visit:

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part One

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part Two 

This information was compiled from multiple sources.

Thanks for visiting!

Tom Correa

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anarchy in Ferguson Missouri

While black leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, call for a black replacement for the white prosecutor because he is white; while the U.S. Department of Justice floods Ferguson with Federal Agents sent there on behalf of U.S. Attorney General to make a case against the officer who was involved in the shooting; while Eric Holder says he sympathizes with the rioters because he too is a black man; while Obama plays more golf; looters in Ferguson are being met with little police resistance.

For those who want to know the importance of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, the Bill f Rights, it boils down to protecting one's self and property, a life's work, -- and that is what store owners say they are forced to do with rioting and looting out of hand in that city.

Yes, store owners now have to protect their businesses with their own guns simply because the government -- neither city, state, or federal -- are there to protect them.

"I think the first message is to remind all law enforcement that they are hired to serve and protect and if they’re going to sit back and watch looting, they're not serving us; they’re not protecting us," Pastor Robert White told the station.

A reporter from the station tweeted that police cars were seen driving past some of the stores being looted and did not respond.

Two store owners, standing outside their business holding guns, said that when they called 911 for help -- they were sent from one police agency to another, and got absolutely no response.

Reporters have talked to many of the businesses in Ferguson not under siege and found many with guns doing what the police and National Guard troops will not do.

In fact, one armed store owner told the local TV station that police were lined up just a couple of blocks from the looting -- but did not do anything to try to stop it.

The police stood and watched as looters made off with large boxes from the stores.

"There's no police," he said. "We trusted the police to keep it peaceful; they didn't do their job."

Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch tweeted: "You did not see "police restraint" overnight. You saw police reluctant to act. We cannot keep stoning the keepers at the gate."

While that sounds wonderfully poetic, those "keepers at the gate" are getting paid and must live up to a higher standard than just giving up.

If they will not act, replace them with officers who will.

Just before midnight, some in what had been a large and rowdy but mostly well-behaved crowd broke into a convenience store that police accused 18-year-old Michael Brown of robbing minutes before he was fatally shot by an officer, and began looting it.

Some in the crowd of about 200 began throwing rocks and other objects at police, one officer was hurt but details on the injury were not immediately available.

It was reported that police backed off to try and "ease" the tension.

Of course no arrests were made -- which means that those who sacked that store went Scott free.

Being more worried about the safety of their officers than those they are sworn to protect seems the way things are going now in Ferguson.

"We had to evaluate the security of the officers there and also the rioters," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson. "We just felt it was better to move back."

The violence erupted after a day that included authorities identifying the officer who fatally shot the 300 lb Micheal Brown on August 9th.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released documents alleging that Brown stole a $48.99 box of cigars from the convenience store - a strong-armed robbery.

The released surveillance video shows a man wearing a ball cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store's door. A police report alleges Brown grabbed the man who had come from behind the store counter and "forcefully pushed him back" into a display rack.

The problem for Officer Wilson is that he supposedly did not know that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting.

Brown and a companion were stopped "because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic," Jackson said.

Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise on Brown's body.

Wilson is a six-year police veteran -- two in neighboring Jennings and four in Ferguson -- and had no previous complaints filed against him, Jackson said, describing him as "a gentle, quiet man" who had been "an excellent officer."

Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation wraps up.

But wait, some of the black leaders in that area want Bob McCulloch replaced
because he's white -- no surprise there.

Also no surprise was Chief Jackson's decision to set the record straight that Brown committed the robbery and released the surveillance video that proves as much, angered attorneys for Brown's family who were trying to depict their son in a favorable light.

The Justice Department confirmed in a statement that FBI agents had conducted several interviews with witnesses as part of a civil-rights investigation into Brown's death.

In the days ahead, the Federal Agents plan to canvass the neighborhood where the shooting happened supposedly seeking more information -- but what kind of information are they looking for since the only eyewitness has fled.

The only eyewitness other than the officer in the shooting of Michael Brown has a warrant out for his arrest.

The 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when he was shot, has a warrant out for his arrest for stealing in Jefferson County, Missouri from 2011.

Now there, there is someone that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will certainly believe -- not for what comes out of his mouth but because of the color of his skin!

Dorian Johnson was also charged in 2011 with lying to police but I'm sure none of that will matter when they find him.

The Municipal Court of Jefferson City confirmed that Johnson had been arrested June 24, 2011 for allegedly stealing a parcel.

Johnson was also accused of lying about his identity and age. He was charged with larceny with an added count of false identification.

Johnson was scheduled for trial on July 31, 2013 but did not show. Because of that, Johnson has a warrant for his extradition if he is arrested in a 50-mile radius of Jefferson City.

Police have said the officer was pushed into his squad car and then physically assaulted during a struggle over his weapon.

At least one shot was fired inside the car. The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. The 300 lb. Micheal Brown was unarmed.

Johnson has told reporters that the officer ordered him and Brown out of the street, then tried to open his door so close to the pair that it "ricocheted" back, apparently upsetting the officer.

Johnson said the officer grabbed Brown's neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon.

Johnson said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times. Johnson and another witness said Brown had his hands raised when the officer fired.

Contrary to what the credibility of Johnson and others have demonstrated, the results of two autopsies have shown that Brown's hands could not have been raised when he was shot.   

But none of that matters, as the anarchy in Ferguson continues.  

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Monday, August 18, 2014

Spartan Defense of CA's Superior CCW Class

During my time in the Marine Corps, whether it was solving a malfunction with my M60 or finding answers as to why one tactic worked over another, I appreciated those who gave first-hand real-world experience, real-life applicable knowledge.

Because I had some great Instructors, over the years I learned to expect more from Instructors. And yes, I have been disappointed by many, including supervisors, foremen, and back in the day by fellow Sergeants, who only covered the subject in a cursory manner -- or who obviously didn't know their subject.

On Sunday, August 17th, 2014, I took my CCW Class from Spartan Defense of California in Linden. The class was well organized, and was a comfortable size. Yes, many times classes may be so big that students don't always get what they need. That wasn't the case with this CCW class on Sunday.

As for it being informative, I can testify that it was certainly that. The reason that it was so informative was that the Instructor/Owner Fidel Taylor. He was outstanding in relating his experiences to the subject matter. He knew what he was talking about and connected the dots in a way so that all there understood what was being covered.

Fidel Taylor is the owner and Lead Instructor of Spartan Defense. He has approximately 22 years of combined military, security, and law enforcement service. He has experience and training as a Sniper, Gang Investigator, Advanced Officer Safety Patrol Tactics, Entry Training, Urban Warfare, GOPlat Training, Executive Protection school & Tactical Rappelling.

During his law enforcement career, he has worked as a Patrol Officer and as a Field Training Officer (FTO) training new officers. It should also be noted that ee has been a P.O.S.T (Police Officer Standard Training) certified Firearms and Patrol Rifle Instructor since 2002. And yes, besides that, he has Instructor accreditation with CA B.S.I.S, CA DOJ, UTAH BCI, the NRA, and is an affiliate Instructor with the USCCA.

Besides CCW classes, he also holds Basic Handgun 101 classes, Defensive Handgun Training, Multi-State Concealed Carry Utah & Arizona permit courses,  State of California BSIS Security Officer Training, Women's only classes, and Home Defense regarding the Castle Doctrine as it pertains to California residents. Yes, he has a great deal of teaching experience.
Fidel Taylor is very professional, but also a very personable Instructor. He knows his subject extremely well, is very current on current law and firing techniques. He puts the importance of training and CCW permits in context very well.
During the 4+ hours of classroom discussion, he was informative while also making the class think about numerous aspects of the subject.

During his class, he covered:
  • Real-World situations and scenarios,
  • Issuing Agency's Policies, how the State of California leaves it up to each County to develop their own guidelines and policies, and how they differ from County to County,
  • California Department of Justice Firearms laws and guidelines,
  • Permissible Use of Force,
  • the Castle Doctrine, 
  • Laws regarding storage and transportation of firearms,
  • Where you are and where you are not permitted to carry a concealed weapon even with a CCW,
  • the Moral and Legal aspects of carrying a weapon,
  • Situational Awareness and the need to be vigilant,
  • Firearms Safety Rules,
  • Firearm Nomenclature, as well as the nomenclature of ammunition,
  • Firearm Maintenance and the importance of cleaning your firearm, 
  • the Mental Mindset that someone needs to have with a CCW, 
  • Firearms Handling, 
  • Loading-Unloading,
  • Malfunction resolution,
  • Shooting Fundamentals,
  • Shooting Positions,
  • Various Methods of Concealed Carry, 
  • Use of Cover and Concealment during an altercation,
  • Contact with Law Enforcement
  • Post Use of Force Incident
During the discussion, I liked the way he checked and rechecked his class to make sure everyone there understood the laws and the material being covered.

During the 4+ hours on the range, he covered: 
  • Range and Safety Rules,
  • Dry Fire Drills,
  • Drawing and Holstering,
  • Loading-Unloading Drills,
  • Malfunction Resolution Drills,
  • Live Fire Drills,
  • Scenarios both with live fire and dry fire,
  • and Qualification Course
While on the range, Fidel was a great hands-on Instructor in that he gave a great deal of one-on-one attention to those in his class -- especially those who are new to firearms. And yes, even though I have been around firearms for well over 40 years, I learned a great deal. And frankly, that is what inspired me to write this article -- it was all about practical reasonable self protection.

I was trained in the 1970s in the Marine Corps as a Grunt, my primary MOS (Military Occupational Skill) being 0311, later I picked up a Secondary MOS of 0331. I learned to deploy my weapon and men in tactical situations. Later, while still in the Marine Corps, I was trained in high level security including Special Weapons containment, crowd control, and the use of deadly force.

As a Military Policeman, I learned patrol procedures. In Corrections, as a Brig Chaser, I qualified to escort prisoners across country. After leaving the Marine Corps, I received a degree in Criminal Justice and learned all that entails. And yes, I worked in private security for many years. 

My point is that I absolutely enjoyed Fidel's class because one of the things it did was to fill my curiosity about how things are done today, the advances that have been made, changes in the laws, practical applications of firearms for defensive purposes, new methods of shooting, and of course the tactical applications of today's techniques.

And yes, there is that other thing. I loved finding out that even an old dog like me can learn new tricks -- and enjoy it. Yes, even during those moments when I was being corrected.  

Fidel said, "with carrying a concealed firearm comes responsibility. One part of that responsibility is being properly trained and having a good understanding of how to handle firearms in a safe and legal manner."

He believes training is constant and ongoing, and to be proficient you must practice correctly instead of practicing how to do things the wrong way. While on the range, he was quick to spot problem areas in one's shooting style and weapon handling. He had students resolve those issues. Unless they couldn't, then he'd step in.

He stresses the need to understand the practical applications and uses of firearms and tactics, and sees this as a huge part of the responsibility one has as a CCW holder. I couldn't agree more.

Fidel gives a practical, realistic, real-world class that is both challenging and fun. And yes, if you're wondering if I would ever recommend his CCW class, from my experience I would certainly recommend his CCW class to anyone interested in learning the essentials while receiving great hands on training.

My hat's off to him for a great course and a great day.

Tom Correa


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pheasants In The Old West

Since I've enjoyed Pheasant Hunting on and off over the years, I have to admit to wondering just where those pretty birds came from?

Many years ago I was told they came from China, but honestly I never really gave it much thought about how they exactly got here from China.

In China, which really is a land rich in symbolism and imagery, the Chinese pheasant represented light, virtue, prosperity and good fortune.

The pheasant is even part of the Chinese philosophy of seizing prosperity, as the 5th century BC philosopher Lao-Tzu said, "The pheasant which is not seized, will fly. And the farmer will feast on the memory of an empty plate, and the flutter of feathers".

As for looking into pheasants, I figure some may find it interesting that the first Chinese ring-necked pheasants introduced into the United States arrive at Port Townsend, Washington in 1881.

It's true, the pheasant is a Chinese immigrant to North America first successfully introduced back in 1881.

The story goes that on March 13, 1881, around 60 Chinese ring-necked pheasants arrive in Port Townsend aboard the ship Otago.

America's consul general to China was Owen Nickerson Denny (1838-1900), he and his wife Gertrude Jane Hall Denny (1837-1933) shipped the pheasants, along with other Chinese birds and plants, from Shanghai China in hopes of establishing a population in their home state of Oregon.

While almost all made the trip from China, almost half of the pheasants didn't make the journey from the Olympic Peninsula to Portland.

A few survivors were released on the lower Columbia River, but accounts differ as to whether this population survives.

However, the Dennys decided to try it again and shipped more pheasants in 1882 and 1884, which successfully introducing ring-necked pheasants into Oregon's Willamette Valley and on Protection Island in Jefferson County near Port Townsend.

The colorful game birds prove prolific and popular. Ring-necked pheasants spread throughout Oregon and Washington, and were then introduced in 40 other states across the country.

They are so common that they seem more a native species.

Both Owen and Gertrude Hall Denny were pioneers who traveled the Oregon trail as children to new homes in the Northwest.

Several accounts, including Virginia Holmgren's 1964 history, Chinese Pheasants, Oregon Pioneers, make a direct connection between the Dennys' pioneering spirit and desire to improve the land they settled and their decision to introduce the pheasant pioneers to the new world.

Gertrude Hall's childhood pioneer experience was particularly dramatic.

As a 10-year-old who had just crossed the continent by wagon train, she was staying at the Waiilatpu mission at the time of the attack that became known as the Whitman Massacre.

Gertrude's father, Peter D. Hall, is listed among the 14 killed, although his precise fate remains a mystery.

He escaped from the mission and made it to the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Walla Walla, but was denied entry and never seen again.

Gertrude and her mother and four sisters, like most of the women and children, were unharmed but held captive for a month before being ransomed.

By the time of her death 86 years later, Gertrude Hall Denny was the final survivor of the Whitman Massacre.

Owen Denny was born in Ohio and traveled west with his family in 1852, the year he turned 14.

There is no indication that his family was related to the Denny family from Illinois that landed at Alki one year earlier, helping found the city of Seattle.

Owen's father died soon after his family reached the Willamette Valley, and his mother took a land claim near Lebanon in Linn County, Oregon.

Owen worked his way through school and "read law" with practicing lawyers. After passing the state bar exam in 1862, he was a prosecutor and then a judge in The Dalles.

Owen Denny and Gertrude Jane Hall White married in 1868 -- Gertrude was amicably divorced from her first husband, Columbia River pilot Captain Leonard White, and had a 12-year-old daughter.

The Dennys lived briefly in California and then settled in Portland, where Owen was elected police court judge and later worked as Collector of Internal Revenue. In 1877, Denny was named United States consul in Tientsin, China.

After three years in Tientsin, the Dennys moved to Shanghai in 1880 when Owen was promoted to the post of consul general.

By that summer, they were considering an attempt to introduce to Oregon some of the exotic birds and plants they had encountered in China.

The ring-necked pheasant, a large dramatically colored wild bird that frequented the farms and fields around Shanghai, was one choice.

Owen Denny wrote to a friend, "These birds are delicious eating and very game and will furnish fine sport".

Recounting his decision later, Denny described how he obtained the pheasants:

"The Chinese farmers ... take them with nets and market them alive, but the fact that they were often poor and thin induced me to purchase them by the dozen and feed them until they were fat and fit for my table. On one occasion I had in my enclosure a large number of extraordinarily handsome birds, and while admiring them I thought, What would I not give to be able to turn the entire lot adrift in Oregon? Then and there the resolve was made".

In January 1881, the Dennys loaded some 60 ring-necked pheasants aboard the Otago, a Port Townsend-based ship commanded by Captain Royal.

Their shipment included smaller numbers of Mongolian sand grouse and chefoo partridges, "16 trees of the Pang Tao or flat peach," and "a lot of bamboos". The ship Otago reached Port Townsend on Sunday, March 13, 1881.

Almost all the pheasants survived the ocean journey but not the subsequent trip to Portland. The Oregonian reported:

"The birds were kept in the hold and withstood the trip well. Only a few died; however, in bringing them from Port Townsend to Portland they fared badly. While in the dark vessel they were quiet and unfrightened, but when in train and boats, rattling and splashing scared the birds, which beat and bruised themselves on the bars".

A. H. Morgan, a friend of the Dennys, released the few surviving ring-necks on Sauvie Island in the Columbia River near Portland.

Although later accounts suggest that these first pheasants did not establish a breeding population, in 1888 there was a U.S. Agriculture Department report which stated the pheasants released in 1881 "wintered well, and have been increasing ever since. They are now common".

The grouse and partridge on the other hand did not survive, but the bamboo shipment was a success.

Were there doubts?

Well, maybe because they simply did not know how the first pheasants were doing or they may had doubts that all were still alive, either way the Dennys made a second effort in 1882 and a third effort in 1884 to send more ring-necked pheasants and other Chinese birds -- but directly to Portland.

Owen's brother John Denny released those ring-necks near the family's Willamette Valley homestead in Linn County, and this time the introduction was a clear success.

Within a year, ring-necked pheasants had spread to surrounding counties.

Owen Denny used his political connections to win passage of state legislation banning hunting until the population was sufficiently established.

The pheasants thrived and when the first pheasant season opened in Oregon 11 years later in 1892, hunters reportedly bagged 50,000 birds on the first day.

By then, or soon there after, ring-necked pheasants had spread into Washington state.

In addition, birds from a third shipment, which the Dennys brought with them when they returned from China in 1884, were released on Protection Island, not far from Port Townsend where the first pheasants had landed three years earlier.

Owen and Gertrude Denny
 The ring-necks flourished on the island and apparently succeeded in crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca to colonize Vancouver island.

Following their success in the Northwest, ring-necked pheasants were introduced across the country, many of them descendants of the birds Denny sent to Washington and Oregon.

At least 19 states now have sizable pheasant populations. South Dakota, which has millions, has made the ring-necked pheasant its state bird.

And frankly, for good reason since South Dakota brings in millions of dollars each year during Pheasant Hunting season. 

For a time after their introduction the pheasants from Shanghai were often referred to, especially in Oregon, as "Denny pheasants" or as "China pheasants."

While the moniker honoring the Dennys did not stick, the Dennys are still recognized for their role in making the dramatic sight of ring-necked pheasants common across America.

Pheasants are birds that can be found alone or in small flocks.

Males have shimmering gold and green plumage on the back, an iridescent dark-green neck above a dramatic white collar ring, red eye wattles, ear-like feather tufts, and a long sword-like tail.

These roosters typically have a harem of several females during spring mating season.
Females are a more subdued brown and black but also have the distinctive pointed tail.

Hen pheasants nest on the ground, producing a clutch of around ten eggs over a two to three week period in April to June. The incubation period is about 23–26 days.
Typically, a mother hen and her flock will stay together until early autumn.

While pheasants are able to fly fast for short distances, they prefer to run.

If startled however, they will burst to the sky in a "flush." Their flight speed is 27 to 38 mph when cruising but when chased they can fly up to 60 mph.

Pheasants spend almost their entire life on the ground, rarely ever being seen in trees. They eat a wide variety of foods including, insects, seeds and leaves.

It is interesting to note that while pheasants thrive in a farmland landscape with ample undisturbed grassland habitat. Pheasant populations increased and reached all time highs in the mid-1900s before suffering severe population declines.

All in all, since the 1960s, changes in agriculture has lead to a decline in pheasant numbers.

Fact is, just as in most parts of the country, changes in farming practices have greatly reduced grassy fields, corners, and fence rows.

And yes, advances in seed genetics nearly eliminate weeds and allow crops to be planted closer together.

And while farming and the changing landscape of America means less habitat for pheasants, the change is weather patterns is also a major factor influencing pheasant numbers.

Cold, snowy winter reduce marginal habitats and concentrate pheasants and their predators.

This means by spring, much of the nesting habitat is reduced to road ditches, terraces and grassed water ways, where spring rains flood nests -- and in many cases drown chicks.

The future for pheasants, and subsequently the millions of dollars spent in states by way of pheasant hunting, just may be in the hands of farmers and ranchers.

Since most farmland and ranches are private property, if pheasants are to survive and be there to hunt and harvest in the future, then maybe landowners may have to be compensated somehow to keep at least some of their properties as "wildlife habitats".

Farming and ranching is tough enough to do such a thing as give up their land as "wildlife habitats" without some sort of compensation, it just would be fair to do so.

And in the mean while, when you and your dog are out this pheasant season, give a small thanks to Owen and Gertrude Denny for making it all possible in the first place.

This article was compiled from multiple sources.

Tom Correa