Friday, September 29, 2017

Henry Reed Farley - Death Of A Lawman 1899


Here's a story about the needless killing of a County Sheriff in 1899. His murder sent local vigilantes on a frantic search to lynch his killer. 

According to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, Henry Reed Farley was born in Salinas, California, in March of 1870. He was Michael and Rodalee Farley’s fourth of six children.

Henry's father was a lawyer originally from Massachusetts. His mother was originally from Alabama. Henry grew up and lived in Salinas. He attended school there, and while not yet 24 years of age, Henry was appointed Postmaster of the small town of Gonzales, California. That was on January 11th, 1894.
Gonzales is a town in Monterey County about 17 miles Southeast of Salinas. At the age of 26, Henry was said to be a journalist for a local newspaper in Gonzales.

On January 1st, 1899, at age 29, he became the Sheriff of Monterey County. He may have been the youngest man to ever be elected County Sheriff in the State of California up to that time.

He had only been with the Sheriff’s Department for 9 months when he was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a suspect. He was 29 years old when he was killed. Newspapers stated "never before has this county seen such a large funeral." All stores, saloons, and schools were shut down from 9 am to 12 pm, and all flags were flown at half-staff. At the time of his death, Sheriff Farley was survived by his mother Mrs. Rodalee Farley.

Among other newspapers such as the San Francisco Call, Monterey County Sheriff Farley's death was in the Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 98, Number 29, September 19th, 1899. It ran the following story.

TRAGEDY AT SALINAS.

H. R. FARLEY, SHERIFF OF MONTEREY COUNTY
,

Shot and Killed by a Man Whom He Attempted to Arrest — Talk of Lynching the Murderer.

SALINAS, Sept. 18. H. R. Farley, Sheriff of Monterey County, was shot and killed at 11 o'clock to-night by George Ceasar, whom he was trying to arrest for arson.

Ceasar, who is a German, aged 22 years, had been drinking heavily, and threatened to shoot four officers and burn up the town. About 10 o'clock an alarm was turned in, and it was found that a barn was on fire. Soon afterward fire was discovered in an adjoining cottage, and it was at once suspected that Ceasar was carrying out his threat.

Sheriff Farley, accompanied by former District Attorney Zabal, went in search of Ceasar, who had run home and armed himself with a double-barreled gun. As Farley entered the house Ceasar advanced a few feet, fired, and shot the officer through the head. Farley died in a few minutes.

While Zabal was administering to his dying comrade the murderer escaped. The entire country was soon aroused, however, and posses went out from near and far to search for the assassin. An hour after the shooting he was discovered hiding in a cellar.

The mob frantically proclaimed its intention to lynch him, and a posse of Deputy Sheriffs and Constables had a most difficult time in protecting the prisoner. While argument ran high one of the Constables, unobserved, managed to smuggle Ceasar into a buggy and drove off at a gallop to the County Jail before the mob realized the ruse. 

Sheriff Farley was perhaps the most popular man in Monterey County. He was 29 years of age, and last November was elected Sheriff by a large majority over John Matthews, who had filled the Sheriff's office for twelve years. 

Prior to his election Farley had been a newspaper man, his last journalistic venture having been the editorship of the Gonzales "Tribune." 

His murderer was as much despised in Salinas as the Sheriff was beloved. He has been considered a worthless character. He has no occupation. 

TALK OF LYNCHING THE MURDERER. SALINAS 

Sept. 19—1 a. m. — The revengeful men of Salinas declare that they will hang Ceasar to-night, provided he does not die from the loss of blood. He was shot in the stomach by Constable Allen, and when captured in the cellar was weak from loss of blood. It is also believed he shot himself, but inflicted only a flesh wound. 

No one in Salinas now knows whether Ceasar is dead or alive, because he was driven off by a Deputy Sheriff to protect him from the certain vengeance of the mob.

It now transpires that Ceasar was never in the jail, although many for a time believed him to be there. The officers, knowing that they could not protect their prisoner, drove him toward the hills, and it is generally believed the murderer was taken to Hollister, as it is said he would have been safe nowhere in Monterey County.

Meanwhile the crowd has never left the jail. They are all armed with ropes as well as pistols and shotguns, and they say the murderer of the youngest Sheriff in the State will be summarily punished.

The town, and in fact the entire county, is aroused as it never was before. The men who are trying to lynch Ceasar are not the disorderly element, but comprise some of the most important citizens of the county. They are firm in their resolve to promptly avenge the death of Sheriff Farley, and say they will remain at the jail all night. 

Detachments of citizens mounted and in buggies are scouring; the foothills, and they say if they find the murderer in charge of his guardians the latter will be forced to give up j their prisoner to swift punishment. At 2 a. m. excitement in Salinas has in no wise abated, and many still hope to avenge Farley by lynching his murderer.

Frederick Ceasar, a brother of George, came into town about 1:30 a. m., proclaiming that he was the "brother of the man who killed Farley." Had he not been hustled away he would certainly have suffered violence at the hands of the infuriated citizens.

-- end of Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 98, Number 29, September 19th, 1899 article. 

Besides a few different newspapers of the times to compare stories of his death, and since the standard line of "he was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a suspect" really doesn't sit well with me, I dug deeper to find out how Sheriff Farley died.

On the night of September 18th, 1899, George Ceasar tried to ditch the pursuing officers and eventually made it to his father's house on Pajaro Street. Sheriff Farley and Deputy Keef arrived on the scene close behind him.

As soon as they arrived, the Sheriff came face to face with Ceasar in an alley behind his father's house. George Ceasar was indeed armed with a shotgun. And yes, reports state that Sheriff Farley made a number of attempts to defuse the situation and talk Ceasar into surrendering.

Sheriff Farley was heard to have said, "George, George, be quiet, keep cool."

To which Ceasar reportedly replied, "Stand back or I'll shoot you."

Sheriff Farley's last words were "No you won't George, you know me."

Ceasar fired both barrels and killed the young Sheriff.

A newspaper stated, "The Spirit of Henry Reed Farley winged it's flight to the Great Beyond".


Monterey County Sheriff Henry Reed Farley's life was cut short on September 18th, 1899. He had only been County Sheriff for 9 months when he was senselessly murdered by George Ceasar.

Newspapers like the Sacramento Daily Union and the San Francisco Call reported that the Sheriff had been murdered. Citizens in the town of Gonzales were angry and wanted to lynch Ceasar. A few newspapers reported how, among other things taking place, gun shop owners opened their doors and  passed out rifles and pistols and shotguns to local vigilantes that were out beating the bushes looking for Ceasar. Hardware store owners are said to have passed out lanterns and ropes so that he could be lynched.

George Ceasar was arrested by Salinas City Marshal William Nesbitt and Deputy Keef. Nesbit himself later became County Sheriff. Deputy Keef was the officer who took Ceasar to the jail in San Jose to avoid the vigilantes that had surrounded the county jail in Monterey.

Ceasar was hanged at San Quentin Prison on July 15th, 1904. It's said that the people of Monterey County celebrated when they got the word that George Ceasar had finally been hanged. Yes, they loved Sheriff Farley that much.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Life In Late 1800's America Was Tough

Buffalo Bill & Sitting Bull, c.1885
A reader has written to tell me that my article Life In 1881 Tombstone Was Very Civilized cannot be true. From his language, I'd say he was pretty upset at how I described life in a big city like Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881 with a population of over 10,000 people living there.

Friends, I get all sorts of hate mail from people. Many seem to be under the impression that I'm writing for the Library of Congress or some prestigious historical society. Folks need to understand that this is just my blog. What I mean by that is this, while I don't list sources for my research, I've written about things that I've learned during my travels, information that I've picked up here and there, or among other things history and information that I've researched after being requested to do so.

Some angry individuals write to tell me that I'm full of beans when it comes to a number of subjects. And while that's a little discouraging, I know that they're wrong.

To answer some of the dumber accusations: No, I do not have some sort of personal vendetta against Wyatt Earp. No, I do not have some personal problem with Wild Bill. No, I'm am not related to Ike Clanton or Frank Stilwell. No, my family did not own black slaves in the South before or during the Civil War. And no, I would never ever belong to a Left wing group like PETA!

The reader that took the time to write me was pretty angry. He used a number of short four letter words to tell me that I have no idea how tough life was in the late 1800's. He even asked me "what right" do I have writing at all since I'm not an "accredited University professor"? Imagine that.

He is one of the few people who I felt like writing back just to tell him to shove it, but I didn't. Instead, I re-read the article that pissed him off so bad. After re-reading my post, I realized what his problems with the article are all about.

Just as with those who write me to tell me how Wyatt Earp could never have been arrested as a pimp, or that he was never involved with fixing a Heavyweight Championship Boxing Match, or that he couldn't have been wanted in Arizona on murder charges stemming from the murder of Frank Stilwell, my post Life In 1881 Tombstone Was Very Civilized simply didn't fit his notion of the way life was in Tombstone before the silver boom there went bust.

I realized that his notion of life in 1881 Tombstone is most likely based on what Hollywood has depicted in films. I realized that what I've found after a lifetime of learning about history in one way or another, and my now trying to put what I've found in writing in my blog, doesn't match his idea of what Hollywood has told him.

I also realized that he doesn't understand that one doesn't have to teach some University class to put out factually accurate information. In fact, I'd say it's a safe bet that he has never sat in on one of those classes and listened to some "accredited University professor" who doesn't know his or her ass from a hole in the ground. Too bad he'll never understand that many of the people teaching classes in our Universities need to get out and research history for themselves instead of simply regurgitating what others say happened.

I find it interesting that the folks who lived through the Great Depression knew times were tough because they were able to compare their plight to earlier times just prior to the economy crashing. For us, we can compare life today to the hard times during the late 1800's because we have things a lot easier today. But since the people living during the late 1800's and early 1900's didn't have anything else to compare to, it makes me wonder if the people living at the time actually saw life as being tough? I can't help but wonder if they thought so since they had nothing to compare it to? I'm thinking, probably not.
As for my knowing how tough life really was in the late 1800's, I know very well how tough it was. For example, by 1900 the average life expectancy in the United States was 47 years of age. Today, Americans have an average life expectancy of 74 years for men and 79 years for women.

As for births, more than 95 percent of all births in America took place at home at that time. As for infant mortality, the rate of child deaths during the late 1800's and into the early 1900's was extremely high. Yes, out of every 1000 babies born, 180 would die in their very first year of life. Compare that to these days when fewer than 10 in 1000 die in their first year.

As for making it to the ripe old age of 5? It is said that a mother with 4 children had a 50 percent chance that one of her children would die before the age of 5 years old. At the same time, 50 percent of all children lost a parent before they themselves reached the age of 21.

Knowing this, it is no wonder that by 1900, the total United States population was only 76 million people. Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, and Tennessee were a lot more heavily populated than California at the time. Fact is California ranked 21st among the most populated states in 1900 with only 1.4 million residents in the whole state. And yes, there were only 45 states at the time as Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii had not become states until after 1900.

St. Louis, Missouri ranked as the fourth largest city in the nation with a population of 575,238. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30 at the same time, and they were ranchers and their families.

In the United States as a whole, only 14 percent of the homes at the time had a bathtub. Indoor plumbing was seen in most big cities, but was rare in small towns. All in all, only a third of American homes had running water. Only 15 percent had flush toilets. And believe it or not, half of the farms in America at the time didn't even have an outhouse. Instead, families used ditches and trenches.

Most men took baths only 6 to 8 times a year. Women only washed their hair once a month. They were known to used borax soap or egg yolks for shampoo.

As for electricity and the telephone? Only 3 percent of American homes were lit by electricity, and only 8 percent of American homes had a telephone by the late 1800's. And yes, a short three minute call from New York City to New Orleans reportedly cost about $12. 

Since there were only 144 miles of paved roads in our entire nation, it didn't matter that there were only 8,000 cars in the entire United States. It probably also didn't matter that the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. Since a horse can travel at about 40 miles at a gallop, imagine that cars were slower than horses. As for their basic travel needs, since most Americans lived within a mile of where they worked, that meant that they walked to get around. And yes, statistics show that only 1 urban household in 5 actually owned a horse. Believe it or not, more people own horses today than they ever did in the Old West or the beginning of the 20th century.

As for living situations, it's said that half of all people lived in homes where they had more than one person per room. In fact Americans taking in lodgers was extremely common.

How tough was it on working folks at the end of the 1800's? Well, for example, a Veterinarian could make from $1,500 to $4,000 a year if he was good and in demand. Dentists at the time were known to make $2,500 a year. Mechanical Engineers were pulling in about $5000 a year.

Men had 60 hour work weeks spread over six days. Worker pensions were extremely rare. The fact is that most Americans at the time generally worked until they were too feeble to go on. The average American worker made between $200 and $400 per year. Yes, that's right. And frankly, it makes sense since the average wage at the time for laborers was 22 cents an hour. This at a time when stables such as sugar cost 4 cents a pound, eggs cost 14 cents a dozen, and coffee cost 15 cents a pound.

Were Americans paid less than the average? Yes, for example, a Black male laborer was known to make about $150 a year while a Black female laundress was making $180 a year. Women in general suffered more than anyone as it's a fact that an unskilled female, white or black, would only make $120 a year.

Women were 18 percent of work force. And yes, they were mainly used to work in the manufacturing of textiles, clothing, shoes, and canned foods where you were paid according to how much you produced. At home, women worked more than 40 hours a week on meal preparation, cleaning, doing laundry by hand, and other chores that needed her attention. The average American housewife baked a half a ton of bread a year. Yes, that's around 1400 loaves a year.

As for child labor, it was rampant at the time. Most of the children used in factories and the mines were treated as property. In manufacturing they were known to have been shackled to machines, beaten and starved. In the mines, they were used for some of the worse and most dangerous jobs. All while being paid, if they were, a tenth of what an adult made an hour. About half of all American children lived in poverty at the time.

As for who was being educated in America at the time? Most children did not attend school but instead worked in factories, mines, or in the fields. In reality, by 1900, only 50 percent of all children between the ages of 5 and 18 year old were enrolled in school. Only 1 in 10 American adults could read or write. And yes, only 6 percent of all Americans are said to have graduated from High School.

What you may find interesting is that only 10 percent of all American doctors had any sort of College education. Yes, that means 90 percent of all of the American doctors in the United States at the time did not have College education.

Of the five leading causes of death in the United States, Pneumonia and Influenza was number one. They were followed by Tuberculosis at number two, Diarrhea was number three, Heart Disease was four, and death by Stroke was number five. Of course, neither insulin and antibiotics had been discovered yet.

As for booze? It is said that half of the American population drank alcohol at the time. They actually averaged two hard drinks and two beers a day. As for wine, I was surprised to find out that wine consumption was minimal in the United States until later when it gained popularity with the arrival of new immigrants from Europe who averaged more than four glasses of wine a day.

As for over the counter wonder drugs? Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all very available without restrictions right over the counter at almost all corner drugstores. Those thing were seen as cure-alls. Yes, sort of like what we hear today about the supposed wonders of medical marijuana.

So now, let's talk about gun violence in the late 1800's and 1900 specifically.

I read where the New York City did not require their police officers to carry guns on duty until 1887. Prior to that, the officers carried nightsticks. Just belly clubs.

In 1900, 14 percent of all Americans were foreign-born. Twice as it is today. As we talked about before, children didn't finish school. There was overcrowding in the cities, and poverty was widespread. There was the rich and there was the poor. The advent of the "middle class" had not come along yet. With this, there was racial problems as well as resentment for Irish Catholics who were arriving from Europe.

At the dawn of the 20th century, guns of all types could were readily accessible to anyone who had the money to buy one. Guns could be bought the same day at gun stores, or they could be ordered from a catalog by mail, or they could be bought from a private person. All without paperwork of any sort. Americans throughout our nation had easy access to guns.

Yet despite all of the problems that I've listed, along with the fact that there were no welfare programs, and the ease of accessibility to guns of all types, the homicide rate in 1900 was less than one-eight of what we have today. One statistic states that there were less than 230 reported murders in the United States for the entire year in 1900. Imagine that?

So now, maybe this will help my angry reader understand that Hollywood is a poor source for history? Maybe he will be able to see that with all of their problems and hardships of the times, they were indeed more civilized than we can understand? Or what Hollywood depicts?

Tom Correa



Friday, September 22, 2017

Judge Roy Bean -- Law West of the Pecos


There has been a lot written about Judge Roy Bean. In fact, I'd say that besides all of the books written about him, almost every Old West website on the Internet has something written about him. I promised my friend that I would finish this, and I have. It may be a side of Judge Roy Bean that you might not have known.

Some time ago, actually a few years ago, my friend Les Kinsey asked me to look into Judge Roy Bean. My friend Les Kinsey is from Texas. If anyone knows anything about folks from Texas, then they know real well about their Texas pride. And yes, no matter where they roam, they'll always be from Texas. Of course reading about the history of Texas, I understand how that's the case. It's very justified.

My friend's family goes back to the start of Texas. I found out through Les that his great-grandfather knew Judge Roy Bean pretty well. I'm sure his family has a few great stories about their dealings with the old judge. For me, I would've loved to have had the chance to chew the fat for a while with Les' relations in Texas who knew the Judge. I would have loved to hear some of their tales. But since that's not the case, as with others who I've written about on here, I have to go with what I've read and learned about the man.

He was born sometime in 1825 in Mason County, Kentucky. His birth name was Phantly Roy Bean, Jr., so it's not a surprise that he went by "Roy." He was the youngest of five children. He had three brothers and a sister. It's said that the Bean family was very poor. So poor in fact that at a fairly young age, around 16, Roy ventured out for himself on a flatboat headed to New Orleans looking for work.

A flatboat is a lot like a barge. It was used to haul freight and passengers. The interesting thing about a flatboat back in the day is that they were pretty much a use one and tear apart vessel. It's true, flatboats on the rivers were usually torn apart for their lumber once they'd reach where they were going.

As for Roy in New Orleans, I haven't been able to find out what sort of trouble he got into there. But we do know that what ever it was, it was enough to make him flee Louisiana and head for Texas. In fact, after leaving New Orleans, Roy went to San Antonio where his older brother Sam was working as a teamster and bullwhacker.

His brother Sam hauled freight to Santa Fe and on to Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1848, Sam and Roy decided try their hand at going into business for themselves by opening up a trading post in Chihuahua. Most agree that that wasn't a real smart move as the area was considered pretty rough. In fact, it was so rough that Roy is said to have actually shot and killed a Mexican bandit there.

The story goes that the bandit was a local outlaw who wanted to "kill a gringo." Roy felt threatened and killed the desperado before the bandit killed him. While that sounds like a clear cut case of self-defense, they were in Mexico. And since he and Sam were on the Mexican side of the river, they fled to Sonora one step ahead of the Mexican authorities who wanted to charge Roy charge with murder.

About a year later, in 1849, Roy moved to San Diego, California. It's true, he moved to San Diego to live with his older Joshua. Believe it or not, Joshua Bean was elected the first American mayor of the city of San Diego in 1850.

I find it interesting that Joshua Bean served with future president Zachary Taylor during the Mexican-American War. When Joshua left the Army, his unit was in California. That's how Joshua arrived in California in 1849, and then San Diego in 1850. After Joshua left the Army, he opened up a trading post and saloon. After San Diego became a town, he was elected the first American mayor of San Diego. And yes, I find that incredible.

As for Joshua, after giving up the post of Mayor, he left San Diego and moved to San Gabriel, which is near Los Angeles, where he opens up "The Headquarters Saloon".

In November of 1852, Joshua was killed in an ambush just outside of the town of San Gabriel. According to some sources, he was killed over a woman. Of course, there are other sources that say he may have been killed over a shady land deal while he was mayor of San Diego.

As for his younger brother Roy, while in California with his brother, at one point during his stay he found himself in a dual with a Scot by the name of Collins. Yes, it was over a woman. As crazy as it sounds, Roy was challenged to a pistol-shooting match while on horseback. And no, I've never heard of such a dual.

When Roy was offered his choice of targets, he decided that the two men should shoot at each other. The duel is said to have taken place on February 24th, 1852. After the smoke cleared, Collins was wounded in his right arm and Roy Bean was said to be unscathed. But though that was the case, immediately both men were arrested. And again, as crazy as it sounds, both Collins and Roy were charged with assault with the intent to commit murder.

If this all sounds like a comedy of sorts, well it gets better. It is said that Roy was young and supposedly a real lady's man. While I couldn't find one picture that proved that out, I'll just take the word of the sources that I've looked at. As for the pictures of the old man that we know as Judge Roy Bean, I'm sure they're not representative of a younger Roy Bean. I mean really, who among us looks like we did when we were in our early 20's before years of living an interesting live took it's toll. No one I know.

As for Roy Bean being a lady's man? Well, it's said that while he was in jail for the two months that he was there, he supposedly received all sorts of gifts including flowers, wine, cigars, and even food from admiring women in San Diego. One of his gifts were a dish of tamales. In the tamales were a couple of small knives.

Yes, I know that you can see where this is going. Roy used the small knives to dig his way out through the adobe walls of his cell. He escapes on April 17th, and flees to San Gabriel to be with his older brother Joshua. He actually goes to work for his brother as a bartender in The Headquarters Saloon. Later, after Joshua was ambushed and killed, Roy inherited his brother's saloon.

As for his stiff neck? No, he didn't get it in Texas after being hanged there. Fact is, it's actually the result of being left to hang in California.

The story goes that in 1854, Roy was courting a young Mexican woman who is said to have been kidnapped and forced into a marriage. Her kidnapping husband was a Mexican Army officer. Roy immediately challenged the man to a dual, and subsequently shoots the Mexican officer dead.

As luck would have it, the Mexican Army officer had friends who wanted to take revenge on Roy Bean. The story is that six of the dead officer's friends find Roy, ties his hands, and take him to a tree to be hanged. They put a noose around his neck while Roy is atop a horse. They then left him to hang.

The rest of the story is that the six men fired shots in the air and yell before they left, but the horse didn't stir. Hiding nearby and watching all of this is the bride of the Mexican officer. She watches the six men leave, then comes out from behind a tree and cuts Roy's ropes. From this, Roy Bean was left with a permanent scar from the rope burn around his neck. That's also how he obtained a permanent stiff neck.

Shortly after that, Roy left California and headed to New Mexico to live with his brother Sam again. Sam had actually been elected the first sheriff of Doña Ana County by then. Then in 1861, Sam and Roy opened up a store and saloon on Main Street in Pinos Altos in what is today Grant County, New Mexico.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, it's said that Roy joined the Confederate Army. In March of 1862, he was supposedly a part of the Confederate Army that was retreating to San Antonio, Texas, after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico. He stayed in San Antonio after the war.

On October 28th, 1866, Roy Bean married 15 year-old Virginia Chavez. During their marriage, they had four children together. His family is said to have lived in "a poverty-stricken Mexican slum area called Beanville". He worked as a teamster, sold firewood, worked as a butcher, and even delivered milk. His milk delivery business suffered when it was found that he was putting creek water in the milk to stretch it and increase his profits. He might never had been found out if he had only strained the water first. What gave him away was when his customers started noticing minnows in the milk.

Bean was said to have acted very surprised when his customers brought that fact to his attention. In fact, so much so that he's known to have said, "By God, I'll have to stop them cows from drinking out of the creek."

As for those who say that he supposedly rustled cattle at that time, I haven't been able to find proof of that. But we do know that by the late 1870s, Roy was running a saloon right there in "Beanville". His saloon was doing OK, but not everything was above board. Because of that, there was trouble when someone didn't take to the watered down booze or the sketchy card games. In fact, there was so much trouble coming from his place that a neighboring store owner wanted him out of there so bad that she actually bought him out for $900 with the agreement that he leaves San Antonio.

Sometime during this time period, Roy and his wife adopted a son. But even the addition of another child wasn't enough to save their volatile marriage, so they divorced around 1880. Right after that, Roy left her and his children. Yes, without support, he left them and put San Antonio behind him. It's said to be Roy Bean's only marriage.

With the money from his Beanville saloon, Roy bought a tent, supplies, and anywhere from ten to fifteen barrels of whiskey. By early 1882, he used his tent, supplies, and barrels of whiskey to create a small saloon near the Pecos River. The tent city where this was taking place was called Vinegarroon.

It's said that the key to success for a business is location. Well because the railroad was push further West, the tent city of Vinegarroon is said to have had anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 railroad works, some sources say there were bout 8,000 railroad workers there. All just within 20 miles of his saloon's location.

Back in 1881, the Southern Pacific Railroad decided to build the second transcontinental railroad and America's first year-round all-weather line. The route ran through Pecos County, which is today Val Verde County. The construction started in 1881 and was open by 1883. During the construction, Southern Pacific required a number of "work camps," many which later became towns all across that county.

While over a dozen of those camps were built, most simply disappeared when the route was completed. Vinegarroon is said to have been the largest camp. It was also the longest lasting camp. This is because those rail workers were working on the largest portion of the project which was the 1,425 foot Tunnel Number Two on the West side of the Pecos.

Vinegarroon was said to be "one of the wickedest tent villages the West had ever known." And if you want to know what Vinegarroon means, well I have no idea what language that comes from, but I do know that a Vinegarroon is a whip-tailed scorpion that's found in West Texas. The little stinkers are out at night and are said to give off a strong vinegar-like odor when they're messed with. Yes, they named the camp "Vinegarroon" after a scorpion that has a reputation of being disliked but mostly harmless. Imagine that.

So yes, at the time of the construction, Roy Bean was in Vinegarroon. He had opened a tent saloon which was one of at least twenty or more saloons in and around that area. Of course Bean opening a saloon was like attracting bees to honey. Problem of course is that some of those in Vinegarroon were not exactly upstanding citizens.

So now, if you're asking when do we get to the whole "Law West of the Pecos"? Well, we're coming to that. Because the nearest established law was the county seat about 300 miles away at Fort Stockton, there was little to no law in that part of the country. One source states that the distance between Vinegarron and Fort Stockton was "more than three-hundred miles away by horseback, six-hundred for a round trip, and twelve days on foot to convey prisoners."

The story goes that a group of Texas Rangers asked that a local jurisdiction be set up in Vinegaroon. One Texas Rangers supposedly described those West of the Pecos as being "the worst lot of roughs, gamblers, robbers and pickpockets I ever saw."

On August 2nd, 1882, the Pecos County commissioners gathered at Fort Stockton to appoint a Justice of the Peace to help establish law and order in the Pecos River area of Southwest Texas. The request by the Texas Rangers was answered when Roy Been was appointed "Justice of the Peace" for what became Precinct 6 of Pecos County.

Now you're probably wondering, why choose Roy Bean? Well, though Bean was a heavy drinker and known to be a somewhat shady character, he came highly recommended by Texas Rangers who felt that he "had what it would take" to bring the law and order "West of the Pecos."

About two months later, Texas Rangers brought in Joe Bell to be tried on July 25th, 1882. That was the first time someone in violation of the law was brought in front of Judge Roy Bean. Joe Bell was tried for stealing. Judge Bean fined and released him.

It didn't take too long for Bean to turn his tent saloon into a "part time courtroom." After that he began calling himself, "Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos." He did use state statues to make his rulings. In fact, he was known to rely on "The 1879 Edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas." And believe it or not, he only used "The 1879 Edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas." It's actually said that when he'd get new or revised law books in, he used them for "kindling."

As for the perks of his being the only "Law West of the Pecos"? Well, having the law not apply to him was a perk. For example, it's said one of his first "acts as a justice of the peace" was to shoot up the tent saloon of a "Jewish" competitor.

Also, another perk was to make up the rules as he went along. For example, it's said that he did not allow for hung juries to take place or for appeals to be made. Jurors were his bar cronies and they were expected to buy drinks during a court recess.

Then there's the perk of being able to make rulings as you please, and he was definitely known for his strange rulings. For example, after an Irish railroad worker by the name of Paddy O'Rourke was arrested for shooting a Chinese laborer, about 200 very angry rail workers showed up. The 200 very angry and most likely drunk men threatened to lynch Judge Roy Bean if he did not set Paddy O'Rourke free.

One story on this incident says that he poured through his law book before rendering a decision. Another story is that he looked outside and saw over 200 very angry rail workers and had a drink. Either way, the Judge ruled that, "homicide was the killing of a human being; however, he could find no law against killing a Chinaman". With that, Judge Bean then simply dismissed the case.

Now, let me just say this on that. I read an article write in 1986 calling Judge Roy Bean a "bigot" because of that "ruling." I have to say that I always laugh at Monday Morning Quarterbacks who think they know what they would have done in a similar situation. Some make me wonder if they would have rather he be hanged?

As for Vinegarroon, it folded by December of 1882 when railroad construction had moved further West. When that happened Bean moved his courtroom and saloon to either Strawbridge or Sanderson, and then to Eagle's Nest about 20 miles West of the Pecos River. Eagle's Nest will later become the town of Langtry. And to his credit, about that time was when he wired his children to live with him. I don't know how many joined him, but it's said that his son Sam joined him in Langtry.

Now, here's something to think about. By moving away from Vinegarron, Judge Roy Bean effectively left Precinct 6 which was the area of his jurisdiction as "Justice of the Peace." But despite his move, he continued to represent himself as a Judge and "Law West of the Pecos". In fact, the sign over the entrance of his saloon in Eagle's Nest plainly stated that he was the "Law West of the Pecos."

Southern Pacific railroad completed that line on January 12th, 1883. The completion of the route was celebrated by driving a special solid silver spike into the last tie. It's said that Judge Roy Bean told a story about how he tried stealing that silver spike as soon as everyone was gone, but someone else got there first. His yarn was just that, a yarn. Fact is, a railroad official had actually taken the spike as a souvenir for Southern Pacific railroad. Also, the last tie was said to have been cut up into small pieces after the spike was driven. The pieces were handed out as souvenir gifts to the official guests there.

As for the Eagle's Nest, that site was soon renamed Langtry. And no, it was not named after the well-known British stage actress Lillie Langtry as many believe it was. It was actually named after George Langtry who was a Southern Pacific railroad engineer and foreman. He was known to have supervised the Chinese rail workers in that area.

Bean actually arrived in Langtry right after completion of the route, but when it was still Eagle's Nest. He went about setting up a tent saloon there on Southern Pacific land. There is a story that tells about how the original owner of the land ran a saloon there as well. He sold that land which was 640 acres to Southern Pacific railroad. He supposedly sold it to the railroad on the condition that no part of the land could ever be sold or leased to Roy Bean.

The rest of that story says that Paddy O'Rourke, the Irish rail worker who went in front of Bean over shooting that Chinese laborer, had told the Judge to use the railroad right-of-way because it was not supposedly covered by the contract between the old owner and the railroad. With that, Judge Roy Bean built his famous saloon right there at that spot.

As most of us know, it is a wooden structure, which Bean called "The Jersey Lilly" named after Lillie Langtry. So why "The Jersey Lilly" you ask since she was British? Well, she was a native of Jersey which is officially known as the "Bailiwick of Jersey" which sits off of France but belongs to Great Britain. As for her being related to Southern Pacific's George Langtry, no she wasn't.

As for Judge Bean holding court there, he did use the saloon as his courthouse as both a Justice of the Peace and as a Notary Public. As for his strange way of doing things, since Langtry did not have a jail, people awaiting trial or serving time were chained to the only tree in Langtry at the time. Another quirk is that all cases were settled by fines. And by the way, his court did not give change. So if he fined someone $18 and the person handed over a $20 gold piece expecting change back, Bean was know to immediately amend his decision "Make that $20, by God, that's my ruling!"

As for minor offenses, the "fine" was usually reduced to the defendant buying a round of drinks for the judge, jury, and others there. And yes, that may run $2 dollars. If a person could not pay a fine, Bean was known to have them serve their time by being staked out in the sun for a day or two. The other option to that was to use a prisoner to do public works in Langtry. This worked well for people who needed to work off their fines.

As for fines collected, Bean refused to send the State of Texas any part of the fines. Instead, he kept all of the money. Though he is said to have enjoyed his tough reputation, he actually sounds like a very kind man in many respects. For example, it's said that he took most of the fines and much of the property that he collected and simply gave it to the poor in the area. He did that without it being known that it came from him. And yes, it's said that he even took funds that were collected at "The Jersey Lilly" and used those funds to buy needed medicine for the sick and the poor in and around Langtry. Friends, that's not what a badman does.

And while many folks know about his famously fining a dead man $40 which was the exact amount that in the dead man's pockets, I can't help but wonder how many people know that he spent that $40 on the man' casket, headstone, and to pay the gravediggers for their labor. In that incident, the only thing Judge Bean did keep was the man's gun. The Judge is said to have used it as a gavel.

As for the fines that were never turned into the State of Texas, it's said that the Governor of Texas received a number of complaints about how no funds ever came from Bean's court. The Governor is said to have written the Judge about it. The reply from Judge Bean is as follows: "Governor, you run things there in Austin and I'll run things here. My court never cost the State any money." Supposedly the Governor of Texas never bothered him again about the matter.

As for his leniency, while horse thieves who were often sentenced to hang in other jurisdictions, in his court they were always let go with the provision that they return the stolen horse to its rightful owner. And as for sentencing an offender to State Prison, he never did that.


As for being a "Hanging Judge"? From what I can tell, he has been confused with Judge Parker of Fort Smith who was certainly known as the "Hanging Judge" in his day. As for Judge Roy Bean having hanged offenders? One source says that Judge Roy Bean sentenced two men to hang but one of them escaped. Other sources say he never hanged anyone.

Now that's not to say that he didn't "stage" hangings. Yes, he "staged" hangings. From what I've read, Judge Bean would actually have his cronies literally recite a prepared script when they'd stage a hanging. With the hopes that all there were still sober enough to remember what their lines were, they would usually go about the whole thing as a sort of drama and get into an argument about something or other. All while turning their backs to the prisoner being "hanged". With their backs turned, and time ticking away, a prisoner would take their supposed distraction as a chance to escape the hangman's noose. It was all designed to scare criminals. And yes, it's said that when given that "second-chance" to live a clean life, a young wannabe outlaw would change his ways.

As for Mondays, yes Judge Roy Bean did in fact do a "wholesale" clearing of his docket. A sample case is said to be: "It is the judgment of this court that you are hereby tried and convicted of illegally and unlawfully committing certain grave offenses against the peace and dignity of the State of Texas, particularly in my bailiwick, to-wit: drunk and disorderly, and being the Law West of the Pecos, I fine you $2.00 - now get the hell out of here and never show yourself in this court again. Next case!..."

Although only district courts were legally allowed to grant divorces, Bean did so anyway, and he pocketed the $10 for each divorce. He charged $5 for weddings. He'd end all wedding ceremonies with "and may God have mercy on your souls" as if they were the condemned.

There is a story of how a district attorney from Del Rio went to Langtry to inform Judge Bean that it was not legal for him to grant divorces. Bean is said to have replied that if he could marry them, then he could "fix his mistakes." The rest of that story talks about how that district attorney wouldn't let the matter lay and pushed it. Judge Bean is said to have gotten the district attorney in a poker game where he lost $230 to the Judge. Judge Bean told the district attorney that he'd forgive the debt on the condition that the subject of granting divorces never came up again. Supposedly, it never did.

Even though he was defeated for re-election in 1886, he was appointed again to be the Justice of the Peace of a new precinct that was newly created in the county in 1887. He served as a Judge for another ten years, until 1896. After that, it's said that he kept on dispensing justice. In fact, after that defeat in 1896, it's said that "he refused to surrender his seal and law book and continued to try all cases north of the tracks".

That same year, on February 21st, 1896, Bean was responsible for organizing a World Championship Boxing match between Bob Fitzsimmons and Peter Maher. Held near Langtry, Texas, in Coahuila, Mexico, Judge Roy Bean was responsible for making that fight happen. Because boxing matches were illegal in both Texas and Mexico, the Judge held the event on an island in the Rio Grande.

The fight was billed as a World Heavyweight title bout for the National Police Gazette Championship belt. Spectators were actually brought in by a special train. Once there, they crossed a footbridge that was specially constructed to allow access to the sandbar. It's said that alcohol flowed and wagers were made. The fight itself lasted only 1 minute and 35 seconds, and was won by Fitzsimmons. The sport reporters hailed the Judge for thumbing his nose at the Texas Rangers and Mexican authorities by holding the fight on a sandbar in the Rio Grande river. His fame was spread nationwide.

Judge Roy Bean died after a night of heavy drinking on March 16th, 1903. He returned from San Antonio at 10 a.m., and he died at 10:03 that night. He and a son Sam are interred at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio. Some sources say the Judge was 77, while others say he was already 78 years old when he died.

As for Lillie Langtry, she visited "The Jersey Lilly". She stated so in her autobiography. She said she did in fact visit there shortly after Judge Bean's death. She did so because of the admiration that she found in the letters that he wrote to her. I believe she also visited Langtry because she wanted to meet one of the best that the American West had to offer.

All in all, he was tough and resilient. He lived by a code and expected others to do the same. He was as just and practical as any human could have been expected to be for the times he lived in.

He was in many ways, the perfect example of the rugged individualist that the American West needed. He took the worse that nature and the criminal world had to offer in the Old West, and stood tall against both.

After reading about him, I found him not just a saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace. He really was "The Law West of the Pecos". He came highly recommended by Texas Rangers for a reason. He really did have what it would take to bring law and order West of the Pecos. They felt that way for a reason, and I understand why they felt that way. Roy Bean had what it took to do the job.

Because my friend Les Kinsey asked me to look into the Judge, I've actually been working on this for a couple of years now. I'd like to say that I'm sorry for this piece being so long, but I'm not because there was just so much to the man. And yes, there is a lot of stories about him that I left out.

And there's something else about this piece that you my readers need to know, though I work real hard to stay impartial and unbiased when reporting on a historical figure, there were aspects of Judge Roy Bean that I just admire. I found a side of him that goes against the myth and lends more to why he is an American legend, nevertheless a Texas legend.

In the Marine Corps, I was taught a fundamental rule of life, "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome." I see the Judge as doing just that in a West that was rapidly changing. I see that in a brave man who did not back down from a duel, a man who dispatched a Mexican bandit to where he needed to go, a good man who stood for the law in a place that was lawless before he came along.

And yes, I'm still laughing at minnows in the milk.

Tom Correa




Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Ghoul of Grays Harbor 1910


Back in 2012, I'd written Killer Jim Miller - Outlaw & Assassin. In it I talked about how some said Killer Jim Miller was the worse of the worse when it came to being an outlaw and assassin in the Old West. I also talked about how some believe that he was actually more dangerous than John Wesley Hardin and Clay Allison. Yes, some said he was a true son of Satan because he himself admitted to killing 51 men before being lynched in 1909.

After reading my article on Killer Jim Miller, a reader has written to ask if I thought Miller was the worse killer in that time period? My reader wants to know if anyone topped his claim of 51 murders? 

The first thing that came to mind was a killer up north in Washington state. His name was Billy Gohl. To my knowledge, he may have topped everyone when it came to committing murder in that same time period. While he was never a gunfighter, or a gunman, or an assassin for hire, he was instead a 19th Century serial killer. Yes, a serial killer.

Some say that Chicago's Herman Webster Mudgett, also known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes and H. H. Holmes, is believed to be America's first serial killer. He was arrested and convicted of murdering 9 people in a 3 year span between 1891 and 1894. He himself confessed to 27 murders. Mudgett that was back East. 

And while Mudgett claimed to have killed 200 people, that was never ever proven true. Also, it's said that several of the people that Mudgett claimed to have killed were later found to still be alive. Police put very little credibility in anything Mudgett said because, besides being a murderer, he was also a bigamist and a con artist. So all in all, knowing he was a con artist alone meant that anything he said was taken as a lie. After all, as a con artist, he was a professional liar. Mudgett was hanged in 1896. 

William F. Gohl was said to be born on February 6th, 1873. Most believe he was born in Germany, but there were reports that he was born in Austria, another report puts his place of birth in Norway. Then again there was a police report that stated he was born in Illinois.

He migrated to Aberdeen, Washington, by way of the Yukon and San Francisco. Most sources agree that Gohl found his way to Aberdeen in 1902, although some say it was two years earlier in 1900. Of course before that is anyone's guess as not much is known about his early life.

From the late 1800s and into the 1900's, a part of the building which today houses Billy’s Bar and Grill in Aberdeen was actually the Grays Harbor headquarters of the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific. Sailors returning from sea would immediately go to the Sailor's Union hall to collect their mail, send money to their families, and of course sign up for another ship. It was there that returning sailors would also put money aside and deposit valuables while they hit the town to connect with old friends and maybe find some female companionship. 

According to many sources, while the building was predominantly occupied by a drug store on one end, the other end of the building was the Pioneer Saloon run by Paddy McHugh. The headquarters for Sailor’s Union of the Pacific was conveniently located above Paddy McHugh's place on F Street near Heron Street right against the Wishkah River.

As strange as it might sound considering what he was hiding, believe it or not, Gohl is said to have been quite a talker. It's said his conversations usually centered around his duties as a Union official. But then again, many who later talked to the Sheriff and then later to the Grand Jury all testified that they couldn't forget conversations with him because of what he talked about.

For example, it's said that if one were talking about ships or whatever else, he'd turn the conversation to a house that he had broken into and robbed or even a building that he had burned down. He was also known to talk about ships that he'd pirated, crews that he'd crimped in San Francisco, crewmen that he had killed in the process, men that he murdered in one way or another for this reason or that. And while Gohl actually bragged proudly about his criminal activities, most listening to him thought he was just spinning yarns to make himself look tough around others who were indeed hard men.

Most sources do say that Gohl was in San Francisco before going to the Yukon seeking gold. Most say he did in fact work as a "crimp" on San Francisco's Barbary Coast. A "crimp" was a person who "shanghais" men for forced labor aboard ships at the time. The practice was actually kidnapping men to work as sailors. Crimps used intimidation, violence, trickery, and even drugs among other things to find crewmen. This practice extended from San Francisco to ports in Oregon and Washington for years. It is said to have started on the West Coast during the California Gold Rush.

Whole crew would jump ship in mass as soon as they arrived in San Francisco, just so they can make a beeline for the gold fields, this left ships stranded without crews. Crimps were well known to troll the waterfronts of the Barbary Coast. They were hired in many cases by ship's Captains. And yes, they would shanghai whoever they could. Some of those kidnapped were never heard from again. 

In the Yukon, he spent time working as a bartender after going broke as a miner. Of course, Gohl is also said to have found other ways a getting money in the Yukon as he was suspected of killing and robbing a large number of migrant workers there. He was also suspected of burning down an Alaskan saloon and killed some people in it. Fact is, the dead bodies of those he killed in the Yukon were washing up on shore near where he had tended bar for years after he left. It is believed that he killed as many as 40 people there, men and women.  

In July of 1903, the Sailor's Union put him to work as a Union official. Immediately after being hired, instead of preventing strikes, Gohl was known to actually start strikes while trying to search for non-union sailors. He was known to either run them off or force them through intimidation and violence to join the Sailor's Union. It's true, as a Union official, Gohl used intimidation tactics, violence, and his reputation as a killer to "recruit" new Union members. He was known to beat a non-Union crewmen until they were close to dead. Of course, he'd stop short of that if his victim would join the Sailor's Union.

Gohl's qualifications for the job was above all his size and demeanor. He was said to stand 6 feet 2 inches tall, was cold as ice and built like a bull. He had strength, a mean disposition, and an ability to intimidate others. His reputation for committing murder helped him as well. Yes, it's said that he was already know in the area of having been responsible for murders that took place in the Yukon. Gohl was said to have been in an argument at a hotel bar in Alaska. He reportedly set the place on fire, burning it to the ground. In the fire, the owner and another man were killed.

In Aberdeen, Washington, his reputation was only grew bigger. For example, on June 2nd, 1906, the lumber schooner Fearless left port with a crew of non-union sailors. The Fearless had been stuck in port because of Union strike, so its Captain sneaked a non-union crew aboard and immediately headed for the Pacific. Gohl got word of that and took a gang of armed Union thugs commandeered a launch and chased after the Fearless

When the launch was in range, it is believed that Gohl fired first in an attempt to shoot the Captain. The crew aboard the Fearless returned fire and the gun battle between the two groups lasted half an hour before the Fearless escaped to open ocean which was way too rough for the launch. The gun battle ended with one casualty which was a crew member of the Fearless. Gohl was arrested and charged with "assembling men under arms." Gohl's arrest resulted in a fine of $1,250. The Sailor’s Union of the Pacific paid his fine. 

Starting in 1903, the number of dead sailors being found in the water around the Wishkah River, the Chehalis River, and Grays Harbor increased drastically. In fact so drastically that Aberdeen residents and visitors alike started referring to the large number of "floaters" found there as the "Floater Fleet". The dead of Grays Harbor was so significant that the harbor picked up the nickname, "The Port of Missing Men." Knowing this, it's said whole crews would refuse ships sailing to Grays Harbor at the time. 

During an 8 month period in 1907, officials fished 43 bodies of sailors out of Grays Harbor. While the majority were shot in the face. Some were poisoned, strangled, and obviously beaten to death. Some even appeared to have been drowned either before or after being dumped into the water while unconscious. Lawmen would later theorize that Gohl was not above getting a sailor drunk, robbing him, and then dumping his unconscious body into the cold river to drown. And yes, while the majority his victims were sailors, a number of those he killed were migrant laborers who arrived in Grays Harbor for work. Yes, no different than those he killed in the Yukon.  

After reading about the bodies that were popping up in Grays Harbor, the authorities in the Yukon contacted lawmen in Aberdeen about a killer who may have relocated to Grays Harbor. As was already taking place, law enforcement was chasing down every lead. 

Though Gohl was always talking big about killing this or that person, no one really realized that Gohl was behind it all. No one realized that Gohl was using the Sailor's Union of the Pacific offices as the perfect location for getting away with his crimes. Of course as a Union official, it was his job to take money and valuables. Gohl was known to use his status at the hall to question sailors about money and valuables at the pretense that he was looking out for their best interest. Most times he did so alone. 

Alone in his second floor office, Gohl would check to see if they were alone, then he would simply reach into his desk and shoot sailors in the face fort the most part. This is surprising in that one would think the noise of a gunshot would alarm anyone in the building. Of course once dead, Gohl would then steal all of their valuables including what they had deposited for safekeeping at the Union office. He would then dump his victims down a garbage chute that led to the Wishkah River which as stated was just outside of the building. 

Investigators believed that he purposely positioned himself to be completely alone with his victims when he would commit murder. Investigators would find out later that he did in fact use many other methods to kill his victims besides shooting them. A few investigators theorized that Gohl also used a small boat to dump their bodies directly in the Grays Harbor. Some theorize that Gohl used a small boat to murder his victims but I can't find anymore written on that. 

According to some sources, estimates are that he may have gotten rid of as many as low as 124 to as many as 136 sailors through that garbage chute which led from a trap door in that building straight into the river. The Wishkah River runs South into the Chehalis River which runs West into Grays Harbor. And yes, that's how Billy Gohl later got the moniker "The Ghoul of Grays Harbor."

In 1909, Gohl was arrested for stealing an "auto robe." An "auto robe" is sort of like a blanket that kept drivers warm and protected from the cold as well as dirt when driving the open-air vehicles of the time. The robes were manufactured by the Chicago Auto Robe Supply Company. They were also called a "lap robe". They were usually made of rubberized canvas and lined with green wool.

The whole idea that he stole an "auto robe" made him very angry. Of course he was acquitted after his friend Charles Hatberg, a man who was a sailor and known cattle rustler, vouched for him by saying that he had bought it from a local pawnshop and given it to Gohl. While Gohl should have been happy that he evaded that arrest, it's said he brooded about it. 

On December 21st, 1909, Gohl told saloon owner Paddy McHugh that he and his cohort John Klingenberg were going to kill John Hoffman who was a friend of Charles Hatberg. Four days later, Gohl is said to have swaggered cheerfully into the Pioneer Saloon. And when McHugh asked about Hoffman and Hatberg, Gohl replied, "They went away for good."

There is two stories of how Charles Hatberg died. One says that he was shot while Gohl and Klingenberg were in the process of killing Hoffman. He was supposedly in the wrong place at the wrong time. The other story goes that Gohl was told that his friend Charles Hatberg had been seen talking to a Deputy Sheriff about Gohl. Billy Gohl then tells Paddy McHugh that he has to kill Charles Hatberg. The story says that a few weeks later, McHugh mentioned to Gohl that be hadn't seen Hatberg. To that Gohl replied, "You won't. He's sleeping off Indian Creek with an anchor for a pillow."

Paddy McHugh didn't know if Gohl was serious of not, but decided to report what he said to the Sheriff. The Sheriff decided that Gohl might not be joking, so he waits for a day of low tide and goes to Indian Creek with a few Deputies. Once there the Sheriff finds Charles Hatberg's body weighed down by a 25 pound anchor not far off shore. Hatberg had been shot with a .38 Automatic pistol. The pistol was found nearby. Surprisingly, it's said that the ownership of that pistol was traced to Billy Gohl.

Soon investigators found out that Gohl would ask a returning sailor if they had a family or friends in the area. He would ask about money, valuables, if they received his back-pay yet, or if they felt secure with the money that they had saved on his voyage. As with those who disappeared and were never heard of again on the Barbary Coast, or never seen again after going to a Fandango House in the California gold fields, or going it alone in the vast expanse of the Yukon, a stranger was in peril if a killer found out that someone was just passing through and had no family or friends in the area. As for Gohl, he figured that his victims would not be missed and an alarm would not be raised at their disappearance. 

One of the things that I've found interesting about this is that Gohl was said to be very vocal about the failure of the local lawmen in Aberdeen to find out who was behind the killings. He was known to actually berated the Sheriff's office on behalf of the Union for not being able to solve the murders or protect Union sailors. It's also interesting that some says the Union suspected him of being somehow responsible for the large numbers of disappearances, but they didn't do anything about it. They didn't do anything to stop him or contact the Sheriff to let them know what they suspected. Imagine that.

As for Gohl, his accomplice John Klingenberg told authorities what was taking place at the Union office in Aberdeen. And while he was trying to save himself by turning state's evidence, the only reason Klingenberg was in Aberdeen at the time was because he was brought back there after trying to jump ship in Mexico. Some say he jumped ship to escape prosecution, but others say he was trying to escape from Gohl because he was afraid that Gohl would try to silence him.

Billy Gohl was arrested on February 3rd, 1910. Gohl is said to have made the mistake of identifying a pocket watch that belonged to one of his own victims. Two months later, his went to trial for the murders of Hatberg and Hoffman. Though Gohl is believed to have murdered more than 100 men, he was convicted of only two and given life in prison for each.

His accomplice John Klingenberg got 20 years though he stated that Gohl forced him to help kill Hatberg. Klingenberg testified to seeing Gohl alone with Charles Hatberg before he was near Indian Creek. And while at first stating that he's was "being set up." Gohl himself later admitted to killing both Hatberg and Hoffman.

Gohl stated that Hoffman "cried like a child". But that didn't stop Gohl from putting a pistol to his head, and pulling the trigger. Klingenberg testified that after shooting Hoffman, Gohl simply said, "I guess now you'll shut up." Klingenberg also gave testimony to the fact that Gohl weighed Hoffman’s body down with an anchor and dumped the dead man into the Chehalis River.

Billy Gohl was found guilty on May 12th, 1910. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He was taken to Walla Walla State Penitentiary. He was later transferred to an insane asylum for the criminally insane. He died on March 3rd, 1927 at the age of 54. He is said to have died a long agonizing death from a number of things including dementia caused by syphilis.

Right after Gohl's arrest, the number of floaters in Grays Harbor drastically dropped. But that didn't mean that Gohl's legacy of terror was over, as the body of Carl O. Carlson was found on April 27th, 1910. He was known to have disappeared and is believed to have been a Gohl victim. And then there were the parts of his victims which were still showing up here and there.

For example, in July of 1910, a human skeleton was found in Indian Creek. In March of 1912, a human skull was found near a cabin owned by Gohl. Then another skull was found near the same spot on a beach. The skull was thought to have been "Red" Miller who was a sailor who disappeared and was believed to have been one of Gohl's victims.

He was later given the monikers "The Ghoul of Grays Harbor" and the "Timber Town Killer." Gohl is considered a "serial killer" because he is known to have murdered anywhere from 124 to 132 men, both sailors and migrant workers. And while most of his murders were committed at the Sailor's Union of the Pacific offices while he was employed there as a Union official from 1903 to the time of his arrest in 1910.

As stated earlier, the building that once housed the old Sailor's Union on the corner of East Heron and South G Streets now houses Billy’s Bar and GrillYes, believe it or not, the owners of Billy’s Bar and Grill are said to have actually named their place after a serial killer. Some say in honor of Billy Gohl. Imagine that.

Tom Correa


Monday, September 11, 2017

Wisconsin Native Americans Ate Their Enemies?


Dear Friends,

I'm sure it's obvious that I love history. More specifically I love American History. I love reading about cowboys, cattle drives, and settlers coming West. I love researching outlaws and lawmen, gold strikes, silver strikes, cattle towns, boom towns, wagon trains, and learning more about ships making the journey around the horn. I love reading about the Civil War, slavery, and I love researching Indentured Servants since my grandfather was just that. I love researching Native American tribes, especially about the way they lived pre-European contact .

I love visiting historic sites. I love visiting Civil War battlefields, ghost towns, old towns, and hardly there towns. I love whaling ships, clipper ships, and old steamboats. I love old graveyards, old gravestones out in some pasture in the middle of nowhere or in some forgotten cemetery, inscriptions about loved ones long forgotten, and I love the places that only locals know about.

I loved seeing the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail that are still visible near a rest stop in Idaho.I loved walking on the boardwalks of Virginia City, Nevada, and touching the Red Dog Saloon doors in Juneau, Alaska. I love knowing that I'm visiting the same places where others lived and worked back when America was young and not so full of stifling rules.

Yes indeed, I love stopping at places where I've only read about, and places that I didn't know existed. I love confirming stories about the history of the Old West, but also about other eras in our history. And yes, I love being shocked by what I didn't know. Or more honestly, being surprised at what I should have been taught in school but wasn't. I love learning how truly full of shit Hollywood truly is, and wonder why can't they get it right since the real story is right there in front of them?

Yes, I'm the guy that loves reading road markers. I'm that guy who sees a sign that says to this or that point of interest and takes it. In fact, I was going through some of my old notes from my travels and found something that may interest you.

It has to do with a historic site that I found just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, if I remember right. That place is the Aztalan State Park. It is about 172 acres and is the site of an ancient Native American Indian village. An ancient village that existed before Europeans ever stepped foot on the North American continent.   

Back in 1836, an American settler came across a number of earthen mounds on the west bank of the Crawfish River. The mounds are part of what was the actual village. The village is said to have had anywhere from 500 to a thousand or more Native Americans of the Mississippian culture there. The village is believe to have flourished from around the year 900 AD to about 1300 when they just disappeared. 

Yes, their disappearance is just one of a number of mysteries related to that site. As for the people who vanished before any contact with Europeans, no one knows why they vanished suddenly. While one mystery has to do with the question as to why it's original inhabitants suddenly disappeared, another has to do with the stockade walls that they built to keep out other tribes? Was it breached somehow by enemy Native American tribes? Was it finally breached and were they slaughtered?
Of course if that were the case, then why hasn't the bones of the original inhabitants been found there?

Another mystery is why build the mounds? We do know that the people who lived there built those earthen mounds, which resemble the work of the Aztecs -- hence the name given to that area. Over time, since no one was interested in maintaining the mounds or the remnants of the stockade walls that surrounded the area, sadly it was plowed over for farming. In the process of being plowed over, a number of the mounds were actually leveled. Today, two of the three large ceremonial mounds are still intact. 

It is said that the first really formal archaeological excavation of Aztalan was in 1919. That excavation established the actual perimeter of the stockade and that it had watch towers. It was then that they also found evidence their homes, along with pottery pieces, tools, and even weapons. 

Aztalan 1850 Map
Researchers also found fire pits and what is believed to be piles of refuse. In those areas researchers found butchered and burned human bones, including the heads of men, women, and children. They ascertained that people who inhabited that area had actually eaten people.

But actually, it is said that soon after its discovery in 1836, it was already determined back then that the mounds were used for religious ceremonies which included human sacrifice. And that leads us to the final mystery of why they ate their enemies?

Those human sacrifices are said to have been part of the cannibalism of that tribe. But since food is said to have been abundant there, why resort to cannibalism? Why eat your enemies? 

Historian David Scheimann wrote, "Of all the North American Indian tribes, the seventeenth-century Iroquois are the most renowned for their cruelty towards other human beings. Scholars know that they ruthlessly tortured war prisoners and that they were cannibals; in the Algonquin tongue the word Mohawk actually means 'flesh-eater.' There is even a story that the Indians in neighboring Iroquois territory would flee their homes upon sight of just a small band of Mohawks. Ironically, the Iroquois were not alone in these practices. There is ample evidence that most, if not all, of the Indians of northeastern America engaged in cannibalism and torture -- there is documentation of the Huron, Neutral, and Algonquin tribes each exhibiting the same behavior."

Robert Birmingham, a professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin in Waukesha, wrote a book entitled "Aztalan: Mysteries of an Ancient Indian Town", published in 2006.

He is quoted as saying, "Aztalan was the northern outpost of a great civilization comparable to other great early civilizations in the world. We call them the Mississippians; they rose after AD 1000 and had, at its center, the first city in what is now the United States – that’s Cahokia, in present-day Illinois. It was a very large city and had a society that was very complex. It was similar to Mayan cities in Mexico. They built large earthen mounds as platforms for important buildings. The major mound at Cahokia, where the ruler probably lived, is 100 feet high and greater in volume than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, though built of earth."

Birmingham said those there were a farming society. The Aztalan village is said to have lasted anywhere from 100 to 150 years. It is said that around the year 1200, the Mississippian civilization eventually collapsed in the Midwest for unknown reasons.

War with other tribes is thought to be a factor in their disappearance. Birmingham says, "The Mississippian culture was aggressive and expanding. Aztalan is one of most heavily fortified sites in the archaeological record of Eastern North America."

Since we know human remains were found at the site in 1919, what are Birmingham's thoughts about their cannibalism and if it was all about "ritual cannibalism"? Well Birmingham says those remains "Have been analyzed and don’t fit the pattern of cannibalism, at least for food." 

So I have to wonder what's it all about if not for food? Why eat your enemies if there was available sources of food and the inhabitants were not starving? Why was that a Native American trait of so many tribes?

Birmingham explained that eating others, particularly your enemies, is an ancient consequence of warfare that is certainly not restricted to Native American Indians. He said, "The taking of trophy heads, cutting up the bones of your enemies and eating them ritually -- taking the power of your enemies -- is well-documented in many cultures. In Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunks themselves recite a story in which they greeted some Illinois people who were potential enemies by killing them, putting them in a pot, then boiling and eating them. It was not for food, but to show great disdain."

He thinks that the Mississippians at Aztalan co-existed fine with some Woodland tribes, but others may have been seen as trespassing. 

While that's the reason for the walls and for the wars, I can't help but wonder if the idea of eating one's enemy to show disdain is too easy an answer and there's more to it. My skepticism comes from the fact that while I see torturing an enemy as an act of vengeance, I've read where eating of one's enemy was actually a religious ritual of many Native American tribes. 

So all in all, the tribes who practiced ritual cannibalism did not so for food. Instead it was more about their belief in the supernatural powers held within the souls of their enemies. A power that they wanted to harness by eating their enemies. Imagine that.    

Tom Correa


Sunday, September 10, 2017

How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?

Perhaps you, like me, were raised essentially to think of the slave experience primarily in terms of our black ancestors here in the United States. In other words, slavery was primarily about us, right, from Crispus Attucks and Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker and Richard Allen, all the way to Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. Think of this as an instance of what we might think of as African-American exceptionalism. (In other words, if it’s in “the black Experience,” it’s got to be about black Americans.) Well, think again.

Slave Ship
The most comprehensive analysis of shipping records over the course of the slave trade is the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, edited by professors David Eltis and David Richardson. (While the editors are careful to say that all of their figures are estimates, I believe that they are the best estimates that we have, the proverbial “gold standard” in the field of the study of the slave trade.) 

Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 

10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America.

And how many of these 10.7 million Africans were shipped directly to North America?

Only about 388,000.
That’s right: a tiny percentage.


Article written by:
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The above article was written for PBS. It was originally posted on The Root, a website created by Professor Gates and others. If his name sounds familiar, in 2009, after a problem with the police at his home, President Obama called what they police did by detaining Professor Gate a "stupid act." The incident resulted in a "Beer Summit" between Gates, the responding Officer, and President Obama. Professor Gates is well respected and a personal friend of former president Obama.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Dear Friends,

One error regarding this article is its title. From 1655 to 1860, slaves were not brought to the United States. In fact, slaves were only brought to the United States from 1776 when we separated from Great Britain to 1860 which was the start of the Civil War. A second error is his reporting that the entire error of the African slave trade took place from 1525 and 1866. In actuality the African slave trade took place from 1516 to 1875.

While the slave trade started in 1516, the first slave ship arrive in North America in 1655. And of the 388,000 that landed in North America between 1655 and 1860, there were 93,185 landed in the United States after we declared our independence from England.

In 1783, our war with Great Britain ended. And 23 years later, in 1806, President Thomas Jefferson banned the import of slaves to the United States. From 1806 to 1860, there were 47,339 slaves that were smuggled into the United States against Federal law prohibited such importation.

America's slave trade legally lasted from 1776 when we declared our independence to 1806. The illegal slave trade, the crime of human trafficking, took place in the United States from 1806 to 1860 when it was a Federal crime to do so. Yes, no different than human trafficking is illegal today.

The figures that I present were taken from the same source which Professor Gates used: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Tom Correa
Editor/Publisher
The American Cowboy Chronicles




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Liberals Have Zero Respect For Others

Dear Friends,

I was asked to pull my last post from a group that I belong to on Facebook because it's discussion was pulled off topic.

My last article was about child slave labor in the North during the Civil War. The point of my article had completely gone over the heads of some Liberals who branded it a "racist post".

The point is regarding child slave labor during the Civil War in the North. It is about the hypocrisy of those in the North who were against slavery in the South, but were OK with it taking place in the factories and the mines in the North.

Their hypocrisy is in regards to what offended them. It was selective at best. While they were rightfully offended by blacks in chains, they were hypocrites in that they should not have turned a blind eye to the child slave labor practices that were in fact taking place around them in the North at the same time.

Those labor practices, while no longer applied to blacks, were certainly applied to children until it stopped in the late 1930s. And the only reason it stopped is that adults needed jobs. Adults saw children as taking jobs away from adults during the Great Depression, and that's when it stopped.

So how is it a racist post? Well one Liberal wrote to me and put it this way, it "detracts from the suffering of blacks". Imagine just how dumb you have to be to say such a thing. Talking about child slave labor in the North, detracts from the suffering of blacks in the South? Is that dumb or what!  

Of course, from a Facebook discussion and the comments that I've recieved, it's very apparent that the name callers and the holier-than-thous on the Left refuse to allow anyone else to have an opinion of any sort. Especially an opinion that is polar opposite to their own.   

An opinion, the dictionary defines as "a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge." Opinion is synonymous with belief, judgment, thoughts, way of thinking, mind, point of view, viewpoint, outlook, attitude, stance, position, perspective, persuasion, standpoint.

Instead of respecting the opinions of others, Liberals always resort to name calling and threats instead of discussion. I'm not talking about Republicans or Democrats who respect each other. I'm talking about Liberals who hate for the sake of hating.

When Obama was in office, I wrote about his inept job performance, his expensive vacations, the over-regulation, the wasteful spending, the divisiveness of President Obama. And yes, I was called a racist. One person actually wrote to tell me that I can't criticize him because he is black. Another jerk actually said that it's OK to criticize a white president, but not Obama because he's black. Talk about racist.

When I wrote about my favorite quote from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, when he said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," I was called a racist because I said that I judged Obama by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.

Friends, I really believe that I could have written about how I like white peaches and be called a racist. No, that wouldn't have surprised me.

When I talked about the statue of Robert E. Lee and how 200 Confederate troops protected the town of Charlottesville from being burned to the ground by 1,600 Union troops under the command of General George Armstrong Custer, I was called a racist. I said that I really believe that we don't know the exact motivations of those who erected those statues after the Civil War. And because I said that, I was called a racist. I said that I believed some of those statues were put up to salute those defenders of towns and cities in the South during the Civil War. Yes, I was called a racist. 

Friends, the term racist is losing it's meaning. And no, I have no idea what they call a person who is really and truly a racist. When everything can be labeled racist, the term racist means squat.  

As for the Liberals who attack my blog, both on Facebook and here in the comment section? They don't like my research, they don't like my sources, then they resort to personal attacks after I've given them my sources or the links to some of my research material.

Of course, they don't like the fact that I have friends who work as Wikipedia contributors, friends who are historians of merit, friends who have spent their lives researching history. They don't like that I have friends who know guns even better than I do, friends who are ranchers who I've helped over the years, friends who raise and breed horses.  

They don't understand that I pick the brains of my friends for information if I need to. They do help me with finding information whether it's about cattle or horses or history.

It amazes me that Liberals don't understand that people can talk about all sorts of things and actually learn from each other. They refuse to understand that during the course of a conversation, that people can have different views than their own and actually learn from each other. Yes, I repeat myself because I'm amazed that Liberals are so narrow minded and shallow, so filled with hate for others who don't think like them.

If they believe that the cause of the Civil War was ONLY slavery, then fine. If they believe everything that Hollywood and Left has to say about how things were in the Old West, that's fine as well. So why not take their narrow minded points of view somewhere else! Why bother coming here just to put in their political spin and pick arguments is beyond me.

So now, I want to known why do they stop here? Why bother reading what I have to offer if it angers them so much? Why bother reading and writing comments filled with swearing and hate? Comments that I will not allow posted on my blog. 

Why not just start their own blogs? Why not open another Liberal blog where they can put out more hate and politically correct crap? Why not cater to fellow hate mongers on the Left?

My advice is simple, if you want to make your voice heard, check out the New York Times Facebook page. Go to some other venue with a giant readership. Go somewhere where your hate and shit disturbing is appreciated. 

I have a small blog that I use to talk about things that interest me. Things that I hope others find interesting. And since I've visited a great number of different places around the country, I want to share the true stories about the history that I find amazing. Yes, things that Liberals refuse to even consider in the slightest. 

They call themselves "progressives," but that's a joke! They are stuck looking at things in their politically correct hate filled minds. They refuse to expand their horizons and see things with fresh eyes. They have a total distaste for thinking for themselves. They accept the standard line even if it is wrong. And yes, from my experience with them, especially lately, I find they refuse to allow any other way of looking at things to enter their minds. But worse, they want us to shut up and not speak our minds.

And while this is a rant, I may as well tell you what really bothers me. It is their hate. They venomously hate others who try to look at things differently then the way they do. Because I'm not into their hate, I ask only this, if someone doesn't like what I post, instead of coming here with a political agenda, just go away. 

I would rather have readers that are open to thinking about things that they may not have considered, right or wrong, off base or not. Readers who are not tied to political correctness. Readers who want to explore history, talk about things that some people want covered up, maybe even learn something that wasn't known before. As the saying goes, the possibilities are endless. 

For the Liberals who sends me hate mail and messages about how screwed up I am, for you Democrats who don't want me to write about the Civil War for fear of "stirring the pot," go somewhere else. 

There are all sorts of Liberal blogs out there that preach nothing but hate and political correctness. If you are a Liberal, a person who hates others who do not think the way you do, you will be more at home there. Those blogs are filled with people who also can't think for themselves and simply drink the Kool-Aid. 

Tom Correa