Monday, July 30, 2018

Alvin "Pack Saddle Jack" Potter -- New Mexico Killer

Alvin "Pack Saddle Jack" Potter was born sometime in 1878. Some say he died in the 1920s, but really it's not known when he died or how. Though that's the case, we do know prison records show he's buried in the New Mexico State Prison Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As for who was he? Well, he started out a petty thieve, moved on to join a small gang of train robbers, and then graduated from thieve and full fledged murderer.

It's said he picked up the handle "Pack Saddle Jack" because that was the type of saddle that he used when riding his horse. Yes, some say he actually used a pack saddle instead of a regular riding saddle to ride a horse. Of course, another story goes that he was a petty criminal who supposedly hid the things he stole in his pack saddle and covered it with a blanket. As strange as it sounds, it's said he'd actually sit on top of the blanketed pack saddle in an effort to get people to stop thinking that he was hiding something. If that sounds pretty dumb to you, please don't feel alone on that. I thought so as well when I researched this outlaw.

If you've ever packed a pack saddle, then you know how it sounds pretty silly for someone to try to hide stolen goods on a pack saddle even by covering it with a blanket -- all with the hopes that no one notices you're riding on something. It's one thing to use panniers, but just a pack saddle would be pretty obvious. 

From what I could find out about "Pack Saddle Jack," since around 1897, he and his family lived in Cedaredge, Colorado. By 1907, he was in jail in Delta, Colorado, for beating up his wife. He was one of the three outlaws in a gang which also included Harvey Logan, aka Kid Curry. He and Curry and another robbed a Denver & Rio Grande train near Parachute, Colorado, on July 7th, 1904. 

The story goes that when the westbound Denver & Rio Grande train made its 1:15 a.m. stop in Parachute, that a man jumped aboard the engine. At gun point, he ordered the train engineer to proceed to Streit Flats just three miles west of Parachute. That man is believed to have been Kid Curry. Three miles west of Parachute is where Pack Saddle Jack and another joined Curry.

The three train robbers had the Baggage Master open the doors of the baggage car and then they used dynamite to blow open the safe. While they were expecting to find a shipment of gold, the safe was empty. It's said the gold shipment was actually shipped out earlier than scheduled. From there, the badmen headed out and ended up in Battlement Mesa where they stole fresh horses. 

While this was going on, lawmen gathered a posse of town's folk, local ranchers, and cowboys from around the Grand Junction and Parachute area. As soon as they were ready, they took off after the train robbers. The posse caught up with the outlaws and immediately a running gun battle started. 

Somehow the badmen escaped that fight, but the posse again caught up with them on East Divide Creek. Legend says the outlaws hid behind rocks and yelled at the posse to "go back or get hurt!" 

The posse didn't take kindly to being threatened by a few lowlife outlaws and the battle was on. Soon, one outlaw was heard screaming that he'd been hit. Many in the posse said later they heard him say he was going to "finish the job" before hearing a shot fired. When the posse overtook their position in the rocks, they found an outlaw with a bullet hole in his chest and a bullet hole in his head. 

The coward who took his own life was later identified by Pinkerton Detectives as Kid Curry. Since this was pretty close to Glenwood Springs, he was taken to that graveyard where he was buried. His grave is supposedly near Doc Holliday's grave there.  

In March of 1907, famed Colorado lawman, former Gunnison County Sheriff and Deputy U.S. Marshal Cyrus Wells "Doc" Shores, was working as a railroad detective. He arrived in Cedaredge looking for information on Pack Saddle Jack and his cohort. He knew they were involved in the Denver & Rio Grande robbery, and he needed to find them.

Cyrus Wells “Doc” Shores was a legend in that part of the country. He was considered a lawman's lawman. He was born on November 11th, 1844, so he was a 62 year old man when he arrived in Cedaredge. Just as point of interest, he died on October 12th, 1934. Yes, just one month shy of 90 years old. He's buried in the Gunnison Cemetery.

He was considered tough as they came, a lawman with common sense and a great deal of smarts who was known for sniffing out badmen. He started out as a  lawman on Colorado's Western Slope in the early days when lawmen had to make the law as they went along. As the Gunnison County Sheriff, he was known for the captured of Alferd Packer who was known as the "Colorado Cannibal." After serving as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, he took the job of railroad detective. The inscription on his headstone reads, "Western Colorado's most noted frontiersman, pioneer and lawman."

Shores' investigation of the the Denver & Rio Grande robbery led to the arrest of Pack Saddle Jack in Glenwood Springs. Because of Shores' reputation, it's said Pack Saddle Jack didn't put up a fight. But because of alibis, a jury couldn't convict him and he was acquitted in June of 1907.

After the trial, Pack Saddle Jack moved his wife and four children to Taos, New Mexico. It was there on March 26th, 1909, that after being involved in a bar-fight in Robert Pooler's Saloon in Taos, Pack Saddle Jack left to find a gun.

When he returned, he had a rifle and wanted to kill saloon owner Robert Pooler. Some say he wanted to kill him for taking the side of the others who he was in a fight with. Some say he wanted to kill Pooler simply because Pooler threw him out of his saloon. For whatever no good reason, Pack Saddle Jack used his rifle to ambush Robert Pooler. He dry gulched Pooler by firing a single shot through a saloon window. It's said Pooler was dead before he hit the floor.

Robert C. Pooler was born on May 9th, 1872. He was only 36 on the night that he had to deal with Pack Saddle Jack. Fact is, Jack was only 4 years younger than Pooler.

Alvin "Pack Saddle Jack" Potter was seen committing the murder and was immediately arrested. This time, a fake alibi wouldn't be able to get him off. He was tried and convicted in a New Mexico court of 2nd degree murder. For his killing of Taos saloon owner Robert Pooler, Pack Saddle Jack was sentenced to 99 years in the New Mexico State Penitentiary.

While I couldn't find when this killer died, there are those who say that former Deputy U.S. Marshal Doc Shores visited Pack Saddle Jack in prison when Shores was working on a book. Shores had reported that Pack Saddle Jack had gone insane in prison and died sometime there in the 1920s.

But frankly, who knows? Besides, when he died doesn't really matter. What matters is, insane or not, he spends eternity frying in Hell for ambushing and killing an innocent man who is said to have left behind a wife and children.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why It’s Not Racist Or Sexist For The University Of Wyoming To Champion Cowboys

Dear Friends, 

While I don't post the articles of other writers very often, this is a very good article that I would like to share with all. Also I would like to thank Floyd Campbell for sending it to me. Thanks Floyd! 

Why It’s Not Racist Or Sexist For The University Of Wyoming To Champion Cowboys

By Helen Raleigh
JULY 17, 2018

Activists are attacking the University of Wyoming's use of 'cowboy' in its slogan, on the grounds it's sexist and racist. They could not be more wrong.

The University of Wyoming finds itself in a rare national controversy because of its new marketing slogan: “The world needs more cowboys.” Even though the recruiting video features a diverse student body on and off campus, some faculty members and activists complained the word “cowboy” is sexist and racist, because it implies only white men with guns are welcomed.

“If you’re not a white person and especially if you’re an Indian, it would make you feel out of place,” Darrell Hutchinson, cultural specialist with the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming, told Reuters. “It wouldn’t make you feel too good about yourself.” These critics of the slogan couldn’t be more wrong.

UW is my alma mater. Years ago, when I was still a new immigrant to this country, I rode the Greyhound bus for three days and three nights from upstate New York, to Laramie, Wyoming, to begin my pursuit of an MBA degree at the UW business school. It was my first cross-country trip in the U.S. and my first time in America’s west. When the bus dropped me off at the Laramie Greyhoundbus station, I thought I had walked into a John Wayne western movie set: crystal clear blue sky, rugged mountains with snow caps, and miles and miles of openness.

As a female minority immigrant, my life in Laramie was a blessed one. UW has a beautiful campus and an amazingly diverse student body. In my MBA class, there were two Chinese students, three from Norway, two from Finland and four from the U.S. Two thirds of my class was made up of women. Some of us are more liberal than others. Next to the tall pine trees and inside the unique sand stone buildings, I often saw different skin colors and heard many different languages spoken.

UW is not only the place where I acquired an excellent education from many distinguished professors, it’s also the place I experienced many first time life experiences. This was where I bought my first car, a stick shift 1984 Ford Escort Pony. My roommate had to drive the car back to our apartment since I only knew how to drive an automatic. She gave me one lesson around the block and I was off on my own. I have to admit that the first couple of trips were rough, but I eventually got a hang of it. That is the cowboy way: someone is always there to help, but mostly you will learn to figure it out on your own.

At UW, I went to my first BBQ and learned how to grill hotdogs. I attended my first Cowboys’ football game and high fived with mascot Pistol Pete. The gold and brown hoodie with an emblem depicting a cowboy riding a bucking horse with hat in hand kept me warm through the harsh winter.

When it was near Christmas, two professors took several of us to the mountains. We got to pick out our own Christmas tree in the woods, cut it and drag it back to their pickup truck. I also learned how to snowshoe during this trip, and that has become one of my favorite winter sports. By the time I completed the MBA program, UW had transformed me from a soft spoken and somewhat timid young woman into a confident cowboy who was ready to take on any challenge.

Yes, I am proud to call myself, an immigrant from Communist China, a cowboy. Like UW’s new recruiting video says, “it’s not what you are that makes you a cowboy or cowgirl, but who you are. It’s a shared spirit. It’s the spirit of the underdog. The kind of spirit that longs for something to prove. The kind that emboldens those who possess it to stand on the perimeter and howl into the unknown with unbendable optimism.” After two years at UW, that cowboy spirit was ingrained in me.

Our higher education is in a deep crisis. University campuses used to be the first places for free inquiry, ideas and reason. Now they have become the first place where the freedom of expression is often pushed aside to make room for ideological purity. Non-progressive ideas often are not tolerated, sometimes rejected violently, for no reason except the political correctness bench marks set by a few.

So many elite universities, such as Yale, have bowed down to PC mobs and forgone their roles of teaching our young people critical thinking, curiosity, truth, reason and beauty. But, UW stands out and stands firm. The board of trustees voted “unanimously” to proceed with “the world needs more cowboys” campaign, because “the world needs more wonder. More outside thinkers hungry for a challenge.”

The annual cost for attending UW as an out of state undergraduate student is about $14,000, compared to almost $70,000 that elite schools such as Yale charge. If you are a high school senior, I’d strongly encourage you to apply for UW. At UW, it does not matter what your gender is, what skin color you have or what language you speak. This is the place where not only you will receive a quality education with little or no student loan debt, but also where you will join many fellow cowboys to “pick up the torch of progress and fearlessly venture onwards” to create wonders in this world.

About the author: 

Helen Raleigh is a senior contributor to The Federalist. An immigrant from China, she is the owner of Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado.

She is the author of several books, including "Confucius Never Said" and "The Broken Welcome Mat." 

Monday, July 23, 2018

So Long Hopalong Cassidy -- A Poem By Don McLean

Dear Friends,

As can be expected of a child of the 1950s and '60s, I grew up on Westerns. 

Like many many others, I marveled at the lighting speed of The Rifleman, I admired the go it alone knight for hire Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel, I laughed at the cowardly antics of Brett and Bart Maverick, and I loved Zorro's skill with a sword and his black horse Tornado. 

But as most of you know, I'm a fan of William Boyd who played Hopalong Cassidy. Yes, my favorite was Hopalong Cassidy. And because William Boyd made over 66 Hopalong Cassidy films between 1938 and 1945, I grew up on re-runs. And frankly, I'm actually very thankful for that.

While I will do a more extensive post on William Boyd, I wanted to share this with you. It's a poem. In 1971, poet song writer Don McLean came out with a song titled American Pie. What people may not know is that McLean was a fan of Hopalong Cassidy. He wrote the poem below to William Boyd's famous Hopalong Cassidy. The poem first appeared on the inside record sleeve of the American Pie album.

Here's Don McLean’s poem to Hopalong Cassidy which was included on the inside cover of the American Pie album in 1971.

So Long Hopalong Cassidy

No matter how scary life got I could depend on you
You had that easy smile and white, wavy hair
You were my favorite father figure with two guns blazing
Not even Victor Jory could stand up to those 44-40s you packed
And that stallion you rode, I think his name was Topper
He was so beautiful and white he even came when you whistled
I’ve always liked black and I loved your clothes
Black hat, black pants, and shirt
Silver spurs and two guns in black holsters with pearly-white handles
Black and white, that was you Hoppy
The bad men fell the good guys lived on
The ladies touched your hand but never kissed
Whenever John Carradine asked a question you’d say
“That comes under the heading of my business”
Then you’d call for another sarsparilla
I believed in you so much that I’d take my Stetson
off and put it over my heart whenever anybody died
My hat’s off to you, Hoppy
Say good-bye to all the boys at the Bar-20
The black and white days are over
So long Hopalong Cassidy

Poem: Copyright Don McLean 1971

Why write it?

Hopalong is a symbol of a simpler time, a time less complicated, a time of clear black and white values. Hoppy was a defender of the weak, and didn't put up with outlaws. He was honest, tough, virtuous, smart, and resourceful. He was the sort of person that Americans strive to be in that he knew himself and wasn't about to sacrifice who he was for love or money. I believe most Americans are like that, or want to be like that. 

William Boyd is said to have seen the poem, and is said to have been flattered by it. Today, the words to the poem are on a plaque at the hospital where Mr. Boyd passed away. 

I thought you might find that interesting.

Tom Correa