Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Day When God Stepped In To Help America


I found myself in a debate with someone on Facebook recently. While that doesn't surprise too many who know me and how I feel about celebrating the goodness of America, or my defense of Conservatism. It may surprise you that our debate was about God and America.

While I pointed out how Christian values have always been part and parcel of our nation, I have to admit that I was sort of surprised that he really believed, as he stated, "God has never helped America. That is if God really exists."

It was at that point that I laughed out loud. And friends, if there's one thing that pseudo-intellectual Atheists hate, it's someone laughing at their one-liners. 

He became angry when I laughed, so much so that he then said that my believing in God shows how uneducated I am. He then went on to quote one of his professors who said, "A belief in God shows how uneducated a person is. An education will lead people to be less dependent on God."

I told him that I'm not dependent on God. In fact, I'm hoping to lead such a life that God can depend on me. 

While guys such as this man like to say God doesn't exist, my argument is that God allows us free will with the hopes that we do the right things, with the hope that we show good intentions toward our fellow man and woman, that we demonstrate an ability to persevere, that we show a desire to get off our ass and work for what we want, that we defend ourselves and those we love, that we care for others, show compassion, be just, and stay on the straight and narrow with the Lord.

I've met God at sea on nights when I missed home, in horrible summer heat trying to ink out a living in construction, in thick brush while trying to ferret out cattle on gatherings, while mending fences and treating a coliced horse, as well as when sitting on the tops of mountains on trail rides. I've been inspired when least expected and comforted when needed. 

OK, so I did let it go on too long. But really, this guy was really full of himself. He didn't like America, our flag, our laws, our culture, and the fact that almost 8 out of every 10 Americans are Christians of some denomination. He then asked me to show him proof of God and where God has ever helped America?

My reply, "Do you want big or small examples?"

He said, "Pick one time when it was obvious that God helped the United States of America." 

I said I would. Of course I was going to say "God has given us Donald Trump" just because I knew it would've made his head explode. But I didn't, even though I believe that's the case. 

Instead, I told him that for me, I've seen God's helping hand here and there over my more than 60 years. When I was a youngster, I remember my grandfather preparing me to not lose faith because a foal was dying. That night, out of the blue, it made an unexplained 180 degree turn for the better when it wasn't supposed to make it through the night. 

While overseas as a young Marine, I saw people flee for their lives with only what they could carry on their backs during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Just as I feel that God helped that foal make that 180 degree turn around, I believe that those who made the effort to flee Vietnam were helped by God in their efforts to escape murderous Communism. Ten years later in 1985, it was reported that Communist killed 2.5 million South Vietnamese in their "Re-Education Camps". 

For me, I remember very well a situation that took place one night when a man in Oakland shot someone and then turned his gun on me. I lived because his gun jammed. Some say I was lucky. I say, God was looking after me.

As for helping us in history, we know that on the Trail of Tears that thousands of Native Americans died along the way. Fact is, so did the Black slaves which they owned. Yes, slaves that they took with them on their way West. But, the majority made it. Yes, what could have been worse didn't happen. We can thank God for his help that not all were lost during that horrible march across the nation.

We know that of the American pioneers who came West, thousands died along the way and two thirds of the homesteaders couldn't make it and returned East. We know that a faith in God helped strengthen most and gave faith to those in need of inspiration to help them through the hard times.

We know that 47 members of the Donner Party survived that horrible ordeal. Not all died after they left Springfield, Illinois, on that 2500 mile journey to California. Actually just over half of their party died after fighting 22 feet of snow and starvation in a situation where cannibalism was reported to have taken place. I've always found it interesting that people say those who survived such a tragedy "were lucky," instead of saying they "were helped by God." 

We know that there were people with tuberculosis who died and didn't live full lives in the Old West, as such was the case of Doc Holliday. But the fact is that others did live long lives with TB back in the day. 

A great example of that was John B. Stetson who invented the Cowboy hat. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis at a young age and doctors told him that he wouldn't have long to live. He went West and made his mark inventing the Cowboy hat, and in the process created a business that employed thousands of Americans.

John B. Stetson is known for providing a clean and safe work environment, and a hospital and homes for his over 5,000 employees. He did that while giving back to his community by donating his money to charitable organizations, building schools and colleges. Unlike others who died early from tuberculosis, he lived to be 75 years of age. I believe God had a reason to keep him around.

Atheists may refuse to accept the possibility that God helped America by keeping John B. Stetson alive to help Americans live better lives, but I don't. I believe that God uses some folks as tools to help others. I believe that Abraham Lincoln was God's gift to us. He was God's way of helping save the nation and recover from the horrors of the Civil War. I believe Franklin D. Roosevelt was God's way of helping America have strength during the Great Depression and be victorious during World War II. It was purely providence that they were our presidents at that time in our history.  

God has helped America by giving us people who have turned deserts into flourishing farms, people who have built dams and railroads and highways, just as he gave us people who penned a Constitution the likes of which is the envy of the rest of the world. It was with God's help that we broke away from the greatest military power of it's day. It was with God's help that we have grown stronger and better. It's with God's help that we'll become even better than we are.   

While these are just a few instances of when God has put people in the right place to help America, over the years, we have had God's help to weather hard times and trials, tests, and our ability to prevail. 

While there are most likely many other days when the Lord has stepped in to act, this next story is about a day when God took a hand to help the United States directly. Yes, when God decided to help America in a more direct manner. 

During the War of 1812, the Battle of Bladensburg was fought on August 24, 1814. Bladensburg is only 8 and a half miles northeast of Washington. Today, that battle is called "the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms."

The American forces included U.S. Army regulars, U.S. Navy sailors, U.S. Marines, and state militia troops. American Sailors from Washington's Navy Yard were pressed into service at Bladensburg to help stop the British forces marching on Washington. So was a volunteer militia rifle company of civilian workers from the Washington Navy Yard which organized in 1813. Those volunteers were designated the "Navy Yard Rifles" and joined in the fight. They effectively used rifle fire, artillery, and fought hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes against the British regulars, but were no match for the better armed British forces who overwhelmed the American defenders with superior numbers. 

As soon as the word reached Washington that the defenses had failed and the British defeated American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg, President James Madison and officials of the U.S. government picked up and fled the city. The president and the rest of the government were one step ahead of being captured by the British when they left the city and took refuge for the night in the small town of Brookeville. The town of Brookeville, which is in Montgomery County, Maryland, is about 20 miles due North of Washington, D.C.. 

After a force of British Army regulars and British Royal Marines completely routed a combined force of U.S. Army regulars, U.S. Marines, Sailors, and state militia troops at Bladensburg, Maryland, the British marched into Washington.

When the British invaded Washington, the British sacked the city and burned down its buildings. The British forces with order to "lay waste to the city" set fire to our capital.

They actually burned down the White House, and a lot of other government buildings including the Capitol, the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Treasury, War Office, and the Arsenal building. As for the Washington Navy Yard, since smoke from the burning Capitol was seen, the American defenders at the shipyard realizing that weapons, ships, and stores, were all prizes that the British wanted. So yes, the yard was ordered set afire to prevent its capture by the enemy.

Its flames could be seen for miles. Then God stepped in. 

Less than a day after the sacking of Washington D.C. began, out of nowhere a sudden hard hitting thunderstorm came about. That storm has been described as devastating, a storm with instant hurricane conditions. Along with the torrential rain, a tornado was witnessed as passing through the center of the capital before setting down on Constitution Avenue. The tornado is said to have lifted at least two cannons and gun carriages, then dropping both of them several yards away. In the process killing British troops. 

The British, who were not fairing well against the storm, retreated from the city. They returned to their ships which were battered and badly damaged in the instantaneous hurricane.

The deluge of rain put out the fires. That ended the British occupation of Washington. It only lasted about 26 hours. The storm was soon called the "Storm that saved Washington." After the storm passed, Americans returned to the city.

While there are those who would debate the effect of this storm on the occupation, one simply cannot disregard the fact that the storm which appeared out of nowhere forced the British to retreat from Washington. Fact is, it was a storm without explanation other then there being a part of divine intervention. 

So you too can now tell someone about the time that God rolled up his sleeves and said he'd do this one himself. It was the day God saved Washington D.C. from complete destruction. And while there are other days when God's helped us all, when his blessings have been given to our great and kind nation, on that day back in 1814 God saved our nation's capital. 

And that's how I see it.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

We Have A Dishonest Disrespectful Press


Dear Friends,

Among other things, I was brought up with the belief that respect for others is a big deal. The respect one gives others goes to the heart of our character, our wanting to be respected, our being fair and good people.

On November 7th, 2018, I watched as an out of hand CNN reporter Jim Acosta repeatedly attempted to lecture President Trump. It was very obvious that Acosta was attempting to use President Trump preparation to stop the thousands of people headed to our Southern border, his preparation to stop them from entering the United State, as a way to attack the president's immigration policy. His wording said volumes as he described those approaching our border as a "small group of migrant workers" -- espeically when Acosta knew that small group is made up of thousands of people willing to break the law.

At one point, President Trump told Acosta that he is all for legal immigration. He even told the CNN reporter that America "needs legal immigration for the hundreds of companies" returning to the United States. 

Of course that didn't satisfy Acosta, as if he needed to be satisfied, and the CNN reporter grew more and more confrontational during his questions, actually lecturing and attempting to correct the president's own opinions on the matter. Acosta's absolute disdain for President Trump came through during that news briefing as he became more and more argumentative. Then Acosta refused to relinquish the microphone and step aside for other reporters to ask their questions.

Because I found this to be completely over the top behavior, completely disrespectful in the way that he spoke to the president, right after watching what took place that morning, I took the time to contact the White House and wrote the following note to the President:

Dear Mr. President,

I support you 100%. I respect and admire all of the great work that you are doing for us. Respect for you is why I'm writing. Because CNN's Jim Acosta has repeatedly demonstrated that he is confrontational and does not respect you or your staff, I'm asking that your White House consider revoking CNN's Jim Acosta's White House press credentials. Just as the press needs to understand that they cannot publish lies, they need to understand that Press Conferences are not mandatory. 

The press should be appreciative that you take the time out of your hectic schedule to hold such briefings, but they are not grateful nor respectful. Their disdain for you comes across loud and clear on camera. And as demonstrated in the press conference held on November 7th, their actions embolden others of their ilk to be just as rude and hateful toward you. Many of us are tired of seeing this take place. 

CNN's Jim Acosta should not be allowed to be confrontational or rewrite facts to fit his own agenda with a mic in his hand on camera. His producing false information and lying to us is why the press is seen as an enemy of our nation. His distortion of the truth hurts everyone. To stop being our enemy, all he and CNN has to do is print the truth. But sadly, they won't. 

I apologize for being long winded, but please consider my suggestion of revoking Acosta's White House press pass until he can learn that "attack journalism" doesn't have a place at the White House. 

Thank you. God Bless you, your family, and the staff at the White House.

Respectfully, your loyal supporter,

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles

A few hours later that day, I was happily surprised to find out that CNN's Jim Acosta was no longer allowed into the White House grounds.

Since then, the news media has predictably rallied to Acosta's defense. And yes, believe it or not, as if they dictate to the White House demands, I read where British reporter Jane Merrick has called for a boycott of the White House. She stated, "the entire White House press corps should walk out. Deny him [President Trump] coverage. Take him off the air. Cancel his series. Leave him to rage into Twitter's echo chamber, which is all he deserves.

Those who hate the president are all for this. Believe it or not, they say it's what should be done. As one Liberal reporter put it, "It would feel good and righteous to stop rebroadcasting the messages of a corrupt, lying, hateful Administration. A walkout would serve as a clear demonstration of professional solidarity, and solidarity is an absolute value. Reducing the amount of Trump on the air and in print would also probably be a good thing."

So while some want to talk about cutting themselves off of a direct line to the White House, others are in solidarity are a little more realistic. Though still nonsensical since they are still defending rude behavior and shoddy reporting, at least others know what keeps them alive as a news agency.

This solidarity with Acosta's rude behavior has made me question the decency of news agencies. Yes, including Fox News who I watch on a regular basis. In fact, I was absolutely shocked to learn that Fox News President Jay Wallace issued a statement of solidarity regarding his support for CNN's Jim Acosta. That was today, November 14th, and it read as follows:

"Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential. We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people."

What does getting rid of a disrespectful, confrontational, reporter out the White House have to do with support of a free press or access to information coming from the White House? Nothing! This statement is all about taking the focus off of the real reason why Acosta is now barred from entering the White House and instead shift the focus on the ability of a free press to gather information.

When the President holds a press conference, he takes questions from the press pool in a specific order. First, he takes questions from the wire services such as the Associated Press, then he goes to the broadcast networks. After them, he goes to national newspapers, news magazines, and lastly he talks with regional newspapers. During these press conferences, those there should have respect for the office of the President of the United States while asking their questions. Confrontational behavior should be met with the Secret Service escorting the person off the grounds.

Fox News should be ashamed of itself for supporting CNN and attempting to make this about a freedom of the press issue when it has zero to do with the freedom of the press or access to information. Fox News is insulting us if it thinks we the American people cannot see that it has everything to do with "attack journalism" by an antagonistic press. Attempting to make this about the freedom of the press is dishonest because that's not what this is about.

Out of almost 150 CNN employees who still have access to the White House, Jim Acosta is only one person of that organization who has been barred from the White House. So frankly, it is extremely dishonest to say that this has to do with limiting the access to information. Fox News should correct its stance on this since it knows full well that CNN still has full access to the White House.

And by the way, answering questions from reporters and presenting those reported with answers and information is a courtesy. It's not an obligation of the government to hold such briefings. The White House does so as a courtesy to us.

It's About Respect


No where in the President's job description does it say that he has to answer questions from reporters while being treated disrespectfully by members of the news media. 

The behavior of the press should never be disrespectful, condescending, or confrontational toward the President or his staff. Just because the news media doesn't the fact that a Republican administration is in charge of policy making, that alone does not give reporters get the right to be jerks and attack the president or his staff.

The press has a vital role to play in our Constitutional Republic by providing us with information. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that American press has always been a friend of the American people. Fact is, America has had a long history of what President Trump calls "fake news." Fake news is nothing new to America. And yes, so in the press being seen as an enemy of the people instead of seen as a friend of the people.

A dishonest and disrespectful press has been with us for over 200 years. For example, in 1798, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts to criminalize fake news being spread at the time.

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson wrote,  "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle."

During the Civil War, Democrats who controlled newspapers in the North routinely attacked President Abe Lincoln with all sorts of fabrications. Yes, all while attempting to get the Union to settle for two nations and keep slavery intact.  

In 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant was referencing the role of the press during the Civil War when he said, "I have been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history."

I read when President Franklin D. Roosevelt once admonished a reporter by giving him a dunce hat and then told him to go sit in the corner. There's another story about how Roosevelt actually handed a Nazi medal to a reporter to be passed to a New York Daily News writer. It was supposed at the time that Roosevelt saw that writer as a Nazi sympathizer.

Remember the story of the video that caused the Benghazi attack? That was a lie that the Obama State Department started. In that case, the Liberal news media was complicit is spreading that lie to cover for Hillary Clinton's incompetence. How about the "Russian Collusion" story? That was the same sort of false information, fake news, it was never real. But, the Liberal press ran with it to de-legitimize the Trump presidency. 

On television, CNN's Jim Acosta has made no secret that he hates the fact that President Trump has labeled CNN the "enemy of the American people." At Trump rallies, Americans are taking he and CNN to task over their reporting false information. CNN takes information and reports it with a spin on the facts to fit a Liberal agenda. They downplay reports of problems on the border for example. This is an effort to downplay information that confirms the negative ramifications of open borders which are part of the Democratic Party desires today. 

They do this while at the same time attacking all of the policies that have come out of the Trump administration. For example, President Trump wanted the government to take in less money in the way of personal income taxes and put more money in the pockets of American consumers. He correctly believed that more money in the pockets of Americans would actually generate more money for the United States. He has been proven correct, but CNN rages against his policy and echoed the Democrat Party lines saying that "this was crumbs" and that his allowing more Americans to keep more of their hard earned wages would throw the United States into another Great Depression. 

I refuse to listen to CNN or read their articles simply because they are not balanced, objective, or simply fair minded. They parrot the talking points coming out of the Democrat Party and attack their own guests who question what's being said. They tow the Democrat Party line and are afraid of free thought or discourse with out who see the world differently then they do.

CNN exaggerates things that have not taken place, and they report the ill effects of policies coming out of the Trump administration before they have been implemented. While they use conjecture and read tea leaves to attack President Trump about things that have not happened, or about things they believe he has done when not true, they pretend innocence of simply making a mistake when caught fabricating lies. I don't trust CNN because they vehemently hate anyone with differing viewpoints. 

As if naive as the day is long, CNN acts with surprise and wonder when they are called "fake news" and "the enemy of the people." Yet this does not have to be the case. 

As I wrote to the president, and said, "CNN's Jim Acosta should not be allowed to be confrontational or rewrite facts to fit his own agenda with a mic in his hand on camera. His producing false information and lying to us is why the press is seen as an enemy of our nation. His distortion of the truth hurts everyone. To stop being our enemy, all he and CNN has to do is print the truth. But sadly, they won't." 

I'm very old fashion in that I believe that the press should be more objective. Being objective means not being impartial, unbiased, unprejudiced, nonpartisan. It goes to the American core principle of being even-handed, fair, and just. It speaks to our desire of wanting to be treated in that same way.

If you have read any of my articles on the Old West, then you know that I believe historians should try to be objective and impartial. That those of us who research history and report what we find should  not influenced by personal feelings or opinions when considering and reporting facts.

News agencies should demand that from their staff. Just I would hope that they would demand that their staff not drool all over President Obama, they should demand that their reporters leave their person angst against President Trump at home when at work. All that should be required is that their staff be honest. When attempting to accurately report a story, they should be honest. Yes, be honest.

The hatred for the Trump administration by the Liberal press is horrible. They vilify the president at every turn and openly demonstrate their disdain for him during press conferences. They had no reason to fawn over President Obama other than the fact that they loved him. Conversely, they have no excuse for their constant attacks and "in your face" attitude with President Trump other than the fact that they have made it very clear that they hate him. And please don't kid yourself, CNN and other such news agencies hate President Trump with a venomous inward intense passionate dislike that their despise for the president surpasses and intellectual reasoning.

While I've come to expect the loathing and open disdain for President Trump from the likes of CNN, I really thought Fox News was different and more professional. I really thought that Fox News, other than possibly Shep Smith, was better than that. I certainly would have never thought that Fox News would align itself with such dishonest journalism, or support such disrespectful conduct as that coming from Acosta. I really thought Fox News wasn't in the gutter with CNN.

I now believe that I'm wrong about that since Fox News is supporting CNN and Acosta's horrid behavior. It's sad to see that Fox News is part of a bunch of Trump haters who don't see such horrible behavior on the part of the press as being wrong.

What's worse, by issuing a statement in support of CNN in which Fox News is attempting to divert the focus of what took place to a non-issue, Fox News is now doing the same thing that CNN and MSNBC are doing by attempting to take the focus off of Acosta's shitty attitude.

Instead of standing alone as a news agency devoted to the truth, Fox News has joined CNN in attempting to shift the focus of what took place and instead make this story into a freedom of the press issue when it's not one. That's as wrong as their support for CNN, because it makes Fox News appear as dishonest and disrespectful as CNN.

As for the White House press corps, it's said that they were formed in the early 1900s. The story goes that when President Theodore Roosevelt saw a reporters standing in the rain while bothering visitors to the White House, he allowed them to "get out of standing in the rain" and let them into the White House. Over the years, their presence and influence has grown out of control.

I think they should not have a place in the White House. We the American people should have a separation of press and the state no differently than we have a separation of church and state. Just as we encourage a healthy separation between church and state to stop any one religion from dictating their requirements to our government, we need a healthy separation from the press so that they cannot re-write the facts to encourage their personal political agenda.

The press does not need to have a microphone in the White House. And frankly, we should be frightened of a press that has no problem slandering you and me, attacking people without evidence, distorts the truth, and openly lies in its reporting. We should be terrified of any news agency that serves as a propaganda machine for any one political party, and uses its mass media capabilities to spread its Leftist ideology on the American people.

While President Theodore Roosevelt meant well, he should have left them outside the White House where they belong. Yes, standing outside in the rain or not, that's where they belong.

That's how I see it.

Tom Correa




Saturday, November 10, 2018

Monterey County's First Sheriff William Roach

The office of the Sheriff of Monterey County, California, was founded in 1850. The Monterey County Sheriff's Office, like many law enforcement departments back in the day, was very small with only a few men on the force. Its first sheriff was a man by the name of William Roach. 

It's believed that William M. Roach was born in Wexford County, Ireland, in 1820. His family came to America when he was about 10 years old. By 1846, he was 27 years old and he joined the Army. He joined Stevenson's First Regiment of New York Volunteers. That unit was originally designated Stevenson's Seventh New York Volunteer Regiment. It was formed to go to California and engage the enemy during the Mexico-American War. 

In August of 1846, the New York Volunteers were loaded on ships and made their way around Cape Horn to California. They served in garrisons in San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Monterey. Parts of the regiment were involved in operations during the Pacific Coast Campaign in Baja California. In fact, elements of the New York Volunteers saw fighting in the Battle of La Paz, the Siege of La Paz, and were part of what became known as the Skirmish of Todos Santos. It's said that the later actually took place after the peace treaty with Mexico was signed. 

Roach was assigned to Company D which was commanded by Captain Henry Morris Naglee. He rose to the rank of Sergeant. After their action in Baja California, Stevenson's First Regiment of New York Volunteers were sent to Monterey. They were then disbanded by October 1848. All of the soldiers in that unit knew full well that they volunteered to help populate California when they mustered out. Americans were needed in California and most of the soldiers did stay. Most would later take part in the California Gold Rush. 

One group of soldiers that decided to stick together and start mining was called "The Roach Party" because it was comprised of Roach and a number of his friends. During the winter of 1848, they camped near the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin County and were later in Tuolumne County. After returning to Monterey, they friends split up.

As for Roach, he decided to run for sheriff of the newly formed Monterey County. He was voted into office because a huge percentage of the voters there were fellow soldiers from his old unit. While sheriff, he bought a ranch north of nearby Watsonville and married Margaret Ann McMahon. They had a son, Alexander Phillip. He was born on December 10th, 1853, in Watsonville. 

Sheriff William Roach's participation in what became known as the Roach-Belcher Feud is what makes him a controversial individual to historians. The Roach-Belcher Feud was in reality a murderous conflict between rivals trying to gain control of a widow's land holdings. 

In 1849, California had Spanish land grants. What might surprise some folks is that only about 200 very wealthy families owned California's Spanish land grants. Those 200 or so families owned over 14 Million acres of land.

Jose Sanchez was among those extremely wealthy land owners. Some say, because Sanchez bought additional lands to increase the size of his holding that he was one of the largest land owners by 1852. 

As with what happens during every boom everywhere where such things take place, people who were selling low found that a boom meant that they could sell high and make a killing. It's said that during the California Gold Rush, it was those who supplied the miners with everything from beans and pans to shovels and trousers got rich while miners didn't. 

That was the situation for Jose Sanchez who came to California from Mexico in 1825. In twenty years, his holdings grew to thousands of cattle. Sanchez made money selling hides and tallow, trading in hides, and manufacturing soap from the tallow. As for selling cattle for food, Sanchez was selling cattle for $5 a head before the 1849 California Gold Rush when miners flooded into California. Because the newcomers needed food, his cattle quickly sold for $80 a head. It's said he got even more for his horses and mules.  

On Christmas Eve of 1852, Jose Sanchez drowned while crossing the Pajaro River. When Jose Sanchez died, he left his widow, Maria Encarnacion Ortega Sanchez, and their five children, daughters Vicenta, Refugia, Candelaria, Guadalupe, and their one son Jose Gregorio, a huge estate. 

There were large herds of cattle and horses, more than 49,000 acres of land, and a large sum of money left to her to operate the ranch. In his will, he named his friend, Samuel Head, of San Juan Bautista to be the executor of his estate. Samuel Head went about fulfilling his obligations to his friend's family. 

The first thing that he did was conduct an inventory of everything on the ranch. Besides the land, the home, the barns, the out buildings, the livestock, and other essentials, Samuel Head found that his good friend Jose Sanchez had 40 barrels of dried beans. Yes, that's a lot of dried beans even for those days. 

Knowing that was too many beans to have on hand, Samuel Head decided that he would sell the beans and give the money from the sale to Jose's widow Maria. His problem was finding a buyer was that the beans were too old to resale. But after a search, he finally found a market to take the beans. The only stipulation was that Samuel would have to bag them up for sale. 

Samuel set out doing just that and started bagging up the dried beans. Soon, to his surprise, he had to stop. To his amazement, the story goes that he found more than $90,000 in gold coins and dust hidden in the barrels. So besides everything else, Jose Sanchez left his wife more than $90,000 in gold. It was truly a bonanza for the Sanchez family. After all, $90,000 in gold in 1852 is the same as having $2.5 Million today. 

Samuel Head decided to put the gold in a trust for the Sanchez children. The five Sanchez children wouldn't be able to utilize the funds until they reached the age of 21. Since the trust needed a guardian, he choose then Monterey County Sheriff William Roach. The sheriff was to be their guardian and manage their trust.  

Because women were seen as second class citizens at the time, the court appointed an executor of the Jose Sanchez estate. He was said to be an associate of her late husband. Supposedly, he ended up going to jail for defrauding the Sanchez family out of $30,000. After that, the court appointed Lewis Belcher and William Roach as executors of the estate. Both men were highly respected in the area. 

Lewis Belcher was said to be a big man. He was so big that he was nicknamed "Big Eagle" by locals. He arrived in Monterey in 1847 and may have first met Roach when Belsher was selling meat to the Army. Belcher was known as an excellent shot, and a man who didn't take guff from anyone. Almost as soon as the two were appointed by the court, they started accusing each other of fraud.

As unfounded as the accusations were, soon a vendetta of hate began between the two men. To make things worse, in 1853, Roach left the Sheriff's office to work his ranch. He also assumed sole executorship of the Sanchez estate without Belcher. He said he couldn't work with Belcher.

Belcher was accused of embezzling $85,000 from the Sanchez estate. Later, Roach was accused of embezzling  $85,000 from the Sanchez estate. This went back and forth. Frankly, no one has any proof that $85,000 was actually stolen at all.

Also remember, Samuel Head appointed then Monterey County Sheriff William Roach to be the Sanchez children's guardian and manage their trust. His activities dealing with that trust was what escalated things. 

The story goes that Sanchez's oldest daughter Vicenta married a man by the name of Daniel Willson. My sources say that he was born on June 22nd, 1827, in Swanzey, New Hampshire. He had arrived in Monterey, California, in 1853 at the age of 26. He was still 26 in 1854 when met and married 15 year old Vicenta.

Right after they were married, Willson insisted that Roach turn over Vicenta's share of her family's fortune. Willson supposedly saw it as a dowry and wanted it. Since we know that Vicenta was born in 1839, we know that she was not yet 21 years old and not yet eligible to receive her inheritance. Roach refused. 

My sources say that Willson was adamant about getting Vicenta's inheritance and took Roach to court. I'd say that proves that Willson was very determined to get her inheritance. For what reason? Since many at the time were there to get there hands on the Sanchez family fortune, it is not unreasonable to suspect him of being one of them. On the other hand, some say that he could have simply been a 26 year old man interested in safeguarding the Sanchez family funds from embezzlement.

Either way, Willson took Roach to court in Stockton. Some say because it was different venue than Monterey County and not as friendly to the former sheriff. Others say it was because Willson found a sympathetic judge willing to rule in favor of ordering Roach to release the funds. There in Stockton, a judge ordered Roach to pay out her inheritance. The order stated, if he refused, the a judge could rule that Roach would face going to jail for contempt. Roach refused the court order. After refusing to do so for two weeks, the story goes that Roach was arrested and he was hauled off to jail in Stockton. 

While no one really knows if this actually took place or not, the rest of the tale goes like this. While in jail, Roach refused to sign a release of the funds to Wilson and his wife. To get him to sign it, the court decided to trick Roach. Supposedly, Roach was handed a paper and told to sign it so that he could be released. 

Supposedly, not realizing what it was, he signed a release of their inheritance. It was to a court order demanding that he or his wife turn over the Sanchez treasure. Understanding what he did, Roach immediately realized that he screwed up and went into action even behind bars. Since Roach befriended his jailer, he was able to get a message to his wife before the lawyers for Wilson could get there with their court order to retrieve the funds. 

Supposedly, Margaret Roach got her husband's message and immediately contacted her brother, Jeremiah McMahon, to help her. She wanted him to move all of the Sanchez money out of their home. The story even says that she had him swear an oath that he would not to tell her where he put it so that she could not divulge its whereabouts if she were interrogated.

Let's make something clear, it's conjecture like this that makes for a great story. It also makes problems since none of the tale about Jeremiah hiding the Sanchez children's money is true. How do we know this? Simple fact, the children, including Vicenta, did get their funds by 1864.  

As far as the idea of buried treasure? Friends, this is how buried treasure stories are made. How? Well, let's not forget about Jose Sanchez's widow Maria. She remarried a few month after Jose's death and lost her first new husband in an accident in 1853. Then she got married again in 1853 to Dr. Henry Sanford. He saw Maria as being wealthy, and Roach as overstepping his bounds and illegally hoarding the Sanchez fortune.

On March 15th, 1855, Sanford was drinking heavily and running his mouth off at the hotel bar in Monterey. Sanford was going on about how former sheriff Roach and his family were stealing the Sanchez fortune. He happen to be running his mouth about that time that Jeremiah McMahon, William Roach's brother-in-law, walked in to hear Henry Sanford talking about his family. Soon, an argument started. Both went for guns. In a split second shots were fired. Before anyone realized it, both men fell to the floor dead.  

Now, if you're wondering, no one knows if Jeremiah McMahon let his brother-in-law know where he hid the Sanchez money. If he didn't tell him, then Jeremiah took that secret with him to his grave. Fact is, if he didn't tell his brother-in-law where he hid it, it's probably buried somewhere that no one's found it yet. 

And yes, that's how buried treasure stories are made. No one knows if they are true. The person supposedly burying the treasure dies. And with his death, a dying man supposedly takes the secret of a fortune in gold with him to his grave. And now, as for that gold that he hid so long ago? Well, of course, it must still be out there today. 

As for what became known as the Sanford-McMahon shootout, it was only one part of what became known as the Belcher-Roach Vendetta. And yes, there is a lot of death tied to the Sanchez fortune.

For example, in 1856, Belcher left Monterey headed for San Francisco where he was supposedly going to get help in his vendetta against Roach. It's said that his plan was to summon the Vigilance Committee of 1856 to help him. He never made it to San Francisco and was killed on the way. He was found shot to death along the side of the road. 

A year later in 1857, a dangerous hombre by the name of Anastacio Garcia was sitting in the Monterey County jail. He and famous Mexican outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez once worked for Lewis Belcher as guns for hire. During one late night, Garcia was lynched in his jail cell. It's believed that local vigilantes who were friends of Sheriff Roach knew their way in and told the jailer to go have coffee. When the jailer left, they hanged Garcia. 

Roach was never tried for the lynching of Garcia or the murder of Belcher. Nor was he ever convicted for embezzlement because no one knew if he really did it or not. Frankly, while there is all sorts of speculation, no one has ever proven that he in fact stole anything from the Sanchez family. The whole story that he did is based on conjecture and not evidence. 

Having to produce evidence makes a story harder to prove true. Conjecture is easy. You don't have to prove anything you come up with.   

While I don't know if he was using the Sanchez fortune to keep his ranch going, I don't see any evidence that proves he took a dime from the Sanchez family trust. He did get the customary percentage for administering the trust as executive. But frankly, since that still takes place today for executors of wills, what does that prove? Nothing as far as I can see. 

Was Roach ranching in Corralitos just north of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County? Yes. Did he go into hiding after the killing of Lewis Belcher as some writer say he did? No. 

How do we know that? It's because we know that William Roach did business in Watsonville and Monterey. Since he was seen, and people knew who he was and his whereabouts, how is that being in hiding? Besides, he bought his ranch in Corralitos before getting married and before leaving the Sheriff's Department. So that means he didn't use any funds from the Sanchez family fortune since he didn't come in contact with the Sanchez family money until after her bought his ranch. 

Ranching was his full-time job. And sadly, people leave that fact out when talking about Roach simply to make his other actions look suspicious. And by the way, if one was in hiding or trying to "get away" and not be seen, why stay in the area and be seen doing business there? They wouldn't. 

On September 2nd, 1866, William Roach was in the town of Watsonville doing business. After dinner that night, witnesses reported seeing him leave town on horseback. Some speculated that he was heading to Monterey to do business there. Others think he simply went home.

That next morning, September 3rd, his horse was found wondering around the Roach ranch. Yes, alone. Not too long after that, one of Roach's ranch-hands went to draw water from the well. That's when the former sheriff's lifeless body was found in the water at the bottom of the well. It is believed that he was beaten and strangled before being thrown in the well. His death was ruled "died under suspicious circumstances." Makes sense since his body was found at the bottom of his well. No one was ever charged with his murder.

All in all, the Roach-Belcher Feud claimed the lives of William Roach, Lewis Belcher, Dr. Henry Sanford, Jeremiah McMahon, and Mexican outlaw Anastacio Garcia. According to some sources there are at least two others who lost there life to this fued.

Former Monterey County Sheriff William Roach is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Watsonville. Since he was connected to the Fenian Brotherhood, his headstone reads "We place this stone o'er thy grave as a token of the love we bore thee. The Fenian Brotherhood, First Sheriff Monterey Co. 1850 - 1853". He was 46 when he was murdered. 

There ends the story of what happened to the first sheriff of Monterey County, California. But really, the story doesn't end there.

It should be noted that Maria Sanchez came out of the ordeal unscathed. Because of her great wealth, a large number of men were interested in gaining control of the vast Sanchez estate.

Maria Encarnacion Ortega Sanchez actually married her attorney, Thomas B. Godden in 1853. Godden was killed when the steamboat Jenny Lind mysteriously exploded en route from Alviso to San Francisco on April 11th, 1853. So yes, Maria lost two husbands within four months of each other.

In 1853, Maria married Dr. Henry L. Sanford. We know how he was killed in a shootout with Roach's brother-in-law in 1855. She then married George W. Crane who died of Measles in 1868. In 1871, Maria married her fifth husband. He was a man by the name of Anastacio Alviso. He was shot and killed shortly after they were married.

As for the Sanchez holdings, remember how the children got a hold of their trust? Well, by 1864, two years before William Roach was murdered, the Sanchez heirs started selling their share of the land. By 1867, almost all of the once large Sanchez rancho was sold off. 

Most of the Sanchez holdings were sold to one person. His name was Henry Miller of Miller and Lux, who was also known as the "Cattle King of California." He was a man who at one point in the late 1800s was one of the largest land-owners in the United States. He bought 44,000 acres of the Sanchez rancho. His story is for another day.

Tom Correa





Monday, November 5, 2018

Volunteering & Therapeutic Riding


Dear Friends,

Many of you have heard me make references to my volunteering at our local American Legion post here in Glencoe, California. Being a Marine Veteran, I joined the American Legion to enjoy the sense of camaraderie that Vets get from being around other Vets. In the case of our post here, it's also a chance to find a closeness with my neighbors that I haven't seen anywhere else. 

I'm the 2nd Vice Commander of our post, Calaveras Post 376. I'm in charge of the post bar, the kitchen, putting on our monthly events, organizing our honor guard, and a few other things. My position is really that of a "Morale Officer." 

I don't remember us having a morale officer when I was in the Marine Corps. In fact, if memory serves me right, the morale of the troops was looked at as being our responsibility. The concept that there was someone there to help a Marine think positive and stay motivated was foreign to the Corps in those days. Again, if I remember right, we were tasked with keeping ourselves motivated and maintain a positive attitude. I don't remember morale being an issue back in the day. And no, I don't know if things have changed.   

While that was the case for the Corps, I did hear that some of the other branches had officers designated for such positions. The mission of a morale officer is to keep the troops motivated and positive thinking. The morale officer is there to keep the spirits up of those in his or her unit. 

In the case of the American Legion, as 2nd Vice Commander, I try keeping up the morale of our members, volunteers, and quests through events that spur camaraderie, fellowship, fun, and good times. Knowing that not everyone gets along, I also try to lessen personal conflicts at our post. That's very true when those conflicts are seen as possibly hampering our post from running smoothly.

By the way, while I'm an officer of our post, technically I'm just a volunteer there. I'm just one of the many volunteers who help make our post function. 

And here's something for you to think about, while our post has 130 members, most of our Vet members don't live here in Glencoe. Some used to live here and still maintain their memberships, but most of our members actually live in the surrounding area. The same goes for our volunteers. Most of our volunteers live outside of Glencoe in neighboring Railroad Flat, West Point, Wilseyville, and Mokelumne Hill. And as a matter of fact, most of our volunteers are not even Veterans. 

Our volunteers volunteer because they are caring folks who know that our American Legion post is the only thing we have here in Glencoe. Yes, other then the Post Office, our post is the hub of our community. It's all we have. Knowing this, our volunteers volunteer at the post to support our Veterans and to keep the heart of our community going.

Our volunteers don't get paid, or receive any sort of compensation for their volunteer hours. They do it from the heart and they need to be recognized for doing so. While I always tell them, most of them will probably never know how much their help is appreciated. 

About now, someone reading this is probably saying, "they're probably retired people looking for something to do." Well, while there are a few of us who are retired, most of our volunteers are younger and have quite a few years to go before retiring. Fact is they just like giving back to our community. And yes, as an officer of our post, I can say without hesitation that we are absolutely blessed to have such friends and neighbors who give from their hearts. They're all a Godsend. 

My first experience with volunteering to help any organization was back in 1976 when I was in the Marine Corps stationed at Camp Pendleton. After I started hanging out at the base stables, it wasn't long before I found myself volunteering to help out around there in whatever way I could on my off days. It wasn't as if I was putting in a tremendous amount of time there because it was only on my off duty days. And also, about the same time that a friend asked me to help coach Little League. Working at the stables and with the Little League kids was actually a lot of fun. And frankly, I think what made it a great experience is that whatever I did at the stables and helping to coach the kids was appreciated. 

After leaving the Marine Corps, my concerns for volunteering took a backseat to holding a job and paying the bills. There are a lot of Americans alive today who have no idea how tough times were back in the 1970s. America at the time was saddled with a pathetic president, double-digit unemployment, double-digit interest rates, and double-digit inflation. From what I can tell, it was truly our last Great Economic Depression. Nothing since has compared to the 1970s.

Jobs were hard to come by and the economy was horrible. So yes, volunteering took a backseat to taking any job that I could find. By the early 1980s, I returned to school with the desire to learn things that I should have in High School. By then, I was working a full-time job and worked part-time for two companies when they needed me. It wasn't easy, but I did it while holding down a full-load class schedule at a local Junior College.

In the mid-1980s, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a therapeutic riding program a few times before my jobs made it impossible to volunteer there on a steady basis. Today, it's gone. Development swallowed it up. But for a while, that dilapidated arena served the purpose as a therapeutic riding program for children needing help. 

The program catered to handicap children. And since the program needed people to help assist with leading the horses, walking alongside the children while they were in the saddle, helping to care for the horses, they needed volunteers. 

Horses are just good for you. As for therapeutic riding, it has been around for years. While there are Veteran equestrian programs, children of all ages, many with all sorts of physical, mental, and even emotional disabilities benefit from therapeutic horseback riding. As for my fellow Veterans suffering from PTSD and physical wounds relating to their time serving in our military, I can only say that you can believe me when I say that being around horses, caring for horses, riding horses, is a therapy that works wonders. 

Fact is, Winston Churchhill was right when he said, "There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse."

For individuals with mental and emotional disabilities, the bond formed with a horse can lead to increased confidence, patience, self-esteem, and a sense of well-being. Caring for a horse can lead to a sense of independence. Time in the saddle benefits all who ride. 

For children with disabilities and conditions such as Autism, Brain Injuries,
Cardiovascular Accident/Stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Injuries, Post Polio Speech Impairments,
Emotional and/or Learning Disabilities, and other ailments, the therapy of being around horses, of riding horses, can be a morale builder, a motivator, and can be  rewarding beyond measure. 

It's true. The benefits of horseback riding cannot be measured when it comes to helping children with disabilities and conditions that can be disheartening at times. Is that just what I saw take place years ago? No, it's not just my opinion. 

Extensive research shows that children who take part in therapeutic riding programs experience physical, emotional and mental rewards. One source states, "Because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the rider’s body in a manner similar to a human gait, riders with physical disabilities often show improvement in flexibility, balance and muscle strength."

Robert T. Kramer, Chief, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor University Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center, Presbyterian Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, stated, "Therapeutic riding transcends traditional therapeutic methods and provides people with the joy of participating in a program that offers social, athletic and personal rewards, while providing benefits as well."

As for those who take part in these programs, sadly, in many cases prospective riders are required to jump through all sort of paperwork hoops before ever participating in such programs. In some states, a prospective rider's family has to get a physician's authorization prior to any therapeutic riding session. In some cases, this is tough to get. Because of that and other roadblocks, it's sad to say that a lot of disabled children don't qualify for such services.

The other problem is that such programs and facilities are limited. In many cases, therapeutic riding programs are limited in numbers because insurance coverage can be too costly. Since I tried looking into starting a therapeutic horseback riding program here on my property almost 17 years ago, I can tell you first hand how insurance made it completely unfeasible for me to do it. 

But also, the cost of paying hourly help may be a factor in stopping a facility from starting. For many therapeutic riding facilities, volunteers are vitally needed to help offset the cost of running such a program. 

So really, your volunteering your time to help out a therapeutic horseback riding program near you could mean whether or not that program survives or not. The lack of volunteers may make the difference as to whether or not such help for a disabled child is non-existent or not. 

Volunteering and therapeutic riding go hand in hand. Besides finding it a rewarding experience that benefits those needing the help, a volunteer also finds that their part in making it possible will be appreciated. It will make a volunteer feel good inside. It will be a feeling of doing good that is beyond their wildest imagination. 

Tom Correa

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Superstitions That Make You Stop And Think

Since today is Halloween, let's talk about superstitions. And with that, we can start with Friday the 13th being unlucky, in fact the number 13 being unlucky.

There are buildings that refuse to acknowledge a 13th Floor, room numbers sometimes skip a room 13, and of course Friday the 13th is considered bad luck. Some believe the number 13 is unlucky because of myths about 13 demigods. And then there are those who say there were 13 people present when Christ was crucified on that Friday. Others say that number of disciples at the Last Supper was 13 if we include Judas who sold out Christ for 30 pieces of silver.

As for walking under a ladder? It's said that a ladder in use actually forms a triangle. Since triangles represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, walking under a ladder breaks up the Trinity. Yes, that puts one in league with the Devil since that is his mission in the world. So when walking under a ladder, please cross their fingers while doing so.

When researching this article, I was amazed to find out that in some countries white cats were seen as harbingers of bad luck while black cats weren't. In America and a couple of other countries, black cats are seen as bad luck.

Some religions have demonized black cats by saying they are demons in disguise. Of course back in Salem, Massachusetts, and in Europe, in the 1690s, Witches were hunted down by religious zealots. Their cats were killed also simply because they too were seen as co-conspirators with the devil.

A black cat crossing one's path was seen as bad because there were people once upon a time who really believed that such a meeting with a cat was no coincidence. They believed the notion that cats were trying to create evil for the person walking. Some folks believed those black cats were actually attempting to cut one off from walking with God. Others said those cats were attempting to block us from getting into Heaven.

Folks using that excuse as why they didn't think they'd get into Heaven were fooling themselves. Leading a nasty life hand in hand with the Devil has more to do with it. They shouldn't have blamed cats of any color for their dancing with the Devil.

Besides black cats, cats in general have a terrible reputation for being bad luck. For example, in some countries, a stray tortoise shell cat is considered a bad omen. A kitten born in May is thought to be a Witch's cat.

Farmers used to believe that cats that were bartered for, actually served a family better than a cat that was bought with money. The cat that was bought are never good mousers. Some believe a cat sneezing once means rain. And if a cat sneezes three times, some believe that its family will catch a cold.

An old American 19th century belief was that a cat washing itself on one's doorstep meant the clergy will pay the family a visit. Those were probably the same people who thought kicking a cat cured rheumatism.

My favorite superstition about cats goes like this: when you see a one-eyed cat, spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and make a wish. The wish will come true.

To me, the only rival to that tale is the story of the English schoolchildren who believed that seeing a white cat on the way to school was a bad omen. To stop the bad luck from taking place, the person seeing the cat must spit and then turn around completely before making the sign of the cross.

While the English thought such a thing, the Irish believed a black cat crossing one's path by moonlight meant death in an epidemic. There's also the Irish superstition that says to kill a cat brings seventeen years of bad luck. There's a Scottish superstition that says a strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity.

Of course, I'm not too surprised that there's a French superstition that says it's bad luck to cross a stream carrying a cat. In the Netherlands, it's said cats were not allowed to be present when there were private family discussions. The Dutch believed that their cats would spread gossip around their town. Imagine that.

Superstitions about cattle were just as strange. The Celts thought their cattle should have been informed of any deaths in their owners' household. If they didn't, it was believed that cows would sense something was wrong and would probably drop dead from worry.

In Medieval times, some folks believed that cattle would kneel at the stroke of Midnight on Christmas Eve. Some also believed that farm animals were able to speak that night. That tale goes on to say it was considered very dangerous for any human to hear their speech. And no, there's no telling what a sheep farmer's favorite sheep will say if she had the chance.

There was a farm superstition that says if a plow kills a daddy long legs spider that his cows will go dry. A cow mooing after midnight means death. To milk a cow that's being sent to market is considered bad luck. Some farmers really believed that scattering primroses on a barn floor guarded against Witches.

They were probably the same people who believed cows lying down in a field meant rain. How could they since everyone knows that means the fish aren't biting.

Here one more about cows. If you see nine cows in a shed with a gray bull next to the door, and all of them lie on the same side, you are in luck because you will be granted one wish. And no, I don't know if you're supposed to spit on your thumb, stamp it in the palm of your hand, and then make the wish.

Donkeys have never been exempt from superstitions. For example, at one time it was believed that placing three hairs from a donkey's shoulders in a muslin bag which was then worn around one's neck actually cured whooping cough and measles. For curing snakebites and a toothache, some believed sitting backwards on a donkey worked out well.

I like the superstition that says a pregnant woman who seeing a donkey will have a child that will grow wise and well behaved.

As for horses, most know that changing a horse's name is bad luck. And of course, we probably all know that we can predict the sex of an unborn foal by swinging a nail tied from a hair in the mare's tail above her hips. If it doesn’t swing, she's not in foal. If it swings in a circle, then she'll have a filly. If it swings straight, then she'll have a colt.

This is the sort of knowledge that some may take as being common sense. Just like knowing that inhaling a horse's breath can cure whooping cough; or that eating a hair from the horse's forelock will cure worms; or that we have to make sure our horses never step on a wolf's paw print because such an act is sure to cripple a horse; or the cure for founder which says pour turpentine in a saucer and hold it against the horse's navel. Supposedly, the turpentine will be sucked up into the horse and the horse will be cured of founder.

If you lead a white horse through the house it will banish evil. The tail of a horse braided with ribbons keeps it safe from Witches. Of course there were some who really believed that if you wear a black stallions tail hair on your wrist, that you'll be protected from Witches.

There are other superstitions regarding horses. For example, there are those who believe that the deeper a horse dips his nostrils while drinking, the better sire he will be. Some believe that a horse will cry when it's master dies.

In England and Germany, it's considered a death omen if one dreams of a white horse. Gray horses and horses with four white feet are considered unlucky in racing. But gray horses are supposed to be lucky, while piebalds are unlucky. It's said that if one places a horses tail in water, it will turn into a snake. 

Copper pennies in a water tank will prevent moody behavior in mares. Horse-hair that is chopped up finely and fed to a child in bread and butter was thought to be a certain cure for worms. Horse-spurs, an old word for horse chestnuts, were believed to cure cancer if dried and ground and drank with milk.

They say if you put a bit of hoof in the microwave it will turn into bubblegum; if you put horse skulls under the floor of a house they improve the tone of a piano that's above them; and we all know that if a horse neighs at the door of a house it means folks inside will get sick.

Such superstitions also say horse brasses, those decorative brass pieces on a harness, were first put there as a measure to protect horses from Witches. Some say this was originally the same reason that Cowboys used conchos.

There are a number of superstitions for rodeo cowboys. For example, some say they won't wear yellow in the arena because it's considered unlucky. There are those who won't compete with coins in their pocket because it means that's all the money they may get.

Since it's said a cowboy should clean up for Lady Luck, it's said she'll favor you if you shave before a performance. While shaving is considered lucky, for rodeo cowboys it's believed to be a bad idea to eat chicken before a competition. Yes, it's believed that after all, you are what you eat.

So now, let's talk about how salt was once used as money as well as used for medicinal purposes. Because it was seen as precious, for that reason, spilling salt was avoided at all costs. The idea that it's unlucky to spill salt may also come from the belief that Christ's 13th disciple Judas is said to have spilled salt during the Last Supper.

As for throwing spilled salt over one's left shoulder? It's believed that that's a link to salt's medicinal uses. Believe it or not, someone must have figured that since it couldn't be used for anything once spilled, that the next best thing was to throw it into the eye of any evil spirits that may have been lurking around and may have been responsible for making people sick. Evil spirits are thought to lurk behind your shoulder just waiting for an opportunity to strike.

As for other such notions, superstitions that one can only guess how they started, remember this, a bat flying in one's home is considered bad luck; so is looking at a new moon over your left shoulder; hearing a rooster crow at night; cutting your nails on a Friday; a picture falling for no known reason; opening an umbrella indoors; stepping on cracks in the sidewalk; giving away a wedding present; wearing an Opal if you were not born in October; and of course breaking a mirror comes with seven years of bad luck. And believe it or not, it's also said to be extremely unlucky to receive a mirror as a present

There are those who believe that stepping on board a ship with your left foot is bad luck. The same goes for a groom who drops the ring during the ceremony. In that case, it's believed the marriage will be doomed to failure if such a thing takes place.

I knew someone who believed that it was bad luck to sign a contract in the months of April, July, or November. He also believed that it was extremely bad luck to put on his left shoe before his right.

So is it unlucky to sit on a table unless one foot is touching the ground? Is it bad luck if we stumble or trip when leaving home? How about returning home to get something that you forgot?

Once upon a time, rabbits were linked with Witches and the Devil because they live underground. Yet, because of the rabbit's ability to reproduce, a rabbit's foot is a symbol of fertility to some around the world. Some say owning a rabbit's foot, and wearing it around your neck as a talisman gives the wearer good luck.

In fact, there are some who say carrying a rabbit's left hind foot in one's left pocket is lucky. But that only applies to a rabbit's left hind foot that had it been removed from a rabbit that was killed during a full moon by a cross-eyed person. Yes, a cross-eyed person!

Years ago I heard a story that talked about how actors used to keep a rabbit's foot in their makeup cases for good luck. Some had all sorts of misfortune because it was lost. In Wales, there is a superstition that says a new-born child should be rubbed all over with a rabbit's foot so that the child will be lucky for life.

Just as there have been people who believe that wearing an emerald is protection against snakebites and other misfortune, there are those who have believed that  wearing a tortoiseshell bracelet is protection against evil, carrying a snake skin gives one protection against illness, and that carrying a dried toad was protection against plagues. Of course, there are those who have had the belief, or maybe still do, that says eating a live toad first thing in the morning means nothing worse will happen to you all day.

If you think that's silly, that is as silly as those who believe in the superstition that says roosters are considered the watchful protectors of mankind. In fact, some say when a cock crows at midnight that a spirit is passing. And in some places, it's considered an omen of death if a rooster crows three times between sunset and midnight. Crowing at other times is often a warning against misfortune. These are probably the same folks who believe if a cock crows at nightfall, that the next day will be rainy.

So, are there people who believe that one can get rid of warts by rubbing a peeled apple and then giving it to a pig? Or believe that any man who eats roasted owl will be obedient and a slave to his wife? How about a person who believes by eating a salted owl, they can be cured of gout? How about people who have been brought up to think that an abandoned house must be haunted if an owl nests there? Some folks still believe that owls are the only creatures known to man to get along with ghosts.

Is it unlucky to give a knife to a friend without being given at least a penny in return? Some have the superstitious belief that giving a friend a knife could sever the friendship if the receiver doesn't pay for the knife -- even with a penny.

Cowboys know that it's bad luck to put your hat on a bed, especially with its brim-down. The idea is that its luck will run out. As for the practical reason of not doing that back in the day? Well, while bathing was not a very common occurrence, head lice was common. So by placing one's hat on a bed, there was the possibility that lice would be spread to the bed.

Besides good manners, I like the idea of keeping its luck from running out of it. And that, well that's called a lead-in to horseshoes. 

Witches fear horses. They are also turned away by a door with a horseshoe mounted on it. That goes double for the Devil. We know that horseshoes have became synonymous with luck when a blacksmith tricked the Devil back in the day.

The story goes that a blacksmith was working hard in his shop forging horseshoes when suddenly the Devil appeared and demanded his own shoes. The blacksmith, recognizing the devil, and knowing that if he did a good shoeing that he would be his prisoner for eternity. So he took a burning hot shoe and nailed it deep into the Devil's own cloven hooves. 

The Devil was in such excruciating pain, that he ripped the horseshoes off and swore he would never go near one again. Some say the Devil swore an oath that he would never enter over a threshold with a horseshoe nailed above it. That was the start of the tradition of hanging a horseshoe over the entrance of a house to ward off evil spirits. That was the day a lucky charm to ward of evil was born.

As for cowboys, horseshoes have been considered lucky since forever started. Horseshoes have been nailed over the doors of both bunkhouse and ranch house for what seems like eternity. There is a debate about how to position it? 

There are those who say a horseshoe is always put in place with the "heels up" like the letter "U" so that the luck won't run out of it. Frankly, that's what I was told when I was a kid on my grandfather's ranch. But then, about 20 years ago, my Uncle Tony came to my home for a visit. He saw the horseshoes at each door  and asked me why they were upside down with their heels up? 

After I told him, he said when he was a young cowhand during the Great Depression, he was told that it should be heels down. The reason, as he told me, was so that the luck showers everyone who walks in and out. That way they have luck starting their day, and luck coming home from a hard day of work. 

Today, here at my home, I have a horseshoe outside of each door with their heels up. And, I have horseshoes inside each door with heels down. After all, I believe a man can't be too careful.

Tom Correa 







Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Shott vs Nott Willing Gunfights

Dear Friends,

Since I've been extremely busy trying to get my barn and property ready for winter, here's a short story about a couple of duels which may or may not have actually taken place. As you can see, I've posted the newspaper article where I first learned about one of the gunfights. It was this article that sent me on a search to validate it. After you read it and the rest of the article, you may see why I say it may or may not have taken place.

So please, read this first. I promise you, you will laugh. I also promise that I will tell you the rest of the story at the end.


OK, so I hope you had a good laugh!

I read where this took place in Texas in 1881, 1887, and 1899. I also read where the above clipping was originally in a Philadelphia newspaper in either 1826 or 1836. And believe it or not, it was put to music in 1902 as you can see below:

THE KNOTT-SHOTT DUEL

I've been reading about a duel
A mixed up affair, oh, it's something cruel
It's puzzling my poor brain, and driving me fair insane
A Mister Nott and a Mister Shott, in an argument one day they got
They decided to have a fight, so they met in the pale moonlight
With a pistol each in a lonely wood they quickly got to work.

Chorus:

Then Shott faced Nott - likeshot he shot Nott
'I'll tie Nott in a knot!' he said
Then Nott at Shott took a little pot-shot
Missed, and Mister Shott he shot poor Nott instead
Said Nott, 'I'm shot, though my name is not Shott
You're shot, so you're Mister Nott shot.'
'How can Nott be Shott,' said Shott, 'If Nott's not me?'

When they went in the lonely wood
Like the Corsican Brothers, there they stood
They were after each other's life, (They'd been after each other's wife)
You understand, they both were shot,
Though both were shot, yet one was Nott
It's as simple as ABC, but I'm blowed if it is to me
I've been sitting up both day and night to work this problem out.

Chorus:

I've got a clue to the mysteree
I'll explain it to you - it's like this, you see
Of course, you will understand - and then, on the other hand
They fought a duel - now we've got so far,
Then again, you see -well there you are
You're following me, no doubt. Now, what am I talking about
See, Shott shot Nott, not Shott, see Shott - I wish they'd both been shot.

Now, the Rest of the Story! 

It wasn't unheard of for a reporter, especially one trying to make a name for himself to fabricate a story or two, or more. Keep in mind that when Mark Twain was a reporter, he was known to have written a few stories for his papers that were lies. He just made them up. And frankly, something tells me that this may be a similar situation.  

Besides, who really knows if this story is true or not? A number of sources give different dates of when Shott shot Nott, and no one really knows where the duel took place. If it was Texas? Where in Texas?

As far as I can determine, it may have simply come from a bored newspaper writer in Philadelphia in the 1840s. Here's another example of the same sort of story that's believed to have come out of a Philadelphia in 1844. 

In this case, Shott shot Willing!

The story goes that a duel between Mr. Shott and a Mr. Willing resulted in both men being shot. Supposedly, Shott shot Willing willingly. Willing willing shot Shott. Shott's shot struck Willing and it was a spectacle to see. Of course, Willingly's shot struck Shott through his anatomy.

So was Shott shot? Was Nott not shot? Was Willing willingly shot or not? Who knows since we can't trust the news, even back in the day! 

I hope you have a good weekend! 

Tom Correa

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Guns On The Job In The Old West


I was recently in a conversation with someone who asked if I thought everyone carried a gun in the Old West?

Thinking about this, I believe it has everything to do with where one lived at the time. But also, actually more importantly, it depended on what they did for a living back in the day. I really believe these two factors are what determined the type of firearm one selected and whether or not one carried a gun.

For example, a great many friends over the years have all said without hesitation that they would have carried a Colt Single Action Army if they lived back then. A couple of friends have recently said that they would have opted for the Smith & Wesson Schofield because of the faster loading capability in a shootout -- a full blown firefight.

We should keep in mind that unless cut down, those choices are big guns that are not the easiest guns to conceal. Cowtowns like Wichita and Dodge City back East in what we know as the mid-West allowed open carry at first. The same was true for towns out West like Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and others. But after a while, as those towns grew, most established no carry laws. Yes, weapons prohibition. Because that was taking place around the West, there were a lot of folks who opted to carry concealed weapons.

To ensure their own safety, people had to make a conscious decision to violate the law. They also had to make a choice between carrying a full-size Colt versus a small pocket pistol or derringer of some sort. If we look at the sales figures for firearms for the period of 1867 to 1900, take out the sales to the U.S. Army and Navy, and to foreign sales, you will see that more Americans bought pocket pistols than the big hoglegs that we are led to think people carried.

People talk about how folks dressed back in the Old West and inevitably people will describe some gunman with a lot slung holster and big iron on his hip. While those individuals were surely a part of the landscape for a while until they couldn't carry in towns on their hip, that sort of gunman soon became a minority.

Knowing where we live would be an important factor considering no carry regulations, but that's second in importance to our occupation when it comes to selecting a carry weapon back in the Old West. This determines what sort of gun we would need on a daily basis during a workday? Also, this determines if it's a bother or not? Yes, the question as to whether or not it is a precaution or something that just gets in the way?

For example, if I were in any sort of law enforcement work, such as a deputy, then besides my sidearm, I would have probably carried a side-by-side shotgun when in town. As a stagecoach messenger, a payroll guard, a mail guard on a train, or even a bank guard, those positions would require a shotgun as well. In some cases they were armed with rifles, but mostly a shotgun was the weapon used for it's effectiveness and intimidation factor. 

Traditionally, shotguns in law enforcement were used for a few reasons. First, the officer didn't have to be a great shot to hit his target and shotguns have maximum effectiveness at fairly close range. Second, used in town, the projectiles disperse and have less of a chance of hitting some innocent bystander in town if the officer misses who he's was shooting at. And yes, a shotgun is intimidating.

In a posse, the need changes and subsequently a repeating rifle is needed. While there are always exceptions to the rule, lawmen usually used rifles when on the trail. The reason simply had to do with the fact that a rifle is a better weapon of choice when your target may be out of the effective range of a pistol or a shotgun. 

As far as people who go armed in a town according to Hollywood's version of the Old West? Well, audiences usually see a town marshal, his deputy, a county sheriff, a deputy U.S. marshal, prison guards. a circuit judge, saloon owners, bartenders, dance hall girls and soiled doves, card sharp gamblers, a banker, a hired gun, a bounty hunter, a gunslinger, and most likely a Pinkerton Agent. Of course there are the outlaws, the Mexican bandits, the claim jumpers, the rustlers, the no-name drifter, and a few others including those ever present men who sit around saloons -- the nondescript saloon bums in films who never seem to have a job yet always have money for drinks and gambling.

As for carrying on a daily basis? Lawman of all sort can always carry legally. If not the law, then those people weren't able to carry legally. But frankly, that didn't stop the law from looking the other way -- especially when they were friends of the law. And by the way, in all no carry towns, bounty hunters, private detectives, and even Pinkerton Agents, were not seen as lawmen and were also restricted from carrying in no carry towns. So the bounty hunter walking into such a town carrying a rifle while wearing three guns and bandoleer is all Hollywood.

As for most people who were not the law, or connected to the law, or their friends, if there was a not carry law? They were legally prohibited from carrying a weapon. But did that stop people from carrying anyway? No it didn't. They mostly carried concealed weapons. They carried guns in all sorts of ways from pocket pistols and larger pistols in shoulder holsters, vest pockets, trouser pockets, waistbands, in coat pockets, and a number of imaginative ways.

John Wesley Hardin was known to carry his pistol in his waistband. Wyatt Earp was known to carry a pistol in his overcoat pocket. Luke Short carried his revolver in his back trouser pocket. Killer Jim Miller supposedly favored a shoulder holder that he wore Winter or Summer under his heavy frock coat. Virgil Earp carried his pistol in his waistband in the small of his back. Even Wild Bill Hickok was known to carry a hideout gun, a small Smith & Wesson Model 2 as a backup gun.

So where am I going with this? My friend is of the opinion that everyone carried and "everyone in the Old West should have carried at least 3 guns because the West was that dangerous." For me, I think one gun would have been fine for the average citizen who was not a lawman or guard of some sort. And frankly, that's the point, as we all know, not everyone were lawmen and guards in the Old West. Not everyone was associated with seedy gamblers and con-artists, soiled doves and dance hall girls, and the such who live in that world. There were those who worked regular jobs.  

Friends, there were a lot more occupations in the Old West. Yes, certainly a lot more than what we've seen in Hollywood movies. For example, as for the people who built the towns, there were woodworkers, carpenters, cabinet makers, coopers, sawyers, loggers, lumber laborers. And besides bakers and cooks, there were bricklayers, stationary engineers, stationary firemen, hod carriers, stone cutters, stone masons, painters, plasterers, plumbers, even tile layers.

As for clothing, there were dressmakers and sewing machine operators, just as there were shoemakers, leather cutters, stitchers, vampers, lasters and tanners. Most towns made their own clothing for sale, there were doffers, drawing frame tenders, cotton dyers, loom fixers, cotton spinners, cotton weavers, knitters of hosiery and underwear, weavers and winders of silk goods, dressers and dyers of woolen and worsted goods, loom fixers, spinners, and even wool sorters. For houseware goods such as cups and glasses and plates, there glass blowers, potters, kiln placers and turners.

There were blacksmiths in railroad shops, in machine shops, and in livery stables. And of course, horseshoers. Boiler makers could be found in foundries and machine shops, and there were core makers, foundry laborers, lathe hands, machinists, millwrights in flour mills and other places, iron molders, pattern makers, tool and die makers. In mines there were mine drivers, loaders, drilling machine operators, timbermen for the mines.

Of course in most towns, there were newspapers that needed bookbinders, press feeders, proof readers, compositors, stereotypers, and pressmen who operated the printing press. Where tobacco was their cash crop, there were cigar makers, tobacco stemmers and strippers.

To transport all of the goods being made or ordered, there were 1-horse teamsters and 2-horse teamsters, and of course stock tenders, wheel makers, and wagon wrights. As for the railroads, besides the fact that they hired hunters to supply their workforce with meat, there were laborers, brakemen, conductors for passenger railroads, conductors for freight railroads, locomotive engineers and firemen. In shipping, there were sailors and longshoremen, ship builders, chalkers, woodworkers, and a number of trades including sail makers.

There were all sorts of laborers. From Chinese laborers who worked on the railroad, to those who worked in the laundries, or in restaurants as bakers and cooks, and waiters. In saloons as bartenders and beermen. In hotels and cleaners and clerks and such. Yes, there were no shortage of unskilled labor.

As for farmers, cattlemen, cowboys, there were also homesteaders, pioneers, settlers, teachers, missionaries, dentists and doctors. As for the doctors, most times they treated both people and animals. In some towns, depending on its size, there may be a number of doctors there.

The vast majority of these occupations did not have the need to carry a gun while at work. The vast majority of people working understood that a pistol would have simply gotten in the way. Yes, they would have gotten in the way.

For example, rifles were routinely carried on a Cowboy's saddle, and used to hunt with and shoot predators going after the cattle and rustlers. But contrary to what Hollywood depicts, most working cowboys did not carry a sidearm while working cattle simply because there wasn't a need to carry a sidearm during those times. A sidearm just got in the way when working cattle -- especially during brandings.

That's the same as with most occupations in the Old West. Mostly, for most occupations, guns got in the way. But, even though that was the case for many, whether a labor, a clerk, a farmer, and the many occupations that there were, that's not saying that someone working his or her job in the Old West didn't have a gun of some sort nearby. Not to say all jobs had them nearby, but a lot of folks who worked a job that may not have called for a gun usually knew where one was located in case of emergency.

For example, sailors in the Old West didn't go armed other having than a knife. Yet, it wasn't unusual for a boat Captain to have rifle in his cabin along with a gunlocker for his crew. Knowing full well that the law was not obliged to protect anyone, this was for protection against two legged predators.

It wasn't uncommon for a shop owner to have a rifle or shotgun stationed where he knew it just in case of an emergency. It wasn't out of the question for many occupations to have a firearm conveniently located in case the need arose.

One example of this took place during the Coffeyville, Kansas, bank robbery by the Dalton Gang. Townsfolk had there firearms near enough to respond when they were needed. Of course, for those who were not armed, rifles and shotguns were being handed out to them so that they too would be able to defend the town against the marauders.

Another example was when a Frenchman was stabbed in his butcher shop by a Chinese customer who was intent on killing and robbing him. At one point during the assault, the Frenchman reached over to grab a pistol that he kept on the counter of his shop just for such an incident. He fired at the Chinaman, and missed, but his shot singed his attacker's face and sent his attacker running.

A passerby heard the shot and saw the Chinaman running. He chased him down and fought it out before bringing the Chinaman back to the authorities. The attacker was identified by the Frenchman before he died. The people there in that California mining camp took the Chinaman out and hanged him.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a Merry Go Round Operator saw Tom Horn escaping from jail. He reached in his toolbox and grabbed his Iver Johnson .38 S&W and took after Horn. He shot at Horn and later beat him with his pistol while capturing the killer. We all know that Horn was taken back to jail in spite of the townsfolk wanting to save the state some money and simply string him up at a nearby tree that day.

While there are a lot great choices, some will read this and say a .38 S&W back in the day was a sad choice. And while I agree to a certain extent, a top break double action Iver Johnson is easily concealable and can be reloaded faster than my second choice to carry which really would have been a Colt 1877 Sheriff's Model with 2 1/4 inch barrel in .41 long colt. 

While I like the stopping power of a .41 long colt versus a .38 S&W, reloading a Colt 1877 can take some time in comparison to a top break. And then there's the problem of only being able to load five rounds in a six shooter, the hammer of a Colt Single Action Army has to rest on an empty chamber unless you know you're going into a fight. 

In the case of what happens if a Colt Single Action Army is dropped by accident, this is what can happen if one doesn't put the hammer down on an empty chamber. As reported in the Wichita Beacon on Janaury 12th, 1876.

"Last Sunday night, while policeman Earp was sitting with two or three others in the back room of the Custom House saloon, his revolver slipped from his holster and in falling to the floor the hammer which rested on the cap, is supposed to have struck the chair, causing a discharge of one of the barrels. The ball passed through his coat, struck the north wall then glanced off and passed out through the ceiling. It was a narrow escape and the occurence got up a lively stampede from the room. One of the demoralized was under the impression that some one had fired through the window from the outside."


Iver Johnsons top-break pistols were chambered in 5-shot versions of .32 S&W and .38 S&W. They were also produced in a 7-shot .22 Long Rifle. Those pistols were ahead of their time in that they included an internal transfer bar safety. They had transfer bar safeties more than a half century before Ruger created the modern transfer bar safeties in their pistols. If the trigger was not pressed all the way to the rear, the gun would not fire. Just as with the Ruger these days, the Iver Johnson transfer bar safety sat between the hammer and a cartridge and prevented the gun from discharging unless the trigger was depressed all the way. 

Iver Johnson advertised this feature because it was revolutionary at the time. The hammer itself cannot make contact with a loaded cartridge. This was a feature that Colt and others didn't have. It was a feature that appealed to the gun-tottering civilian who stuck it in his or her coat pocket on the way to town, or while in town on the way to the Merry Go Round. 

Tom Correa