Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Texas Has A Feral Hog Problem

Dear Friends,

If I have my way about it, I may be going to Texas this Summer to shoot feral hogs. Texas has become the Feral Hog Capital and I would love to go down there and shot as many as my rifles can handle.

Why, you ask? Well, they are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. There are estimates that range from two million to six million of the beasts running free to wreak havoc in at least 39 states. And friends, half are said to be in Texas.

Hogs were first introduced to North America by Spanish settlers. The breed most commonly seen in Texas is a mixture of those hogs and Russian boars brought over more recently for sport hunting, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 

Some speculate the population boom is due to relatively recent cross-breeding in the wild. Feral hogs are much larger, meaner and wilier than their farm-raised hogs. The feral hogs, which are often referred to razorbacks or wild boar, have exploded across rural America in the last 20 years.  

Destructive is putting it mildly! Friends, I have people writing to tell me about wild hogs tearing up recreational areas, terrorizing tourists, and even attacking the family dog. But worse than screwing up some recreational area, it's estimated that feral hogs cause about $500 Million in agriculture damages in Texas alone. 

They do this by digging up fields, destroying pastures and crops, creating wallows and busting up fences. Besides destroying crops, they also pollute rivers and streams, and break farm machinery by digging ruts that damage tractors and other equipment. It is said that when not creating destruction, they are breeding. 

An official stated that a sow can bear two litters per year, with each litter consisting of up to a dozen, so that means one hog can become 200 over the course of just two years. And yes, according officials, that means 70 percent of the hogs must be killed each year just to maintain current population levels. And yes, a report from a year or so ago said there are 2.6 million feral hogs running loose in Texas. They are even pushing other animals out of the area. So yes, that means Texas has a huge feral hog problem.

Texas allows hunters to kill feral hogs year-round without limits. And of course some folks capture them alive to take to slaughterhouses. For me, I would think food banks and kitchens to help the needy would love some that meat. 

I have been told that thousands are shot each year. Some hunters, better shooters than me mind us, actually shot feral hogs from helicopters. And while I have heard some who have written to say that the goal is to control their growth, I say shot for eradication until someone says stop. And that, well that brings me to what's taking place right now. 

On February 21st, Fox News reported that the Texas state agriculture commissioner Sid Miller said that he wants to poison the feral hogs by using a human blood-thinner that supposedly proves especially deadly in swine. He is quoted as saying, "They're so prolific, you can't hardly keep them in check. This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like: If you want them gone, this will get them gone."

And believe it or not, though it sounds like BS, the pesticide used is called "Kaput Feral Hog Lure." It will be bait laced with the human blood thinner "warfarin."

Let's be real up front and admit that the use of warfarin as a pesticide to control the feral hog population is significant because it gives agriculture producers and landowners in Texas a new weapon in the fight against feral hogs. And according to some experts familiar warfarin, they believe it's a logical choice for hog toxicant because it is effective in swine. 

The manufacturer of the product, Scimetrics Ltd. Corp., has been manufacturing rodent management products for 15 years. Yes, warfarin has been used to kill rats and mice for a long time. Extensive testing of the effectiveness of warfarin on killing hogs has been conducted in Texas since 2008. The approval of warfarin for feral hog control is believed to be the culmination of several years of research in conjunction with the Texas Department of Agriculture.

So now how about other animals in the food chain? How much of a risk is there to livestock, horses, deer, and other animals? 

Experts say that other wildlife populations and livestock require a much higher dosage level to potentially have an affect on them. But frankly, that doesn't make sense since I would think high doses are needed to kill hogs. And if that's so that that puts livestock and other wildlife at risk. 

And while the folks at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service are supportive of the rule change and the use of warfarin for feral hog population control, they don't have anything to lose. Ranchers and farmers do if this "hog apocalypse" is an apocalypse felt by other animals as well.

Louisiana is considering the use of the same poison. But the FoxNews report siad that there is at least one state wildlife official who has gone on record to warn folks that the crumbs that a hog leaves behind could affect black bears and other animals.

While the state of Texas officials are downplaying the threat to other wildlife, some hunters in Texas disagree and say poison is not a viable option. Hunters in the state have collected more than 12,000 signatures in opposition of the use of this poison. 
In an effort to reassure people that the use of the poison will be safe for wildlife and livestock, Commissioner Miller said that there is only a "minimal" threat to other animals. But, according to Mr. Miller, hunters will be able to see that the substance was consumed by a hog because the fat will be bright blue. Imagine that. 

Eydin Hansen, the vice president of the Texas Hog Hunters Association is quoted as saying, "We don’t think poison is the way to go. If a hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family? I can tell you, I don't."

Mr Hansen also mentioned the risks of another animal, like say a coyote, eating a dead carcass. His concern is about just how much of the whole ecosystem is effected by the decision to use poison.

By the way, last year it was reported that Caldwell County has become the Lone Star State's front line in the fight to curb the exploding population of feral hogs.
They have had a volunteer task force which has found success using a host of strategies including $5 tail bounties, helicopter hunts, and smartphone-controlled corrals.

In the two years since their volunteer task force was founded, the Caldwell County task force has helped kill or capture 10,000 of the hogs while providing a proven model of success for other counties dealing with the same problem. 

The Caldwell County Feral Hog Task Force pays $5 for each feral hog tail it collects. Of all the methods employed, the $5 bounty for tails has been one of the most effective. Setting up a roadside table, he and his fellow volunteers have paid out thousands of dollars for the tails that prove there is one less wild hog in the area. Funding for the Caldwell County operation comes in part from state and county grants.

The hogs are shot by hunters, sometimes from aboard helicopters, and trapped along the waterways they travel. Reports state that others, including entire broods, are caught in giant pens that are closed remotely after the hogs are inside.

The tails can be turned in by hunters who kill the hogs or by farmers and ranchers, who buy and take them to market. Hunters, who face no restrictions on the number of hogs they kill, can get up to $300 each. Some report bagging hundreds per year.

"In the last two years, I've gotten out of the red and into the black," said Val Ramirez, a landowner and hog trapper in Caldwell County to "On average, the revenue from selling wild hogs runs between $13,000 and $18,000 a year."

In Caldwell County, the hogs travel along the San Marcos River and Plum Creek, leaving behind large amounts of fecal matter and polluting the waterways in the process. Mr. Ramirez sets up dozens of traps along the creek and on the land of other ranchers looking for help.

"They are just a nuisance. We are not going to get rid of them completely. Trapping will never get rid of all of them, but at least we can try to curtail them," he said.

So now, if that's working in Caldwell County, why not open up the rest of the state using the same tactics? Why not pay for more hunters and make it worth their while to kill as many as possible?

Mr. Ramirez was right. They are a nuisance. So why not have counties, where the hog problem is the greatest, pay a bounty for each tail that's brought in just as Caldwell County is doing? I've known hunters who hire out to farmers to shoot feral hogs. And frankly, it cost ranchers less to hire someone to shot the invasive hogs than it costs them in crop losses. And if the farmers and ranchers knew they will be reimbursed by the state for the money that they are expending, I believe they will be more willing to spend more to get the job done.

As for the suggestion of reimbursing farmers and ranchers who hire others to remove their hogs, why not? That reimbursement may motivate other Texas ag producers to do that same if they really knew that they have the backing of the state.

Another option is allowing farmers and ranchers to bring in hunters from out of state. If that is a viable option, why not allow out of state hunters who will pay them to get rid of their hog problems? If Texas allows their farmers and ranchers to bring in out of state hunters, say from spring to the beginning of fall, there's the possibility that those hunters will be able to help eradicate the beasts?

The money that those farmers and ranchers will make from out of state hunters may even be helpful to recoup loses as result of the hog damage. A lot of them have been hit very hard by crop and equipment damage.

Bringing in more hunters, both locally and from out of state may even help a local economy that's been hit the hardest. Dollars coming in for everything from hotel stays and restaurants to hunting ammo and fees can't hurt a local economy who is open to out of state hunters wanting to bag as many hogs as the good Lord will allow.
Since feral hogs cost the state's agriculture industry about $50 million a year in damage, why not go with using other options instead of using poison which can have an effect on livestock, other wildlife, and the people eating these hogs?

Fixes like poison scares me because there is no telling how it spreads in the food chain? Does it enter the water that hogs drink from? Does it effect scavengers? Does it effect other animals which may consume it and pass it along by various?

And as for being harmful to people, remember, according to Commissioner Miller, hunters will be able to see that the substance was consumed by a hog because the fat will be bright blue. But he did not say not to eat it. He did not say that blue fat is not harmful to people. He did not say that blue fat is not harmful to people. Or did I read that wrong? 

And really what happens if someone doesn't know what he's looking at? Or what if some hunters decide to ignore what they see and eat these animals? What then? Who is responsible if people get sick or the poison is transmitted to people? Sound far fetched? Really? 

I find it interesting that people are concerned about not letting folks eat meat or chicken with growth hormones and antibiotics, yet someone is OK with Texans eating hogs which have been poisoned?

I find that unacceptable behavior on the part of public officials.

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

Tom Correa

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Coach Gun -- The Town Tamer

Above: Cimarron Firearms 1878 Coach Gun 
Dear Friends,

A while ago I made the claim that I believe shotguns were the real guns that won the West. Now a reader wants to know why I think such a thing? So here goes.  

Simply put, shotguns were much more widely available and used by more Americans in the 1800s than any other firearm of the period. Whether it was a brand new shotgun or one passed down from father to son, shotguns were considered the general-purpose firearm of the time. 

Shotguns were popular long before the Henry rifle, the Winchester 1873, the Smith & Wesson American, or the Colt Single Action Army. And yes, they were a huge number of shotguns that came West by pioneers. Whether it was someone's grandfather's percussion or other muzzle-loader shotgun, or a single or a double-barrel, our pioneers brought them with them. 

Pioneers who could only afford one firearm bought the one gun that was a more versatile tool than that of a pistol or a rifle. With a shotgun, a pioneer could bring in small game like rabbits and ducks while also loading up with buckshot to take down a deer. Produced by the thousands, they were used more than any other type of firearm.

They were used by lawmen, the military, shotgun messengers, prison guards, and average Americans alike. They were, as they still are, the single best most economical firearm for hunting and defense.

Of course, shotguns were used by Americans as far back as during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. And yes, there is the story that a shotgun was actually found at the Alamo. It was found after Santa Anna’s forces overran those holding the garrison.

As for the Civil War? Yes, both sides had troops that used shotguns. Cavalry units on both sides used shotguns as a devastating close-quarters weapon. And really, that really makes sense since the cavalry was used as shock-troops during the time. And yes, it was much easier for someone atop a horse to hit another what they were shooting at with a shotgun than it was with a rifle or a pistol.

In the Old West. the side-by-side double-barreled shotgun was a mainstay to settlers, miners, ranchers, and just about anyone who needed a weapon. They were primarily made by Remington Arms, Ithaca, Colt's Manufacturing Company, Parker, L.C. Smith, and also British and Belgian makers.

The term "coach gun" comes from express companies, like Wells Fargo & Co, who knew the value of shotguns. They armed their guards with shotguns that would become known as "coach guns" and "messenger's guns" because of their use by shotgun messengers on stagecoaches and by messenger wagons back in the Old West. 

Since a "coach gun" is simply a side-by-side double-barrel shotgun with a barrel from 18 to 24 inches in length, such a shotgun was used by shotgun guards on gold shipments on stagecoaches. They sat next to the driver on the coach, thus the name "coach gun." 

And while most were 12 gauge guns, there are reports that some were 10 gauge shotguns. Frankly, having a guard use a 10 gauge is a little hard to believe since a 10 gauge can be a little tough to handle.

The term "messenger's gun" is believed to have been coined in the late 1850s when Wells Fargo assigned guards to its shipments on stagecoaches in California. The company issued shotguns to their guards so that they would be able to defend their gold shipments coming out of the California Gold Country. Those Wells Fargo guards were called "shotgun messengers."

Wells, Fargo & Co. began regular stagecoach service from Tipton, Missouri to San Francisco, California which was a 2800 miles long route. In addition to carrying passengers and gold shipments, Wells Fargo was contracted to carry U.S. Mail. The reason for the armed guards is that the threat of road agents, highwaymen, ready, and willing to rob stages was always present. In fact, it is said that between 1870 and 1884, Wells Fargo stages were the target of 347 robbery attempts.

Wells Fargo and other express companies recognized the need for firepower. They also understood the psychological effect of such an imposing weapon. With that, they hoped that those facts alone would deter someone from robbing a shipment.

And yes, it is believed that in some cases, the sight of a shotgun guard, or guards depending on the size of the shipment, may have changed the mind of the most determined road agent. This is probably true since the devastating effect of a shotgun was common knowledge to all at the time. No, there was no doubt of the effectiveness of a scattered blast of shotgun shot.  

Now if you are wondering why they didn't arm their guards with rifles or pistols? Most guards did in fact carry a pistol, and some did supplement a shipment with a supply of rifles, but express companies and shippers opted for the shotgun. Shotguns were simply more effective than trying to hit something with a single projectile fired from a rifle in the hands of someone atop a moving stagecoach or other types of wagons.

Let's face it, not everyone is accurate with a rifle. In contrast, those armed with shotguns didn't have to be expert marksman since a shot blast is very forgiving. And that, well that's the same reason why other industries like say mining companies used coach guns for their guards.

Not all Wells Fargo wagons were stagecoaches as we can see from this photo.
Please note the four shotgun messengers. 

As for different types of shotguns? American gunmaker and inventor Daniel Myron LeFever is credited with the invention of the American hammerless shotgun. Working for Barber & LeFever in Syracuse, New York, he introduced his first hammerless shotgun in 1878. He went on to patent the first truly automatic hammerless shotgun in 1883.

His 1883 design was a shotgun that automatically cocked itself when the breech was closed. He later developed the mechanism to automatically eject the shells when the breech was opened. Prior to Mr. LeFever's design, all side-by-side shotguns used as coach guns featured external hammers.

Above: Stoeger Coach Gun, Hammerless 12 Gauge 20" Barrel

Famous American gunmaker and inventor John Browning, while working for Winchester Firearms, revolutionized shotgun design when he introduced the Model 1887 Lever Action Repeating Shotgun in 1887. The lever-action loaded a fresh shell by the operation of the lever really no different than a lever-action rifle. Browning then introduced a Pump Action Shotgun in 1893. The 1893 had a very short-lived production due to mechanical problems and reliability.

Though available in lever action and pump actions, Wells Fargo kept using side-by-side double-barrel shotguns because they believed there were too many reliability problems associated with both the new lever-action and pump-action designs. They saw, as many still do today, that a side-by-side coach gun is simply more reliable when one needs it.

It's interesting to note that the myth which says Wells Fargo shotguns were purchased by local agents is not true. In fact, prior to 1900, all of Wells Fargo's shotguns were purchased from San Francisco gun dealers because Wells Fargo's headquarters was located there. It is also interesting to note that from 1908 to 1919, all Wells Fargo still side-by-side shotguns were made by Ithaca Gun Company. 

A group of Wells Fargo shotgun messengers guarding an outgoing shipment.

Before the Model 1887 Lever Action Repeating Shotgun and the Model 1893 Pump Action Shotgun, most shotguns were the "break open" type. Both the earlier side-by-side double-barrel shotguns and the later lever action and pump action guns, could all have been ordered from the factory with the specified barrel length that one wanted. Of course, gunsmiths would cut down the barrels.

So now, it's a safe bet that you're asking what's the difference between a "coach gun" and a "sawed-off shotgun"? Well, frankly, I always thought they were one and the same. But doing the research for this article, I found out that I'm wrong.

A sawed-off shotgun by law is a type of shotgun that is legally unacceptable because it has a barrel under 18 inches in length. Compared to a standard shotgun, or even a coach gun, a sawed-off shotgun has the shortest effective range. But even though that's the case, its reduced size makes it easier to maneuver and conceal.

Why use a Coach Gun?

As for the question, why use a short barrel shotgun? The simplest answer is that the short barrel design simply makes the weapon easy to maneuver when needed.

Yes, it's the same as with the mythical Colt Buntline Special. While I don't believe it ever existed, I also believe that if it did it would have been completely impractical because of its barrel length. That's especially true for lawmen because of their need to have weapons that are practical in close-quarters use.

Even the standard 7.5" barrel of the 1873 Colt Single Action Army was considered too long by most lawmen in the 1800s.

That's why, by the 1870s, lawmen were either ordering them with shorter barrels or simply having a local gunsmith cut a few inches off their barrels. It was all about getting a weapon into play faster and being able to maneuver that weapon faster in a gunfight.

For a shotgun messenger, the same principle applies. You would want a shotgun that can be handled fairly quickly. When using a lever-action rifle, one's aim matters more than when using a short-barreled shotgun with a wide shot pattern. While one's proficiency is always important with any firearm, with a coach gun one also has less of a chance of missing -- especially at close range.

It is also important to note that in times of civil unrest and lawlessness, lawmen considered the shotgun, which in most cases was a coach gun, a "town tamer." While lawmen certainly appreciated the firepower, they also appreciated the psychological effect of having a shotgun in one's hands when facing an unruly crowd.

So yes, lawmen and guards know there were benefits of using a shotgun. If one were using a coach gun as a member of a posse, then one was pretty much assured of getting a great deal of respect from those you're after. And of course, if one happens to have to the business end of one lined up on a badman, its wide pattern can help out a great deal to get your man in a bad situation where nerves are not always as steady as can be.  

As for outlaws and gunmen in the Old West who used shotguns or were the victims of shotguns? Yes, there was the occasional gunfighter who saw the benefits of using a shotgun. There were also those who met their end as a result of tangling with someone willing to use one.

For example, the famous California highwayman Black Bart was said to use a short-barreled shotgun when he robbed stages in the Gold Country. He was known to tell the driver and shotgun messenger that guns were pointed at them from nearby bushes. Later the stagehands found out that those so-called rifles in the bushes were only sticks that were positioned to look like rifle barrels.

Then there is a question out there regarding the shotgun that Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp got from the express office just before the gunfight near the OK Corral. While I believe it was a 12 gauge coach gun loaded with buckshot, some say it was a 10 gauge.   

Yes, I'm talking about the same shotgun that Virgil Earp handed to Doc Holliday. It was the gun that Virgil told Holliday to put under his coat so that the public would not see it and become alarmed. It was the same coach gun that Holliday used to shoot Tom McLaury at point-blank range in the chest. Yes, Tom McLaury stood just a few feet from the business end of Holliday's shotgun when he was cut down. 

There is a debate if Wyatt Earp used a 12 gauge or a 10 gauge coach gun to murder Frank Stilwell in Tucson? Some say he used a 12 gauge Greener to kill Stilwell.

As far as the most famous picture of a dead outlaw who was shot with a coach gun? Well, I believe that distinction goes to none other than the outlaw Bill Doolin.

On August 24th, 1896, Bill Doolin who ran a gang known as the original "Wild Bunch" in the Oklahoma Indian Territory was ambushed and killed by Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas's posse.

Doolin was killed instantly when Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas opened-up on him with both barrels of buckshot from his shotgun. One can see the devastating effect it had,  and actually, count the number of shots that hit him.

As horrible that it was, such was an outlaw's death.

And lastly, this is out of a Corralitos, California, newspaper November 1879:

"Isaac Rich was discharged last Saturday. It was not proven that he intended to commit bodily harm on the workmen of the Corralitos Water Co. He only used the shotgun as a silent persuader. As the shotgun said nothing, and could not be made to testify, Rich and the shotgun were discharged."

Imagine that.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

John B. Stetson -- His Legacy

Dear Friends,

By coincidence, I've gotten a couple of letters, emails recently, which surprising ask me the same question in one way or another, "How would I describe John B. Stetson's legacy?"

I learned a great deal when I wrote about John B. Stetson in my article, John B. Stetson -- "Father Of The Cowboy Hat". So for me, Mr Stetson's positive attributes such as his drive to succeed after trial and error, his ability to identify a need and then have the desire to fill that niche goes to what makes America the land of opportunity. His story is inspiration because he came West to be successful by working for it.

Remember, he started his business in 1865. That was the year the Civil War was ending. The U.S. economy was in a horrible shape. There was a huge recession at the time. Some say it was a small economic depression. While people went West during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, a lot were returning with empty pockets. One half the nation was reeling from the destruction of the Civil War, while the other half faced major unemployment because of the halt to Northern war production. So imagine starting a business in that atmosphere?

Yes, he found a true niche. A niche that would be filled at all points of the compass, from Texas to Montana, from California to Florida, his hats became a must have items for the man working in the elements.

As I wrote back to a reader who is putting together a book on Mr. Stetson, "As you and I know real well, John B. Stetson is the American West personified in a single item. Yes, the cowboy hat. People might think of horses and Colt .45 Peacemakers, they might think of covered wagons, Indians, and even John Wayne. But as we know, nothing says 'Cowboy' like a Stetson. Yes, a cowboy hat.

No one imagines John Wayne without one. No one imagines cowboys wearing
worn out Civil War kepi caps or slouch hats, as they initially did wear after the war when the migration of veterans heading west took place. No one imagines cowboys wearing bowlers or derbies, or sombreros. No one thinks of cowboys wearing wide brim straw hats as some did, But no, we all think of cowboy hats when we think of the Old West and cowboys."

And as for today, Stetson makes a number of different styles of hats for all sorts of lifestyles. Yes, you name it and they make it. And yes, today the Stetson company makes all sorts of apparel and accessories. Heck, they even make a fine bourbon whiskey which I've tried and enjoy.

But to find Mr. Stetson's true legacy, go to a rodeo, a penning, a cutting, any sort of Western cattle or horse event, go to cattle auctions, go to gatherings, take a look at what ranchers are wearing, and yes there you will see John B's legacy in one form or another.

His legacy is no different than what a badge is to a cop, without a badge what is he? Without a Stetson, without a cowboy hat, what's a cowboy?

And yes, today the term "Stetson" covers all brands and other makers unless someone is looking for a specific brand of cowboy hat. I walked into a Western Wear store a few days ago and asked "Where are your Stetson's?"

The owner said, "The cowboy hats are along the far wall." Yes, he knew exactly what I was looking for because "Stetson" says it all.

John B's creation, the cowboy hat, is today bought by adults, by both men and women, for themselves and for children. It is part of the Cowboy Culture today just as it was over a hundred year ago at his death. And friends, that ain't a bad legacy.

Tom Correa

Monday, February 13, 2017

SNOPES Does Lousy Research

Dear Friends,

Lately, I've been accused of creating a meme regarding a bogus comment that was attributed to Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. This was a meme that I did in fact share with my friends on Facebook.

I have told everyone that I did not create that meme, but I simply shared it. I also used incorrect punctuation when I commented on it when I asked the question, "She really did say this?!"
I told people that I did share the meme just as I have many others sent my way from friends. And with 5,000 friends, who can honestly say where every meme comes from? but I did not create it or fabricate it in any way.

On Facebook, I stated this and told people that I'd like to find where it did in fact come from. Well, I've found it on Pinterest. And one more thing. If you look at the dates when people commented on this meme, you can see that it was commented on a long time before I shared it on Facebook.

That specific Elizabeth Warren meme can be found edited and not edited in multiple locations on Pinterest:

I've searched in an effort to clear my name. Now I can prove that it was out there long before I shared it. But there still is two questions that I would like answered.

First, how is it that SNOPES does such lousy research that they couldn't track it down to before I shared it, or to when it originally appeared? And second, while I have been trying to get this blog further away from politics, especially in the last year, why did SNOPES target me?

The reason I ask is that though my small blog does a modest 40,000 visits a month. And yes, some months better than that. Fact is my blog does not compare to big Conservative websites. So why attack me?

Of course, there could be another reason. I can't help but wonder if this attack by SNOPES was purely ideological since many tell me that SNOPES leans to the Left and is a huge supporter of Democrats while I'm not.

So if SNOPES was not trying to attack my blog, The American Cowboy Chronicles, were they attacking me because I distribute Conservative news and information via Facebook where I have the limit of 5,000 friend and a large number of followers? Some of my Facebook friends believe this is the case, and now I'm wondering if this is true?

At this point, my little blog may take a hit and lose visitors. But frankly, I really want the truth to come out and have SNOPES admit that that meme was in circulation long before I shared it.

I have contacted SNOPES with the information that I've found. I hope they are honest with their readers, and correct their article.
Tom Correa

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Cherokee Courthouse Shootout 1872

Dear Friends,

Folks are lead to believe that shootout at the OK Corral was the worse shootout ever to occur in the Old West. In reality, the gunfight that took place in a vacant lot near the OK Corral was not even close to the worse.

One shootout that was a lot worse than what took place in Tombstone, Arizona, is the Cherokee Courthouse Shootout that took place during a trial in the Cherokee court system on April 15th, 1872. in the Goingsnake District of the Cherokee Nation. Where three men died in the 30 second shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, 11 men were killed in the Cherokee Courthouse Shootout. And yes, later the melee would also been known as called the Going Snake Tragedy and the Going Snake Massacre

It started when Ezekial "Zeke" Proctor was being tried for killing Polly Beck and wounding Jim Kesterson in a shooting incident between what some say were family members. And yes, tensions were high due to the strong family ties of the accused and victims. And of course, there was the dispute over court jurisdiction. Some wanted Proctor tried in the Cherokee Nation, other wanted him tried in a federal court.

How did it start?

Ezekiel "Zeke" Proctor, a Cherokee from Georgia, fought for the Union Army, during the Civil War. He was know as a local "outlaw" and "hombre" with a bad temper, especially when he was drinking. All of the Beck family, who were also Cherokee, fought for the Confederate Army. As expected, after the war, the Becks and the Proctors did not get along. 

Zeke Proctor's romantic interest in Polly Beck didn't help things. Proctor was also a member of the Keetoowah Nighthawk Society which was a group created to preserve tribal traditional ways and fight "white encroachment". The term Keetoowah supposedly means ?full-blood," or "old-time Cherokee," or something similar to that.

So yes, Proctor disapproved of Cherokee women being involved romantically with white men. And since he was romantically in Cherokee woman Polly Beck, he made it known that she should not be in any sort of relationship with a white man. That white man being Jim Kesterson.

Proctor's hypocrisy regarding this must have given a few people something to talk about since both his and Polly Beck's fathers were white men.

Polly Beck was said to have been an attractive woman. Her father was white and her mother was Cherokee. It's said that at a young age, she was married to a white man, Steve Hilderbrand. He had been killed during the Civil War.

She then married Jim Kesterson who was a white man. Some say he was either her fourth or fifth husband, but I can't verify that. As for siblings, she had one brother. Of course two of her first cousins were Deputy US Marshals.

First, Zeke Proctor murders Polly Beck and wounds Jim Kesterson.

Why did he kill Polly Beck? Well, from what I gather, most of it is all conjecture because I don't think anyone really knows for sure. That is of course, other than the fact that Proctor didn't like the fact that a Cherokee woman who he was interested in was already married to a white man.

Some say Jim Kesterson had previously been involved with Proctor's sister, Susan, and had left her for Polly, leaving Susan and the children destitute. Others say that never happened and that there were no children, or that the children were not Kesterson's. Another story is that Kesterson caught Proctor stealing cattle and wanted to prosecute. And yes, there's ever a story that claims Proctor had been previously involved romantically with Polly, who was supposedly promiscuous. And yes, he was supposedly still in love with her. But frankly, that's all hearsay.

We do know that Zeke Proctor confronted Polly and Jim at her late husband's mill in the Oklahoma Territory on February 27th. They met at the so-called Hildebrand Mill, in what is now Delaware County, Oklahoma, on Flint Creek, just a little west of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Polly was the widow of Steve Hildebrand, who had owned a share in the mill. After Hildebrand was killed in the Civil War, Polly ran the mill with Jim Kesterson,

Once all three were there, tempers flared and an argument erupted. From there, Proctor attempted to kill Jim Kesterson and did in fact kill Polly Beck. Fact is, Zeke Proctor used a rifle to shoot Jim Kesterson in the head. But believe it or not, he only wounded him. After shooting her husband, Proctor then turned to Polly and shot her dead. 

Later, Proctor would say that he murdered Polly accidental. And supposedly, Proctor surrendered himself after the murder of Polly to the sheriff of the Goingsnake District of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee court took jurisdiction.

The Trial

Though the Becks were also Cherokee, they were afraid of the Keetoowah Society’s influence. They wanted the federal court in Fort Smith to intervene on grounds that Kesterson was white. The other thing they saw was a rigged court.

And yes, for very good reason because Zeke Proctor was related to just about everybody including Lewis Downing who was the tribal chief. Proctors's mother had been a Downing. And if that wasn't bad enough, they couldn't find a prosecutor who was unrelated to the Proctors. And also, the regular judge, Jim Walker, was also related to the Proctors, and Judge T.B. Wolfe was also. 

Cherokee Chief Downing appointed Blackhaw Sixkiller as judge. Judge Sixkiller set the trial for March of 1872. The first short session ended in recess when Beck's lawyer, J.A. Scales, asked the chief to remove Sixkiller on an assortment of charges. 

Chief Downing temporarily suspended Sixkiller, then called an emergency meeting of the tribal council. The council quickly decided that the charges against Sixkiller were without merit, and the trial set for April 15th.

Believing that Proctor would not be convicted in a Cherokee court, his case is appealed to the local federal court. Yes, including asking that an arrest warrant be issued to ensure that Proctor received a trial in a non-Cherokee court in front of Judge Isaac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

The trial was held in the Whitmire schoolhouse, rather than the Going Snake Courthouse. The school building, near what is now Christie, Oklahoma, was farther away from Beck country than the court was. 

The school was built like a bunker. It was built of logs, had only one door on its west side, and had only a couple of windows. So yes, the trial was moved there for a reason. It was see as easier to defend in case of trouble. 

Because the Proctor family was large and well connected, and because Zeke Proctor was a prominent Keetoowah, the Beck family was not sure that their notion of proper justice would be done at the Whitmire schoolhouse. And so on April 11th, a wounded Jim Kesterson and members of the Beck family rode into Fort Smith to hedge their bets. 

There, they swore out a federal warrant for Zeke Proctor's arrest. They also got warrants for seven other men, including two Walkingsticks, a couple of Sixkillers and the entire jury. Imagine how that went over.

Most accounts say that the Beck's did in fact get federal warrants for Proctor's defense counsel and Judge Sixkiller. And yes, in spite of the treaty, the U.S. Commissioner in Fort Smith issued the warrants based on the proposition that the United States had jurisdiction over offenses against white people. And while Kesterson was adopted as a Cherokee, he was white.

The warrants were given to Deputy U.S. Marshals Jacob Owens and Joseph Peavey. They were instructed to arrest everybody named in the warrants only if Zeke Proctor were acquitted. In case of conviction, they were not to serve the warrants at all. It was a recipe for trouble.

And so, there came the day of trial. The makeshift courthouse was jammed with people, many of them Proctor friends and family armed to the teeth. Yes, that included the defendant himself who was armed. And outside, a crowd of Cherokee eager to hear the proceedings had gathered. Although most agree that they were there to be available in case of trouble. 

Among them were a number of Beck friends and family. They were also armed, and wearing twigs of wild plum blossoms in their hats as a sort of badge. Yes, for identification when the shooting starts.

In the make-shift court, Judge Sixkiller sat at a little wood table facing the single door. Just to his left was Joe Starr, the court clerk, and Proctor’s lawyer, Mose Alberty, sat on the Judge Sixkiller’s right. An armed Zeke Proctor sat next to his attorney. Tom Walkingstick was one of his guards, and he stood near Proctor.

As for the actual massacre?

At about 11 a.m., not long after proceedings had begun and prosecutor Johnson Spake was arguing some procedural matter, the federal posse arrived. Out in front were Deputy U.S. Marshals J.G. Peavy and J.G. Owens, both well respected and well liked in Indian Territory. 

Marshal Owens had ordered his posse to stay out of the schoolhouse, and to remain outside until the verdict was reached. The posse dismounted and formed a rough column of twos. They soon started through the crowd toward the door. In the meanwhile, a few armed Beck supporters joined them from the crowd waiting outside. 

Supposedly, in the lead was White Sut Beck cradling his double-barreled shotgun. Some say he started the melee, but in the confusion that's just hearsay. Actually once inside the schoolhouse, juror George Blackwood saw the grim-faced federal posse and Beck family members coming in the door.

Supposedly, Blackwood shouted, "Look out! Look out! They're coming to get Zeke Proctor!"

No one really knows who fired the first shot, or what made some shoot at all, but soon someone fired a shot and then all hell broke loose. And depending on what Cherokee faction one talks with, Proctor versus Beck, the story of who is responsible for starting the massacre shifts. Some say it was a Beck and others say it was a Proctor who over reacted, either way in the confusion that's just hearsay.

According to some White Sut Beck drew down on Zeke Proctor with his shotgun, but Johnson Proctor, his brother, supposedly grabbed White Sut’s weapon and then took one barrel full in the chest. Believe it or not, Johnson already mortally wounded still hung on to the shotgun, forcing the second shot down toward the floor. 

Zeke Proctor was hit in the foot by a couple of buckshot. Mose Alberty, never had a chance. He was sitting at the clerk’s table or judge’s desk, apparently reading some document, when he was hit with two shotgun rounds. He was killed instantly.

As gunfire roared, men began to drop on both sides. It's said that Zeke Proctor produced a revolver from somewhere, but who knows. And as for the stories of him killing everyone in sight, in reality he is said to had taken cover in a chimney corner where he wouldn't get hit.

As the smoke cleared, the floor of that schoolhouse was littered with bodies both dead and wounded. Four dead lay just inside the schoolhouse door. Three more bodies lay just outside. A few paces away was another corpse, a badly wounded man lay moaning behind the building. And still, they say another lay dying in a nearby clump of bushes.

Judge Sixkiller took two buckshot in the wrist, and lawyer Alberty lay dead near Johnson Proctor. One juror had a hole in his shoulder, and several others also had wounds, most of them minor. Close by, in Mrs. Whitmire’s house, Deputy U.S. Marshal Owens was dying.

Widow Whitmire had her teenage sons hitch the family mule to a wagon and gather up the dead and the dying. The bodies of those killed were conveniently arranged on the Whitmire front porch so that their families could tend to them. The wounded were carried inside to be cared for by Mrs. Whitmire and others.

The next day the jury reconvened at Captain Arch Scraper's house. The jury deliberated less than 10 minutes and acquitted Zeke Proctor of murder. And yes, it is said that the jury then departed in some haste after hearing that Fort Smith will send more Deputy U.S. Marshals along with more Becks.

James Huckleberry, the U.S. marshal, sent a second posse down to Going Snake. In command was Deputy U.S. Marshal Charles F. Robinson, he and 20 others including two doctors, Julian Fields and C.F. Pierce there to help the wounded. All toll, 11 men were beyond help.

As for the massacre, the bottom line is that a federal posse consisting of two Deputy US Marshals, two of their regular posse members, six white men from Fort Smith, and five Cherokee who were all relatives of Polly Beck, was sent to Cherokee Judge Blackhawk Sixkiller's court to attend the trial. They were also there to arrest Proctor on federal charges if he was acquitted.

Treaties with the federal government said that Cherokee Nation courts would have jurisdiction over Cherokee people, so the involvement of non-tribal law officers was seen as a threat to tribal sovereignty.

Remember, the federal court dispatched a ten-member posse led by two Deputy US Marshals to secure the arrest of Proctor at the court house in Tahlequah. And yes, five members of the Beck clan traveled with that federal posse.

It's said there were more guns than people in Sixkiller's courtroom. The Cherokee gathered several members of the tribe to protect Proctor and their treaty rights. The Cherokee court's trial of Proctor was moved to the schoolhouse, since it was seen as being easier to defend than the courthouse. 

Some Cherokee, those aligned with the Proctors, say that without warning, the Deputy US Marshals and other members of their posse attacked the schoolhouse. But really, according to others, no one really knows who started the shooting.

Fact is, shooting broke out in the crowded make-shift courtroom during the proceedings. Eight of the Marshals posse and three Cherokee citizens were shot to death. It is said that nine Cherokee, including Zeke Proctor and Judge Sixkillers, were wounded.

As for the United States Marshals Posse members who were killed? They were Deputy U.S. Marshal Jacob Owens who died the following day of wounds, and posse members William Beck also died the following day of wounds, Black Sut Beck, Sam Beck, William Hicks, George Selvidge, Jim Ward, and Riley Woods.

Of the United States Marshals Posse members who were wounded? They were Deputy U.S. Marshal Joseph Peavey, and posse members Paul Jones, George McLaughlin, and White Sut Beck.

As for the Cherokee who were killed? They were Johnson Proctor, brother to suspect Zeke Proctor, William Alberty, who was Proctor's attorney, and Andrew Palone who was a Cherokee and Civil War veteran.

The Cherokee wounded, Zeke Proctor, Judge Blackhawk Sixkiller, John Proctor
Isaac Vann, Ellis Foreman. and Joe Chaney.

After the shooting, Cherokee authorities moved the trial to another locations and acquitted Proctor. District Attorney James Huckleberry in Fort Smith, actually dispatched a large posse under the command of Deputy US Marshal Charles Robinson. 

The second posse arrested several men believed to have been involved in the killing of the Deputy U.S. Marshals. And no, no resistance was made against the second federal posse. One of those arrested was the jury foreman Arch Scaper, who was identified as on of the Cherokee shooters. All of those arrested were taken to Fort Smith, Arkansas for trial, but all were eventually released due to lack of evidence or because witnesses were not willing to testify.

All in all, a federal grand jury in Fort Smith indicted twenty Cherokees present at the trial as well all the tribal court officers. Cherokee Nation issued warrants for several Cherokee citizens, as well. The federal government later dismissed all indictments. 

As for Zeke Proctor, the man who got away with murder? 

He fled by the time the second posse arrived. Not surprisingly, he fled to Mexico for a little over four years. But by the 1880s, Proctor was back and supposedly had a small ranch. In 1877, believe it or not, he was elected as a Cherokee Senator. 

And as for more irony, believe it or not, in 1894, he was elected sheriff of the Flint District of the Cherokee Nation. Some say, if there was anyone who should have never worn a badge -- he was that man.

Tom Correa 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Isaac Charles Parker -- The Hanging Judge

Dear Friends,

Many of us who are into Old West history and Western movies have heard of Judge Isaac Parker, the "Hanging Judge." And since a reader wrote to ask why he was called the "Hanging Judge," I decided to share my research on him.

I also wanted to ask the question if his being called the "Hanging Judge" was justified or not? After reading this, ask yourself if the moniker that was pinned on him was justified for the period and the length of time he said on the bench?

Isaac Charles Parker was born on October 15th, 1838. He was a judge and a politician. He actually served as the United States Congressman for Missouri's 7th congressional district for two terms, and presided over the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for 21 years.

Parker was born the youngest son of Joseph Parker and his wife Jane Shannon. He was raised on the family farm near Barnesville, Ohio. He attended Breeze Hill Primary School, followed by the Barnesville Classical Institute which was a private school.

He actually taught school in a county primary school to pay for his secondary education. And believe it or not, at the young age of 17, he started in an apprenticeship in law and then passed the Ohio bar exam in 1859 at the age of 21.

Parker moved to St. Joseph, Missouri between 1859 and 1861 and worked at his maternal uncle's law firm of Shannon and Branch. While there, he met and married Mary O'Toole, with whom he had sons Charles and James. By 1862, Parker had his own law firm and was also working in the country courts.

In April of 1861, Parker ran as a Democrat for the St. Joseph part-time position of city attorney. He served three one-year terms from April 1861 to 1863. Of course the Civil War broke out in 1861 just four days after Parker took office. 

He decided to enlist in a pro-Union the 61st Missouri Emergency Regiment which was a home guard unit. While I would have thought that he would have been an officer because of his being an attorney, he was an enlisted man and reached the rank of Corporal by the end of the war.

During the early 1860s, all through the Civil War, Parker continued both his legal and political careers. Then in 1864, he formally split from the Democratic Party over conflicting opinions on slavery. We should remember that Democrats started the Civil War after efforts of keeping slavery legally failed.  

So now as a Republican, he ran for county prosecutor of the Ninth Missouri Judicial District. By the fall of 1864, he was serving as a member of the Electoral College and voted for the re-election of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1868, Parker won a six-year term as judge of the Twelfth Missouri Circuit. And just two years later in 1870, Judge Parker was nominated for Missouri's 7th Congressional District. Backed by those who were called the "radical faction" of the Republican party, "radical" because they wanted to give Civil Rights to black Americans, he then resigned his judgeship to campaign. He won the election after his opponent withdrew two weeks prior to the vote.

The first session of the Forty-second Congress convened on March 4th, 1871. During his first term, Parker helped to secure pensions for veterans in his district and campaigned for a new federal building to be built in St. Joseph. He sponsored a failed Republican bill designed to give women equal rights. 

The Democrats did not only fight to preserve slavery during the Civil War, they also fought the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which was an Act of the United States Congress which empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other Democrat militia organizations.

The act was passed by the 42nd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on April 20, 1871. The act was the last of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress from 1870 to 1871 during the Reconstruction Era to combat attacks on the rights of black Americans.

The Democrats at the time vehemently opposed women's rights or to allow them to hold public office. Parker fought them and also sponsored legislation to organize the Indian Territory, modern day Oklahoma, under a territorial government.

Parker was again elected to Missouri's 7th district in the forty-third Congress. It was during this time that he fought for the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Though fought against by Democrats, Republicans passed it so that black Americans would be guaranteed equal treatment in public accommodations, public transportation, and to prohibit exclusion from jury service. Yes, 80 years before Rosa Parks refused to move from a seat on a bus, Republicans were fighting Democrats so that black Americans weren't discriminated against.  

As for Isaac Parker's conduct in Congress, a local paper wrote of him, "Missouri had no more trusted or influential representative in ... Congress during the past two years". 

In his second term, besides Civil Rights issues, Parker concentrated on Indian policy, including the fair treatment of the tribes residing in the Indian Territory. It's said that his speeches in support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the fair treatment of the tribes gained national attention.

In 1874, Parker was the caucus nominee of the Republican Party for a Missouri Senate seat. But, Missouri was going Democrat at the time so it seemed very unlikely that he'd be elected to the Senate. Knowing this, he sought a presidential appointment as judge for the Western District of Arkansas.

On May 26th, 1874, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Isaac Charles Parker as Chief Justice of the Utah Territory. He was to replace James B. McKean. But after requesting that President Grant instead nominate him for the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to replace William Story who was facing impeachment proceedings due to allegations of corruption, Isaac Charles Parker go the job.

Judge Parker arrived in Fort Smith on May 4th, 1875, without his family. His appointment at 36 years of age made him the youngest Federal Judge in the West. And yes, without wasting any time, he got right to work with his first session as the district judge was on May 10th, 1875.

As a side note, the court prosecutor was W. H. H. Clayton. He remained the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas for 14 of Judge Parker's 21 years on the court.

On May 10th, 1875, his first day on the job, Judge Parker tried 18 men. That was during his first session of court, and all were there charged with murder. All toll 15 of them were convicted in jury trials. Parker sentenced eight of them to a mandatory death penalty. He ordered six of the men to be executed at the same time on September 3rd, 1875. And yes, one of those sentenced to death was killed trying to escape. He commuted another's sentence to life in prison due to his youth.

That first group of prisoners to hang as a result of going in front of Judge Parker, were three white men, two Indians, and one black man all of whom had been convicted of murder.

On September 3rd, 1875, the prisoners were seated together on a bench along the back of the gallows and had their death warrants read to them. Each was asked if he had any last words. They were then lined up on the traps. Then George Maledon, the man who was known as the "Prince of Hangman," adjusted the nooses around their necks and drew the black hoods over their heads.

At the signal from Judge Parker, Maledon pulled the lever to release the trap through which they fell. Maledon was said to take great care to get it done right. His prisoners usually died of a broken neck rather than by strangulation. Maledon also carried out another six man hanging later in his career.
Judge Parker's first hanging attracted huge media coverage for its day. Reporters came from Little Rock, St. Louis and Kansas City. Many of the large Eastern and Northern daily newspapers also sent reporters to cover the event. More than 5,000 people had turned out to watch the prisoners march from the jail to the gallows.

His court had final jurisdiction over the Indian Territory from 1875 until 1889. And no, there was no court available for appeals. Because of this, the governments of the Five Civilized Tribes, along with other tribes in the Indian Territory, actually had a legal system that covered their own citizens.

At the time, federal law applied to non-Indian United States citizens in the territory. And yes, Parker's court sat six days a week in order to ensure that he would be able to try cases. He is said to have thoroughly believed that citizens had the right to a speedy trial. And frankly, he gave a speedy trial to as many cases as possible each term. He often kept court going up to ten hours each day. 

And while in 1883, Congress attempted to reduced the caseload on the district courts by reducing the jurisdiction of the court and reassigning parts of the Indian Territory to federal courts in Texas and Kansas, the increase of settlers moving into the Indian Territories actually increased Parker's caseload.

In his time on the court, Parker presided over a number of high-profile cases, including the trial of Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill, and the "Oklahoma Boomer" case involving David L. Payne who illegally settled on lands in the Indian Territory.

In 1895, Parker heard two cases involving Crawford Goldsby. The first time it involved Goldsby killing a bystander during a general-store robbery in 1894. He was convicted in that case which lasted from February 26th to June 25th, 1895. Parker sentenced him to death. 

But while awaiting execution, Goldsby attempted to escape prison. During his attempted escape, he killed a prison guard. Because of that, he was again brought before Parker who promptly gave him a second death sentence on December 2nd, 1895. Goldsby was eventually hanged on March 17th, 1896.

As for Parker's clashes with the Supreme Court? It is said that he did so on a number of occasions. In 1894, Parker gained national attention in a dispute with the Supreme Court over the case of Lafayette Hudson who was convicted of assault with intent to kill. Parker sentenced him to four years imprisonment.

Hudson appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted bail. Parker refused to release Hudson on the grounds that statute law did not provide the Supreme Court with the authority to demand Hudson's release. Imagine that.

And of the 44 cases which Parker imposed the death penalty which were appealed to the Supreme Court, 30 of them were overturned and ordered to be re-tried.

In 1895, Congress passed a new Courts Act which removed the remaining Indian Territory jurisdiction of the Western District. So effective September 1st, 1896, the federal court for the Western District of Arkansas was closed. 

Parker's health deteriorated in the 1890s just as the jurisdiction and power of his court were reduced by Congress. Then in September of 1896, Congress effectively closed the District Court for the Western District of Arkansas by removing its jurisdiction.

A month early in August of 1896, Judge Parker was at home when the term began. He was already too sick to preside over the court. It is said that even thought that was the case, reporters wanted to interview him about his career but had to talk to him at his bedside.

Judge Parker died on November 17th, 1896, of a number of health conditions which included heart disease and Bright's disease which is a disease involving chronic inflammation of the kidneys.

His funeral in Fort Smith had the highest number of attenders up to that point. He is buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery.

During his time, Judge Isaac Charles Parker became known as the "Hanging Judge" due to the large number of convicts that he sentenced to death. But frankly, I don't know if he really deserved that moniker.

Fact is, in 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases. In more than 8,500 of those cases, the defendant either pleaded guilty or was convicted at trial. And out of those more than 8,500 cases, Judge Parker sentenced 160 people to death. Out of those, 79 of them were actually executed. Of the others on "death row" awaiting the hangman, they either died while incarcerated or were acquitted, pardoned, or their sentences were commuted to life.

Now, if my math is right, I figure that over his 21 years on the bench, with 160 sentenced to death, he actually sentenced 8 men a year to the death penalty in accordance with what the law demanded at the time. And since only 79 were actually hanged, he hanged about 4 a year in those 21 year. So for me, while looking at the numbers, I really don't know if his being called the "Hanging Judge" is really fair.

And there you have it, there so goes the story of one of the West's most interesting people. From everything that I've read about him, he stood for what was right and did his duty. And that, well that to my way of thinking is really all that one can do in the big picture of things.

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

Tom Correa 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Blogger To Pay "Substantial Sum" To Melania Trump In Defamation Lawsuit

Fox News:

Blogger forced to pay 'substantial sum' to Melania Trump in defamation lawsuit

February 07, 2017

A Maryland blogger has been forced to pay a “substantial sum” to Melania Trump as part of a settlement for a defamation lawsuit over an article containing unsubstantiated claims that the first lady once worked as an escort, her lawyers announced Tuesday.

"I posted an article on August 2, 2016 about Melania Trump that was replete with false and defamatory statements about her," Webster Tarpley, the 71-year-old blogger, said in a statement by Trump’s attorneys, according to the Washington Post.

Trump’s legal team declined to provide the settlement amount. Tarpley, of Gaithersburg, didn’t respond to requests from the Washington Post for comment, but his lawyer confirmed a settlement had been reached.

"I acknowledge that these false statements were very harmful and hurtful to Mrs. Trump and her family, and therefore I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Trump, her son, her husband and her parents for making these false statements," Trump’s lawyers -- in comments attributed to Tarpley -- wrote in their statement.

Trump on Monday also re-filed a libel lawsuit against the corporation that publishes the Daily Mail's website, this time in New York, for reporting on the escort rumors.

Trump had previously filed the lawsuit against Mail Media Inc. in Maryland, but a judge earlier this month ruled the case shouldn't be filed in Maryland and dismissed it. The lawsuit now filed in New York, where the corporation has offices, seeks compensatory and punitive damages of at least $150 million.

In the new filing Monday, the first lady's attorneys argue the report damaged her ability to profit off her high profile.

Melania Trump, the filing states, "had the unique, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world."

Those product categories, it goes on to say, could have included apparel, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care and fragrance, among others.

-- end of article

So OK, this should be a warning to people who lie and fabricate things for their blogs. And yes, I hope the same type of lawsuits can be brought against the Liberal Democrat controlled mainstream news media who routinely runs stories that are FAKE NEWS and/or are "alleged" to be true.

For me, I work very hard producing articles that I've researched. It is not easy to make sure what you put out does not slander anyone with unsubstantiated reported. That's why I really like doing factual post on American history, guns, horses, and livestock. Granted that some have my "opinion" in them, but I look at that as my assessment from what I have researched.

Now with saying that, I'm sure that the couple of stories that I have had fun with with are in my fiction section. The reason that I have them in my fiction section is because parts of those stories, even though it may only be a line or two, are made up. For an example of this, I used a mythical snake story floating around the internet to write a tongue and cheek post. And believe it or not, I had people actually writing to ask where that other information came from?

As for my political posts and my Conservative beliefs and opinions? When I write those posts, I take my information from multiple news sources, back check them, and simply give my opinion.

As for writing about American History? I let real history speak for itself. And no, history should not be partisan. That's why I approach my history posts with the attitude that while I want to give you an entertaining story, I worry more about the facts. I see looking into history as being the same as being a crime scene investigator in that I'm only interesting in the facts of what took place and really not what someone thinks took place.

And frankly, the same goes for my articles on guns and equipment, horses and livestock, or other posts. I do the research and let the cards speak for themselves.
Point is if a blogger calls someone a liar, then he or she better show how they lied. If a blogger makes an opinion, don't just say it is "right" or "wrong".

Tell us what your opinion is based on. Don't be like  the vast majority of the rioters and looters we see these days since Donald Trump has been elected. They run off of emotion and completely lack any sort of logic for their actions. They rant and rave and call people names and attack and thing that that is how intelligent people act. And no, anger is not an argument.

So really, bloggers need to say why they see something as not right or not wrong. And before any blogger calls someone a hooker, other than metaphorically like say calling some politicians "political whores" because they dance to the wishes of their special interest donors, this lawsuit shows that you better have iron-clad proof of it.

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

Tom Correa

Saturday, February 4, 2017

W.W. Pitman & His Against The Odds Shot

Marshal Pitman with the bandit's gun
Marshal W.W. Pitman with the bandit's gun

Walter W. Pitman earned his place in gunfighter lore when he fired an against all odds shot. And yes, from what I can tell, it's the only such shot to ever take place in the history of the Old West.

Granted there was another time that an against all odds shot took place in a gunfight. That took place on February 8th, 1887, when at about 8:00pm known gunfighter Jim Courtright called known gambler and gunman Luke Short out of the White Elephant Saloon to meet.

Luke Short was a gambler and friends with the likes of Bat and Jim Masterson the Earps, who were also friends with Marshal Jim Courtright. Short managed the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth. Courtright was running a protection racket there at the time.

Like John Wesley Hardin, Jim Courtright had developed a reputation as being fast and accurate with a gun. He needed to make an example of Short who refused to pay. And yes, Short had a sizable reputation as a gunfighter. His reputation was mostly because of a 1881 gunfight with a gunslinger named Charlie Storms at the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona. And no, Courtright and Short did not get along.

So when Jim Courtright called Luke Short out of the White Elephant, Short put on his flowered vest and top hat, and made sure his six gun was in his hip pocket before he stepped outside into the street. Once out there, both men walked up the street for about a block until they were in front of Ella Blackwell's Shooting Gallery. No, it wasn't a "shooting gallery". It was a the bar and brothel. 

According to reports, the two spoke while walking, but then the two men faced one another as angry words came from Courtright who had been drinking a lot. It was then that he made some indication about Short having a gun, but Short assured Courtright he was not armed. Although he was of course, Short lied to see where it would lead. 

At that point Short moved slowly toward Courtright saying that he could have a look for himself. Then Short pulled open his vest to display his not wearing a gun. And really, who knows if Jim Courtright felt embolden by the sight of an unarmed Luke Short, but witnesses stated that Courtright got louder in an attempt to intimidate Short.  

It is said that as Short dropped his hands to re-adjust his vest, right then and probably for the sake of bystanders to apparently give the impression of being justified in killing Short in self-defense, Courtright loudly yelled "Don't you pull a gun on me!" 

With that, thinking Luke Short was not armed, Jim Courtright drew his pistol. But according to reports, it hung up for just a second on his watch-chain. And in that split second, Luke Short pulled his pistol from his hip pocket and fired first.

Yes, that shot was one of the luckiest shots in Old West history. Short's bullet struck Courtright's right thumb as he was thumbing backing the hammer of his pistol. And yes, his thumb was tore off!

It was gone, and that meant Short had rendered him incapable of firing his single-action revolver with that hand. Please remember that Courtright had a single-action pistol, and subsequently he needed his thumb to cock the hammer back before firing each shot.

Knowing he couldn't do so, Courtright tried to switch his pistol to his left hand. But before he could get off a shot, Short fired what was said to be at least four more shots in quick succession. Yes, at point blank range until his gun was empty.

Jim Courtright is said to have then fell backward. The infamous long haired gunfighter and former lawman hit the ground like a bag of grain. Some say Courtright was dead before he hit the ground. Others say he lingered a while. Either way, Short was still alive because of a lucky shot that tore Courtright's thumb off.

Now compare Luke Short's shot that tore off Jim Courtright's thumbs to what happened to Wharton City Precint 1 Constable Walter W. Pitman, and you may think that it's pretty much a toss for who as had the against all odds shot. 

Born January 14th, 1884, west of Muldoon in Fayette County, Texas, Walter W. Pitman was raised to be a farmer and certainly not a gunfighter. And no, in fact, he really wasn't ever a gunfighter. 

Fact is, it's said he worked on his family’s farm until he got married in 1904. Then six years later, Pitman, his wife and two children moved to Wharton, Texas.

And as people do during hard times back in the day, he tried to make a living at whatever job he could find. Some say he was a salesman, but that didn't last very long so he returned to farming in 1912. Times were still hard, so in 1916 he ran for the position of Precinct 1 Constable. That was a precinct that included the county seat. And low and behold, Pitman won the election.

Immediately, Walter Pitman, known as "W.W.," cuts a deal with the sheriff to live for free in the jail in exchange for helping him run it. His family is on the farm, so to keep him in town the sheriff agrees if he also patrols Wharton at night.

Well, on the evening of September 15th, 1917, a local outlaw Francisco Lopez got drunk and started shooting up the town. It was Pitman’s job to confront him and that's when things went sour.

Pitman found the drunk Lopez on Main Street, so the constable simply walked up to the outlaw and told him he was under arrest. He then told him to come along peacefully. 

Now very angry, Lopez told Pitman that he wasn’t "Under anything!" And then, Lopez went for his gun. 

Lopez was carrying a .38 caliber Colt single-action pistol. Pitman was carrying a .45 Colt single-action. And yes, it's said that Pitman was slow as molasses that night. In fact, he was so slow that Lopez looked like greased lightning as he fired off two rounds at Pitman. Not too surprisingly coming from a drunk, both of the two shots from Lopez missed Pitman. 

Then Pitman fired at the exact same time as when Lopez fired his third shot. Yes, that's when Lopez screamed and dropped his weapon. Against all odds, Pitman’s bullet had struck the outlaw's pistol.  

Pitman would later describe his experience as a constable and what took place that night when he wrote:

"I undertook to arrest one Francisco Lopez, a drunken Mexican and as I approached him he jumped from the sidewalk into the street and opened fire on me with a little 38 Cal. revolver and I returned the fire as quickly as I could, pull my single action 45 Colt my first shot being immediately after his 2nd and as luck would have it my first shot put his gun out of commission ½ of my bullet entering his cylinder and the other ½ hitting him in his left hand as it split and glanced off. 

My second shot went through his right shoulder and the rest went wild just as the Mexican did. This all happened within 30 yards of the jail door and my wife hearing the shooting made a rush to the jail door with another 45 and my shot gun, an old reliable double barrel loaded with buck shot.

The hombre ran to within 20 yards of the jail door and hid behind a fence corner and when I got the guns from my wife I made a run in the direction of where I last saw him and the first flash of my lite hit him my [wife] followed there he is as She followed I raised the shotgun and then is when she really screamed “don’t shoot him”, and that scream from her is all that kept me from being tried for murder. 

I approached him with both barrels cocked in his center and taken the pistol) , or made him hand it to me handle first, then took him into the jail and locked the door behind and the people from all parts of town came rushing into the jail yard. But the Mexican was already safe behind jail bars. Waiting for a doctor to come treat his wounds which soon got ok. Then he was carried before the county Judge who fined him $200.00 and one year in jail for carrying a pistol later he was tried in District Court for assault to murder, during which trial his large family of small children occupied the front seats in front of the Judges bench. The jury brought in a verdict of 5 years suspended sentence, the sentence being suspended through sympathy for the children."

With a muzzle velocity of roughly 900 feet per second, the big .45 bullet from Pitman's handgun hit the barrel of the assailant’s revolver. Half of the slug entered the chamber holding what would have been the bad guy's third shot. The other half of the slug tore into Lopez's hand which forced him to drop his gun.

It is said that against all odds, Pitman's .45 bullet struck the .38 that Lopez was holding. And yes, it is believed that half of that lead slug had gone up the barrel of the outlaw's gun smashing into Lopez's next round. There is a bulge in the barrel where the bullets had collided with the other.

He was Wharton City Constable from 1916 to 1920, and Wharton City Marshal from 1920 to 1935. In the 1930s, Pitman read that Ripley’s Believe It or Not had a national contest under way to uncover astonishing facts for use in its syndicated newspaper column. So yes, the marshal wrote the story of his 1917 shootout and sent it to Ripley.
Pittman wrote:

"My first shot hit his pistol barrel on the left hand side about one inch in front of the cylinder and glanced up into his cylinder. It came in contact with a loaded cartridge and the two bullets are now stuck in the cylinder. I have the pistol in my possession and will never remove the two bullets as long as I live."

Six weeks after sending it in, Pitman is called to tell him that out of some 5 million entries he had won first prize in Ripley’s contest. He won an all-expense-paid trip for two to New York and then Cuba.

Pitman took the soon-to-be-famous pistol to the Houston Post for verification. Then on June 23rd, 1932, newspapers across the nation told the story of Pitman’s incredible shot. It is said that in the depths of the Great Depression, Pitman and his wife left for Cuba on a two-week vacation of a lifetime. Vacations were of course something that was basically unheard of for regular people in those days. People at the time were out of work and to busy trying to put food on their table, vacations were something for the wealthy.

Later that same summer, Pitman and another Wharton officer had a confrontation with none other than the famous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. That took place when the two officers tried to stop their car, a stolen car, when someone inside the car opened fire as the driver did a speedy U-turn and escaped. Fortunate for them, neither officer was hit.

On November 9th, 1935, he suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 51. His family buried him in the Wharton cemetery two days later.

As for the famous pistol, the jammed pistol remains in the holdings of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Yes, the .38 caliber pistol that belong to Lopez is on display in one of Ripley’s Odditoriums.

So there you have it, two of the most implausible shots in the Old West. One during the hey day of the Old West, and the other at the end of that period. And yes, since both shots kept their shooters alive, they certainly do have a lot in common.  

At least that's how I see it.
Tom Correa