Sunday, March 26, 2017

Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund -- Let's Help!

Several counties in the Texas Panhandle have experienced catastrophic wildfires in March. Homes, barns, fences, livestock and, most tragically, several lives have been lost. In an effort to help those who have been affected by this event, we have developed the Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund.

Click here for details of the relief fund and how to apply for assistance.
This program will collect and distribute monetary contributions only.

If you prefer to pay by check, it should be made out and sent to:

Texas Farm Bureau Agriculture Research and Education Foundation
Panhandle Wildfire Committee
P.O. Box 2689
Waco, TX 76702-2689
Attn: Cyndi Gerik


For general questions about donations or needs, call 806-677-5628.

Livestock Supply Points will be closing soon.

Gray County
Clyde Carruth Pavilion
301 Bull Barn Drive
Pampa, TX

Contact: Mike Jeffcoat, CEA
Office: 806-669-8033

This location will suspend daily operations on March 24. Supplies will be loaded by appointment only by calling 806-669-8033.

Hemphill County
Canadian AH&N Ranch Supply
100 Hackberry Trail
Canadian, TX

Contact: Andy Holloway, CEA
Office: 806-323-9114

This location plans to close in early April. They will stop accepting donations of materials and hay on March 24. Financial donations can still be made.

Lipscomb County
Lipscomb County Show Facility
202 West Main Street
Lipscomb, TX

Contact: J.R. Sprague, CEA
Office: 806-862-4601

This location will stop taking supplies on March 24. Anything further should be scheduled by calling 806-862-4601. Ranchers donating or picking up supplies may have to load and unload it themselves.

For monetary donations, make checks payable to the bold entry and send checks to the address indicated:

Lefors Volunteer Fire and EMS
Lefors Credit Union
Attn: Carole Watson
P.O. Box 425
Lefors, TX 79054 

Canadian Volunteer Fire Department
Happy State Bank
Attn: Scott Brewster
P.O. Box 300
Canadian, TX 79014

Lipscomb County Firefighters Association
FirstBank Southwest-Booker Branch
Attn: Pam Sanders
P.O. Box 636
Booker, TX 79005

Wildfire Relief

• USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help landowners with wildfire recovery and restoration. The NRCS can provide land management advice, and in some cases, financial assistance, to install measures that reduce post-fire damage and aid in the rehabilitation process. To learn more, click here.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following wildfires or other qualifying natural disasters. To learn more, click here.
• For more details and questions, contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA county office, visit
For questions you may have, please review the following resources:

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has a Disaster Education Network with many resources and a checklist of considerations for post-fire management.
Texas Animal Health Commission website has been updated with relief information:

Livestock Indemnity Program
The Livestock Indemnity Program is authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 to provide benefits to farmers and ranchers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or disasters.
For more details, contact your local FSA office. Find your local FSA county office here. To learn more about FSA disaster assistance programs, visit
Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline

The Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline helps farmers and ranchers locate forage and hay supplies for sale. If you need hay or would like to donate hay, visit or call 877-429-1998.
Texas Hay Import Precautions:

Various types of hay can be carriers of pests and diseases that are harmful to other crops. Some hay shipments containing corn, broomcorn, sorghums and sudan grass may have restrictions on entry into Texas. Also, hay imported from fire ant-infested areas of other states will be limited to distribution in fire ant-infested areas of Texas. For more information about restrictions on hay movement, please contact the TDA Agriculture and Consumer Protection Division at 800-835-5832.
Carcass disposal

For questions about carcass disposal, call the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at 800-832-8224.
Lost or Found Livestock

If you find cattle or other livestock with official identificationdocument the number, location of the animal(s) and call the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) at 512-719-0733 or 806-354-9335. TAHC will contact the owner.
If you find stray cattle that have a brand, call Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association at 817-332-7064 for brand identification.

If cattle have strayed onto your property, you must report them to the sheriff’s office in the county you are located in within five days of discovery to be eligible for reasonable payment for maintenance of or damages caused by the estray livestock.

For more information regarding Texas’ estray laws, visit Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 142.
Texas Department of Agriculture STAR Fund

If you are interested in giving to the TDA STAR Fund (State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund), visit the STAR Fund home page.
Reporting Losses: Affected Ranchers

Affected ranchers are being asked to call their AgriLife extension offices with any reports of dead or injured cattle. Office numbers of affected counties are:
  • Gray County (Pampa), 806-669-8033 
  • Hemphill County (Canadian), 806-323-9114 
  • Lipscomb County (Lipscomb), 806-862-4601 
  • Ochiltree County (Perryton), 806-435-4501 
  • Roberts County (Miami), 806-868-3191 
  • Wheeler County (Wheeler), 806-826-5243
Resources for other states affected by wildfires


Checks can be made payable to Colorado Farm Bureau FoundationCash and credit card payments are being accepted at this time. Please note “Disaster Fund-CO Wildfire” in the memo line on the check.

Cash and checks can be sent to:

Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation
Attn: Disaster Fund
9177 E. Mineral Circle
Centennial, CO 80112

For those wanting to donate hay or money, Kansas Farm Bureau encourages people to contact the Kansas Livestock Association at 785-273-5115. Checks can be mailed to the Kansas Livestock Foundation at 6031 SW 37th St., Topeka, KS 66614. “Fire relief fund” should be written in the memo line.
Kansas Farm Bureau is working with the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) as they organize hay and fencing material donations for delivery to affected areas in Kansas.

To make in-kind donations, call KLA at 785-273-5115. Cash donations will be made through the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF), KLA’s charitable arm. Funds generated through donations to the Kansas Livestock Foundation will be used to support ranchers impacted by the fires. A donation form can be found here.
Ashland Veterinary Center is coordinating livestock needs, tanks, portable corrals, fencing materials and personnel. Their support is much appreciated. Contact them at 620-635-2641 or feel free to call the KLA office at 785-273-5115.


Oklahoma Farm Bureau has partnered with Love’s Travel Stops and Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma to fund relief for fire victims.

The three organizations have furnished gift cards for fuel to those transporting donated hay to the affected area.

Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma also will provide 0 percent interest agricultural operating loans for those directly impacted by the fires.

If interested in donating additional funds, please contact the Oklahoma Farm Bureau office at 405-530-2681.
OKC Cattlemen

If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation and put “Fire Relief” in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit
If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.


If anything, please share this information.

Friends, I cut and pasted the information above in an effort to get the links right so that we can go to where they're supposed to lead us. I hope they all work as they're supposed to.

While I haven't heard about this on the news, any media, I know we can get the word out. We need to help those who have lost everything. So please, share this, forward this information, tell a friend that there are American ranch and farm families in need as a result of this horrible fire.

While I thank God that my wife and only came close to losing everything in a wildfire in 2015 but didn't, I know first hand how people in this situation need help, need information, need to put their lives back in order as well as can be expected. 

So please, let's help.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles

Friday, March 24, 2017

The San Elizario Salt War of 1877

Most folks know the Rio Grande is a natural barrier dividing the United States from Mexico. In 1789, when Spain still had Mexico, Spaniards established a fort and called it "Presidio de San Elizario."

A town grew up around the fort and it soon took the name San Elizario. Fact is, the term San Elizario is said to be a corruption of "San Elceario" which is Spanish for Saint Elzear. Saint Elzear of Sabran is the Roman Catholic Patron Saint of Soldiers. During the Mexican-American War, after San Elizario was occupied by the U.S. troops, volunteers from California were stationed at the Presidio to prevent the re-occupation.

Prior to major water-control projects on the Rio Grande, such as Elephant Butte Dike which was constructed in 1911, the river was known to flood regularly. The river stayed the same until an 1831 flood changed the course of the river. That 1831 flood left San Elizario on a new island between the new and old channels of the Rio Grande. 

After the Civil War there were a number of changes created in the political landscape of West Texas. The end of the war and Reconstruction brought many "entrepreneurs" to the area. Some were northern carpetbaggers.

It is said that there were three groups that made up the Republicans in the South after the Civil War, and Southerners referred to two with derogatory terms. "Scalawags" were Southerners who supported the Republican Party, "carpetbaggers" were opportunists who were recent arrivals in the region from the North, and Freedmen who were freed slaves.

Most Republicans coming there settled in Franklin, Texas, which was a trading village across the Rio Grande from the Chihuahua city of El Paso del Norte, which is present-day Ciudad Ju├írez. Many San Elizario families had deep roots there and didn't readily accept newcomers. 

At the same time, about the beginning of the 1870s, the Democrat Party had begun to reclaim political influence in the state of Texas. But frankly, Democrat operatives with ties to the Confederacy were not accepted by the people of San Elizario either. And though that was the case, soon alliances shifted and rivalries developed between the Hispanic community, the Anglos there, the Republicans, and the Democrats residing in West Texas.

The San Elizario Salt War is also known as the Salinero Revolt or the El Paso Salt War. So what was the San Elizario Salt War about? Well, salt.

At the base of the Guadalupe Mountains, about 100 miles northeast of San Elizario, lies a number of dry salt lakes. Before the pumping of water and oil from West Texas, the area had a periodic shallow water table, and capillary action drew salt of a high purity to the surface. 

This salt was valuable for a wide variety of purposes. Salt is 39 percent sodium, a chemical element that is necessary for our survival. Sodium controls a number of our bodily functions. Our need for salt is absolute and we are forced to seek for our health.

But besides salt for our physiological needs, we used salt was used to cure and preserve meat long before the advent of refrigeration. And yes, salt was necessary for treating leather, and stabilizing dyes. It was also used for bartering. And of course, salt was an essential element in the "patio process" for silver mining for the extraction of the silver from ore.

Salt is so important to both humans and animals, that we both subconsciously know when salt is needed. An example of this is that animals are attracted to salt licks and salt springs. And yes, it is said that Native American Indians often lay in ambush at such places or created artificial salt licks to lure the animals.

Historically, caravans to the salt lakes traveled either down the Rio Grande and then straight north or via what later became known as the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Salt deposits located in the Guadalupe Mountains are 110 miles east of El Paso. They produced salt that was almost chemically pure. It was a two to three day journey to retrieve salt and return home.

Salt Flats west of the
Guadalupe Mountains
In 1863, the people of San Elizario, as a community, built by subscription a road running east to the salt lakes. The residents in the Rio Grande valley at El Paso were granted community access rights to the lakes by the King of Spain, and those rights had been grandfathered in by the Republic of Mexico and then again with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

So when, beginning in 1866, Texas began allowing individuals to stake claims for mineral rights, the grandfathered community rights were overturned. This did not make for happy locals who had been getting salt from that salt lake for almost a hundred years.

To make matters worse, in 1870 there was a group from Franklin, Texas, who tried to claim the salt lakes deposits. This sparked a fight over ownership. And yes, a fight over control of the land began. 

Albert Jennings Fountain and his "Salt Ring" favored county government ownership with community access. Then when Fountain was elected to the Texas State Senate, he began pushing his plan. But, when the Republican's loss control of the Texas state government in 1873, Fountain left El Paso for his wife's home in New Mexico.

In 1872, the Army withdrew troops from both Fort Bliss and Fort Quitman, near San Elizario, and left the El Paso area without a military presence. In this year, Charles Howard came into town. Howard was said to be Virginian by birth, but from Missouri. He came to the region determined to restore the Democratic Party to power in West Texas.

In the summer of 1877, Howard filed a claim as owner of the salt lakes in the name of his father-in-law, George B. Zimpelman, who was an Austin capitalist. Howard offered to pay any "salinero" laborers who collected salt the going rate for its retrieval, but he insisted the salt was his. 

The Tejanos of San Elizario formed committees known as "juntas" in San Elizario and the largely Tejano neighboring towns of Socorro and Ysleta, Texas, to determine a community-based response to Howard's action. During the summer of 1877, they held several secret meetings.

Then in 1877, anger gave way to a an armed conflict which was waged by the Mexican inhabitants living on both sides of the Rio Grande near El Paso, Texas. Their target on the American side of the river was a leading Texas politicians supported by the Texas Rangers. 

The right of individuals to own the salt lakes previously held as a community asset was established by force of arms. 

On September 29, 1877, Jose Maria Juarez and Macedonia Gandara threatened to collect a wagon load of salt. When Howard learned of their activities, he had the men arrested by Sheriff Charles Kerber and went to court in San Elizario to legally restrain them that evening, armed men arrested the compliant jurist. Others went in search of Howard, locating him at Sheriff Kerber's home in Yselta.

Under the leadership of Francisco "Chico" Barela, they seized Howard and marched him back to San Elizario. And for three days, Howard was held as a prisoner. He was guarded by several hundred men led by Sisto Salcido, Lino Granillo, and Barela.

On October 3rd, he was finally released upon payment of a $12,000 bond and his written relinquishment of all rights to the salt deposits. Howard left for Mesilla, New Mexico, where he briefly stayed at the house of Fountain. He soon returned to the area, and in October met up with Louis Cardis in an El Paso mercantile store.

Louis Cardis moved to El Paso, Texas in 1864. He quickly learned the Spanish language and established a political power base with the Mexican American citizens of the area. Cardis favored the Hispanic community concept of commonwealth.

He became involved in a dispute involving salt deposits and the shifting of influence and political power from the Hispanic population to the Anglo. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives with the help of Charles H. Howard. Cardis and Howard with political allies.

Problems escalated and soon Cardis had a falling out with Howard. That was because Howard staked an exclusive claim to the salt deposits. Cardis had his allies actually arrested Howard and imprisoned him. After he was let out, Howard retaliated by shooting Cardis to death with a shotgun on October 9, 1877. Howard then fled back to New Mexico.

"On… October 10… Cardis entered the store of E. Schutz and Brother, and asked one of the clerks to write a letter for him. He was sitting in a rocker with his back to the door when… Howard enter[ed] the front door with a double-barreled shotgun…. Cardis immediately rose, passed behind the clerk, and took a position back of the desk which concealed the upper part of his body. Howard emptied one barrel into the lower part of [Cardis’] body and legs and as the torso sank into view, the second charge of buckshot penetrated his heart.” according to The Texas Rangers by Walter Prescott Webb.

The Tejano people of El Paso County were outraged. They effectively put a stop to all county government, replacing it with community juntas and daring the sheriff to take any action against them.

In response to pleas for help from frightened Anglo residents, Governor Richard B. Hubbard answered by sending to El Paso Major John B. Jones, commander of the Texas Rangers' Frontier Battalion.

Arriving on November 5th, Texas Ranger J.B. Jones met with the junta leaders, negotiated their agreement to obey the law, at least he thought so, and arranged for Howard's return, arraignment, and release on bail. Jones also recruited 20 new Texas Rangers, the Detachment of Company C, under the command of Lieutenant John B. Tays, a native Canadian. John B. Tays was a mining engineer, El Paso land speculator, and some say a known rustler of Mexican cattle.

Then on December 12th, 1877, Howard returned to San Elizario with a company of 20 Texas Rangers led by John B. Tays. As soon as they arrived, a large group of armed citizens, some say as many as 500, engaged Howard and the Rangers. The mob was enraged and demanded Howard be surrendered.

The San Elizario Mission
Of course Howard and the Rangers immediately took cover in the buildings, and soon took refuge in the town's mission where they tried to claim sanctuary. After a two-day siege, Texas Ranger John B. Tays surrendered the company of Rangers. It is believed that was the only time in the history of the Texas Rangers that a Ranger unit ever surrendered to anyone.

So yes, on December 17th, he gave himself up to the mob which quickly organized a firing squad. And one source states that after they fired, The bodies of Howard and two of his agents, Ranger Sergeant John McBride and former lawman John G. Atkinson who were also shot by the firing squad, were hacked to pieces and then dumped down an old well about a half mile away.

As for the rest of the Texas Rangers there that day, it's said they were humiliated by being disarmed and then run out of town. And though the Texas Rangers surrendered, no one should say they weren't any good. Fact is, they faced overwhelming odds.

After that Mexicans there rioted and looted the town, sacking the buildings, and lawlessness reigned until Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and a sheriff's posse from New Mexico arrived on scene. Once they arrived hundreds fled to Mexico, some permanently. Among them were the civic leaders of San Elizario.

The conflict is said to have climaxed with the siege and surrender of 20 Texas Rangers to a mob of perhaps 500 Mexicans in the town of San Elizario, Texas. And in all, 12 people were killed and 50 wounded during that fight alone.

So yes, for over twelve years following the Civil War, political and legal struggles took place among Texas politicians and capitalists over salt. It began as a local fight and over time grew into an armed conflict.

Newspaper editors throughout the nation covered the story and made it bigger than it was. They included lurid detail that some say are questionable. In reality, it was pure sensationalism at its best. And remember, this went on for 12 years.

In fact, over those years, it's believed that as many as 650 residents bore arms against the local authorities. Also in those 12 years, it is believed that about 20 to 30 men were killed. Of course, it is reasonable to say that double that number were wounded over the years. Yes, over salt.

After the dust settled, damage to property was estimated at $31,050. Crop losses were sustained, because local farmers did not till or harvest their fields for several months. The wheat loss alone was estimated at $48,000. To these immediate financial losses was the loss of further political and economic power of the Mexican-American community of El Paso County.

As a result of the loss of political and economic power, San Elizario lost its status as county seat. Especially since the town's population decreased. The county seat was relocated to Franklin which became El Paso.

Though Fort Bliss was first established in El Paso in March of 1854, it was relocated in the late 1860s. Because of the salt war, the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers were sent there to re-establish order and actually had to re-establish Fort Bliss to keep an eye on the border and the local Mexican population.

It's true, on New Year's Day in 1878, Fort Bliss was established as a permanent post just to keep and eye on things down there. Company L Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and Company C of the 15th Infantry, were sent to Fort Bliss to prevent further trouble over the salt flats and to help enforce regulations regarding the usage of Rio Grande water for irrigation purposes. It is interesting to note that prior to this date, the U.S. government had a policy of simply leasing property for its military installations.

And besides the U.S. Army establishing Fort Bliss, it's said that when Southern Pacific Railroad came to West Texas in 1883, it bypassed San Elizario altogether as punishment.

How you see what transpired might depend on how you view our government. For example, it is said that the Mexican-American uprising was a bloody riot by a "howling mob." Of course the "mob" has also been described as "an organized political-military insurgency with the goal of re-establishing local control of their fundamental political rights and economic future."

Some say it is an example of Mexican-Americans not being treated as equal citizens, and instead being treated as a subjugated people. Others see the San Elizario Salt War of 1877 as an example of Americans being pushed too far and taking up arms to fight government oppression.

For me, I believe that the people there felt that they had to take up arms as a last resort to obtain a solution to a dire situation that was created by politicians. That might not make it right, but I believe that that's how it was because salt was so essential to life at the time.

And yes, that's the way I see things.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Extraordinary Case of a Shipwreck 1850

Dear Friends,

I was once told that ship wrecks along our coasts, especially those that we can see for ourselves, are actually no different than ghost towns of the sea. While ghost towns slowly deteriorate while enduring the elements with each passing year, ship wrecks on our coasts endure the same with each new tide or wave.

Some folks have a naive notion of sea travel back in the 1800s. But fact is, those were treacherous times to be a seaman. The perils they experienced were many. On any given day or night, as unpredictable weather can be, the sea would rise up and claim those who worked aboard ships.

The picture above is that of a mid 1800s schooner about the same size as the General Thornton which is mentioned in the 1850 news article below. The picture is just a way to give my readers an idea of what that schooner may have looked like at the time of her wreck. And yes, below is one example of how bad things were. At it was printed in newspapers in 1850:


We are indebted to Capt. William H. Hopper, of the central road, for the following particulars, which we relate.

Captain Hopkins, of the steamer J.D. Morton, while on her passage from Chicago to New Buffalo, on Friday last, discovered what he supposed to be a raft with some one upon it, some five miles in the lake. He immediately turned his boat and went for the object. 

He found the raft made of spars, with Capt. Davidson, of the schooner Thornton, upon it. It appears he was wrecked on the 31st ult., having been seven days and nights without food. 

Two of the crew, whose names he did not learn, with the captain, made the raft of the mainmast, main boom and main gaft. The two men dropped off on the third night after, having become exhausted for want of food. 

Captain Hopkins describes the scene as most pitiful. Captain Davison had commenced eating his left hand the last night! 

Several steamers and vessels have been in sight, and one vessel hailed him, but made no attempt to get him off. Of course the captain is exceedingly weak, but in a fair way for recovery.

Capt. Hopkins, of the J.D. Morton, has shown himself a humane man and the public should recollect it.

A collection was taken up for the unfortunate man, on the Morton, and some $10 was raised, mostly by the crew, headed by the captain.

-- end of article as published in The Daily Sanduskian on September 10th, 1850

The story was said to have been published by The Detroit Tribune, and then reprinted in the The Daily Sanduskian on September 10th, 1850. A few days later two other newspapers published this article below which explained more about what took place:


The Chicago Tribune of the 16th, announces the arrival there of George Davis, Captain of the schooner Thornton, taken up by the steamer Julius Morton, four miles out from Michigan City, floating upon a spar. His vessel was capsized six miles east of Chicago, and two of the hands were lost. The Tribune says:

At the time of the disaster, the schooner Thornton, in charge of Capt. Davis, assisted by two hands, was on her passage from Muskegon, freighted with lumber, belonging to Mr. Parks, of the former place. 

The vessel was driven out of her course by the violence of the storm, and on Friday afternoon, when about six miles northeast of this port, she became unmanageable and capsized, precipitating the captain and crew into the angry flood. 

Fortunately, a spar, which had been lying loose upon the deck, floated near them, and all three grasped it, supposing the vessel had sunk, though she afterwards floated ashore.

For the next twenty-four hours, the three shipwrecked men were driven about at the mercy of the wind and waves, they knew not whither; at the end of which time, (Saturday afternoon), the two companions of Capt. Davis, exhausted by cold, hunger and fatigue, relinquished their hold upon the spar, nearly at the same time, and sunk to rise no more. Capt. D. supposes that at this time, they were some where near the middle of the Lake.

After the loss of his companions, Capt. Davis was driven about, he knew not whither; the only incidents occurring to break the dreary monotony being the sight of two or three vessels. Only one of them came within hailing distance; and this he thinks was on Monday or Tuesday, he is not certain which. 

The vessel was near enough for him to read her name (which we think not best to give at present,) and a man whom he supposes was the captain, seemed to see him in the distance, and afterwards several of the crew joined him and looked in the same direction. Capt. D. thinks they must have seen him, but the vessel held on her course, and the hope of rescue, which he had indulged a moment before, gave place to black despair. He cannot tell where he was at the time. 

From that time till he was picked up by the crew of the steamer Morton, between 9 and 10 o’clock A.M. on Friday, there was nothing to relieve the horrible monotony of this lone, aimless, voyage, except that at one time he drifted within about a mile of the eastern shore of the Lake; but he was then too much exhausted — too weakened and benumbed in body, and paralyzed in mind, to make the attempt to swim ashore.

The pangs of hunger became so pressing, towards the last, that the poor sufferer attempted to reach a dead body that floated near him, with the dreadful thought of satisfying it by eating a portion of a fellow-creature, but it eluded his grasp. After this, he does not know when, he gnawed one of his hands to relieve the pain of famine, and afterwards he gnawed the other in the same manner.

It is impossible for the imagination to conceive of the horrible realities of such a voyage — during which, for seven days, the poor wayfarer upon the deep, without a morsel of food, benumbed with cold, and with the prospect of death every moment — where day brought no relief and hardly hope, and the long dreary night added to the horror of his situation — was drifted at the mercy of the elements. 

Happily, however, by the operations of a beautiful law, by which the intensity of human suffering after a time deadens the capacity to feel it, Capt. Davis has but an indistinct remembrance of the trial through which he has passed. For most of the time he was in a state of semi-consciousness, and at times he must have slept, though the strong instinct of self-preservation enabled him, through all, to maintain a firm grip upon the spar.

On being picked up by the Morton, every attention was paid to his wants which humanity could suggest, and a physician (whose name we were not able to learn) was taken on board at Michigan city, who bound up his wounded hands and otherwise ministered to his relief. — This morning he was quite cheerful, though much emaciated from his long famine, and the prospect is that he will shortly recover. 

It will be some time, however, before he will have the use of his hands, as they are very much cramped and benumbed by his long continued grasp upon the spar, and the gnawing to which they were subjected. His whole body, with the exception of his head and hands, being immersed in the water, he did not suffer much with cold until the last night of the exposure. He is of the opinion that he could not have survived another night.

Capt. Davis is naturally a strong athletic man, as might be expected from the sufferings which he lived through, and we should judge, between 36 and 40 years of age. He is a Scotchman by birth, but has resided here for several years, where he has a wife and two young children, to whom he is happily restored. He has always borne the character of an industrious, honest man.

-- end of article as appearing in the newspapers the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review on September 27th, 1850.

According the the Great Lakes ships database, the 49 ton 2-mast schooner General Thornton was built in 1837 in St Joseph’s Michigan. She was 56 feet in length, her beam was 15 feet, and was 7 feet deep. She was lost on August 31st, 1850, off Calumet, Illinois, on Lake Michigan. She was wrecked on her route which was Chicago to New Buffalo. And all in all, she met her fate in fairly close proximity to land since it's believed she was only 5 to 6 miles out when claimed by the sea.

All toll, the storm that put her under took the lives of 4 men. She is said to have went ashore bottom up and wrecked, a total loss. 

The steamer J. D. MORTON found the Thornton's skipper floating on a makeshift raft five miles offshore. The raft was found on September 7th, and yes the lone occupant clinging to the raft had reportedly begun to eat his own hand to avoid starvation.

As usual, I did not edit or correct the spelling of anything in those old news articles. I reprinted them here, just as I found them. 

Tom Correa

Monday, March 20, 2017

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article America Needs Veterans To Take Up FarmingWell it seems someone has read that article and understands my interest in the future of agriculture in America. So now I've been asked to help spread the word on a program that is available for getting beginners started in agriculture. 

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. While I don't know how individuals can apply for these grants, folks should see if this can fit their needs.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 as well as the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide continue to rise. 

The USDA website for individuals can also be found at Programs & Services for Individuals

Trying to ensure that there will be a "new generation" of beginning farmers and ranchers, regardless of age or production choice, is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States. That is why the USDA created The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program:

General Information

Opportunities exist within farming and ranching, but beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance, and outreach needs. Capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist in ensuring profitability and sustainability are vital to those just entering agriculture and in their first ten years of operation.

Funding Priorities

In accordance with the authorizing legislation, priority will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental, community-based organizations and school-based agricultural, educational organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of beginning farmers or ranchers with limited resources; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and farm workers desiring to become farmers or ranchers. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers. The term “farmer” is used in the broadest sense and should be interpreted to include traditional agricultural farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers. As far as possible, geographical diversity will also be ensured.

Topics for programs and services, as listed in the Agricultural Act of 2014, include:
  • Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices
  • Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer strategies
  • Entrepreneurship and business training
  • Financial and risk management training (including the acquisition and management of agricultural credit)
  • Natural resource management and planning
  • Diversification and marketing strategies
  • Curriculum development
  • Mentoring, apprenticeships, and internships
  • Resources and referral
  • Farm financial benchmarking
  • Assisting beginning farmers or ranchers in acquiring land from retiring farmers and ranchers
  • Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans
  • Farm safety and awareness
  • Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program program recipients must be a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: 
  • a State Cooperative Extension Service; 
  • a federal, state or tribal agency; 
  • a community-based and nongovernmental organization; 
  • college or university (including an institution awarding an associate’s degree) or foundation maintained by a college or university; 
  • or any other appropriate partner, as determined by the Secretary.
Types of Projects

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funds three types of projects:
  • Standard Projects: to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers in selected areas
  • Educational Enhancement Projects: to help develop seamless beginning farmer and rancher education programs by conducting evaluation, coordination, and enhancement activities for Standard Projects and other non-funded beginning farmer programs
  • Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse: to make educational curricula and training materials available to beginning farmers and ranchers and organizations who serve them.
The Award Process

Awards will be made through a competitive grants process, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The RFA will be posted online as soon as it's available. All applications for funding must be submitted electronically through is external). 

This process requires pre-registration which can take up to one month. We encourage all potential applicants to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

Reviewers from universities, government, community-based organizations, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and from the farming community will provide peer assessment and recommend applications for funding.
Post Award Monitoring

Projects are required to acknowledge USDA-NIFA funding in all presentations, publications, news releases, etc. Projects are required to collect and submit outcome-based data to USDA-NIFA through annual reports. The annual Project Directors meeting provides opportunities for networking and sharing of best practices.
Program Type: Grant Program

CONTACT: Jill Auburn






Friends, being frank, I was sent the information. And frankly, after looking it over, I decided that there isn't a whole lot that I can add to what is there. 

Basically, since starting up a farm or a ranch is considered an expensive venture, today funding is available from the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program  (BFRDP). 

This program is designed to support beginners wanting to get started. Yes, that the bottom line. So please, pass the word if you someone who qualifies. As we, all know, any help getting started is a good thing.

Tom Correa