Saturday, March 31, 2018

Let Me Make This Clear

Dear Readers,

I really do try to answer as much email as I can. Some of you have written to ask why I don't write about politics as much as I used to? As many of you know, while I've said that this is also a place to celebrate Conservative politics, I've stayed away from politics recently. In reality I've focused more on my love of history, especially Old West history, then politics lately.

I did write a blog right after the Parkland Florida school shooting which I said why I think we as a society should be teaching morals and values in schools instead of Liberal indoctrination and using kids as political activists. I stated that we should especially be teaching the Golden Rule of treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

I mention how we should teach the value of human life. Of course, I immediately got all sorts of hate mail regarding "the need for abortion." As hard as it is for me to believe, a few angry writers told me that "children being killed by a gunman is a separate subject and completely different from children being aborted by a doctor."

I think they say it's different to make themselves believe it is. After all, shouldn't all lives matter? Or really, do we now live in a world where the lives of High School students matter more than a baby about to be born? That seems callous. At what age do people get the distinction of mattering or not?

As for mattering, all lives matter except for those who take the lives of others in a criminal act. And frankly, I'm tired of being told that guns are an evil when in fact guns are just tools. They are just a piece of machinery. They have no soul. They have no personality and are not crazed. Of course the psychopath who became known as the "Son of Sam Killer" claimed his a handgun "told him to kill people." But friends, he was a psychopathic killer. And frankly, I always thought he came up with that line of crap to get off on an insanity plea.

Fact is we use guns to keep all sorts of people and places safe everyday. We use guns to defend lives everyday. We use guns to stop rapes, assaults, robberies, burglaries, car thefts, home invasions, to combat drug violence, to defend against a number of threats including from abusive husbands who have threatened to kill their wives and and children.

We all know the President of the United States has armed security, people trained in the use of guns to stop assassination attempts on himself and his family. We have similar protection for Senators, Congressman, and State officials such as Governors and Judges. Court rooms have armed security, so do banks, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, factories, parks, and countless other venues that require armed security. Ever go to a concert and not see armed security, or a sporting event that doesn't have armed security? Of course not.

So why is it that School Districts don't spend the needed funds and increase the security on schools in their districts? Some do as they know that it's ultimately their responsibility to do so. But why is it that others don't and schools don't have the armed security guards that a concert or a football game does? Why is it that we allow city buildings such as city hall, and state buildings even as low on the totem pole as the Department of Motor Vehicles to have armed security, but not schools?

It is not the President of the United States' job to make sure that our High Schools here in Calaveras County have security. It is not up to Congress to show up and make sure that our High Schools here in Calaveras County has security guards patrolling the campus. It's the same with all of California and the other states.

Across the United States there are about 90,000 Elementary Schools, and there just as many Middle Schools. They are 26,407 public High Schools and 10,693 private High Schools. That's according to the Digest of Education Statistics from 2001.

The largest number of public secondary schools were California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, and New York. There are 4,495 high schools in California alone. That number is made up of 3,523 public schools and 972 private schools. California ranks as the 1st state in terms of student enrollment and 1st in terms of total number of schools. California is almost dead list in quality of education, but that's a topic for another day.

My point is we are not a Communist Government where a Centralized Supreme Command attempts to supervise our every move. Thank God, we have individual states. Each state has counties, or in the case of Louisiana it has parishes instead of counties. Each county, or parish, has School Districts or a form of such that cares for the schools in their area of responsible.

So when I say it is not the job of the President of the United States to make sure our High Schools or our Middle Schools or our Elementary Schools have security, it's just a fact. It's not his or the rest of the Federal Government's job. Locally, the responsibility of securing schools falls to each state and then to each county. It's at the county level that School Districts should be working with their County Sheriffs Office to ensure that the school administrators at the individual school have security. It is up to them to provide armed security.

What does armed security do? It meets the threat with comparable force.

So now, people can go to Washington D.C. and scream until the cows come home, but frankly they're talking to the wrong set of bureaucrats. If they are really concerned about the lives of students, then they should be talking to the people in charge of security for those students. And frankly, Congress and the President aren't the ones who need to be talked with because it's not their responsibility.

In the case of the Parkland, Florida, shooting which took place in February, students and teachers and administrators organized to confront the President and Congress about gun control. Why? Because they wanted to make it a "gun control" issue and steer it away from the reality of the problem being a "security issue."

Please understand, those same people did not confront their School District regarding the lack of security provided to the schools there. They have not yet confronted the Broward County Sheriffs Department about their incompetence regarding their not taking action in regards to the gunmen who could have been arrested for making "terrorist threats." If the suspect had been arrested for that crime alone, then he would have never been able to commit the crime nevertheless get a legal firearm. And no, they have not really talked about the lack of response, some say "cowardice", that's built into the Broward County Sheriffs Department's response plan.

So now, we have children, children, who cannot legally own and/or purchase firearms calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. And sadly, we do not have adults who have the guts to tell those children that they need to address security problems in their school systems before attempting to rewrite our Constitution.

As insane as it is, this is the first generation of Americans to have actually marched in protest to demand that the United States government TAKE AWAY their Constitutional rights. And as insane as it is, there are politicians and others wanting to push a no-gun agenda for America who are supporting these children.

Right now, because of these children and the fact that Liberals want to seize the opportunity to further their anti-Gun agenda, there is a move to lower the age of gun ownership in America to 21 years of age.

Let me make something clear, this isn't right. We ask young Americans, both male and female, to serve our nation by joining the military. Right now a member of our armed forces cannot have a beer during lunch with his family at a restaurant in many states. He or she is old enough to sacrifice his or her life for us, but many states believe they are not old enough to consume alcohol. Imagine the hypocrisy!

So now, by raising the age limit to purchase and own guns, we have people in our society who are saying you're not mature enough, nor knowledgeable enough, nor responsible enough to own guns, but you in our military can die for us on the battlefield. The hypocrisy of the Left has no bounds! Fact is, by raising the age limit, the law would make it impossible for mature and responsible and very knowledgeable Americans serving in our military to exercise their rights of gun ownership. Yes, raising the age like would forbid them rights that they are willing to fight to preserve and protect for you!

These children are either being duped or being used by the anti-Gun crowd, but either way they are now appearing on television to give us their "wisdom" regarding banning guns. Please understand that these children who are not mature enough, nor knowledgeable enough, nor responsible enough to own guns are wanting to make gun policies for the entire nation. And worse, their are Democrat politicians using these children to actually talk seriously about a repeal of the Second Amendment of our Constitution.

Friends, they blame guns but not the shooters. They haven't figured out that it's students killing other students. The students who are doing the killing are in many case their outcasts, those bullied, those scorned, those shunned in schools. Yes, their creations.

Instead of raising to legally purchase a firearm to 21, how about we lower the age of those who can be tried as adults? Instead of wanting to ban guns, how about we ban bullies and have students treat each other with respect in schools?

The problem is not a gun problem. It is not even a mental health problem. It is a security problem. Fact is, guns and mental health issues are external problems that proper security protects against if addressed properly.  To scream about guns and anything else is just passing the buck and not doing one's job of providing the best security one can for our children. Yes, something that the NRA has endorsed for years now. 

So people on the Left can make the NRA and guns the enemy. As they surely will. But none of what they say, or more accurately try to convince us of, is true. Their attempt to get you to focus on guns and other external problems is meant to divert your attention from their failures such as securing schools or having police departments that do something when told that threats have been made. 

Students are returning to their schools to shoot the people they see as being the one's responsible for tormenting them, shunning them, bullying them. Students are returning to schools where they know the security formats, and subsequently avoid them, to shoot those who they see as their enemies. Should students who created these wannabe killers take some responsibility for creating the problem in the first place?

Instead of wanting to repeal the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution, how about we teach our children why we have the 2nd Amendment in our Constitution in the first place. Why not teach them the errors of those who gave up their arms and became slaves of the state? Why not teach them why Communism failed and Venezuela is confiscating guns right now? Why not teach these know-it-all kids history of countries who didn't have the means to defend themselves against criminals or tyranny?

Friends, like all of us, I've seen a wonderful groundswell of support for Conservative ideals, for Republican candidates that are not Republicans in name only, for bringing back Christian values that we need so badly, for the love and support of President Trump who wants us all to put America first. And even though everyone knows that I support all of this, I find that you're writing me to ask where I stand on these issues? Yes, including that which pertains to attempts at repealing the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution.

So let me make this clear. Here's where I stand.

I swear to Almighty God that I will work against, campaign against, vote against, and actively oppose, anyone, any member of either party, both politician and donor, Democrat or Republican, who supports gun control. I will oppose anyone who attempts to impose further restrictions on gun ownership by raising the legal age limit to 21. I will oppose anyone who attempts to impose further limitations on our ability as citizens to own and purchase guns to defend ourselves against criminals or a tyrannical government. I will oppose anyone, no matter what caste, who supports and encourages the repeal of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.

That's where I stand. So help me God.

Tom Correa


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Crooked Herd Books & Old Buck

Trail Herd, engraving, E. Boyd Smith
Dear Friends.

I'm happy to say that some of you have me researching some things that I really wouldn't have thought about looking into. For example, a reader just wrote asking about an episode on the television show Bat Masterson. No kidding!

I get email asking me a lot of general questions about The Rifleman and Have Gun Will Travel because I wrote a couple of posts about those shows. But frankly, this is the first time that I've gotten a request to look into a specific episode of a particular show. As many of us know, the television Western Bat Masterson ran from 1958 to 1961. The episode that my reader is asking about, come to find out, is titled "A Grave Situation" which aired on May 12th, 1960.

In that episode of Bat Masterson, Bat's good friend and railroad tycoon Hugh Blaine is swindled in a land and cattle sale. Blaine hires Masterson to get his money back and bring the con-artists to justice. Of course Bat Masterson was played by actor Gene Barry, and Hugh Blaine was played by Howard Petrie. In the Bat Masterson episode, "A Grave Situation," the swindle entails a cattle buyer counting the same cattle over and over again.

So now, my reader wants to know, "Could that have ever really happened in real life, or is this just the imagination of a Hollywood script writer?" The short answer is yes it did really happen. Not only did it happen, but in fact it happened more than once.

Livestock record keeping today entails computer apps and spread sheets and all sorts of recording keeping. Today, ranching is more of a science than ever before. That's especially true on bigger cattle operations. Most big operations today use computers for everything from employee management and tracking crops, to hay sales and all sorts of aspects of raising cattle.

While some outfits still use books, back in the day when every ranch used books, it wasn't unheard of for a ranch to have two sets of herd books. As for falsifying herd books to show that a cattle rancher had more cattle on the books than there actually were on hand? That was something that was done in the Old West. As for a swindle where the buyer is lead to count the same cattle a few times over? That was something that was done as well.

Fact is in many cases the fraud that was taking place wasn't discovered until later. For example, by the late 1870's and early 1880's, there was a cattle boom taking place. It was a cattle boom that spanned our nation from Texas in the South to Montana in the North. It was even felt out West in California. This boom, like that of any gold or silver boom, attracted many Eastern and European investors.

Then came the winter of 1886. After a few years of a horrible drought, on November 13th, 1886, it started to snow and continued to snow for an entire month. By mid-December, a thaw turned that snow into slush. Then, by end of that December, the temperature fell to the minus 30's. It's said that change in the weather turned the slush into a solid sheet of ice. By January of 1887, temperatures became "the coldest in memory." Of course, a 72-hour blizzard didn't help things either.

It was known as the big "Die Off." It was devastating to the cattle industry. In many cases, ranchers lost everything. For many of the big ranches, they lost most of their calves and anywhere from a quarter to a third of their entire stock.

While in Wyoming years ago, I was told a story about a rancher in Cheyenne who is credited with saying, "Cheer up boys, whatever happens, the books won't freeze."

Knowing that herds were often sold by "book count" rather than the actual head count was probably a comfort to the unscrupulous. It was during that time when a number of cattle companies contended that the "herd books" had been falsified. All that meant was that the actual number of cattle did not represent what the ranch had on the books.

In some cases, partners were actually exposed as cheats. For example, it's said that John C. Coble of Tom Horn fame is believed to have kept a second set of herd books which his business partner Henry C. Bosler didn't know about.

Then there's the story of the Rocking Chair Ranch. It's said that the 200,000-acre Rocking Chair Ranch located in the Collingsworth County, Texas, was bought by Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks in 1883. After his death in 1894, the ranch was turned over to his son Sir Edward Marjoribanks and his son-in-law Sir John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon who owned the Rocking Chair until 1896. John Campbell Hamilton Gordon, who was the Earl of Aberdeen Scotland, would later became the Governor General of Canada.

Archibald John Marjoribanks, the youngest son of Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, was sent to Texas to work as the assistant ranch manager and bookkeeper. Archibald was not paid by the ranch but his father gave him a living allowance of about $600 a year. In the summer of 1887, Archibald was known to be living in a one-bedroom wood frame house that he shared with the ranch manager who was a man by the name of J. John Drew.

The closest town to the Rocking Chair Ranch was renamed Aberdeen at the suggestion of Archibald Marjoribanks. It's true. The community was named for the Earl of Aberdeen. It's said a post office was established at Aberdeen in 1889, and remained in operation until 1942. By the way, the Rocking Chair Ranch foreman J. John Drew became the first postmaster.

In 1890, the year Collingworth County was organized and with that the Aberdeen Townsite Company was formed. Soon it had a hotel, a livery stable, and a blacksmith. In 1891, the first store opened which was operated by Judge Edward H. Small. It's said that in addition to his job running the store, that he was also a doctor and acted as the local banker. The Rocking Chair had a hand in trying to establish the town as it sold lots, and established a grocery store and helped to establish a school.

When Aberdeen was passed over as a county seat, the "town" is said to have reverted back to Rocking Chair ownership by June of 1891. But then the Rocking Chair Ranch became insolvent around 1900 and the land was put up for sale.

Sadly, Aberdeen didn't survive and during World War II its post office was closed. By the 1960's the community which is said to have maintained a population of 25 along with a store, a church and a school, had become a ghost town.

So about now you're asking, what does the Rocking Chair Ranch became insolvent have to do with falsified herd books? Well, the land was put up for sale. But before that, it's said that financial statements weren't matching what was actual taking place on the ranch.

It's said that Sir Edward and Lord Aberdeen decided to make an unannounced visit to the ranch. As soon as they arrived, they requested a count to see exactly how many cattle the ranch actually owned. During that count, the ranch manager kept running the same cattle past the counters and around a hill so that the cattle could be counted more than once. In actuality, the same cattle were counted a number of times. So yes, as crooked as that was, it's no wonder that the Rocking Chair Ranch went under.

Then there the story of Old Buck

What took place at the Rocking Chair Ranch in Texas also took place in Wyoming. Moreton Frewen was a member of Great Britain's Parliment. But frankly, he was said to have been better known as a rancher, cowboy, a cattle baron. In 1879, the young adventurous Moreton set sail for the United States to make his fortune.

Once here, he headed West to Wyoming and there established himself in the cattle business. He built a large house and called it "Frewen Castle." The "castle" burnt to the ground in a fire. He had huge financial problems as the result of being swindled by a cattle seller there in Wyoming.

The seller is known to have drove the cattle around a hill a number of  times. Subsequently, Moreton Frewen counted the same cattle over and over and over again. This scam enabled the con artist to sell the same herd more than once because Frewen believed the herd was twice its true size.

As for Old Buck? Well, Frewen was cheated by Chico Springs, New Mexico Territory, cattle baron Stephen Wallace Dorsey who instructed his men to drive the cattle around the hill again and again. The story goes that in the herd was a very old yellow steer which was known to be lame. That steer was known as "Old Buck."

After the herd had passed by several times, it's said that Dorsey became worried. He was worried that Frewen would realize that he was being cheated if Frewen noticed that the same old yellow steer was being counted over and over again.

Worried about Frewen finding out that he's being cheated, Dorsey told his foreman to cut Old Buck out of the herd. The problem though was that Old Buck kept making his way back into the herd. So after each time Old Buck was cut out, and separated by a further distance, Old Buck would find his way back into the herd.

The con game was successful and Moreton Frewen was cheated. As for Old Buck, he became a local legend in the area because a week later Old Buck was still circling the hill. In fact, it's said that on a certain moonlit night when everything is just right, folks will see the ghost of Old Buck limping along going around the hill just one more time.

As for Stephen Wallace Dorsey, his reputation as a con-artist became known on an even larger scale when he was part of the Star Route Mail Scandals. In the end, Dorsey went broke.

As for Moreton Frewen, he was failure in just about everything he got into. And according to his biography, after he married a New York socialite Clara Jerome in 1881, he wasn't even a good husband. In fact, it's said that he was an unfaithful husband. He even had an affair with the popular actress Lily Langtry. And that, well that sort of ties him to Judge Roy Bean who only wished to be in his shoes.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa


Monday, March 26, 2018

This Made Wild Bill Hickok Famous

Wild Bill Hickok
Wild Bill Hickok illustration from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, February, 1867.
I've had a lot of requests for this. It's the article that really made James Butler Hickok the legend we know of as "Wild Bill". It's very long and here as it was printed in 1867. You may want to take a while to finish this one. Just remember, it's not the truth of what took place. It's just a tall tale that started a myth.

In it, George Ward Nichols referred to Wild Bill Hickok as "William Hitchcock" which was not James Butler Hickok's name. And while that was not the only error made in his story, the fabrication that Nichols came up with did in fact make James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok famous. 

Written by George Ward Nichols, his article was titled Wild Bill and published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in February of 1867: 

WILD BILL

Several months after the ending of the Civil War, I visited the city of Springfield in Southwest Missouri. Springfield is not a burgh of extensive dimensions, yet it is the largest in that part of the State, and all roads lend to it -- which is one reason why it was the point of support, as well as the base of operations for all military movements during the war.

On a warm summer day I sat watching from the shadow of a broad awning the coming and goings of the strange, half-civilized people who, from all the country round, make this a place for barter and trade. Men and women dressed in queer costumes; men with coats and trousers made of skin, but so thickly covered with dirt and grease as to have defied the identity of the animal when walking in the flesh. Others wore homespun gear, which oftentimes appeared to have seen lengthy service. Many of those people were mounted on horse-hack or mule-back, while others urged forward the unwilling cattle attached to creaking, heavily-laden wagons, their drivers snapping their long whips with a report like that of a pistol-shot.

In front of the shops which lined both sides of the main business street, and about the public square, were groups of men lolling against posts, lying upon the wooden sidewalks, or sitting in chairs. These men were temporary or permanent denizens of the city, and were lazily occupied in doing nothing. The most marked characteristic of the inhabitants seemed to be an indisposition to move, and their highest ambition to let their hair and beards grow.

Here and there upon the street the appearance of the army blue betokened the presence of a returned Union soldier, and the jaunty, confident air with which they carried themselves was all the more striking in its contrast with the indolence which appeared to belong to the place. The only indication of action was the inevitable revolver which every body, excepting, perhaps, the women, wore about their persons. When people moved in this lazy city they did so slowly and without method. No one seemed in baste. A huge hog wallowed in luxurious ease in a nice bed of mud on the other side of the way, giving vent to gentle grunts of satisfaction. On the platform at my feet lay a large wolf-dog literally asleep with one eye open. He, too, seemed contented to let the world wag idly on.

The loose, lazy spirit of the occasion finally took possession of me, and I sat and gazed and smoked, and it is possible that I might have fallen into a Rip Van Winkle sleep to have been aroused ten years hence by the cry, "Passengers for the flying machine to New York, all aboard!” when I and the drowsing city were roused into life by the clatter and crash of the hoofs of a horse which dashed furiously across the square and down the street. The rider sat perfectly erect, yet following with a grace of motion, seen only in the horsemen of the plains, the rise and fall of the galloping steed. There was only a moment to observe this, for they halted suddenly, while the rider springing to the ground approached the party which the noise had gathered near me.

"This yere is Wild Bill, Colonel," said Captain Honesty, an army officer, addressing me.

He continued: "How are yer, Bill? This yere is Colonel N____, who wants ter know yer.”
Let me at once describe the personal appearance of the famous Scout of the Plains, William Hickok, called "Wild Bill,” who now advanced toward me, fixing his clear gray eyes on mine in a quick, interrogative way, as if to take my measure.

The result seemed favorable, for he held forth a small, muscular hand in a frank, open manner. As I looked at him I thought his the handsomest physique I had ever seen. In its exquisite manly proportions it recalled the antique. It was a figure Ward would delight to model as a companion to his Indian.

Bill stood six feet and an inch in his bright yellow moccasins. A deer-skin shirt, or frock it might be called, hung jauntily over his shoulders, and revealed a chest whose breadth and depth were remarkable. These lungs had had growth in some twenty years of the free air of the Rocky Mountains. His small, round waist was girthed by a belt which held two of Colt’s Navy revolvers.

His legs sloped gradually from the compact thigh to the feet, which were small, and turned inward as he walked. There was a singular grace and dignity of carriage about that figure which would have called your attention meet it where you would. The head which crowned it was now covered by a large sombrero, underneath which there shone out a quiet, manly face; so gentle is its expression as he greets you as utterly to belie the history of its owner, yet it is not a face to be trifled with.

The lips thin and sensitive, the jaw not too square, the cheek bones slightly prominent, a mass of fine dark hair falls below the neck to the shoulders. The eyes, now that you are in friendly intercourse, are as gentle as a woman’s.

In truth, the woman nature seems prominent throughout, and you would not believe that you were looking into eyes that have pointed the way to death to hundreds of men. Yes, Wild Bill with his own hands has killed hundreds of men. Of that I have not a doubt. He shoots to kill, as they say on the border.

In vain did I examine the scout’s face for some evidence of murderous propensity. It was a gentle face, and singular only in the sharp angle of the eye, and without any physical reason for the opinion, I have thought his wonderful accuracy of aim was indicated by this peculiarity. He told me, however, to use his own words: "I allers shot well; but I come ter be perfeck in the mountains by shootin at a dime for a mark, at bets of half a dollar a shot. And then until the war I never drank liquor nor smoked,” he continued, with a melancholy expression; "war is demoralizing, it is.”

Captain Honesty was right. I was very curious to see "Wild Bill, the Scout,” who, a few days before my arrival in Springfield, in a duel at noonday in the public square, at fifty paces, had sent one of Colt’s pistol-balls through the heart of a returned Confederate soldier.

Whenever I had met an officer or soldier who had served in the Southwest I heard of Wild Bill and his exploits, until these stories became so frequent and of such an extraordinary character as quite to outstrip personal knowledge of adventure by camp and field; and the hero of these strange tales took shape in my mind as did Jack the Giant Killer or Sinbad the Sailor in childhoods days. As then, I now had the most implicit faith in the existence of the individual; but how one man could accomplish such prodigies of strength and feats of daring was a continued wonder.

In order to give the reader a clearer understanding of the condition of this neighborhood, which could have permitted the duel mentioned above, and whose history will be given hereafter in detail, I will describe the situation at the time of which I am writing, which was late in the summer of 1865, premising that this section of country would not today be selected as a model example of modern civilization.

At that time peace and comparative quiet had succeeded the perils and tumult of war in all the more Southern States. The people of Georgia and the Carolinas were glad to enforce order in their midst; and it would have been safe for a Union officer to have ridden unattended through the land.

In Southwest Missouri there were old scores to be settled up. During the three days occupied by General Smith, who commanded the Department and was on a tour of inspection in crossing the country between Rolla and Springfield, a distance of 120 miles, five men were killed or wounded on the public road. Two were murdered a short distance from Rolla -- by whom we could not ascertain. Another was instantly killed and two were wounded at a meeting of a band of Regulators, who were in the service of the State, but were paid by the United States Government. It should be said here that their method of "regulation” was slightly informal, their war-cry was, "A swift bullet and a short rope for returned rebels!”

I was informed by General Smith that during the six months preceding not less than 4,000 returned Confederates had been summarily disposed of by shooting or hanging. This statement seems incredible; but there is the record, and I have no doubt of its truth. History shows few parallels to this relentless destruction of human life in time of peace. It can’t be explained only upon the ground that, before the war, this region was inhabited by lawless people. In the outset of the rebellion the merest suspicion of loyalty to the Union cost the patriot his life; and thus large numbers fled the land, giving up home and every material interest. As soon as the Federal armies occupied the country these refugees returned.

Once securely fixed in their old homes they resolved that their former persecutors should not live in their midst. Revenge for the past and security for the future knotted many a nerve and sped many a deadly bullet.

Wild Bill did not belong to the Regulators. Indeed, he was one of the law and order party. He said: "When the war closed I buried the hatchet, and I won’t fight now unless I’m put upon.”

Bill was born of Northern parents in the State of Illinois. He ran away from home when a boy, and wandered out upon the plains and into the mountains. For fifteen years he lived with the trappers, hunting and fishing. When the war broke out he returned to the States and entered the Union service. No man probably was ever better fitted for scouting than he. Joined to his tremendous strength he was an unequaled horseman; he was a perfect marksman; he had a keen sight, and a constitution which had no limit of endurance. He was cool to audacity, brave to rashness, always possessed of himself under the most critical circumstances; and, above all, was such a master in the knowledge of woodcraft that it might have been termed a science with him -- a knowledge which, with the soldier, is priceless beyond description. Some of Bill's adventures during the war will be related hereafter.

The main features of the story of the duel was told me by Captain Honesty, who was unprejudiced, if it is possible to find an unbiased mind in a town of 3,000 people after a fight has taken place. I will give the story in his words:

"They say Bill's wild. Now he isn’t any sich thing. I’ve known him goin on ter ten year, and he’s as civil a disposed person as you’ll find he-e-arabouts. But he won’t be put upon."

"I’ll tell yer how it happened. But come inter the office; thar’s a good many round hy’ar as sides with Dave Tutt-- the man that’s shot. But I tell yer 'twas a ‘far fight. Take some whisky? No! Well, I will, if yer’l excuse me.”

"You see,” continued the Captain, setting the empty glass on the table in an emphatic way, "Bill was up in his room a-playin seven-up, or four-hand, or some of them pesky games. Bill refused ter play with Tutt, who was a professional gambler. Yer see, Bill was a scout on our side durin the war, and Tutt was a reb scout. Bill had killed Dave Tutt’s mate, and, atween one thing and another, there war an unusual hard feelin atwixt ‘em."

"Ever since Dave come back he had tried to pick a row with Bill; so Bill wouldn’t play cards with him any more. But Dave stood over the man who was gambling with Bill and lent the feller money. Bill won bout two hundred dollars, which made Tutt spiteful mad. Bime-by, he says to Bill: 'Bill you’ve got plenty of money -- pay me that forty dollars yer owe me in that horse trade.’

"And Bill paid him." Then he said: 'Yer owe me thirty-five dollars more; yer lost it playing with me t’other night.’

"Dave’s style was right provoking; but Bill answered him perfectly gentlemanly: 'I think yer wrong, Dave. It’s only twenty-five dollars. I have a memorandum of it in my pocket down stairs. Ef its thirty-five dollars Ill give it yer.’"

"Now Bill's watch was lying on the table. Dave took up the watch, put it in his pocket, and said: ‘I’ll keep this yere watch till yer pay me that thirty-five dollars.’"

"This made Bill shooting mad; fur, don’t yer see, Colonel, it was a-doubting his honor like, so he got up and looked Dave in the eyes, and said to him: ‘I don’t want ter make a row in this house. It’s a decent house, and I don’t want ter injure the keeper. You’d better put that watch back on the table.’"

"But Dave grinned at Bill mighty ugly, and walked off with the watch, and kept it several days. All this time Dave’s friends were spurring Bill on ter fight; there was no end ter the talk. They blackguarded him in an underhand sort of a way, and tried ter get up a scrimmage, and then they thought they could lay him out. Yer see Bill has enemies all about, he’s settled the accounts of a heap of men who lived round here. This is about the only place in Missouri whar a reb can come back and live, and ter tell yer the truth, Colonel –" and the Captain, with an involuntary movement, hitched up his revolver-belt, as he said, with expressive significance, "they don’t stay long round here!"

"Well, as I was saying, these rebs don’t like ter see a man walking round town who they knew in the reb army as one of their men, who they now know was on our side, all the time he was sending us information, sometimes from Pap Price’s own headquarters. But they couldn’t provoke Bill inter a row, for he’s afeard of hisself when he gits awful mad; and he allers left his shootin irons in his room when he went out. One day these cusses drew their pistols on him and dared him to fight, and then they told him that Tutt was a-goin ter pack that watch across the squar next day at noon."

"I heard of this, for everybody was talking about it on the street, and so I went after Bill and found him in his room cleaning and greasing and loading his revolvers."

"Now, Bill, says I, ‘you’re goin ter git inter a fight.’"

"Don’t you bother yerself Captain,’ says he. ‘It’s not the first time I have been in a fight; and these d---d hounds have put on me long enough. You don’t want me ter give up my honor, do yer?’"

‘No, Bill,’ says I, ‘yer must keep yer honor.’"

"Next day, about noon, Bill went down on the squar. He had said that Dave Tutt shouldn’t pack that watch across the squar unless dead men could walk."

"When Bill got onter the squar he found a crowd stanin in the corner of the street by which he entered the square, which is from the south yer know. In this crowd he saw a lot of Tutt's friends; some were cousins of his’n, just back from the reb army; and they jeered him, and boasted that Dave was a-goin to pack that watch across the squar as he promised."

"Then Bill saw Tutt stanin near the courthouse, which yer remember is on the west side, so that the crowd war behind Bill."

"Just then Tutt, who was alone, started from the courthouse and walked out into the square, and Bill moved away from the crowd toward the west side of the squar. Bout fifteen paces brought them opposite to each other, and bout fifty yards apart. Tutt then showed his pistol. Bill had kept a sharp eye on him, and before Tutt could pint it Bill had his’n out."

"At that moment you could have heard a pin drop in that square. Both Tutt and Bill fired, but one discharge followed the other so quick that it’s hard to say which went off first. Tutt was a famous shot, but he missed this time; the ball from his pistol went over Bill's head. The instant Bill fired, without waitin ter see ef he had hit Tutt, he wheeled on his heels and pointed his pistol at Tutt's friends, who had already drawn their weapons.

"‘Aren’t yer satisfied, gentlemen?’ cried Bill, as cool as an alligator. ‘Put up your shootin-irons, or there’ll be more dead men here. And they put ‘em up, and said it war a far fight.”

"What became of Tutt?” I asked of the Captain, who had stopped at this point of his story, and was very deliberately engaged in refilling his empty glass."

"Oh! Dave? He was as plucky a feller as ever drew trigger; but, Lord bless yer! it was no use. Bill never shoots twice at the same man, and his ball went through Dave’s heart. He stood stock-still for a second or two, then raised his arm as if ter fire again, then he swayed a little, staggered three or four steps, and then fell dead."

"Bill and his friends wanted ter have the thing done regular, so we went up ter the Justice, and Bill delivered himself up. A jury was drawn; Bill was tried and cleared the next day. It was proved that it was a case of self-defense. Don’t yer see, Colonel?”

I answered that I was afraid that I did not see that point very clearly.

"Well, well!” he replied, with an air of compassion, you haven’t drunk any whisky, that’s what’s the matter with yer.” And then, putting his hand on my shoulder with a half-mysterious half-conscious look in his face, he muttered, in a whisper: "The fact is, thar was an undercurrent of a woman in that fight!”

The story of the duel was yet fresh from the lips of the Captain when its hero appeared in the manner already described. After a few moments conversation Bill excused himself, saying: "I am going out on the prarer a piece to see the sick wife of my mate. I should be glad to meet yer at the hotel this afternoon, Kernel.”

"I will go there to meet you,” I replied.

"Good-day, gentlemen,” said the scout, as he saluted the party; and mounting the black horse who had been standing quiet, unhitched, he waved his hand over the animals head. Responsive to the signal, she shot forward as the arrow leaves the bow, and they both disappeared up the road in a cloud of dust.

I went to the hotel during the afternoon to keep the scout’s appointment. The large room of the hotel in Springfield is perhaps the central point of attraction in the city. It fronted on the street, and served in several capacities. It was a sort of exchange for those who had nothing better to do than to go there. It was reception-room, parlor, and office; but its distinguished and most fascinating characteristic was the bar, which occupied one entire end of the apartment. Technically, the "bar” is the counter upon which the polite official places his viands. Practically, the bar is represented in the long rows of bottles, and cut-glass decanters, and the glasses and goblets of all shapes and sizes suited to the various liquors to be imbibed. What a charming and artistic display it was of elongated transparent vessels containing every known drinkable fluid, from native Bourbon to imported Lacryma Christi!

The room, in its way, was a temple of art. All sorts of pictures budded and blossomed and blushed from the walls. Sixpenny portraits of the Presidents encoffined in pine-wood frames; Mazeppa appeared in the four phases of his celebrated one-horse act; while a lithograph of "Mary Ann” smiled and simpered in spite of the stains of tobacco-juice which had been unsparingly bestowed upon her countenance. But the hanging committee of this un-designed academy seemed to have been prejudiced as all hanging committees of good taste might well be -- in favor of Harper’s Weekly; for the walls of the room were well covered with wood-cuts cut from that journal. Portraits of noted generals and statesmen, knaves and politicians, with bounteous illustrations of battles and skirmishes, from Bull Run number one to Dinwiddie Court House. And the simple-hearted comers and goers of Springfield looked upon, wondered, and admired these pictorial descriptions fully as much as if they had been the masterpieces of a Yvon or Vernet.

A billiard-table, old and out of use, where caroms seemed to have been made quite as often with lead as ivory balls, stood in the centre of the room. A dozen chairs filled up the complement of the furniture. The appearance of the party of men assembled there, who sat with their slovenly shod feet dangling over the arms of the chairs or hung about the porch outside, was in perfect harmony with the time and place.

All of them religiously obeyed the two before-mentioned, characteristics of the people of the city -- their hair was long and tangled, and each man fulfilled the most exalted requirement of laziness.

I was taking a mental inventory of all this when a cry and murmur drew my attention to the outside of the house, when I saw Wild Bill riding up the street at a swift gallop. Arrived opposite to the hotel, he swung his right arm around with a circular motion. Black Nell instantly stopped and dropped to the ground as if a cannon-ball had knocked life out of her. Bill left her there, stretched upon the ground, and joined the group of observers on the porch.

"Black Nell hasn’t forgot her old tricks,” said one of them.

"No,” answered the scout. "God bless her! She is wiser and truer than most men I know of. That mare will do any thing for me. Wont you, Nelly?” The mare winked affirmatively the only eye we could see.

"Wise!” continued her master; "why, she knows more than a judge. I’ll bet the drinks for the party that sh’ell walk up these steps and into the room and climb up on the billiard-table and lie down.”

The bet was taken at once, not because anyone doubted the capabilities of the mare, but there was excitement in the thing without exercise.

Bill whistled in a low tone. Nell instantly scrambled to her feet, walked toward him, put her nose affectionately under his arm, followed him into the room, and to my extreme wonderment climbed upon the billiard-table, to the extreme astonishment of the table no doubt, for it groaned under the weight of the four-legged animal and several of those who were simply bifurcated, and whom Nell permitted to sit upon her. When she got down from the table, which was as graceful a performance as might be expected under the circumstances, Bill sprang upon her back, dashed through the high wide doorway, and at a single bound cleared the flight of steps and landed in the middle of the street.

The scout then dismounted, snapped his riding-whip, and the noble beast bounded off down the street, rearing and plunging to her own intense satisfaction. A kindly-disposed individual, who must have been a stranger, supposing the mare was running away, tried to catch her, when she stopped, and as if she resented his impertinence, let fly her heels at him and then quietly trotted to her stable.

"Black Nell has carried me along through many a tight place,” said the scout, as we walked toward my quarters. "She trains easier than any animal I ever saw. That trick of dropping quick which you saw has saved my life time and again. When I have been out scouting on the prairie or in the woods I have come across parties of rebels, and have dropped out of sight in the tall grass before they saw us. One day a gang of rebs who had been hunting for me, and thought they had my track, halted for half an hour within fifty yards of us. Nell laid as close as a rabbit, and didn’t even whisk her tail to keep the flies off; until the rebs moved off, supposing they were on the wrong scent. The mare will come at my whistle and foller me about just like a dog. She won’t mind anyone else, nor allow them to mount her, and will kick a harness and wagon all ter pieces ef you try to hitch her in one. And she’s right, Kernel,” added Bill, with the enthusiasm of a true lover of a horse sparkling in his eyes. "A hoss is too noble a beast to be degraded by such toggery. Harness mules and oxen, but give a hoss a chance ter run.”

I had a curiosity, which was not an idle one to hear what this man had to say about his duel with Tutt, and I asked him: "Do you not regret killing Tutt? You surely do not like to kill men?”

"As ter killing men,” he replied, "I never thought much about it. The most of the men I have killed it was one or the other of us, and at sich times you don’t stop to think; and what’s the use after it’s all over? As for Tutt, I had rather not have killed him, for I want ter settle down quiet here now. But thar’s been hard feeling between us a long while. I wanted ter keep out of that fight; hut he tried to degrade me, and I couldn’t stand that, you know, for I am a fighting man, you know.”

A cloud passed over the speaker’s face for a moment as he continued: "And there was a cause of quarrel between us which people round here don’t know about, One of us had to die; and the secret died with him.”

"Why did you not wait to see if your ball had hit him? Why did you turn round so quickly?”

The scout fixed his gray eyes on mine, striking his leg with his riding-whip, as he answered, "I knew he was a dead man. I never miss a shot. I turned on the crowd because I was sure they would shoot me if they saw him fall.”

"The people about here tell me you are a quiet, civil man. How is it you get into these fights?”

"D----d if I can tell,” he replied, with a puzzled look which at once gave place to a proud defiant expression as he continued – "but you know a man must defend his honor.”

"Yes, I admitted, with some hesitation, remembering that I was not in Boston but on the border, and that the code of honor and mode of redress differ slightly in the one place from those of the other.

One of the reasons for my desire to make the acquaintance of Wild Bill was to obtain from his own lips a true account of some of the adventures related of him. It was not an easy matter. It was hard to overcome the reticence which marks men who have lived the wild mountain life, and which was one of his valuable qualifications as a scout. Finally he said: "I hardly know where to begin. Pretty near all these stories are true. I was at it all the war. That affair of my swimming the river took place on that long scout of mine when I was with the rebels five months, when I was sent by General Curtis to Price’s army. Things had come pretty close at that time, and it wasn’t safe to go straight inter their lines. Everybody was suspected who came from these parts. So I started off and went way up to Kansas City. I bought a horse there and struck out onto the plains, and then went down through Southern Kansas into Arkansas. I knew a rebel named Barnes, who was killed at Pea Ridge. He was from near Austin in Texas. So I called myself his brother and enlisted in a regiment of mounted rangers."

"General Price was just then getting ready for a raid into Missouri. It was sometime before we got into the campaign, and it was mighty hard work for me. The men of our regiment were awful. They didn’t mind killing a man no more than a hog. The officers had no command over them. They were afraid of their own men, and let them do what they liked; so they would rob and sometimes murder their own people. It was right hard for me to keep up with them, and not do as they did. I never let on that I was a good shot. I kept that back for big occasions; but ef you’d heard me swear and cuss the blue-bellies, you’d a-thought me one of the wickedest of the whole crew. So it went on until we came near Curtis’s army. Bime-by they were on one side of the Sandy River and we were on t’other. All the time I had been getting information until I knew every regiment and its strength; how much cavalry there was, and how many guns the artillery had. "

"You see ‘twas time for me to go, but it wasn’t easy to git out, for the river was close picketed on both sides. One day when I was on picket our men and the rebels got talking and cussin each other, as you know they used to do. After a while one of the Union men offered to exchange some coffee for tobacco. So we went out onto a little island which was neutral ground like. The minute I saw the other party, who belonged to the Missouri cavalry, we recognized each other. I was awful afraid they’d let on. So I blurted out: ’Now, Yanks, let's see yer coffee -- no burnt beans, mind yer but the genuine stuff. We know the real article if we is Texans .’”

"The boys kept mum, and we separated. Half an hour afterward General Curtis knew I was with the rebs. But how to git across the river was what stumped me. After that, when I was on picket, I didn’t trouble myself about being shot. I used to fire at our boys, and they’d bang away at me, each of us taking good care to shoot wide. But how to git over the river was the bother. At last, after thinking a heap about it, I came to the conclusion that I always did, that the boldest plan is the best and safest."

"We had a big sergeant in our company who was alms a-braggin that he could stump any man in the regiment. He swore he had killed more Yanks than any man in the army, and that he could do more daring things than any others. So one day when he was talking loud I took him up, and offered to bet horse for horse that I would ride out into the open, and nearer to the Yankees than he. He tried to back out of this, but the men raised a row, calling him a funk, and a bragger, and all that; so he had to go. Well, we mounted our horses, but before we came within shootin' distance of the Union soldiers I made my horse kick and rear so that they could see who I was. Then we rode slowly to the river bank, side by side."

"There must have been ten thousand men watching us; for, besides the rebs who wouldn’t have cried about it if we had both been killed, our boys saw something was up, and without being seen thousands of them came down to the river. Their pickets kept firing at the sergeant; but whether or not they were afraid of putting a ball through me I don’t know, but nary a shot hit him. He was a plucky feller all the same, for the bullets zitted about in every direction."

"Bime-by we got right close ter the river, when one of the Yankee soldiers yelled out, ‘Bully for Wild Bill'”

"Then the sergeant suspicioned me, for he turned on me and growled out, ‘By God, I believe yer a Yank!’ And he at onst drew his revolver; but he was too late, for the minute he drew his pistol I put a ball through him. I mightn’t have killed him if he hadn’t suspicioned me. I had to do it then."

"As he rolled out of the saddle I took his horse by the bit, and dashed into the water as quick as I could. The minute I shot the sergeant our boys set up a tremendous shout, and opened a smashing fire on the rebs who had commenced popping at me. But I had got into deep water, and had slipped off my horse over his back, and steered him for the opposite bank by holding onto his tail with one hand, while I held the bridle rein of the sergeant’s horse in the other hand. It was the hottest bath I ever took. Whew! For about two minutes how the bullets zitted and skipped on the water. I thought I was hit again and again, but the reb sharp-shooters were bothered by the splash we made, and in a little while our boys drove them to cover, and after some tumbling at the bank got into the brush with my two horses without a scratch.”

"It is a fact,” said the scout, while he caressed his long hair,” I felt sort of proud when the boys took me into camp, and General Curtis thanked me before a heap of generals."

"But I never tried that thing over again; nor I didn’t go a scouting openly in Price’s army after that. They all knew me too well, and you see ‘twouldn't be healthy to have been caught."

The scout’s story of swimming the river ought, perhaps, to have satisfied my curiosity but I was especially desirous to hear him relate the history of a sanguinary fight which he had with a party of ruffians in the early part of the war, when, single-handed, he fought and killed ten men. I had heard the story as it came from an officer of the regular army who, an hour after the affair, saw Bill and the ten dead men, some killed with bullets, others hacked and slashed to death with a knife.

As I write out the details of this terrible tale from notes which I took as the words fell from the scout’s lips, I am conscious of its extreme improbability; but while I listened to him I remembered the story in the Bible, where we are told that Samson with the jawbone of an ass slew a thousand men, and as I looked upon this magnificent example of human strength and daring, he appeared to me to realize the powers of a Samson and Hercules combined, and I should not have been inclined to place any limit on his achievements. Besides this, one who has lived for four years in the presence of such grand heroism and deeds of prowess as was seen during the war is in what might he called a receptive mood. Be the story true or not, in part, or in whole, I believed then every word Wild Bill uttered, and I believe it today.

"I don’t like to talk about that McCanles affair,” said Bill, in answer to my question.

"It gives me a queer shiver whenever I think of it, and sometimes I dream about it, and wake up in a cold sweat.”

"You see this McCanles was the Captain of a gang of desperadoes, horse-thieves, murderers, regular cut-throats, who were the terror of every body on the border, and who kept us in the mountains in hot water whenever they were around. I knew them all in the mountains where they pretended to be trapping, but they were there hiding from the hangman. McCanles was the biggest scoundrel and bully of them all, and was allers a-braggin of what he could do. One day I beat him shootin at a mark, and then threw him at the back-bolt. And I didn’t drop him as soft as you would a baby, you may be sure. Well, he got savage mad about it, and swore he would have his revenge on me some time."

"This was just before the war broke out, and we were already takin sides in the mountains either for the South or the Union. McCanles and his gang were border-ruffians in the Kansas row, and of course they went with the rebs. Bime-by he clar’d out, and I shouldn’t have thought of the feller agin ef he hadn’t crossed my path. It ‘pears he didn’t forget me."

"It was in ‘61, when I guided a detachment of cavalry who were commin from Camp Floyd. We had nearly reached the Kansas line, and were in South Nebraska, when one afternoon I went out of camp to go to the cabin of an old friend of mine, a Mrs. Wellman. I took only one of my revolvers with me, for although the war had broke out I didn’t think it necessary to carry both my pistols, and, in all or’nary scrimmages, one is better than a dozen, if you shoot straight. I saw some wild turkeys on the road as I was goin down, and popped one of ‘em over, thinking he’d he just the thing for supper."

"Well, I rode up to Mrs. Wellman, jumped off my horse, and went into the cabin, which is like most of the cabins on the prarer, with only one room, and that had two doors, one opening in front and t’other on a yard, like."

"How are you, Mrs. Wellman?” I said, feeling as jolly as you please.

"The minute she saw me she turned as white is a sheet and screamed: ‘Is that you, Bill? Oh, my God! They will kill you! Run! Run! They will kill you!’”

"Whos a-goin to kill me?” I said. "There’s two can play at that game.”

"’It’s McCanles and his gang. There’s ten of them, and you’ve no chance. They’ve jes gone down the road to the corn-rack. They came up here only five minutes ago. McCanles was draggin poor Parson Shipley on the ground with a lariat round his neck. The preacher was most dead with choking and the horses stamping on him. McCanles knows yer bringin in that party of Yankee cavalry, and he swears he’ll cut yer heart out. Run, Bill, run! But it’s too late; they’re commin up the lane’”

"While she was a-talkin I remembered I had but one revolver, and a load gone out of that. On the table there was a horn of powder and some little bars of lead. I poured some powder into the empty chamber and rammed the lead after it by hammering the barrel on the table, and had just capped the pistol when I heard McCanles shout: ‘There’s that d---d Yank Wild Bill'shorse; he’s here; and we’ll skin him alive!’”

"If I had thought of runnin before, it war too late now, and the house was my best holt --a sort of fortress, like. I never thought I should leave that room alive.”

The scout stopped in his story, rose from his seat, and strode back and forward in a state of great excitement.

"I tell you what it is, Kernel,” he resumed, after a while, "I don’t mind a scrimmage with these fellers round here. Shoot one or two of them and the rest run away. But all of McCanles' Gang were reckless, blood-thirsty devils, who would fight as long as they had strength to pull a trigger. I have been in tight places, but that’s one of the few times I said my prayers."

"’Surround the house and give him no quarter!’ yelled McCanles. When I heard that I felt as quiet and cool as if I was a-goin to church. I looked round the room and saw a Hawkins rifle hangin over the bed.”

"Is that loaded?” I said to Mrs. Wellman.

"’Yes,’ the poor thing whispered. She was so frightened she couldn’t speak out loud.”

"’Are you sure?’ I said, as I jumped to the bed and caught it from its hooks. Although may eye did not leave the door, yet I could see she nodded Yes again. I put the revolver on the bed, and just then McCanles poked his head inside the doorway, but jumped back when he saw me with the rifle in my hand.”

"’Come in here, you cowardly dog! I shouted. Come in here, and fight me!’

"McCanles was no coward, if he was a bully. He jumped inside the room with his gun leveled to shoot; but he was not quick enough. My rifle-ball went through his heart. He fell back outside the house, where he was found afterward holding tight to his rifle, which had fallen over his head.”

"His disappearance was followed by a yell from his gang, and then there was a dead silence. I put down the rifle and took the revolver, and I said to myself: ‘Only six shots and nine men to kill. Save your powder, Bill, for the death-hugs a-comin!’ I don’t know why it was, Kernel,” continued Bill, looking at me inquiringly, "but at that moment things seemed clear and sharp. I could think strong.”

"There was a few seconds of that awful stillness, and then the ruffians came rushing in at both doors. How wild they looked with their red, drunken faces and inflamed eyes, shouting and cussin! But I never aimed more deliberately in my life."

"One—two—three---four; and four men fell dead."

"That didn’t stop the rest. Two of them fired their bird-guns at me. And then I felt a sting run all over me. The room was full of smoke. Two got in close tome, their eyes glaring out of the clouds. One I knocked down with my fist. "you are out of the way for a while,” I thought. The second I shot dead. The other three clutched me and crowded me onto the bed. I fought hard. I broke with my hand one man’s arm. He had his fingers round my throat. Before I could get to my feet I was struck across the breast with the stock of a rifle, and I felt the blood rushing out of my nose and mouth. Then I got ugly, and I remember that I got hold of a knife, and then it was all cloudy like, and I was wild, and I struck savage blows, following the devils up from one side to the other of the room and into the corners, striking and slashing until I knew that every one was dead."

"All of a sudden it seemed as if my heart was on fire. I was bleeding everywhere. I rushed out to the well and drank from the bucket, and then tumbled down in faint.”

Breathless with the intense interest with which I had followed this strange story, all the more thrilling and weird when its hero, seemingly to live over again the bloody events of that day, gave way to its terrible spirit with wild, gestures. I saw then – what my scrutiny of the morning had failed to discover – the tiger which lay concealed beneath that gentle exterior.

"You must have been hurt almost to death,” I said.

"There were eleven buck-shot in me. I carry some of them now. I was cut in thirteen places. All of them bad enough to have let out the life of a man. But that blessed old Dr. Mills pulled me safe through it, after a bed siege of many a long week.”

"That prayer of yours, Bill, may have been more potent for your safety than you think. You should thank God for your deliverance.”

"To tell you the truth, Kernel,” responded the scout with a certain solemnity in his grave face, "I don’t talk about sich things ter the people round here, but I allers fell sort of thankful when I get out of a bad scrape.”

"In all your wild, perilous adventures,” I asked him, "have you ever been afraid? Do you know what the sensation is? I am sure you will not misunderstand the question, for I take it we soldiers comprehend justly that there is no higher courage than that which shows itself when the consciousness of danger is keen but where moral strength overcomes the weakness of the body.”

"I think I know what you mean, Sir, and I’m not ashamed to say that I have been so frightened that it ‘peared as if all the strength and blood had gone out of my body, and my face was as white as chalk. It was at the Wilme Creek fight. I had fired more than fifty cartridges, and I think fetched my man every time. I was on the skirmish line, and was working up closer to the rebs, when all of a sudden a battery opened fire right in front of me, and it sounded as if forty thousand guns were firing, and ever shot and shell screeched within six inches of my head. It was the first time I was ever under artillery fire, and I was so frightened that I couldn’t move for a minute or so, and when I did go back the boys asked me if I had seen a ghost? They may shoot bullets at me by the dozen, and it’s rather exciting if I can shoot back, but I am always sort of nervous when the big guns go off.”

"I would like to see you shoot.”

"Would yer?” replied the scout, drawing his revolver; and approaching the window, he pointed to a letter O in a sign-board which was fixed to the stone-wall of a building on the other side of the way.

"That sign is more than fifty yards away. I will put these six balls into the inside of the circle, which isn’t bigger than a man’s heart.”

In an off-hand way, and without sighting the pistol with his eye, he discharged the six shots of his revolver. I afterward saw that all the bullets had entered the circle.

As Bill proceeded to reload his pistol, he said to me with a naiveté of manner which was meant to he assuring: "Whenever you get into a row be sure and not shoot too quick. Take time. I’ve known many a feller slip up for shootin in a hurry.”

It would be easy to fill a volume with the adventures of that remarkable man. My object here has been to make a slight record of one who is one of the best – perhaps the very best – example of a class who more than any other encountered perils and privations in defense of our nationality.

One afternoon as General Smith and I mounted our horses to start upon our journey toward the East, Wild Bill came to shake hands goodby, and I said to him: "If you have no objection I will write out for publication an account of a few of your adventures.”

"Certainly you may,” he replied. "I’m sort of public property. But., Kernel,” he continued, leaning upon my saddle-bow, while there was a tremulous softness in his voice and a strange moisture in his averted eyes, "I have a mother back there in Illinois who is old and feeble. I haven’t seen her this many a year, and haven’t been a good son to her, yet I love her better than any thing in this life. It don’t matter much what they say about me here. But I’m not a cut-throat and vagabond, and I’d like the old woman to know what’ll make her proud. I’d like her to hear that her runaway boy has fought through the war for the Union like a true man.”

[William Hickok called Wild Bill, the Scout of the Plains shall have his wish. I have told his story precisely as it was told to me, confirmed in all important points by many witnesses; and I have no doubt of its truth. --- G. W. N.]

-- end of article titled Wild Bill, written by George Ward Nichols, published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in February of 1867.

The entire article as it was published can be seen below or by clicking Wild Bill 












I hope you enjoyed reading this tall tale. 

Tom Correa

Friday, March 23, 2018

Josefa Segovia -- A Woman Lynched In California 1851


Dear Friends,

Since I have written a lot about Vigilante Justice, I've been asked if an angry mob ever go it wrong? Did they ever hang an innocent person? 

Well, the answer to that is simple. They probably did get it wrong, and hang someone that shouldn't have been. Of course in the absence of law and order, citizens committees were the only law there was. And frankly, when the law was so corrupt that it needed to be righted, vigilante committees did that when needed. 

As for a lynch mob mentality that has set itself up as judge, jury, and executioner, in an effort to knowingly hang someone? Someone who was known to be innocent? Someone who killed a friend of their's in self-defense? 

I know of one story where friends of an assailant held a mock trial, as pretentious as could be, all in an effort to seek vengeance on someone who was in fact  defending herself. That incident took place in the town of Downieville located up on the North Fork of the Yuba River. Today the old mining camp is a town of only about 280 or so people, but things were different once upon a time during the California Gold Rush.

The town was first known as "The Forks" because of its location right where the Downie River and North Fork of the Yuba River meet. Downieville was actually founded in late 1849 during the California Gold Rush. It's considered part of the Northern Mines area of the California Gold Country.

Downieville is a pretty place that was named after Major William Downie who is said to have founded the town. Gold was actually discovered there by Francis Anderson on September 14th, 1849, right there where the town now stands. By 1850, the "town" of Downieville is said to have had 15 hotels, a number of saloons, 4 butcher shops, and even 4 bakeries.

Downieville was the location of the first hanging of a woman in California. Her name was Josefa Segovia. She was lynched by an angry mob made up of the friends of the man who she killed in self-defense.

The short story of what took place is that a lynch mob held a "kangaroo court" trial while accusing her of killing an American miner there on July 5th, 1851. For those who are not familiar with the term, a "kangaroo court" is really nothing more than a scam. The legal proceedings are set-up in order to give the impression of a fair legal process, but the whole trial is bogus. The verdict was a foregone conclusion that resulted in a mob hanging her from the Jersey Bridge in town.

On January 24th, 1848, on the day when gold was discovered in California, the majority of the population was still Mexican. But, within just a few years by 1850, the Mexican population fell to 15%. It fell to 4% by 1870. The California Republic and it's independence from Mexico was declared June 14th, 1846. It was a few years later when California was admitted to the Union on September 9th, 1850 as the 31st state.

A lot of people have no idea what California looked like at the time. It's eastern border did not look as it does today. Since California extended to what is today Utah, the Northern Mining area town of Downieville received a huge number of American immigrants coming in by way of the northern California Trail during the beginning of the Gold Rush.

To show the status of Downieville at the time, it had reached a peak population of over 5,000 people in 1851. Then in 1853, it was considered to be the new state capital of California. That was the year when it and others were being looked at to replace the town of Vallejo as a state capital. That area had a number of mining camps including Brandy City, Whiskey Diggins, Poverty Hill, and Poker Flat. Many disappeared after the gold rush, or are now considered ghost towns.

The stereotype of many Mexican women of the time was horrible to say the least. It's said that Mexican women were basically viewed as sexually promiscuous. The stereotype of the Mexican prostitute in popular culture of the times was that of a female enjoying her work.

Many miners saw Mexican women such as Josefa Segovia as having became prostitutes more because of sexual desire. That was in contrast to how they saw White women who became prostitutes. They saw White women as having to do so because of hard times financially, or a lack of economic opportunity.

The false assumption that Mexican women were naturally more sexually promiscuous led to a number of problems. While options in the mining camps for women were limited, it was even harder for Mexican women. For them, the options were simple. They either became someone's wife or a prostitute. One was seen as making them a "good woman" and the other a "bad woman".

In the case of unmarried Josefa Segovia, she was married but her husband was seen as a weakling. This was wrongly seen at the time as making her "available" to suitors.

On the night of July 4th, 1851, Josefa's husband Jose Segovia was drinking and gambling in town. Downieville miner Joe Cannon, who was considered a successful miner there in the summer of 1851, and two companions tried to enter the Segovia home. Yes, uninvited, he and two others broke down their front door.

For some reason, the attackers left. Then they returned with more men. Their intent is unknown. But for me, I ask the simple question, what other reason does a group of drunken men break down the door of a women who they know is alone?

When Cannon and the others forced their way into the Segovia home, Josefa stabbed him repeatedly. And yes, Josefa Segovia is believed to have already been pregnant at the time.

She killed her invader Joe Cannon in the early morning hours of July 5th. Of course, even though a number of men entered her home by force, believe it or not, there are still those who tried to say that Josefa started it when she supposedly invited Cannon to her home. It's true, but that doesn't matter to some folks. 

Another version of what took place says that Cannon "got drunk one night and about midnight went to the house occupied by the Spanish woman and her husband and kicked the door down. Early the following morning he told his comrades that he was going to apologize to the woman for what he had done. He went alone to the house, and, while talking with the husband and wife, the woman suddenly drew a knife and stabbed Cannon to the heart. What had been said that provoked the deed was never known, further than that 'Juanita' claimed she had been grossly insulted." 

This would be interesting if it were true. The problem with that story is that it was written by someone who was never there.

Besides, Cannon breaking down the door and being stabbed in the presence of other invaders should have mattered to the jury. But, it's said the mining population in Downieville was enraged by Cannon's death and they were not interested in hearing her side of the story.

Josefa Segovia was put on trial that morning. The jury consisted of Joe Cannon's friends, some who were said to be part of those who made the assault on her home. One man who cam forward was Dr. Cyrus D. Aiken. He testified that Josefa was pregnant and not in any condition to be hanged. That didn't seem to matter. In fact, right after Dr. Aiken voiced his concerns, he was forced from the stand and told to leave town. And just so happens, there was a lawyer present. He is said to have attempted to testify for her in an effort to plea for not hanging her. He was said to have been beaten by Cannon's friends and also ran out of town.

The trial was over in just a few minutes. Josefa Segovia was found guilty of the murder of miner Joe Cannon. Everyone there knew the verdict before the trial would take place. During the trial a makeshift scaffold was quickly built on the bridge over the Yuba River. Yes, you know you're in trouble when they build the scaffold to hang you from during the trial and before a verdict comes in.

As for the lynching of this woman, it's said that the entire town came out to watch and did nothing to stop it. The people there lined the banks of the river and watched her execution. It's said they knew she hadn't received a fair trial, swift or otherwise. 

Josefa was hanged immediately following the trial. Some say that her last words before she was executed were supposedly "Adios Senores". Today, Josefa Segovia remains the only pregnant woman hanged in California history. She is also believed to have been the first woman to be executed by hanging in California. 

Just for the record, the same supposed historian who the second version of what took place that night, without ever being there, also wrote, "'Juanita' went calmly to her death. She wore a Panama hat, and after mounting the platform she removed it, tossed it to a friend in the crowd, whose nickname was 'Oregon,' with the remark, 'Adios, amigo.' Then she adjusted the noose to her own neck, raising her long, loose tresses carefully in order to fix the rope firmly in its place; and then, with a smile and wave of her hand to the bloodthirsty crowd present, she stepped calmly from the plank into eternity. Singularly enough, her body rests side by side, in the cemetery on the hill, with that of the man whose life she had taken." 

Sounds incredible. Too bad he wasn't there to have witnessed it. Fact is while that individual's book is considered a first person account of California during the Gold Rush, he did not mine for gold in or near Downieville. Because of that fact, we know that what he wrote, his version of the events, has to have been second hand at best.

Of course, even though its second hand, it's obvious from his writing that he didn't let his not being there stop him from giving her a fake name and making up what he didn't know. Some folks just do that. 

Tom Correa

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Hanging of Ah Ben 1878

The photograph above is of the hanging of Ah Ben on Friday, March 14th, 1879. Yuba County Sheriff Hank L. McCoy appears on the right and Deputy Ike N. Aldrich on the left.

Ah Ben was a Chinese immigrant, and a killer. He murdered John McDaniel on the night of November 30th, 1878. Mr. McDaniel was the owner of the Marysville California Race Track. The homicide is known as the "Marysville Race Track Murder," but it also called the "McDaniel Murder".

According to reported, it was about 4 a.m. on November 30th, 1878, when John McDaniel was waken by his wife who heard noises as if someone was forcing a door open. Mr. McDaniel got out of bed and was about a foot or two from their bedroom door when he came face to face with Ah Ben. It's said that Mr. McDaniel and Ah Ben fought until the Chinese assailant used an wood chisel to fatally stab Mr. Daniel in the chest.

Below is an excerpt from History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, California. It is titled, Race-track Murder:

"About four o'clock on the morning of November 30, 1878, John McDaniel, lessee of the Marysville race-track, now known as Knight's Recreation Park, and upon which the links of the Marysville Golf Club are located, was aroused by his wife, who heard noises as if someone was jimmying a door on the premises. McDaniel started to investigate, and within a foot or two of his bedroom door encountered a Chinese, who proved to be Ah Ben. It is thought that McDaniel, who was a brave man, seized the visitor, having been robbed a few nights before.

Mrs. McDaniel heard a tussle, and presently heard her husband cry out, "Oh, my God, help ! help !" When she reached him, McDaniel and the Chinaman were still struggling. Although fatally wounded, McDaniel was doing his best to secure his murderer. Mrs. McDaniel pulled the Chinese away, and as she did so her husband staggered into the open, fell, and soon expired from a wound he had received in the breast from an inch-and-a-quarter chisel carried by Ah Ben.

In the hand of the deceased was found a poniard blade, which, it is supposed, he wrenched from his murderer's hand and used in self-defense. The Chinese showed a stab in the left arm, and bruises on his face, proving that the struggle with his victim had been a desperate one.

Ah Ben turned upon Mrs. McDaniel, and she was forced to back away from his grasp. About this time, Ah Joe, Chinese cook in the employ of the McDaniel family, rushed out of the dining-room to her assistance. The murderer, at sight of Ah Joe, started to run; but the cook, at the risk of winning the condemnation of his race, followed and caught Ah Ben.

He knocked the murderer down, hog-tied him, and then brought him back to the house, where he was kept until delivered to the custody of Police Officers John Colford and Mike Hogan. Constable Ezra Brow, who lived in the neighborhood, had been sent for, and he helped in the landing of Ah Ben in the city prison.

That evening an autopsy was held by Coroner George Fronk, assisted by Drs. C. C. Harrington, C. E. Stone, and S. J. S. Rogers, all now deceased. The death-wound was found in the region of the stomach, the chisel having penetrated between the ribs and pierced the liver in its course.

Besides his widow, McDaniel left six children, five of whom are still living. They are Mrs. Henry Blue, wife of Councilman Blue, Mrs. Harry S. Day, and Harry McDaniel, all of Marysville, and Mrs. Charles Day, of Berkeley, and George McDaniel, of Stockton. Another daughter, Mrs. George Crossley, died about two years ago.

Soon after dark on the evening of the same day, a mob organized on the corner of D and Third Streets. During the day the populace had become aroused because of the cruel murder of McDaniel, who was a popular and esteemed citizen. Some said the community would be disgraced if Ah Ben were allowed to live through the day.

At dusk the bell-ringer, a darkey who was employed in those days to spread sudden news and announce auction sales, got busy, and through his efforts a crowd of 300 or 400 assembled. A box had been placed at the intersection of Third and D, from which S. L. Howard, an attorney, made a speech calculated to incite the mob and induce it to proceed to the county jail, break down the iron doors, seize Ah Ben, and hang him.

While the mob was at the height of its fury, Hon. John H. Jewett, Marysville banker, stepped to the box and made an effort to convince the turbulent crowd that they were acting unwisely and imprudently, and should disperse as good citizens. But the crowd manifested true mob spirit by stifling free speech.

Jewett was interrupted by such a noise as to render his remarks inaudible. A. C. Bingham, former councilman, and later mayor, endeavored also to address the crowd, with but little better success.

Bingham resented the cat-calls of the crowd, and for a time it looked as if he would mix things with the offenders. Knowing Bingham to be fearless, the mob gave closer attention toward the close of his address, which was along the same line as Jewett's. 

Howard was again called to the box. He made a speech at this time that rendered him liable to arrest. Finally, the meeting resolved to go to the jail and secure the murderer.

A long rope had been obtained, and this was placed in the hands of Howard. Then there was a call, and a question as to who should be the leader. To the shouts "Who shall lead?" came the reply of all the mob, "Howard ! Howard !" 

But Howard appeared a better talker than leader of a forlorn hope, and held back. A few men seized him, however, placed him in an express wagon, and ordered the driver to proceed to the county jail at Sixth and D Streets.

When the crowd arrived in front of the courthouse, they halted; and on looking for Howard, they found he was missing. At this critical moment Mayor N. D. Rideout, early-day banker, took a position on the courthouse steps and briefly addressed the crowd, advising law and order. 

He told the mob that the jail was strongly guarded, the sheriff firm, and that forcible entry would surely mean the needless loss of valuable lives, which he would regret to see. Mayor Rideout was followed by Sheriff Hank L. McCoy, who appeared on the steps with his chief deputy, Ike N. Aldrich, who later became justice of the peace of Marysville Township.

Yuba County Courthouse, 1879

McCoy assured the mob that if Ah Ben were taken from the jail it would not be without bloodshed. At this the mob returned down street, and generally dispersed. They decided that the sheriff meant every word he uttered. Up to a late hour that night, however, there was a disgruntled crowd of twenty or thirty assembled near the end of the D Street bridge, loath to give up ; but they, too, dispersed about midnight.

Ah Ben was tried before Judge Phil W. Keyser and a jury; he was convicted, and sentenced to be hanged in the courthouse yard, as was then the custom.

On Friday, March 14, 1879, the murder of McDaniel was expiated on the gallows before a throng that crowded the courtyard. Many a lad played truant from school, in hope of getting a glimpse of the execution, which many did from the treetops and housetops in the neighborhood of the courthouse. The hanging was well planned and successfully executed.

In an interview with a newspaper man before his execution, Ah Ben, an ignorant individual, declared he would kill McDaniel again under like circumstances.

Drs. R. H. McDaniel, David Powell, C. C. Harrington, A. B. Caldwell, and B. Phillips comprised the coterie of physicians who pronounced Ah Ben dead. "

-- end of excerpt from History of Yuba and Sutter Counties, California, Race-track Murder, by Peter J. Delay, Published 1924.

Please note that I did not edit the above excerpt in any way. It's use of certain words such as "darkey" was not edited out of the excerpt. Since it was a word used in the report and was part of the vernacular at the time it was written, I left it in.
According to the newspaper clipping from the Nevada State Journal, dated December 4th, 1878, Mr. McDaniel was 50 years old originally from Vermont. It also states Ah Ben was a transient new to the area who slept in outhouses and such. His hanging was the last to be preformed in Yuba County, California.

Since Ah Ben said that he "kill McDaniel again under like circumstances," a few folks have written me to ask why he killed Mr. McDaniel in the first place? To me, there's no telling why he killed Mr. McDaniel. Was he specifically there to kill the McDaniels? Or was it a house burglary that went wrong? No one will ever know.

As for the story itself, I thought you might find the swiftness of the trial and how fast the verdict of the court was carried out of interest. Very unlike today.

Tom Correa