Saturday, April 28, 2018

Early Inyo County Was Rough And Tough

Inyo County is the second largest county in all of California with an area that is over 10,000 square miles in size. Imagine if you would, a place with all of that land yet only 46 square miles of water. Yes, only .5% of the entire county is water. 

Imagine a place where it's lowest elevation is actually a minus 282 feet below sea level. That's the Badwater Basin in Death Valley which is the lowest point in all of North America. 

At the same time, that place has the Owens Valley which is the deepest valley on the American continent, some sources say both the North and South American continents. And yes, it also has Mount Whitney at an elevation of 14,505 feet which is the highest point in the contiguous United States. To add to that, imagine if you would that 13 of California's 15 mountain peaks which exceed the 14,000 feet elevation are located in that one county. Yes, that's Inyo County. 

As for it's history, Inyo County has been the homeland of the Coso, Mono, Timbisha, Paiutes-Shoshone and Kawaiisu Indian tribes for centuries. As with other tribes around the country, these tribes spoke languages specific of those tribes and not all the same language. The tribes are still there today.

The U.S. Army established Camp Independence about three miles from the town of Independence in the Owens River Valley on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada on July 4th, 1862. Independence is the county seat of Inyo County, California.

Though it was never officially designated a fort, it was a garrison there to provide protection for the miners who were having troubles with Indian marauders and bandits in the area. With 100 soldiers who were housed in a barracks of wood frame construction, the post had a storehouse and hospital built of adobe, and it included a chow hall, kitchen, bakery, a guardhouse, workshops, sheds, corrals and a couple of large gardens. It's said that the place was used as a refuge for settlers during Indian attacks during the Civil War years. The garrison was closed in July of 1877. 

As for the creation of Inyo County, it was actually formed in 1866 from what was a part of the unorganized Coso County which was created in 1864 from parts of Mono and Tulare Counties. Inyo County grew bigger when it acquired more land from Mono County in 1870 and from Kern and San Bernardino counties in 1872.

As stated before, the tiny town of Independence is the county seat of Inyo County, California. The County Sheriff's Office and County Tax Collector were one and the same for years until the 1920's when the Sheriff's Office and the Tax Assessor Office were split into two separate county agencies. Yes, it was very common in the Old West to have the Sheriff act as the County Tax Collector. In most counties, a Sheriff was given an "incentive" to collect taxed by allowing a Sheriff to keep a percentage of what he could collect. In some cases, it was as high as 10 percent of all taxes. That in itself was a great incentive for Sheriff's to collect taxes. Of course, it was also a great incentive for people to take the job of County Sheriff.

The first Inyo County Sheriff was W. A. Greenly who was appointed in 1866 and served for only one year. It's said that in those early days, many of the county officials who were appointed only served one or two years before resigning for one reason or another. The second sheriff was William L. Moore who was appointed and served two years before leaving. Thomas Passmore was the third man to take the job of Inyo County Sheriff. 

Sheriff Thomas Passmore was on the job for three years when on Sunday, February 10th, 1878, he was shot and killed in Independence. His murder took place while attempting to apprehend an individual who had killed another man earlier that evening. The killer had gone to a saloon that was well known to be the hangout for outlaws and gamblers, the lowest of society there.

Sheriff Passmore arrived at the saloon and stood outside where he ordered the killer to come out and surrender. The Sheriff knew he'd be smart to stay outside because he'd be completely outnumbered inside the saloon. He banked on his being able to take the killer if he came outside. 

It's said that when the killer refused to come out, Sheriff Passmore had no other choice and decided against his better judgement to go in and get him. Yes, he decided to walk into the den or thieves and bandits, gamblers and con artists, prostitutes and bushwhackers. What he didn't know was that in essence, he was walking into a trap. 

It's said that as the Sheriff walked up to the saloon doors, a couple of toughs moved in to block his way into the saloon. It was as he was being held in place at the doors when a shot rang out and the Sheriff was struck in the chest with a round.  Someone inside the saloon opened fire and shot through the door. He was killed before even entering the saloon. 

While the lowlifes inside the saloon might have thought that a good move on their part, they quickly learned how horrible a mistake they made.

It's said that Sheriff Passmore was not cold yet when outraged townsfolk put out the hue and cry and then took arms. Soon the town's citizens gathered and surrounded the saloon. Then they opened fire on the saloon. They fired hundreds of rounds into the building wounding many inside. 

At one point the citizens saw the saloon owner trying to make a run for it. His attempt to escape out the back door of the saloon was cut off. He was stopped when he was caught. He was immediately shot to death by the citizens. The killer that Sheriff Passmore was after also tried to make an escape, he too was caught and shot to death by over a dozen citizens.

Sheriff Thomas Passmore was the first lawman to be killed in the line of duty in Inyo County. Right after his death, former Sheriff William L. Moore was asked to take the job again. Sadly, just 16 months into his second term, Sheriff Moore was also gunned down. 

While some source say Sheriff Moore was killed on July 3rd, other sources say he was killed on July 4th, 1879, also in Independence. The story goes that the Sheriff Moore was talking with a few other county officials about the 4th of July activities when they heard a gunshot coming from inside the Aldine Saloon. 

Sheriff Moore rushed into the saloon and immediate found two men struggling over a gun. Sheriff Moore made the mistake of getting in-between the men while trying to grab the gun. While telling the men to stop fighting, the gun went off and a round struck Sheriff Moore in the chest. 

It's said that the townsfolk wanted to hang them both, but instead they were arrested by some of the people there. They were held for trial and were charged with Sheriff Moore's murder. Both of the men was convicted of the murder of Sheriff Moore and sentenced to terms in San Quentin State Prison. No telling how long they were there.

Yes, in its early days, Inyo County was a rough place that experienced its share of violence. According to the Inyo County Sheriff's Department today:

"Territorial and mining claims were often disputed, and in some cases, the disputes ended tragically. There are many reports of shootings in the mining towns, robberies on the open, desolate highways, and drunken brawls in the townships. Many crimes went unreported because, as mentioned in some historical accounts, local citizens did not want to inconvenience the sheriff because of the great distance he had to travel. The sheriff and his deputies (and there were very few deputies) had to be brave, tough and resourceful. 

One colorful story speaks of how several men were discovered 'stealing ropes with horses attached' in an Inyo County township and were later found hanging from telegraph poles. It was assumed the men committed suicide.

From 1866 to as recently as the mid-1950s, the sheriff deputized local civic-minded citizens. Training was non-existent or on the job. Almost all of these deputies were farmers, ranchers, miners, business owners or even doctors. They came from all walks of life, and varied backgrounds, but they were the sheepdogs of their communities who stepped up to guard the sheep from the wolves. They responded to trouble only when called upon, and they did so without hesitation.

These early pioneers were well-respected members of their communities. Walter Reed, a local veterinarian and county constable, was shot and killed in 1912 while assisting the Bishop City marshal in the arrest of a local opium dealer and brothel owner.

Lemoyne Hazard, a deputy sheriff, owned a Dodge dealership and garage, wrote articles for travel magazines promoting the Eastern Sierras, placed highway mileage markers in the form of a giant red fish from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, and was a member of the Bishop Union High School Board of Trustees. Deputy Hazard was shot and killed in 1925 while attempting to arrest a drunken, shotgun-wielding man who assaulted his wife and parents."  -- per Inyo Sheriff's Office.

Of course, as for the Inyo County Sheriff's Department, they fight the good fight of maintaining order in some of the most rugged terrain on earth. The lawmen of Inyo County face the same problems as the lawmen who came before them, and we can all be thankful that they are steadfast in their duty.

Today, Inyo County has a population of about 18,000. But at the same time that that's true, it's also a fact that the population there grows when millions of tourists visiting the Owens Valley, Mount Whitney, and Death Valley, pass through there each year.

As for me, well it is a rural county that truly enjoys it's rural quality of life and I love that about the people there. I haven't been there in a few years, but the beauty of that high desert county is something to see. It's a place that I look forward to going back to for a visit.

Tom Correa


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Cathay Williams -- A Buffalo Soldier's Secret

William Cathay enlisted in the United States Army on November 15th, 1866, in St. Louis, Missouri. Cathay signed up for a three-year engagement and was assigned to the 38th United States Infantry Regiment after passing a medical examination.

Shortly after enlisting, Cathay contracted smallpox and was hospitalized. When rejoining the 38th Infantry stationed in New Mexico, Cathay was having problems due to the lingering effects of smallpox complicated by the New Mexico heat.

Of course, as anyone in the infantry can attest to, marching in the heat takes a toll on a person. Coupled with the effects of smallpox, Cathay was hospitalized more often than not. 

It was during one of the stays at the post hospital that doctors finally discovered that William Cathay was actually a woman. Soon the 38th Infantry Regiment Commander was notified of the situation and she was almost arrested if it weren't for her being ill. Once well enough to leave, her commanding officer Capt. Charles E. Clarke officially discharged her from the U.S. Army on October 14th, 1868.

It is believed that two others knew about the deception. One was her cousin and the other a friend. Both of them were also serving as soldiers in the 38th Infantry Regiment.

So who was William Cathay? Well, first of all, while some say she also went by John Williams, the name William Cathay was the name she falsely used to enlist in the Army. Her real name Cathay Williams and she was born a slave in September of 1844 in Independence, Missouri.

During her teen years, she worked as a house slave on a plantation near Jefferson City, Missouri. Then in 1861, after Union troops began their occupation of Jefferson City, she was considered Union contraband. Fact is, during the Civil War, captured slaves were officially designated by the Union as "contraband." 

Many of those "freed slaves" were forced into support roles as cooks, livestock tenders, working doing laundry and other cleaning, to serve the Union Army in ways that would free up troops for battle. The more labor the Union got out of the freed slaves the less the Army needed support personnel. 

It's said that at 17 years of age, Williams was pressed into service in a support role with Col. William Plummer Benton's 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment. During that time, Cathay Williams was part of the 8th Indiana. She traveled with that unit, including moving with them on their marches through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia. 

Fact is, she was there at the Battle of Pea Ridge and there during the Red River Campaign. Then she was transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas. After that, she was served in a support role with General Philip Sheridan's command in Washington, D.C.. After the Civil War, she was working at Jefferson Barracks for a time before coming up with the idea to enlist as a man.

At the time, women were forbidden from serving in the military. So when Cathay Williams enlisted in the United States Regular Army under the false name of William Cathay, that was a first for the history books.

After she was discovered and was discharged, life went from bad to worse for her. Right after leaving the Army, she became a cook at Fort Union in New Mexico. She then moved to Pueblo, Colorado, where she met someone and was married. Sadly, the marriage is said to have ended when her husband decided to steal all of her money and their horses. While the marriage was ended, it said she sort of got even by having him arrested. 

In Trinidad, Colorado, she made a living as a seamstress and it's believed that she owned a boarding house for a while. It was about then that the story of her enlisting in the Army as a man and serving as such first surfaced. 

It's believed that a young St. Louis reporter heard stories going around about a woman former-slave who had actually enlisted and served in the United States Regular Army. He located Cathay Williams and she was more than happy to tell him what took place. After the interview, her life story regarding her military service was published in The St. Louis Daily Times. That was January 2nd, 1876.

By the late 1889's, it's said that she entered a local hospital where she stayed for a long time. Some say it was the horrible effects of smallpox. To help pay for her medical needs, she applied for a disability pension based on her military service. That was in June of 1891. A little of two years later on September of 1893, she was examined by a doctor with the U.S. Pension Bureau.

These days when a veteran applies for disability benefits, it's an uphill battle. They say almost everyone submitting for a rating gets denied at first despite the evidence submitted. Well, this is all nothing new. 

Despite the fact that there were records of Cathay Williams contracting smallpox and being in the hospital frequently, and despite the fact that she suffered from neuralgia and diabetes, and that she had to have all her toes amputated, and that she couldn't walk without the use of a crutch, the examining doctor said that she did not qualify for disability payments. The examining doctor said that the nature of her illness and disability were unknown. So yes, her application was denied.

It is believed that Cathay Williams died shortly after being denied a pension in 1893. Sadly, the exact date of her death is unknown as is her grave marker. Some say she was probably buried in some Potter's Field where her maker would have been made of wood. So of course, most like her marker deteriorated long ago. And because of that, Cathay Williams' final resting place is unknown.

While she was the first Black American woman to enlist in the U.S. Army, and the only documented woman to ever serve in the Army posing as a man, here's what needs to be remembered about Cathay Williams: She lied to become an American soldier. She served from 1866 to 1868. She was an Infantry Private in the 38th Infantry Regiment. She was the only known active duty woman to serve as a Buffalo soldier. 

As for the picture of her above? That is a painting of Cathay Williams by William Jennings from the U.S. Army Profiles of Bravery. While it's a wonderful picture, I really believe it's anyone's guess if she really looked like that since there are no pictures of her when she was young and in the Army.

Tom Correa


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Canada's Battle of Belly River


Dear Friends,

A reader in Canada has written to ask me if I can write something about Canada during the Old West. He suggested I look into an Indian battle that took place on the Belly River. Well, I did. And yes, this is what I found.

The Battle of the Belly River took place on October 25th, 1870, in what is present day Lethbridge, Canada, located in Alberta about a 105 miles north of Montana. The battle is considered the last major battle between Indian tribes in Canada. It's also considered the last major conflict between the Iron Confederacy of the Cree and the Blackfoot Confederacy.

The Blackfoot and the Cree were waging war over the control of the Cypress Hills. The Battle of Belly River was the culmination of years of warfare between two people who had nothing in common other than their dislike for each other.

Before Europeans settled in the Canadian West, the prairies were inhabited by two Native Indian alliances. One was the Blackfoot Confederacy. They're said to have been very warlike. They consisted of the northern Blackfoot also known as the Siksika, the Blood Indians also known as the Kainai, the southern Peigan which are also as the Blackfeet, the northern Peigan who are also known as the Piikani and Pikuni Indians, and later to join that Confederacy was the Sarcee who are also known as the Tsuu Tina Indians and the Gros Venture Indians.

With the exceptions of the Sarcee and the Gros Venture tribes, who were the only two unrelated tribes in the Blackfoot Confederacy, all of the other tribes were bound by blood ties and spoke a common language which was Blackfoot. As for their lands, the Blackfoot Confederacy had controlled an area that stretched from west of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta to the east of the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan, and from the north of the North Saskatchewan River of Alberta all the way south to the Yellowstone River of Montana. They had controlled that huge area for centuries.

The Iron Confederacy was an alliance made up of Plains Cree Indians, Salteaux Indians also known as Plains Ojibwa, Stoney who are also known as the Nakoda, the Assiniboine also known as the Stone Sioux, and it's said that occasionally the Metis Indians were part of the alliance as well. The Iron Conderacy was said to be heavily involved as a sort of middlemen in the fur trade in the 1700s. The Cree were suppliers of pemmican.

Pemmican is defined as "a paste of dried and pounded meat mixed with melted fat and other ingredients." It's actually a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used that was pounded into a paste as a food source. The word comes from the Cree Indian word "pimîhkân" which itself is derived from the word "pimî" which means "fat" or "grease". 

The Cree was the largest tribe in the Iron Confederacy. They moved into western Canada with the Hudson Bay Company in the early-mid 1700's. Even though the Iron Confederacy encroached on Blackfoot lands, since the western Canada plains were traditional Blackfoot territory, surprisingly things started out easy enough with the Iron Confederacy being initially seen as trading partners. Soon the Iron Confederacy was seen as a possible military ally. That didn't work out and when troubles intensified, the two alliances soon became bitter enemies.  

It is said that "mutual antagonism existed between the Blackfoot and Iron Confederacies beginning around 1790 after the Gros Ventures left the Iron Confederacy and joined the Blackfoot Confederacy." This mutual antagonism resulted in a large number of skirmishes. There were also a number of pitched battles between the two on the Canadian plains.

The last of their battles took place along what is today known as the Oldman River on October 25th, 1870. Yes, what was the Belly River is now the Oldman River. As I said before, the battle is known as the Battle of Belly River.

It's said that in 1869 and 1870, there was a massive smallpox outbreak that tore into the Blackfoot. Sadly, that smallpox outbreak reportedly wiped out nearly half of them.

One observer at the time said, "The epidemic left in its wake entire camps of Blackfoot dead lodges." Dead lodges were teepees used as to house their dead. Dr. Kennedy reported that the dead lodges were found all over the Canadian plains.

Chiefs Piapot, Little Mountain, Big Bear and Little Pine of the Iron Confederacy saw the plight of the Blackfoot as the perfect opportunity to wipe them out and expand their territory into the Cypress Hills. Those chiefs saw the Blackfoot as no different than a wound prey. So immediately they raised a war party of about 800 braves. The war party was made up of Cree, Salteaux Indians, and Young Dogs Indians which is said to be a Cree-Assiniboine mix. The war party was armed with bows and arrows, and close combat weapons such as tomahawks and knives. They did have some muskets from their association with the Hudson Bay Company. But seriously, for 1870, they were poorly armed.

When they left camp, they went southeast into Blackfoot territory. They followed the South Saskatchewan River until they had reached about 15 miles northeast of present-day Lethbridge.

There is a legend that says, while reroute to the battle, the Iron Confederacy war party stopped for the night. During the night, elderly Cree Chief Piapot had a dream that predicted the Cree defeat. Supposedly, in his dream, there was a buffalo bull with iron horns that attacked the Cree warriors. Unable to kill the buffalo, the Cree warriors were gored and then trampled to death. It's said that Piapot decided that his dream was an omen of an impending disaster for the Cree.

So in the morning, he told the other Chiefs about his dream, and how that was the reason that he would not have his warriors take part in the battle. Some of the Cree were said to be "troubled" by Piapot's "vision" and in fact decided to return home. In fact, I read where some actually accompanied Chief Piapot back home.

Other Cree saw the Chief's dream as only a dream. They saw the Blackfoot as perfect targets considering how weakened they were because of the smallpox outbreak. Those warriors would not be stopped by what they saw as simply an old man's nightmare.

Once they were in what's known as Coyote Flats about 20 miles northeast of Fort Whoop-Up, the Iron Confederacy war party decided that was the place where to launch their attack on the Blackfoot. The Blackfoot camp was at the Little Bow River, but the Cree Chiefs knew that the Blackfoot hung around Fort Whoop-Up. Fort Hamilton which was built in 1869 was commonly called "Fort Whoop-Up" because the post served as a trading post which included illegal whiskey sales to Indians among others.

Knowing the Blackfoot were there at Fort Whoop-Up, the Cree sent out a scouting party to check things out. When the scouts returned, they reported that a Blood Indian camp was about three miles north of Fort Whoop-Up on the Belly River. While out the scouts stole a few of the Blood's horses.

The Cree Indian scouts failed to report the rest of what was there. Probably because the scouts were too busy stealing horses, but they completely missed the fact that the Blood Indian camp was just a small part of a much larger winter camp of Blackfoot. That winter camp extended for almost 20 miles in every direction. That was one big camp. Sounds like a city.

Besides the small camp, a larger camp of Blood Indians led by Button Chief and Buffalo Back Fat were camped in the same area. Also camped along the river was a small band of well-armed Blackfeet who were armed with repeating rifles, a few needle guns, and revolvers that they picked up from Fort Whoop-Up. Those Blackfoot were led by Mountain Chief, Big Leg and Black Eagle. Some say they obtained those repeating rifles and revolvers before they were driven north into Canada from Montana by American Army Major Eugene Baker and his cavalry.

Also unknown to the Cree was smaller bands of southern Peigan Indians which were led by Chief Crow Eagle. His band was camped with the Blackfoot. So all in all, the combined forces of the Blackfoot, Bloods, and both northern and southern Peigan Indians, matched or exceeded the number of warriors in the Cree, Salteaux, and Young Dogs Indian war party. Also, the Blackfoot were better armed.

On the night of October 24th, the entire Cree, Salteaux, and Young Dogs war party left camp to ambush the Blood Indian camp.

According to one source, "the Crees, on their way to ambush the Blood camp, happened upon two isolated Blood teepees pitched at the base of Temple Hill. The teepees belonged to two Blood families who were travelling to join a different band of Bloods camped along the St. Mary River. Due to exhaustion, the families had decided to camp at the base of the hill rather than complete the journey that night. The Cree killed everyone inside the teepees except for a small boy. After the warriors had left, the boy ended up crawling out of the teepee and making his way to the St. Mary River, where he warned the Bloods of the Cree presence. Sometime that night, the Cree war party arrived at the Blackfoot encampment. A handful of enterprising braves ran into the camp, screaming 'We are here!' They slit the teepees of the sleeping Bloods and slaughtered the residents therein. In the foray, the Cree braves killed a brother of Red Crow who was a great Blood chief who was absent from the river valley at the time, a number of squaws, and- according to Mountain Horse, the son of Mountain Chief who was in a nearby Blackfeet camp at the time of the attack, also several children."

A few Blackfoot women swim across the Belly River towards the main Blood camp in order to sound the alarm. During this, it's said that a Blood Indian woman armed only with a tomahawk killed a couple of Cree warriors. It's also said that the women, and the sounds of gunfire alerts the Blackfoot.

As western artist Charles Marion Russell depicted in his painting above, it was reported that "by daybreak, the river valley was swarming with warriors."

At dawn, the first to arrive was the southern Peigan Indians who came in from the south. Their arrival is said to have had the Iron Confederacy war party making a slow retreat. Soon the Cree neared the Belly River. It was there that they took up a position in a deep ravine. That ravine ran from the river up and onto the prairie.

The formidable Blackfeet force led by Mountain Chief soon secured an opposing position south of the Cree. Then a large number of Bloods, Blackfoot, and northern Peigan, arrived to occupy positions on the northwest and the north side of the prairie. Soon fighting broke out between the Cree and the southern Peigan. Then the Blackfoot and Cree started fighting from dueling ravine positions.

The Cree and south Peigan took positions in two revines that are said to have ran parallel to each other about a 100 yards or more. The ridges of those ravines were separated by a distance that ranged from as close to 30 feet apart to as far as 200 feet away. It's said that the warriors on both sides took up positions at the tops of the ravines after making sure their horses were out of the range of gunfire.

After that, for four hours the battle waged as the tribes exchanged fire. And while rifles were used, they also exchanged arrows, and one report said that some even threw rocks believe it or not. It's said at one point, two southern Peigans on horseback galloped along the ridge to see how many of the Cree enemy were there. One of the warriors was shot and killed. The other is said to have had his horse shot from under him.

During this time the Blackfeet, Blood Indians, and the Peigan from the north, steadily made progress and moved more and more forward until they worked their way around to the south where they could better engage the enemy. When that happened, the rifle fire from the Blackfoot is said to have been too much to endure and the Cree decided to slowly retreat. In fact, the Cree is said to have actually slipped down into the ravine behind their pursuers and head toward the river. All very quietly.

About that time, the Cree were discovered retreating. The story goes that Jerry Potts, who was a Scot-Peigan Indian scout, was scouting around the banks of the southern ridge during the Cree's stealthy retreat. He saw them retreating. Potts is the man credited with signaling to the north Peigan to take action and not let the Cree get away. Legend says that if it weren’t for Jerry Potts that battle might have turned out very different.

The north Peigans did attack the retreating Cree. Close behind them were the Blackfeet and Bloods who did as well.

Soon hundreds of Blackfoot, Blood and Peigan warriors on horseback and even on foot go over the ridge and into the ravine after the Cree. The Cree were cut down and for those who made it out of their position, they were forced up a hill to the north. The Cree with their horses tumbled over the other side in a desperate break for the river. The battle then moved to the western shore of the Belly River at the base of that hill. Blackfoot warrior Mountain Horse later said, "Stabbing and drowning was the order of the day."

Eye-witness accounts describe how Bloods Chief Calf Shirt had arrows in his neck and arm, yet he was still able to kill two Cree warriors with his Bowie knife. While some of the Cree warriors fought and died on the banks of the Belly River, it's said that most actually tried to swim across the river. The Cree that tried to were shot dead by Blackfeet on shore.

There were so many retreating Cree moving across the river that it's said that they look like a solid mass in the river. Subsequently, they were easy targets for Blackfoot who fired from the riverbank and the hill. Jerry Potts is quoted as saying, "You could fire with your eyes shut and be sure to kill a Cree."

It's also said, "the air was thick with gunsmoke while the Belly River ran red with blood."

As for the few Cree warriors that reached the east side of the river alive, close behind were the Blackfoot and the Blood Indians. When the Cree was found on the open prairie, it's said the Blackfoot overtook them and cut them down. The Cree that did try making a last stand on the open prairie east of the river lost 50 of their warriors.

It was after that that a few Cree made it into a strand of trees, they were completely surrounded. Fortunate for Cree warriors, the Blackfeet decided that it was over and simply returned to their camps. Yes, allowing the Cree survivors to return home and tell others what happened there.

The Battle of Belly River was one of the bloodiest Indian battles ever recorded in Canadian history. The Blackfoot Confederacy lost about 40 warriors and had about that many wounded. For the Iron Confederacy and the Cree, it was devastating as the lost between about 300 warriors.

It is said that in 1871, about a year later, the Iron Confederacy sent a peace offering of tobacco to the Blackfeet. Then in the fall of that same year, the Chiefs of the two Confederacies met to make peace. Of course, from what I've read, that didn't stop the small skirmishes or the horse stealing.

Tom Correa

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's a Very Small World

Dear Friends,

Here's a short story about something that happened to me recently. It's something that I have told a number of people about because I still can't completely believe it happened.

We've all heard the term, "It's a small world." The term is commonly used when you're surprised when you meet someone you know at an unexpected place. It also applies when you find out that you share a friend or an acquaintance. That personal connection is a surprise. After all, it's not everyday that we encounter the same people or situation in an unexpected place, or that you have discovered that someone knows a person who you also know.

For example, many years ago, I was working in Washington state when I decided to take a ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. I had been working at the Navy Base in Bremerton and wanted to check out an event in Seattle before heading back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. After leaving my car, I was looking for a trash can to throw away an empty paper coffee cup when I bumped into a friend who owned a restaurant in San Jose, California. Talk about a small world, come to find out, he was on the ferry headed to Seattle to attend the same event that I was.

So where am I going with this? Well, about two months ago, I received a phone call from someone who asked, "Is this Tom Correa who was stationed on the USS Hancock in '74 and '75?" 

Come to find out, it was an old friend who I served with in the Marine Corps over 40 years ago. The last time that I saw him was in 1981. We talked for a while and it was great to hear from him. We caught up a little, but mostly I was curious about how he found me and got my number? 

I was flattered when he said that he and another mutual friend who I also served with were looking for me for a while. I was a little surprised when he said that he found me, my phone number, my address, and had even seen a satellite view of my home and property on Google maps. 

We talked about getting together, and about coming up for a visit.  Really, it was great to hear his voice and remember how close we were back in the day. 

We planned on getting together and making that happen in a few weeks since I had responsibilities that I couldn't get out of pertaining to a Chili Cook Off at our American Legion Post up here in beautiful Glencoe. Our post was doing the Cook Off on Saturday because we were boycotting the NFL and subsequently the Super Bowl. 

On the day of our post's Chili Cook Off, beings that I'm our post's 2nd Vice Commander, I'm responsible for events and such, so I had to work behind the bar for a while to get things started until the regular bartender showed up. I was behind the bar telling a story about something or other when in the door walks my two old Marine buddies who I have not seen '81. Yes, almost 40 years ago.

Both friends brought their wives with them. It was great to see them. I had known my one friend's wife as I was actually at their wedding in Half Moon Bay back in 1978, if I recall correctly. I had never met my other friend's wife. 

Soon we started talking about some of the things we did in the old days and how it was amazing that we were still alive. These two men were my best friends when I was 18 years old. We were Marines. We were stationed together and went overseas together. It was as if the years disappeared when we talked and laughed about how it was.

One of the reasons that I started this blog back in 2010 was that I found my memory not as sharp as it was. Talking with my friends, I found that I have sadly forgotten a lot of things that I wish I hadn't. 

So now, as I said before, I've known one of my friend's wives but not the other. Frankly, I didn't know my other friend's wife at all. All I was told on the phone is that he married a great gal who was originally from Hawaii. 

Many years ago I had a very good friend from Texas. Whenever he met another Texan, all of a sudden his Texas drawl got a little deeper. Well, that's the same thing as what happens when I meet people who are also from Hawaii. All of a sudden, I find that I don't have to pay as much attention to speaking proper English and I slip into what is commonly known back home as "Pidgin English."

As with everyone who meets someone who is from the same place where you originated, you ask what town and how long have you been away and other questions to find out if maybe you have more in common. Well, after talking to my friend's wife, I found out that she was from the same island that I was from, and that her grandparents lived near where my grandparents lived.

Hawaii has a lot of people but some of the families have been there forever, or came over on the same boat so to speak. Well, I asked her a little more about her family. She told me what he maiden name was and I found that interesting because it was the same as my paternal grandmother's maiden name. Yes, my dad's mom's maiden name which is not a common Portuguese name in Hawaii.

We talked a little more, but then I got sidetracked with post duties. In between doing this and that for the post, I sat with my old friends and we visited as much as we could. Since they had a long way to drive, before leaving we talked about getting together again soon. Hopefully very soon.

That following week, I called my friends to make sure they knew just how much I appreciated seeing them again. When talking with my friend whose wife is from Hawaii, I hear her in the background say, "Hi Cousin!" 

So I said to him something to the effect of  "Cousins because we're from the same island?"

My friend then tells me that if my grandmother's first name was such and such, and if she had something wrong with her arm, then you two are Second cousins. Fact is, he could probably hear the shock in my voice. I told him that he was correct about my grandmother's first name and that she did in fact have a bad arm from a stroke that she suffered in the 1940's. 

My old friends came back up to Glencoe in early March for a bar-b-q, but sadly my newly found Second Cousin couldn't make it back up because of another commitment. She did sent a note. In the note, she asked if my dad's name was "Clifford" and that he had something wrong with his jaw. If so, it is guaranteed that we are Second Cousins.

Well, my day's name was Herman Clifford Correa. Everyone called him "Clifford". As for his jaw? Beings that there were no tetanus shoots back in 1929, because of tetanus my dad had suffered from lockjaw all of his life. 

So now, let's talk about it being a very small world. It is a fact that my old friend who I haven't seen in almost 40 years has been married for almost 30 years to my Second Cousin. Yes, a Second Cousin who I didn't know I had.  

What's the odds of something like that happening? A friend of mine who I was very close to back in 1974 and 1975 when we served together in the Marine Corps, a man who I haven't seen since 1981, met and married a wonderful gal, and then in 2018 after they have been married for almost 30 years finds out that she's my Second Cousin. I would think the odds are astronomical that anything like that could happen.

But, it has. And now, now I get to know my new cousin and a part of my dad's side of my family that I really didn't know before. While I'm still shocked that this has happened, I feel absolutely blessed. Yes, especially knowing that my old Marine buddy is now really part of my family! Incredible as it is!  

By the way, in the note that she sent me was a picture of her grandfather. Come to find out, her grandfather and my grandmother were brother and sister. Imagine that for a small world.

Tom Correa


Friday, April 6, 2018

Insane Gunmen In The Old West?

Dear Friends,

With all of the talk these days about gunmen who may or may not be insane, a few of my readers have written to ask if there were such killers in the Old West? Well, sadly there were crazies even back in the day.

Of course, gunmen such as John Wesley Hardin and Killer Jim Miller were psychopaths. But they weren't crazy. Psychopathy is considered a personality disorder, but not a mental disorder. Psychopaths are said to be completely detached from emotions such as guilt and empathy. Bottom line is they had no conscience or compunction when it comes to killing. That lack of feelings of guilt or having any sort of moral scruples is what really defines many of hired killers and badmen in the Old West.

The difference between them and someone who is truly insane or "crazy" is that the term insanity usually describes what is termed a "psychotic-like break with reality." Fact is that's not the same as someone suffering some degree of "mental illness" such as for example constant anxiety problems over excessive and often irrational worry about paying the bills or finishing a project on time.

While some folks make the mistake of calling an insane individual "mentally ill," or say he or she suffers from "mental illness," in reality that's no correct at all and they really should not be lumped together. True mental illness in it's many degrees is nothing new to the world, but it's certainly different than having a psychotic-like break with reality and being insane. In actuality some experts believe mental illness, which can include an array of problems including depression or say being able to sleep the whole night, is falsely being lumped together with things that it shouldn't be. It gives people the impression that all "mental illness" is that same when it's not.    

Below is an interesting example of a gunman and killer who was deemed insane. Although, there were those at the time who thought he may have been faking it to avoid being hanged.

The story comes from the archives of The Silver City Enterprise which was a newspaper that was operated in Silver City, New Mexico, from 1882 to 1987. It's publisher was W.A. Leonard & Co. 

A DOUBLE TRAGEDY 
March 6, 1891

A most lamentable double tragedy was en- acted at Bald Knob on the 17th instant. On train No. 53 there was a passenger by the name of John W. Graeter, who had exhibited signs of insanity to such an extent that Pullman conductor E. W. Leach, in whose car Graeter was, spoke about the matter, saying he was afraid that he (Graeter) would harm some one before they would get through. It was not known where he was going, but no harm was done until after the Memphis train had got in and “53” had taken on the passengers for the south and was pulling by the station. 

When not more than ten rods from it, bystanders on the platform saw the brakeman and Pullman conductor run out of the Pullman car, and following them was a man with a pistol in his hand, and to the horror of those in sight they saw the pistol leveled on the conductor and fired. 

It was seen at once that the conductor was shot, for immediately he began to totter and soon fell from the platform. After falling he was dragged 200 yards by the bell rope, which had in some way become wrapped around his arm. When he was reached he was about dead, giving only two or three groans. 

The train was still running, and would not have stopped had not the hostler of the engine that brought in the Memphis train realized the situation and blowed the “down whistle,” upon which the train pulled up. When the crowd reached the train it was found that another man had been shot as he was sitting in his seat. 

When an effort was made to enter the car, Graeter was laying flat in the car with two pistols by his side, and it was some time before he could be taken from the car, as it was supposed he was insane, and no one cared to make an effort for his capture unless the drop could be obtained. For three-quarters of an hour efforts were made to get the advantage of him without success. 

At last a ruse was resorted to and he was told that unless he threw out his pistols the coach would be set on fire. The threat had the desired effect, as he said he would surrender if promised protection. This was assured him, and he threw out his pistols and came out. He was put in the calaboose, and though under a great mental strain, seemed to know what he wanted, having telegraphed for his brother, at Vincennes, Indiana, where he is interested in the street car lines. He also wanted a good lawyer. He is genteely dressed, and has over $200 with him, besides a watch and jewelry. He talks about having to do what he did, as he said Meier and Leach had threatened to kill him. 

There was but four persons in the car at the time, the murderer, John W. Graeter, of Vincennes, Indiana; Mr. Isador Meier, traveling salesman for Foster, Hilson & Co., Thirty ninth street. New York; E. W. Leach, the conductor, and a lady. 

What makes the killing of Meier especially so sad is the fact that he had came in on the Memphis train and had been in the car not over twenty minutes when the fatal shots were fired into his head, and all the while he sat in his seat unconscious, the blood and brains were flowing from his horrible wounds. 

The coroner’s jury is now at work on the case. Excitement, which was high for a time, is now allayed. Isador Meier was taken to Judsonia on the same train on which he was shot, arriving there about 1:30 p.m. He was placed in the hands of skillful company surgeons, but their work was of no avail, as he died at 4:30 p.m., two bullets passing through his head. 

John W. Graeter, the murderer, was taken to Searcy, the county seat of this (White) county by the sheriff this morning. He is a pitiful sight, his every look and movement showing that he was insane. Every person who approaches he calls upon to protect him and begs them to be his friend. There is no doubt but that Graeter will be put in some asylum as soon as he is examined by a physician.

Graeter comes from one of the first families of Indiana, and is estimated to be worth $80,000. The verdict of the coroner was in accordance with the facts as stated in yesterday’s dispatch. The J. W. Graeter above referred to is almost undoubtedly the same man who was a partner of L. D. Miller in this city in 1885.

He came here from Vincennes, Indiana, where his father and sister then resided. He frequently boasted that his business here was only a side issue and that his father was very wealthy. While here he frequently indulged in heavy drinking and gambling sprees, and at such times was cross and quarrelsome. 

While staying at the Broadway hotel he raised a great disturbance one evening while under the influence of liquor. Mr. Durkee, who was a friend of Graeter’s, went into the room where Graeter lay on a bed in the dark and tried to have him keep quiet. 

Without warning of any kind he fired two shots at Mr. Durkee from a revolver, both bullets passing close to his abdomen and lodging in the wall, where the holes may yet be seen. 

Mr. Durkee believes Graeter to have been insane while under the influence of liquor, while others here believe those fits to have been simply an outlet of his pure cussedness, under the guise of drunkenness, and still further believe that his recent murderous freak was of the same nature and from the same cause, insanity only being a dodge to escape punishment.

-- end of article from The Silver City Enterprise, March 6th, 1891.

The last paragraph tells us a lot about how things change yet stay the same. What I'm talking about is how there were those folks even back then who realized that there are bad people who would try to "feign insanity" and use an insanity plea to escape being taken out and hanged. In the case of Silver City in 1891, if a jury decided to place him in an asylum for the criminally insane, that murderer would certainly have escaped a rope.

Tom Correa

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Parkland Students Unhappy With Their Security

The same school children who said they wanted something done to save their lives, don't like the beefed up security at their school. The security which includes check points and having to use clear backpacks has the children there very unhappy.

Now the kids say that they feel like they're in prison instead of school. Some are saying that they are being treated worse than livestock because of the metal street barricades. Basically, they are not happy with the results of their protests.

Some of the same leaders of the "March For Our Lives" protest that took place recently showed their lack of maturity by filling their now mandatory clear backpacks with tampons in an effort to say that their privacy is being infringed upon. Of course why a High School boy in Florida would have tampons in his backpack is a question for others to answer, that's not for me to guess about the habits of High School boys in Parkland, Florida.

Never mind that the clear backpacks were made mandatory after knives were found to have been smuggled into the school. Never mind that this is just a step in providing them more security. And as for the irony of these children are now protesting the security there school is providing, never mind that this is what they themselves demanded during their protests.

Many now realize that their demands for security and to live was all a fraud. It's being said that they didn't want to be safe and secure, and that all they really wanted was to get political and ban guns. That they wanted a type of rifle taken away from every American gun owner because they knew what was good for all of us. And frankly, that makes sense to me since I believe that they were told that the problem was the AR-15 rifle that the killer used. Not the killer or his mental state or the lax security, but the AR-15 rifle itself.

Some say those kids drank the Kool-Aid and followed the Liberal Left as if the Democrat Party, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, and Charles Schumer, were all Pied Pipers. They screamed for gun control under the guise that they were interested in saving lives and being secure. It was all just a lie. Yes, a complete fraud.

They had no interest in being secure. They only wanted gun control, a gun ban, and the repeal of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Bravo to the Liberals who convinced those children that a piece of machinery, a rifle called an AR-15, was the problem instead of focusing on the root cause which was the killer himself. Bravo to those ignorant individuals who influenced children to accept the lie that a tool, a gun, a rifle, specifically an AR-15, somehow grew legs and assaulted that school in February.

Thankfully the idea of being safe and banning a single type of rifle and calling it good is not how it works in life. Thankfully there are adults in Parkland Florida who don't see waiting for a gun ban of a single style of rifle as a sane and practical alternative to keeping children safe.

What those children want will not keep anyone alive and well. The reason is that wanting a ban, which may or may not ever take effect again, will not provide an once of security for them. Whether the children like or not, even if it were possible to take away every one of the millions of AR-15 rifles in the entire world, that in itself would do nothing to ensure that someone does not attempt to harm students in some way with some other weapon.

How do I know that? How am I so sure of that? Since it was authorized for sale to civilians in 1964, there have been a number of school shootings yet only two were committed using AR-15 rifles. All of the rest were done with shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, lever action rifles, bolt action rifles, handguns, knives, etc, and so on. 

Since these students in the Parkland, Florida, school are not mature enough, responsible enough, nor knowledgeable enough to buy a firearm, what makes anyone in their right mind think they are mature enough or experienced enough to know what they need in the way of security measures? What professional training or even experience have they had that says they are now experts on guns or security needs? No, being near where a crime takes place does not make anyone a gun expert nor a security professional. They simply don't know what it takes to stay secure in the way that they demanded they be protected.

The victims of the Parkland shooting are those who were killed and wounded. The victims were not those who were led away safely by wonderful caring teachers. The killer was the man who showed up and did the killing, who did the harm, who did the act. The killer was not the gun he used. Sadly, the children there are not talking about the killer for one reason or another. Some say they don't want to face the fact that they are partly responsible for making Cruz want to come back to that school and do such a horrid thing. Some say it's simply easier to blame a rifle and not the user.

Security doesn't work that way. A good security evaluation cannot pick and choose what it wants to look at and what it doesn't want to look at. In a good security evaluation, everything needs to be examined. Yes, that means access, identification methods, property being brought in and out by way of the kids and the adults, and among other things that means looking at vulnerable areas including the possibility of threats by the students and administrators themselves.

People don't talk about it much for one reason or another, but the fact is that there have been a number of school shootings where adults have entered the school for no apparent reason to shoot people there. And yes, there have also been killers who were part of the school staff here and there.

We tend to think of school shooting as guns doing the killing. But the fact is, most school shooting are kids killing other kids. That's simply more the case. And of course, to keep as many people as safe as possible against the possibility of an attack, measures limiting access and ensuring weapons are not brought on campus need to be taken. We've already talked about how the school discovered knives and other weapons being brought into the schools, so not the are having the kids use clear backpacks. With the metal detectors, check points and barriers, these are all good first steps in providing the kids with good security.

Next, the school may want to limit access to areas formerly open to all. Areas need to be placed off limits or used with a pass system. The schools there need to get Identification Cards and update information as to who is forbidden from entering the school grounds. Access lists need to be updated and measures need to be changed periodically so that returning students have a hard time coming back to reek havoc on those that they have problems with. In the case of the February 14th shooting, the killer was a former student who knew exactly what the security measures were. Subsequently he was able to gain entry and find his targets fairly easily.

The most controversial aspect of securing schools is that the schools may want to have students undergo and clear background checks. Especially right now before returning to school there. High School kids with felonies may not want to be allowed back on campus. And since these days children are routinely being provided with an array of medications that have a number of side-effects including rage and suicidal tendencies, finding out who is on medications and for what reason would be helpful information when looking at students as potential threats. And like it or not, since students are killing other students, they need to be looked at more as a threat than mere children these days.

Since no one knows what is the exact intent of those sick individuals who act out to harm others, precautionary discussions with troublemakers and rebellious students are sometimes carried out. As stated before, to keep all as safe as possible against any attack, measures have to be taken limiting access and ensuring weapons are not brought on campus. So to allow questionable children on campus may be a problem when it comes to limiting access of a potential threat. If maintaining peace and the health and welfare of others there is the objective, then the behavior and history of some students needs to be looked at.

I've read where some inner-city schools actually request psychological examinations of female students who shave their heads, boys who identify themselves as transgender, and gays who appear violent or self-destructive. Besides psychological testing, those individuals are assessed for anger issues and questioned as to whether or not they have violent thoughts toward others. Since not everyone sees a gay youngster as being normal, other kids may have problems with their choice of "self-identifying" as something other than what they are. This can lead to conflicts and should be known to administrators.

Also, students who declare themselves "Leftist" or some sort of extremists who worship and celebrate mass murderers such as Che Guevara by wearing t-shirts with his image and others are at times questioned. Students who agree with the Communist tactics of Stalin and Mao who exterminated millions of their political opponents are talked with. These students may see others who love America and our Capitalist system as enemies. They therefore may see others as potentially future targets. Knowing how violent ANTIFA has been, no one should rule out an ANTIFA member in school. This is especially true if they feel the need to act out their aggression toward anything not in agreement with their ultra-Liberal or Leftist political philosophy.

During any security evaluation, deviant behavior such as glorifying mass murderers such as Che Guevara or the Aurora Colorado theater killer for example may be red flags of violent intentions. Red flags that are no different than finding out that a child spends a great deal of time watching violent videos, has an unhealthy obsession with death, studies how to built bombs, or is consumed with how to use weapons to commit a crime.

As for those who say that these measures are extreme? Let's remember that during their "March For Our Lives," the children protested and demanded that adults do what's needed to save their lives. After all, they said the loss of just one child is too much. I agree and the responsibility for their security sits with the School Districts.

While the Parkland, Florida, children say they would rather remain defenseless against an armed intruder and not arm their administrators, other schools across the nation have ignored the wishes of naive children and did what was needed to confront a threat. The result is that many lives have been saved doing so across the nation. We don't hear about guns in the hands of administrators or a school officer because that would be counter productive to the gun control agenda.

As for the measures that I mention above, schools in the inner city have had many of those measure already instituted for years now. The schools in Parkland, Florida, should do the same to provide the security needed to prevent another mass murder from taking place. While schools in general need to stop being "soft-targets" as a result of lax security, the schools in Parkland need to do what they can simply because they have learned that they cannot depend on their Sheriffs Department to act when needed.

Schools need to act even if it ruffles a few feathers of children who are now feeling indignant about the security that's being provided to them. Whether students are unhappy or not should not be a concern to administrators. The concern school administrators should be to never again have to explain to another parent how they didn't do enough to keep their child safe.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa