Friday, November 30, 2018

Size of Ranches In America Today


Dear Friends,

This post is an effort on my part to answer a question put to me regarding the size of an average ranch in the United States. When it comes to ranching in America today, what's the average size ranch and how many head of cattle does the average ranch run each year?

But before we get into that, I need to ask a favor. While I don't expect him to be reading my blog since he had nothing good to say to me, if you're that big rancher who owns half of Montana and looks down his nose on others who only have a few acres -- please don't write me again.

The last time you wrote me, you said, "you have to own a thousand acres, and run a working cattle ranch of a thousand head, before you have the right to write about ranch work or the cowboy lifestyle."

Yes, I was actually told that by a rancher in Montana. With his attitude toward others, we can all thank God that he's not representative of American ranchers, big and small.

A few years ago, I more or less stopped writing about horses and cattle, and ranch work, simply because I got real tired of people writing me nasty letters. And frankly, like most folks who I know, I have a real hard time dealing with people who act like that snobby rich kid in high school whose parents bought them everything and who never had to worry about any real problems because they had their money handed to them. They'll treat you like dirty trailer trash because your family doesn't have what their's does.

That was about the time when I was contacted that rancher in Montana who told me that I have no right writing about horses and cattle because I've never made my living in horses and cattle. Even after my telling him that I have worked to help save a few ranches of very close friends, worked without pay from families needing help, have gathered cattle and worked roundup and brandings for years, and I've been around cattle and horses since I was just a kid. None of that didn't matter. To him, that didn't matter. Unless you "owned" a big cattle operation with large acreage with a large herd -- you don't know what you're talking about.

As for addressing my small piece of heaven that I call home, he made it clear about how he feels about anyone with less land than a thousand acres. As he put it, "unless you make your living on a cattle ranch of a thousand acres or more, you just have a hobby and don't know what you're talking about. You don't matter and should shut up!"

So now, let's talk about size.

I've known a few breeders who have raised champion livestock on fairly small breeding facilities. I know of a horse breeder who only has 80 acres. That includes a racetrack and workout facility for racehorses. I know a bull breeder who was raising champion bloodline of Limousin cattle. I believe he had 20 acres. Before he passed away, I believe his stock won all sorts of awards and was known for their quality genetics. There's a cowgirl in Nebraska who is working hard trying to start up her own herd. I believe she has 40 acres. I know a family that started up a feedlot with only a few acres and ended up expanding over the years.

The point being is that someone has to start somewhere, and they shouldn't have wealthier folks who own half of Montana looking down their nose at them. No one should be looking down on others no matter how big their farms and ranches are compared to others. Folks are working hard and should be respected for that.

Sometimes it's hard to keep an operation going. 

That goes for beef cattle operations, horse ranches and rescues, and dairies. For example, while most of know real well how horse ranches and rescues have good years and bad years depending on the economy, the cost of hay, etc. Most know how a bad year can almost kill an operation and how they are always fighting to stay afloat no matter how hard folks work, the same goes for dairies.

January 2018's milk production report from the Department of Agriculture showed that the number of licensed U.S. dairy farms dropped by 1,600 farms to 40,219. That’s a decline of 3.8%. Over the past decade, the reported sated that America has lost nearly 17,000 dairy farms. That's a decline of about 30%. Since our population is growing, that's a huge concern. 

With 9.4 million dairy cows in the U.S. dairy herd in January of this year, the average herd size is now 234 cows. The average herd size in 2008 was about 163 cows.

The January 2018 report reflected what was going on around the country in 2017. Wisconsin still has the most licensed dairy farms with 9,090 farms producing and shipping milk. But we should be concerned since Wisconsin lost 430 farms in 2017. Pennsylvania came in second with 6,570 farms, down just 80 operations. New York reports 4,490 licensed operations, down 160 farms. And believe it or not, Minnesota has 3,210 dairy farms remaining. That's down for that state by 140 farms from 2016. As for California, this state is still the largest dairy producing state. This is so, even though this state is down 30 licensed farms with just 1,390 continuing still in operation. 

Why is California the leading dairy producer with 1,390 dairies? It's because of cow numbers. Based on the January 2018 cow numbers, Wisconsin which is the Number 2 dairy state, has an average herd size of 140 cows. In California, the average herd size is 1,250 cows. That's a huge difference.

Of course even though the average herd is large in California, the state's desire to over-regulate is driving this state's dairy producers to relocate in other states or shutdown completely.

As a piece of trivia, the largest dairy farm in the United States is Fair Oaks Farms. They are out of Indiana and have 25,000 acres of land, that's 40 square miles of land. They also run 32,000 cows to produce 2.5 million pounds of milk every day. That's enough milk from that one farm for all of the 8 million residents in Chicago and Indianapolis. 

As for beef cattle operations in America, the stats may surprise you. My research shows that the average size of a farm and/or ranch in the United States today is under 442 acres. In the United States, this is according to the USDA, small family farms average 231 acres and under. What is considered a large family farm, actually averages 1,421 acres. Fact is, like very large farms with an average acreage of 2,086, these are not the norm. Fact is small family farms and ranches make up 88 percent of the farms and ranches in America.

Let's take a look at Texas. According to the 2012 Ag Census data for Texas, data shows there are a roughly 178,000 operations claiming a total of 90.3 million acres of permanent pasture in Texas. That breaks down to an average of 507 acres per cattle operation. But that figure is not realistic since many ranches in Texas fall in the large to very large category. So why the discrepancy? Well it's because there are more small cattle operations than large and very large operations.  

This is the same reason that data regarding the average number of cattle per outfit in Texas is so misleading. That 2012 Ag Census report puts the number of Texas beef cattle inventory of 4.33 million head on 134,000 cattle operations.

If we do the math, that breaks down to an average of 32 head of cattle per outfit. Since we know that can't be right considering the fact that some Texas ranches in the very large category run thousands of head, we have to note that 36% of the Texas cattle inventory is in herds smaller than 50 head. 

So now you're asking, how can the average herd be only 32 head of cattle in Texas? Here's why. According to that 2012 report, there are 30 ranches that have 2,500 acres of more. Of those 30 ranches, they run a total of 134,000 beef cows. There are 161 ranches with 1000 acres or more that run a total of 220,888 beef cows. 

Now, compare that to the very small family cattle operations where they may be raising cattle for sale and self-consumption. According to the report, there are 54,414 family cattle operations that have less than 10 acres. Yes, less than 10 acres. How many head of cattle could that amount to? Well, at 5 cows a piece on the average, combined they add up to more than those 161 ranches with 1000 or more acres. We know that because that same report shows that 256,162 head of cattle are raised on less than 10 acre parcels in Texas.  

If we take all of the more than 54 thousand Texans who own 9 acres and under, and add their numbers to the more than 30 thousand ranchers who own from 10 to 19 acres, and then add them to the more than 30 thousand ranchers who have 20 to 49 acres, they add up to 115,205 beef operations having under 50 acre each in Texas. Of that, believe it or not, they raise 1.65 million beef cows are produced. Yes, 1.65 million head! That's a lot of cattle.

When you consider that 4.33 million head is produced in Texas, that 1.65 million head of cattle raised on ranches with under 50 acres is a big deal. That means there are a lot of Americans in Texas who are producing for their families and for sell. While some are start up operations building their own herds, all are being more self-sufficient and less dependent on others.

Here's another thought, if we look at all of the 4.33 million beef cattle produced in Texas, of that 3.64 million are produced on ranches with under 499 acres. These ranches are the majority of who's producing beef in Texas. But also, from the research that I can find, they are representative of what's going on across America.

Another point, if we combine the 528 ranches of under 999 acres in Texas, with the 161 ranches with 1,000 to 2,499 acres there, and the 30 big ranches with more than 2,500 acres each in that state, while they have an incredible amount of cattle on each ranch, they only produce 681,241 head of cattle combined. So in other words, those big ranches are the minority and not the majority of beef producers as one would think.

As for the largest cattle ranch, the King Ranch has 911,215 acres of South Texas land. Yes, that's larger than the state of Rhode Island. Is home to 35,000 head of beef cattle and over 200 Quarter Horses. 


So now, while I'm not a cattle rancher and instead have created a home for horses that would have otherwise been lost to killer auctions, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm retired. I worked in private industry and was self-employed. I retired to the Sierra Nevada Mountain foothills, the California Gold Country, here in tiny Glencoe. I came here with the intention of doing some team roping, get into pennings, doing some trail riding in the thousands of acres of back country BLM land near my place.

For those who want to know, there are those properties on the outskirts of a major metropolitan areas that folks refer to as "ranchettes." According to research a "ranchette" is supposedly any "ranch" of 40 acres or less. While most of those properties are large home lots, most of them consisting of a few acres, a large house, and most likely a barn or stable and other outbuildings, I really wouldn't consider them "ranches." The reason is that most "ranchettes" near metropolitan areas are not raising cattle.

While statistics show us that you don't have to own half of Montana or thousands of acres to raise cattle for yourself or for sale, real working ranches are really big operations. The average size ranch in the United States is 442 acres. As with Texas, the average on those ranches in about 300 head of cattle. That is a lot of work. While it might not be one of those 30 Texas ranches that are running 4,000 head of cattle, that's still a full time cattle ranch operation. Those 300 head operations are the bulwark of what's going on in America today.

While I have a few acres, my place is not a "ranchette" because Calaveras County is rural America. We don't really have what one would consider a "metropolitan area" anywhere in this county to speak of. Surely not like Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area which are a few hours away from here. Much like must of the Gold Country, our county is not really like the rest of California.

What do I mean when I say that we're not really like the rest of California?

Well, for example, just the other morning when the weather was clear, while I was sitting at my computer attempting to write something, anything since I've been fighting a case of writer's block lately, I heard a neighbor doing some target shooting over at his place about 200 yards away. At the same time, my next door  neighbor was on his tractor doing some work at his place on his fields between us. 

I did not arrive here with the intention of raising a few head of beef, although there's nothing stopping me from doing so. My neighbor grows hay and runs a few cattle each year. How many head of cattle does he run? Well, like the many folks who have less than 10 acres in Texas, my neighbor only averages 5 to 6 head each year. Yes, for personal use by his family, and his extended family. Of course, he also sells a couple of head to help pay his taxes each year. Obviously, a small acre place with 5 or 6 cows is not going to make for a sustainable business. But is in reality, it will supplement a family and pay a bill or two. As with my neighbor, efforts of raising a few head each year feeds a few families and staves off the taxman.

While that Montana rancher who owns half of Montana may look down his nose at such small family operations, they are the majority of what's going on in America. Looking at the changes of beef production in the United States, one can't help but notice that there are very few big family cattle operations left. Most very large cattle operations today are owned and run by big corporations.

While that Montana rancher feels in that unless you own a thousand acres and have thousands of head of cattle, then "all you have is a hobby" as he put it, that's not the case in America today. And while I have all sorts of admiration for the large outfits that run those thousands of cattle and have the huge sections of land that make up some of the greatest ranches in America, there are a lot of people who would disagree that anything smaller than a thousand acres is a hobby. It all takes hard work.

Since posting this, a few of you have written to tell me that I shouldn't take jerks like that Montana rancher to heart. Well, let me just say this about that. As I was telling a friend on Facebook, sadly, I have to admit that as I've gotten older, I do take things too much to heart at times. I find that I have a lot less patience with snobs and condescending jerks.

Whether it's that Montana rancher telling me how all of my time helping friends didn't matter, or some pompous self-proclaimed "historian" who thinks he knows it all writing to tell me that the information that I've learned on my own for myself and actually seen with my own eyes can't be correct, I absolutely hate it.

I don't deal with snobs very well at all. Frankly, I've never dealt with braggers very well. Pretentious folks who send me snide comments and look down their nose at others have never impressed me. Folks who don't understand that they might not know it all aggravate me these days. And yes, I've met a few.

I'll tell you who does impress me. People who believe in hard work and taking care of one's family. Those who protect and provide for those they love. Those who have genuine respect for others. Those folks who treat others as they themselves want to be treated. Americans who have pride in being Americans and who love our great nation. Folks who take the time to thank God for all of one's blessings. They impress me.

That's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving History Odds & Ends


Happy Thanksgiving.  Here's just some odds and ends that I found interesting, I hope you do as well.

Let's start with the question, when was the first day of thanks in North America? Why the debate? Well, it appears that there may have been people giving thanks other than the Pilgrims in 1621.

In May of 1541, Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, led 1,500 men in a thanksgiving celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon. Coronado's expedition traveled north from Mexico City in 1540 in search of gold. The group camped alongside the canyon, in the modern-day Texas Panhandle, for two weeks in the spring of that year.

In June of 1546, French Huguenot colonists celebrated in solemn praise and thanksgiving in a settlement near what is now Jacksonville, Florida. The colony was destroyed by a Spanish raiding party in 1565. This "first Thanksgiving," however, was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River.

On August 9th, 1607, English settlers led by Captain George Popham joined Abnaki Indians along Maine's Kennebec River for a harvest feast and prayer meeting. The colonists, living under the Plymouth Company charter, established Fort St. George around the same time as the founding of Virginia's Jamestown colony. Unlike Jamestown, however, this site was abandoned a year later.

In the spring of 1610, Colonists in Jamestown, Virginia held a thanksgiving prayer service after English supply ships arrived with food. The harsh winter of 1609-1610 generated a famine that decimated the settlers. The group was reduced from 490 members to only 60 survivors who were forced to dire measures such as eating their horses. The colonial celebration which followed the arrival of the ships with food has also been considered the "first Thanksgiving."

In October of 1621, the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony celebrated the autumn harvest with a three-day feast. Governor William Bradford invited the chief of the Wampanoag tribe, Massasoit, to join the fifty colonists who had survived the harsh winter. The Native American leader brought ninety of his tribesmen to the feast.

The celebration included athletic contests, a military review led by Miles Standish, and a feast on foods such as wild turkeys, duck, geese, venison, lobsters, clams, bass, corn, green vegetables, and dried fruits. In 1841, Dr. Alexander Young contended that this harvest celebration was the "first Thanksgiving," and the origin of an American tradition. This interpretation gained such widespread acceptance that other contenders for the distinction faded into obscurity.

While the Native Americans actually showed up with five deer for the three day feast on the First Thanksgiving, here's America's traditional Thanksgiving menu today:
  • Oven roasted turkey, 
  • Stuffing cooked inside the turkey,
  • Potatoes and/or yams; mashed, scalloped, baked, roasted, and/or candied,
  • Turkey gravy made with freshly roasted turkey-drippings,
  • Cranberry sauce wither jellied or whole berries,
  • Pumpkin pie.
On November 13, 1775, The Boston Gazette and Country Journal published a proclamation for a public thanksgiving from the Massachusetts Council-Chamber in Watertown:

"Altho' in Consequence of the unnatural, cruel and barbarous Measures, adopted and pursued by the British Administration ... We have thought fit ... to appoint THURSDAY the Twenty-third Day of November ... to be observed as a Day of public THANKSGIVING, throughout the Colony ....

That such a Band of Union, founded upon the best Principles, unites the American Colonies; That our Rights and Priviledges ... are so far preserved to us, notwithstanding all the Attempts of our barbarous Enemies to deprive us of them. And to offer up humble and fervent Prayers to Almighty GOD, for the whole British Empire; especially for the UNITED AMERICAN COLONIES ..."

Of course, less than a year later, Britain's American colonies ultimately severed all ties with the British with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

After the U.S. victory over British forces in October of 1777 at the Battle of Saratoga, the Continental Congress recommended that the colonies observe a day of thanksgiving. On November 30, 1777, the commander-in-chief of the Continental forces, George Washington, issued General Orders setting aside Thursday, December 18 "for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise."

All thirteen colonies celebrated on December 18 while Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont sponsored additional thanksgiving observances on separate days. The tradition of thanksgiving days sponsored by the Continental Congress continued through 1784 with proclamations such as the October 1782 decree.

On October 3rd, 1789, the first President of the United States, George Washington, proclaimed November 26th to be a day of national thanksgiving and prayer after receiving Congressional requests for such a decree.

He wrote in his November 26th, 1789, diary entry: "Being the day appointed for a thanksgiving I went to St. Pauls Chapel though it was most inclement and stormy -- but few people at Church." 

President Washington later provided money, food, and beer to debtors spending the holiday in a New York City jail.

Thanksgiving failed to become an annual tradition at this time. Only Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison declared national days of thanks in their terms. Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams considered the practice to infringe upon the separation of church and state. Governors, on the other hand--particularly in the New England states, regularly issued proclamations of thanksgiving.

On April 13th, 1815, President James Madison proclaimed a national day of prayer and thanksgiving after the end of the War of 1812. U.S. and British emissaries effectively ended the conflict with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, 1814 in Belgium. The treaty restored the pre-War of 1812 boundaries of the U.S. and Canada, but it did not address British violations on the high seas and the imprisonment of American seamen. A joint commission was appointed to address those other concerns.

During the war, President Madison proclaimed three days of fasting and prayer in response to Congressional requests (August 20, 1812, September 9, 1813, and January 12, 1815). He was the last president to call for a national thanksgiving until Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Sarah Hale, who was the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, began a letter-writing campaign to establish the last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving Day. She began writing essays calling for the national celebration of the holiday as the editor of Boston's Ladies' Magazine in 1827. Godey's merged with Ladies' Magazine in Philadelphia a decade later and Hale's editorials reached an audience of approximately 150,000 people. 

In 1846, Sarah Hale moved beyond her readership and for the next 17 years directly petitioned state and federal officials. Her perseverance yielded increasing response from state governors and other politicians such as Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward.

In 1850, the Territory of Minnesota celebrated its first Thanksgiving Day on December 26 of that year. The whole territory, including all of what is now the State of Minnesota, plus the Dakotas as far west as the Missouri River, contained approximately 6,000 settlers. Territory Governor, Alexander Ramsey, proclaimed the day of thanks:

"Young in years as a community, we have come into the wilderness, in the midst of savage men and uncultivated nature to found a new empire in aid of our pursuit of happiness, and to extend the area of enlightened republican Liberty...

Let us in the public temple of religion, by the fireside and family altar, on the prairie and in the forest, join in the expression of our gratitude, of our devotion to the God who brought our fathers safely through the perils of an early revolution, and who thus continues his favors to the remotest colonies of his sons."

Such sentiments were echoed throughout states and territories as Thanksgiving became a national tradition even before it became a national holiday. 

In 1856, Puritan leader William Bradford's 1650 manuscript, Of Plimoth Plantation, was published after being lost for about eighty years. The document briefly mentions the Plymouth colony's famous 1621 harvest celebration:

"And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion.Another colonial publication, Mourt's Relation, was rediscovered in the 1820s and included Edward Winslow's detailed first-hand account of the feast:

At which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs ... with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others."

The documents fueled 19th-century interest in the Puritan colony and influenced the eventual association of the colony with Thanksgiving Day.

On November 28th, 1861, Union and Confederate troops celebrated Thanksgiving Day away from their families during the first year of the Civil War. The conflict threatened to permanently divide the nation. Both the Union and Confederate Congresses called for days of thanksgiving after key military victories throughout the war.

On September 28th, 1863, editor Sarah Hale then wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln encouraging him to proclaim a national Thanksgiving Day. This was part of Hale's 17 year campaign to establish Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday.

Sarah Hale included an editorial she wrote for her Lady's Book magazine and explained that a "national feeling of Thanksgiving" would benefit the country in the midst of the Civil War:

"The influence of these state seasons of sacred remembrances, high aspirations, and tender . . . rejoicings would not only be salutary on the character of our own citizens, but the world would be made better . . . . If the germ of good feeling be ever so deeply buried under 'the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life,' it may be brought out by sympathy and vivified by culture and effort."

In the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the 26th, the final Thursday of November 1863. The document, written by Secretary of State William H. Seward, reads as follows:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."


Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1876, The American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game. The sport resembled something of a cross between rugby and modern-day football, but the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving Day developed with the evolution of the sport itself.

By the 1890s, Yale and Princeton drew upwards of 40,000 fans for the collegiate championship games. Fact is, by then more than 5,000 clubs, colleges, and high school football games were played on the Thanksgiving holiday.

In 1917, Americans celebrated the holiday in the midst of World War I. The war in Europe had begun in 1914, but President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917 after the sinking of the Lusitania.

At the time, Director Herbert Hoover of the newly established Food Administration, asked farmers to increase food production and compelled civilians to ration consumption by observing certain days of the week as "wheatless," "meatless," or "porkless." This slightly altered traditional Thanksgiving meals as families relied upon the foods available in their "war gardens." To help Americans, guides such as 1917's "Best War Time Recipes" provided methods for making foods such as corn bread and muffins while adhering to the necessary rations.

In 1921, the community of Plymouth, Massachusetts erected a statue memorializing the Wampanoag Indian leader, Massassoit, 300 years after he and 90 of his tribesman joined the 57 Puritans at Plymouth Colony for a three-day feast of thanksgiving. The inscription on the statue reads, in part, "Massasoit, great Sachem of the Wampanoags, Protector and Preserver of the Pilgrims, 1621."

In 1920, Gimbel Brothers Department Store in Philadelphia sponsored the first Thanksgiving Day parade when fifteen cars, fifty people, and a fireman dressed as Santa Claus paraded through the streets. It concluded when Santa scaled a ladder into Gimbel's toy department. 

In 1924, employees, friends, and families of Macy's sponsored the store's first annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade became the standard that commemorated the official start of the Christmas shopping season.

In 1927, puppeteer Tony Sarg created the first giant balloons for the Macy's parade. The event was later featured in films such as A Miracle on 34th Street (1947). Each year, millions of people line New York City's streets during the parade while millions more tune into national television coverage.

In 1934, over 26,000 fans watched the Detroit Lions face the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit Stadium. Radio executive George Richards had purchased the Portsmouth Spartans, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions after the 1933 football season. That was the first National Football League game held on Thanksgiving Day. 

It was broadcast on the NBC radio network by 94 stations to a nationwide audience. Other than between 1939 and 1944, the Detroit Lions game became an annual event. Television broadcasts of the game began in 1956.

In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared November 23rd, the next-to-last Thursday of the month, to be Thanksgiving Day. 

This break with tradition was prompted by requests from the National Retail Dry Goods Association to extend the Christmas shopping season by one week. Roosevelt had rejected the association's similar request in 1933 on the grounds that such change might cause confusion. The President's 1939 proclamation proved him more right than he probably would have liked.

As always, the president's 1939 proclamation only directly applied to the District of Columbia and federal employees. While governors usually followed the president's lead with state proclamations for the same day, on this year, twenty-three states observed Thanksgiving Day on November 23rd, twenty-three states celebrated on November 30th, and Texas and Colorado declared both Thursdays to be holidays. 

Football coaches scrambled to reschedule games set for November 30th, families didn't know when to have their holiday meals, calendars were inaccurate in half of the country, and people weren't sure when to start their Christmas shopping. The nation was again divided over the date of Thanksgiving Day in 1940.

The day was November 26th, 1941, after two years of confusion and complaint, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation establishing Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday in November. Calendars and holiday plans were already set for the third Thursday in November, 1941 so the legislation took effect in 1942.

Roosevelt, recognizing the problems caused by his 1939 decree, had announced a plan to return to the traditional Thanksgiving date in 1942. But Congress introduced the legislation to ensure that future presidential proclamations could not impact the scheduling of the holiday. Their plan to designate the fourth Thursday of the month allowed Thanksgiving Day to fall on the last Thursday five out of seven years.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1942, London's Westminster Abbey held its first secular service in nine centuries when it hosted a Thanksgiving event for U.S. troops stationed in England during World War II. More than 3,500 people filled the church for a program featuring patriotic songs such as "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful."

The U.S. officially entered the war on December 8th, 1941, one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Food rations, troop deployments, and fierce battles dampened many holiday celebrations until the end of the war in August 1945.

On November 28th, 1963, just six days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the nation on Thanksgiving Day. He announced that Florida's NASA Launch Operation Center would be renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center and he asked the public to remain "determined that from this midnight of tragedy we shall move toward a new American greatness."

On November 22nd, 2001, the nation was still reeling from our being attacked on September 11th when Muslim terrorists high-jacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City.

Because of the tragic loss of life and the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. Citizens maintain daily routines but remained vigilant of potential risks in this country and abroad. Instead of being fragmented and divided as hoped by our enemies, Americans united for a time. 

Just a year earlier, the longest Presidential Election in U.S. history took place and among the questions being asked, besides who would be president, who would pardon that year's Thanksgiving turkey? 

While some like to point to President Harry Truman's "pardon" of a turkey the day before it was scheduled to be a main attraction at the White House Thanksgiving dinner in 1947. That tradition was actually started by President Lincoln after his son Tad asked that the turkey meant for their Thanksgiving feast to be pardoned.

The pardoning of one lucky bird is now an annual Thanksgiving event at the White House. It's a tradition featuring poultry humor, holiday history, and the commutation of a trip to the chopping block into a life-long stay in a Herndon, Virginia petting zoo.

I compiled this information from various sources including a timeline history of Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoyed this. 

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving and God bless!

Tom Correa

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Day When God Stepped In To Help America


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that's how I see it.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

We Have A Dishonest Disrespectful Press


Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mr. President,

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully, your loyal supporter,

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's About Respect


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's how I see it.

Tom Correa




Saturday, November 10, 2018

Monterey County's First Sheriff William Roach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Correa





Monday, November 5, 2018

Volunteering & Therapeutic Riding


Dear Friends,

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Correa