Saturday, February 29, 2020

The San Elizario Salt War 1877



Most folks know the Rio Grande is a natural barrier dividing the United States from Mexico. In 1789, when Spain still had Mexico, Spaniards established a fort and called it "Presidio de San Elizario."

A town grew up around the fort and it soon took the name San Elizario. Fact is, the term San Elizario is said to be a corruption of "San Elceario" which is Spanish for Saint Elzear. Saint Elzear of Sabran is the Roman Catholic Patron Saint of Soldiers. During the Mexican-American War, after San Elizario was occupied by the U.S. troops, volunteers from California were stationed at the Presidio to prevent the re-occupation.

Prior to major water-control projects on the Rio Grande, such as Elephant Butte Dike which was constructed in 1911, the river was known to flood regularly. The river stayed the same until an 1831 flood changed the course of the river. That 1831 flood left San Elizario on a new island between the new and old channels of the Rio Grande.

After the Civil War there were a number of changes created in the political landscape of West Texas. The end of the war and Reconstruction brought many "entrepreneurs" to the area. Some were northern carpetbaggers.

It is said that there were three groups that made up the Republicans in the South after the Civil War, and Southerners referred to two with derogatory terms. "Scalawags" were Southerners who supported the Republican Party, "carpetbaggers" were opportunists who were recent arrivals in the region from the North, and Freedmen who were freed slaves.

Most Republicans coming there settled in Franklin, Texas, which was a trading village across the Rio Grande from the Chihuahua city of El Paso del Norte, which is present-day Ciudad Juárez. Many San Elizario families had deep roots there and didn't readily accept newcomers.

At the same time, about the beginning of the 1870s, the Democrat Party had begun to reclaim political influence in the state of Texas. But frankly, Democrat operatives with ties to the Confederacy were not accepted by the people of San Elizario either. And though that was the case, soon alliances shifted and rivalries developed between the Hispanic community, the Anglos there, the Republicans, and the Democrats residing in West Texas.


The San Elizario Salt War is also known as the Salinero Revolt or the El Paso Salt War. So what was the San Elizario Salt War about? Well, salt.

At the base of the Guadalupe Mountains, about 100 miles northeast of San Elizario, lies a number of dry salt lakes. Before the pumping of water and oil from West Texas, the area had a periodic shallow water table, and capillary action drew salt of a high purity to the surface.

This salt was valuable for a wide variety of purposes. Salt is 39 percent sodium, a chemical element that is necessary for our survival. Sodium controls a number of our bodily functions. Our need for salt is absolute and we are forced to seek for our health.

But besides salt for our physiological needs, we used salt was used to cure and preserve meat long before the advent of refrigeration. And yes, salt was necessary for treating leather, and stabilizing dyes. It was also used for bartering. And of course, salt was an essential element in the "patio process" for silver mining for the extraction of the silver from ore.

Salt is so important to both humans and animals, that we both subconsciously know when salt is needed. An example of this is that animals are attracted to salt licks and salt springs. And yes, it is said that Native American Indians often lay in ambush at such places or created artificial salt licks to lure the animals.

Historically, caravans to the salt lakes traveled either down the Rio Grande and then straight north or via what later became known as the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Salt deposits located in the Guadalupe Mountains are 110 miles east of El Paso. They produced salt that was almost chemically pure. It was a two to three day journey to retrieve salt and return home.

In 1863, the people of San Elizario, as a community, built by subscription a road running east to the salt lakes. The residents in the Rio Grande valley at El Paso were granted community access rights to the lakes by the King of Spain, and those rights had been grandfathered in by the Republic of Mexico and then again with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

So when, beginning in 1866, Texas began allowing individuals to stake claims for mineral rights, the grandfathered community rights were overturned. This did not make for happy locals who had been getting salt from that salt lake for almost a hundred years. To make matters worse, in 1870 there was a group from Franklin, Texas, who tried to claim the salt lakes deposits. This sparked a fight over ownership. And yes, a fight over control of the land began.

Albert Jennings Fountain and his "Salt Ring" favored county government ownership with community access. Then when Fountain was elected to the Texas State Senate, he began pushing his plan. But, when the Republican's loss control of the Texas state government in 1873, Fountain left El Paso for his wife's home in New Mexico.

In 1872, the Army withdrew troops from both Fort Bliss and Fort Quitman, near San Elizario, and left the El Paso area without a military presence. In this year, Charles Howard came into town. Howard was said to be Virginian by birth, but from Missouri. He came to the region determined to restore the Democratic Party to power in West Texas.

In the summer of 1877, Howard filed a claim as owner of the salt lakes in the name of his father-in-law, George B. Zimpelman, who was an Austin capitalist. Howard offered to pay any "salinero" laborers who collected salt the going rate for its retrieval, but he insisted the salt was his.

The Tejanos of San Elizario formed committees known as "juntas" in San Elizario and the largely Tejano neighboring towns of Socorro and Ysleta, Texas, to determine a community-based response to Howard's action. During the summer of 1877, they held several secret meetings.

Then in 1877, anger gave way to a an armed conflict which was waged by the Mexican inhabitants living on both sides of the Rio Grande near El Paso, Texas. Their target on the American side of the river was a leading Texas politicians supported by the Texas Rangers.

The right of individuals to own the salt lakes previously held as a community asset was established by force of arms.

On September 29, 1877, Jose Maria Juarez and Macedonia Gandara threatened to collect a wagon load of salt. When Howard learned of their activities, he had the men arrested by Sheriff Charles Kerber and went to court in San Elizario to legally restrain them that evening, armed men arrested the compliant jurist. Others went in search of Howard, locating him at Sheriff Kerber's home in Yselta.

Under the leadership of Francisco "Chico" Barela, they seized Howard and marched him back to San Elizario. And for three days, Howard was held as a prisoner. He was guarded by several hundred men led by Sisto Salcido, Lino Granillo, and Barela.

On October 3rd, he was finally released upon payment of a $12,000 bond and his written relinquishment of all rights to the salt deposits. Howard left for Mesilla, New Mexico, where he briefly stayed at the house of Fountain. He soon returned to the area, and in October met up with Louis Cardis in an El Paso mercantile store.

Louis Cardis moved to El Paso, Texas in 1864. He quickly learned the Spanish language and established a political power base with the Mexican American citizens of the area. Cardis favored the Hispanic community concept of commonwealth.

He became involved in a dispute involving salt deposits and the shifting of influence and political power from the Hispanic population to the Anglo. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives with the help of Charles H. Howard. Cardis and Howard with political allies.

Problems escalated and soon Cardis had a falling out with Howard. That was because Howard staked an exclusive claim to the salt deposits. Cardis had his allies actually arrested Howard and imprisoned him. After he was let out, Howard retaliated by shooting Cardis to death with a shotgun on October 9, 1877. Howard then fled back to New Mexico.

"On… October 10… Cardis entered the store of E. Schutz and Brother, and asked one of the clerks to write a letter for him. He was sitting in a rocker with his back to the door when… Howard enter[ed] the front door with a double-barreled shotgun…. Cardis immediately rose, passed behind the clerk, and took a position back of the desk which concealed the upper part of his body. Howard emptied one barrel into the lower part of [Cardis’] body and legs and as the torso sank into view, the second charge of buckshot penetrated his heart.” according to The Texas Rangers by Walter Prescott Webb.

The Tejano people of El Paso County were outraged. They effectively put a stop to all county government, replacing it with community juntas and daring the sheriff to take any action against them.

In response to pleas for help from frightened Anglo residents, Governor Richard B. Hubbard answered by sending to El Paso Major John B. Jones, commander of the Texas Rangers' Frontier Battalion.

Arriving on November 5th, Texas Ranger J.B. Jones met with the junta leaders, negotiated their agreement to obey the law, at least he thought so, and arranged for Howard's return, arraignment, and release on bail. Jones also recruited 20 new Texas Rangers, the Detachment of Company C, under the command of Lieutenant John B. Tays.

Tays was born on September 6th, 1842. He was one of seven children of John and Mary Ellis Tays. I, one of 7 children. He was a native Canadian. He was a mining engineer, El Paso land speculator, and some say didn't live up to the Ranger ethos of honor and bravery. In fact, some say he was a known rustler of Mexican cattle.

On December 12th, 1877, Howard returned to San Elizario with a company of 20 Texas Rangers led by John B. Tays. As soon as they arrived, a large group of armed citizens, some say as many as 500, engaged Howard and the Rangers. The mob was enraged and demanded Howard be surrendered.

The San Elizario Mission

Of course Howard and the Rangers immediately took cover in the buildings, and soon took refuge in the town's mission where they tried to claim sanctuary. After a two-day siege, Texas Ranger John B. Tays surrendered the company of Rangers. It is believed that event was the only time in the history of the Texas Rangers that a Ranger unit ever surrendered to anyone.

So yes, on December 17th, he gave himself up to the mob which quickly organized a firing squad. And one source states that after they fired, The bodies of Howard and two of his agents, Ranger Sergeant John McBride and former lawman John G. Atkinson who were also shot by the firing squad, were hacked to pieces and then dumped down an old well about a half mile away.

As for the rest of the Texas Rangers there that day, it's said they were humiliated by being disarmed and then run out of town. And though the Texas Rangers surrendered, no one should say they weren't any good. Fact is, they faced overwhelming odds.

After that Mexicans there rioted and looted the town, sacking the buildings, and lawlessness reigned until Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and a sheriff's posse from New Mexico arrived on scene. Once they arrived hundreds fled to Mexico, some permanently. Among them were the civic leaders of San Elizario.

The conflict is said to have climaxed with the siege and surrender of 20 Texas Rangers to a mob of perhaps 500 Mexicans in the town of San Elizario, Texas. All in all, 12 people were killed and 50 wounded during that fight alone.

So yes, for over twelve years following the Civil War, political and legal struggles took place among Texas politicians and capitalists over salt. It began as a local fight and over time grew into an armed conflict. 

As for the public, newspaper editors throughout the nation covered the story and made it bigger than it was. They included lurid detail that some say are questionable. In reality, it was pure sensationalism at its best. And remember, this went on for 12 years. In fact, over those years, it's believed that as many as 650 residents bore arms against the local authorities. Also in those 12 years, it is believed that about 20 to 30 men were killed. Of course, it is reasonable to say that double that number were wounded over the years. Yes, all over salt.

After the dust settled, damage to property was estimated at $31,050. Crop losses were sustained, because local farmers did not till or harvest their fields for several months. The wheat loss alone was estimated at $48,000. To these immediate financial losses was the loss of further political and economic power of the Mexican-American community of El Paso County.

As a result of the loss of political and economic power, San Elizario lost its status as county seat. Especially since the town's population decreased. The county seat was relocated to Franklin which became El Paso. And though Fort Bliss was first established in El Paso in March of 1854, it was actually relocated in the late 1860s. But because of the salt war, the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers were sent there to maintain order and they had to re-establish Fort Bliss. They reopened the fort to keep an eye on the border and the local Mexican population there.

It's true, on New Year's Day in 1878, Fort Bliss was established as a permanent post just to keep and eye on things down there. Company L Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry and Company C of the 15th Infantry were sent to Fort Bliss to prevent further trouble over the salt flats and to help enforce regulations regarding the usage of Rio Grande water for irrigation purposes. It is interesting to note that prior to this date, the U.S. government had a policy of simply leasing property for its military installations. It should be noted that the U.S. Army reestablished Fort Bliss to provide protection to the Southern Pacific Railroad when it came to West Texas in 1883. As a matter of retribution, the Southern Pacific Railroad lines bypassed San Elizario altogether. It's said that it did so as punishment since towns with railroad lines prospered and those without struggled during that period.

As for John B. Tays, he left the Rangers and married Mrs. Amelia St. Vrain in early 1878. He became El Paso’s postmaster between February and August 1879. He also became El Paso's first city marshal, though a short lived position, from July to October 1880. He's actually listed as an engineer in the El Paso 1880 Federal Census. But frankly, his engineering skills cost him his job as marshal.

That came about after Tays attempted to fill a very large pothole on main street with garbage. Obviously, that didn't work and the city council fired him. He did better in the private sector in ranching, railroad construction, and real estate speculation in the El Paso area. Many say he was one of the city's largest land owners. In fact, his holding may have included El Paso's Central Hotel and a large number of tenements. 

In 1883, John B. Tays moved to the Ontario-Upland area of Southern California. It was there that he became one of the areas top agriculturalists and engineers. In fact, it was in Ontario, California, that Tays became famous for designing a streetcar platform to carry mules downhill after they had labored to pull the cars uphill. On May 6th, 1900, he was part of an expedition hunting gold in South America when he and 150 others were killed in a boating accident at the Tumatumari Falls on the Rio Patera. The man with the dubious honor of being the only Texas Ranger commander to surrender his Ranger unit died at the age of 57.

As for the San Elizario Salt War, how you see what transpired might depend on how you view our government. For example, it is said that the Mexican-American uprising down there was a bloody riot by a "howling mob." Of course the "mob" there that day has also been described as "an organized political-military insurgency with the goal of re-establishing local control of their fundamental political rights and economic future." But really, who knows which camp is closer to the truth.

Some say it is an example of Mexican-Americans not being treated as equal citizens, and instead being treated as a subjugated people. Others see the San Elizario Salt War of 1877 as an example of Americans simply being pushed too far and subsequently taking up arms to fight a local government that was oppressive and out of control.

For me, I believe the people there felt that they had to take up arms as a last resort to obtain a solution to a dire situation that was created by politicians. That might not make it right, but I believe that that's how it was because salt was so essential to life at the time.

Tom Correa

Friday, February 21, 2020

American Firearms -- Merwin, Hulbert, and Co. Firearms


As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis already know, I was invited to speak at a fundraising event for the John Coffee Hays Club back on February 8th. In the audience was a man dressed in what I thought was a period correct outfit for the late 1880s to 1890s. He really looked like he could have come out of a photograph of the times. Included on his side was a holstered pistol. During my talk, because of my interest in period firearms and recognizing that the cowboy in attendance looked as authentic as could be, I pointed him out and asked what he had on his hip.

I asked if it was a "Smith & Wesson, an Iver Johnson, a Merwin-Hulbert?" He nodded and acknowledged that it was a Merwin-Hulbert pistol. If it seems strange that I would take the time to ask someone in the audience such a question, I did because he looked the part and it's not everyday that I see a Merwin-Hulbert pistol. Merwin-Hulbert revolvers are rare finds. And since I love old firearms, it was great to see one there. They were different than other pistols of the time for a few reasons, but they really were very fine guns.


For you who are unacquainted with Merwin, Hulbert, and Co., or simply Merwin-Hulbert, they were an American firearms marketer that was based out of New York City. The company actually produced revolvers and rifles through a subsidiary company, Hopkins & Allen of Norwich, Connecticut, starting in 1876. Merwin Hulbert designs influenced other gunmakers including Harrington & Richardson and Iver Johnson which were two very popular firearms companies in their day.

Joseph Merwin became involved in firearms sort of the same way that Oliver Winchester did. While both Merwin and Winchester were not gunsmiths like say that of Sam Colt or Daniel B. Wesson and Horace Smith, both Merwin and Winchester were businessmen involved in marketing and the manufacturing of firearms. In the case of Joseph Merwin, his first attempt at marketing and manufacturing revolvers took place before the Civil War when he started a gun company known as Merwin & Bray.

While his first attempt actually folded eighteen years later in 1874, by 1876 he formed a partnership with William and Milan Hulbert. The Hulbert brothers owned 50% interest in the Hopkins & Allen gun company. The new company Merwin, Hulbert, and Co. not only designed firearms, but was a huge importer of firearms. And while that doesn't sound unusual, even for the times, there's more to them. Besides selling firearms, they were a huge retailer in sporting goods. All sorts of sporting goods. That was new. 

It's said they sold a complete line of firearms related goods such as loading tools, gun stocks, sights, and hunting gear including decoys, calls, and outdoor clothing. They did so through Merwin-Hulbert's 150 page sporting goods catalog that was completely illustrated. In it, one could find anything one needed in the way of sporting goods. No, it was not only guns. Through their catalog, besides a number of guns and accessories, anyone was able to order gear for fishing, tennis, boating, bicycling, gymnastics, fencing, boxing, baseball, and much more.

The first Montgomery Ward catalog was produced in 1872. Sears started his catalog sales in 1888. And while many businesses were already publishing mail order catalogs for business, Montgomery Ward is seen as the first to produce a mail order catalog for the general public. Knowing this, just image that the Merwin-Hulbert catalog was considered the most all encompassing sports catalog of its day. Part of the reason why that was the case has to do with their also being sales agents for other firearms companies such as Colt, Remington, Winchester, Ithaca, Marlin, Ballard, and others including some British gunmakers. Merwin-Hulbert did so while representing their own firms. And frankly, that made them ahead of their time.

Merwin-Hulbert manufactured both single-action and double-action revolvers, full size and pocket pistols. Their Frontier Model was created to compete with Colt's Model 1873 Single-Action Army, Remington's Model 1875, and Smith & Wesson's Model 3 as a big bore, large frame, six-shooter. Starting in 1876, the Merwin-Hulbert Frontier was produced in four variations in a nickel finish.

Their Pocket Model was designed for the urban gun owner. While people today have this idea that everyone wore holsters, that's just not true. While folks in the East started sticking their pocket pistols in their overcoat pockets first, out West on the frontier things weren't much different. It was usually the case for someone to carry a pistol in a coat pocket that a holster -- especially while in town, and especially after more and more towns started enacting no carry laws.

And as for innovations, the company was known to have made some of the more innovative designs during that period. As I said before, they were very different than other firearms at the time. For example, they designed folding hammers for their pocket carry revolvers. While there were top breaks and side-loading gates, Merwin-Hulbert came up with a rotating barrel design which allowed the user to rotate the barrel 90 degrees in order to pull the barrel and cylinder forward to remove the fired cartridge cases.


During the twisting motion, the empty case could be extracted. Any intact cartridge would remain in the chamber due to the additional length of the bullet. In addition to this unique case extraction system, pressing an additional lever control when the frame was 'open' for extraction allowed the owner to completely remove the barrel.

This not only assisted the owner with cleaning their pistols, but it allowed the owner to swap out barrels. Swapping out barrels meant that an owner could use a short barrel for concealed carry and use a longer barrel as a field gun when hunting. The combination of extraction and barrel removal required very precise manufacturing tolerances.


Also, Merwin-Hulbert developed a nickel plating process that many believe was superior to any of their competitors. And strangely, their  nickel plating process was said to less expensive than a bluing process. Because the  nickel plating process acted to protect the metal surfaces of their guns from wear and corrosion, they looked great and were the same price as Merwin-Hulbert pistols without the nickel plating process . As for collectors today, that answers the question why it's so hard to find a Merwin-Hulbert that's been blued. It's very rare to find Merwin-Hulbert revolvers with a blued finish simply because people liked the look and wear resistance of their nickel plated pistols.

So why haven't you ever heard of Merwin-Hulbert firearms? Considering they purchased several firearms manufacturers and kept them going with innovative designs and capital, they really should be better known than they are. But all in all, I believe the reason that they're not as well known as say Colt and Smith & Wesson is because Merwin-Hulbert went under in the mid-1880's just before Joseph Merwin passed away in 1888.

Though they had some very clever designs, that didn't matter because by the mid-1880's the company ran into financial troubles with bad investments and lawsuits dealing with patent infringement. The company simply wasn't able to weather their troubles. And to add to the company's problems, Joseph Merwin passed away in 1888. After that, the company took on a new name -- but that didn't help it. And by 1896, everything was liquidated.

Following the bankruptcy and final liquidation of Merwin-Hulbert in 1896, Hopkins & Allen also went bankrupt in 1898. The company reorganized as Hopkins & Allen Arms Company, but lost its manufacturing facility, it's factory, stock, and machinery, in a horrific fire in 1900. The factory was rebuilt in 1901 and Hopkins & Allen produced 40,000 firearms a year. Their success was short lived because their entire warehouse was robbed in 1905. The thieves stole all of their inventory which included Mauser rifles they built for the Belgian Army

A year before the fire, Hopkins & Allen manufactured Merwin Hubert revolvers and a number of pistols and rifles for other gun companies. So all in all, Hopkins & Allen firearms found investors to keep them afloat and they continued manufacturing "Merwin-Hulbert" marked firearms until 1916 when they too went bankrupt. As for Hopkins & Allen firearms, they were actually bought out by Marlin Firearms in 1917.

So how popular were Merwin-Hulbert revolvers? Well, during the late 1800's, Merwin-Hulbert revolvers were used by most city police departments back East. In fact, more Merwin-Hulbert pistols were used in law enforcement at that time than were Colt, Smith & Wesson, Remington, and others. Besides the police back East, lawmen out West including famed lawman Pat Garret carried a Merwin-Hulbert pistol. And while lawmen loved those revolvers, so did outlaws. Of the most famous outlaws to carry a Merwin-Hulbert revolver was none other than the famous bank robber and killer Jessie James who was known to prefer a .44 caliber Merwin-Hulbert revolver made by Hopkins & Allen.

Why choose a Merwin-Hulbert pistol over say a Colt or a Smith & Wesson, or a Remington 1875, since all were very popular at the time? Why were they carried by lawmen and outlaw alike? The reason that a lot of people liked the Merwin-Hulbert pistol has to do with the strength of those guns.

While Merwin-Hulbert had some very interesting designs, including the whole rotating barrel to self-eject spent rounds, it's said the Merwin-Hulbert revolvers were considered the strongest revolvers made during that time period. They were strong, reliable, and didn't show the wear and tear like others did. Add the fact that those Merwin-Hulbert pistol were very attractive because of their nickel plating process, and they became firearms that people were proud to own.

Tom Correa



Monday, February 17, 2020

Mike Bloomberg Thinks Blue-Collar Americans Are Stupid -- He Really Does!


Condescending Mike Bloomberg Is A Snob Of The Worse Sort --He Looks Down On Us While Wanting To Be Our President. And Worse, He Wants A Dictatorial Government.

Mike Bloomberg's supporters are pushing their Leftist propaganda about how the Republicans are supposedly making up lies about what Bloomberg is saying. They should think about how their boy Bloomberg is as dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to what America needs. While President Trump has created positive changes for all Americans, as with all of the Democrats running for president, Bloomberg also wants to undo those things that have put up into an era of prosperity and greatness.

Bloomberg himself has shown how truly out of touch he is when saying that the rest of the nation should be like California in regards to this state's draconian Climate Change measures that California imposes on our residents and businesses, in regards to California trying to disarm citizens, in regards to increasing taxes on working people, in regards to providing free healthcare to illegal aliens but not Americans, and more. Isn't it interesting that the state of California believes that taxing our residents into poverty and running off businesses will somehow change the weather.

As for Mike Bloomberg's condescension toward everyday Americans, it is legendary. Frankly, after hearing what he said about the Mid-West and specifically farmers, it's really no wonder that he decided not to go to the Democrat's Iowa caucus. Bloomberg thinks farmers and manufacturers all across America are stupid.

You think I'm over-exaggerating, well I'm not. In fact, a video clip has recently surfaced from 2016 when Bloomberg was speaking at an event. I believe it was while he was speaking at Oxford University's Said Business School. He told those in attendance, "Anybody [can] be a farmer."

Bloomberg said, "I could teach anybody – even people in this room, no offense intended – to be a farmer. It's a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that."

Of course, Mike Bloomberg is a wealthy snob who doesn't know his history very well. Or maybe he simply thinks Thomas Jefferson who wrote our Declaration of Independence was stupid. After all, Thomas Jefferson like many of our Founding Fathers were farmers.

And if you think he only looks down on farmers, think again. He also looks down his nose at other blue-collar workers such as the millions of Americans who work in manufacturing and the trades. Bloomberg thinks they are stupid as well. He said, "Then we had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal in the lathe, you turn the crank in direction of an arrow, and you can have a job."

Bloomberg says tradesmen, manufacturers, and farmers are stupid, but he says it takes "a lot more gray matter to think and analyze enough to work in the tech field. He actually said that having a job in information technology is "fundamentally different, because it's built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets you need to learn are how to think and analyze and that is a whole degree level different, you need to have different skill set. You have to have a lot more gray matter."

His "better and smarter than others" attitude is typical of the Democrats running for office these days. And frankly, his condescension and believing Americans are stupid actually answers why he believes Americans need to have their freedoms taken away from them -- no differently than how Democrat Plantation owners saw the freed slaves after the Civil War. After the Civil War, Democrats who started that war and created the Ku Klux Klan saw freed black slaves as too stupid to be free. They saw them as needing to be cared for like children. After all of these years, it's apparent that nothing's changed in the Democrat Party 

You think I'm exaggerating. He really believes that Americans need a government that tells us how to live. He is quoted as saying, "there are times when government should infringe on your freedom."

In fact, Bloomberg doesn't think we know what we want. He thinks we're all too stupid to know what's best for us. Typical of the Slave Owner mentality of the Democrat Party, Bloomberg believes the government knows what we should have -- and we should take it because he thinks the government knows what's best for us.

He has actually said, "You don’t know what you care about. Because what you care about changes with what's going on in the world, and you need somebody to make those decisions for you." 

He feels he's that "somebody" who should be making decisions for us. The Slave Master mentality of the Left has no bounds. That is why people should understand that Mike Bloomberg wants a Dictatorial American government. He wants a Nanny State. He wants an oligarchy government run by the Democrat Party.

As for his believe that Americans should not own guns and the 2nd Amendment should be repealed, he has made no secret of this and has led an effort to instate more anti-gun laws which he thinks saves lives. Let's get this straight, he wants to disarm law abiding citizens -- not criminals. He thinks you and I don't have the right to defend ourselves with guns.

He really believes that the State in the form of the police can be everywhere, and that we should rely on the police to protect us. It's a shame Bloomberg is too dumb to know that the US Supreme Court has ruled in a number of cases that law enforcement agencies are not required to provide protection to the American citizens. Maybe if he knew that, he think twice about enabling Americans to provide their own security as is our American right. But frankly, I doubt it since that little jerk loves to make excuses for America having to have a Nanny State.

And besides believing that no America should own a gun, he really believe that he is smarter than the average American. If anyone thinks that's a creation by some supposed Republicans "machine", listen to Bloomberg's own words. While explaining his position on transgenders, Bloomberg said only he and the "intelligentsia" are the only people who can understand why "some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter."

He takes this position that most Americans just aren’t smart enough to grasp what we need. For example, pertaining to our rights and needs, Bloomberg has said, "We, the intelligentsia ... we believe in a lot of things in terms of equality, and protecting individual rights, that make no sense to the vast bulk of people." He's talking about allowing so-called transgender men in girls locker-rooms, on girls sports teams, and in women's bathrooms.

He has even said, "If you want to know if someone is a good salesman, give him the job of going to the Midwest and picking a town, and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter. If you can sell that, you can sell anything. I mean they [people in the Midwest] just look at you and say, 'what on earth are you talking about'?"

Bloomberg is absolutely amazed that Americans are repulsed by men in girls locker-rooms or in the same rest-room as your young daughter. If that in itself doesn't convince his Democrat supporters how out of touch Bloomberg really is, nothing will.

Tom Correa  

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Bowie Knife

This Large Beautiful Bowie Knife Is Like The One Recently Presented To Me
By The John Coffee Hays Club
While hero of the Alamo Jim Bowie is attributed with designing and making the first Bowie knife, it was actually his brother Rezin Bowie who made the first Bowie knife while their family was living in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.

Legend says it was made for close combat fighting, but in reality Rezin Bowie designed it as a hunting knife. He gave it to his brother Jim for protection after his brother had been shot in a fight. A fight that made him a legend. Jim Bowie wore it in a silver-mounted black-leather sheath.

Rezin Bowie asked close friend and blacksmith Jesse Clifft to forge the knife according to Rezin Bowie's design. James Black was an American knifemaker who is said to later make improvements to Bowie knife design. Black did not invent or create the first Bowie knife. As for Rezin and Clifft, their families became close when they lived in Bayou Boeuf.

The Bowie knife gained widespread notoriety after the Sandbar Fight which took place on September 19th, 1827. The Sandbar Fight started out as a duel that took place near Natchez on a large sandbar in the Mississippi River, near what is today Vidalia, Louisiana. Because of it's location, the Sandbar Fight also became known as the Vidalia Sandbar Fight.

What started out as a simple duel turned ugly and deadly when witnesses decided to take up the fight after the duel ended in a draw. Things got so bad that two men, General Samuel Cuny and Major Norris Wright were both killed that day. It's true. What started out as a feud between two Alexandria, Louisiana, families over competing financial interests, vote-fixing and ballot box stuffing in a local sheriff's election, defaulted bank loans, and the supposed impunity of a woman's honor all contributed to the duel -- and subsequent battle which included a fist fight that escalated into gunplay and knifings.

The Sandbar Fight was not the first duel between those rival families. Two previous duels ended without resolution. In those cases, both of them ended with shouting matches between Seconds. Some say those duels were actually called off because one or the other combatant failed to show-up for the fight.

The Sandbar Fight duel between Samuel L. Wells III and Dr. Thomas H. Maddox was held on a sandy shoal in the middle of the Mississippi River because anti-dueling laws made it so that the combatants needed to find somewhere outside the jurisdiction of local law officials. On that Wednesday, at noon, Wells and Maddox arrived with Seconds and a large number of friends.

Jim Bowie supported Wells. Counting Bowie, it's said that 17 men were there. The duel was conducted by formal rules of the time including with a lengthy delay between exchanges of fire. The non-combatants present kept a safe distance from the duel for the duration of the fight.

Dueling was a common practice in the South up until the end of the Civil War. Dueling was a way to settle disputes outside of the courts. What might surprise folks is that duels weren't simply fought over a matter of honor. In fact, it was more the case that duels were fought to settle disputes over land deals, unpaid debts, and money. Of course duels over women is something that's been around since time and memorial. There is no telling how many fights have been over women.

As duels go, this was uneventful. Wells and Maddox each fired two shots. As was the case in many duels, neither man was injured. They then resolved the formal duel with a handshake. Yes, all as was the custom of the time. It was after the duel that things got ugly.

The outcome didn't set well with their friends who wanted blood. So, at the conclusion of the duel, shots were fired from one of the Seconds. One of the rounds fired by a friend of Jim Bowie actually hit Bowie in the hip and knocked him to the ground. It's believed that he was shot by mistake. The intended target moved and Bowie was in the path of the bullet.

Rising to his feet, it was then that an attacker drew a pistol and shot at Bowie -- but missed. That attacker then drew his sword cane and quickly thrust his blade into Bowie's chest. It's believed that Bowie was saved when the thin blade of the cane sword deflected off his sternum. It was at this point that Jim Bowie reached out and was able to grab his attacker -- and pull him into his Bowie knife. It's true. Pulling himself to his feet, Bowie raised himself, grabbed his attacker -- and sank his big knife into his assailant's heart, killing him instantly.

While he killed that attacker, that didn't stop other assailants from shooting and stabbing Bowie. Jim Bowie answered that attack by using his Bowie knife to cut off part of one attacker's forearm. In those 90-seconds, two men were killed and two men were wounded.

One doctor reportedly said of Jim Bowie, "How he lived is a mystery, but live he did." In reality, all five of the doctors present for the duel feverishly worked to treat Bowie's wounds. Some say it was a miracle that he lived.

Newspapers ran the story of what took place, and while their facts were wrong or fabrication for sensationalism purposes, the battle became known as the "Sandbar Fight". As for Jim Bowie, he survived his multiple gunshot wounds and stabbing. All which added to his status as a formidable opponent. His being seen as a formidable opponent answers why he was targeted that day. Bowie was the focus of their attacks because, as one newspaper reported, "they considered him the most dangerous man among their opposition."

As for Bowie's knife, it became instantly legendary. In fact, the Sandbar Fight made Jim Bowie and his knife a household name throughout the country. His legend became one of a rugged American frontiersman. Yes indeed, he was a true American icon.

Because of the Sandbar Fight, it's said sword makers, blacksmiths, craftsmen, and other blade manufacturers started making their own versions of what became known as the "Bowie knife." Jim Bowie himself was said to have marveled at the "Bowie knife" advertisements from American and English makers. And frankly, it was no wonder since his knife was seen as an excellent defense weapon.

We have to keep in mind that those were the days when pistols were known to frequently misfire. In contrast, the Bowie knife was seen as a reliable and effective backup weapon. They became so popular that The Red River Herald of Natchitoches, Louisiana, reported, "All the steel in the country it seemed was immediately converted into Bowie knives."

As for foreigners producing Bowie knives and flooding the market with spin-off versions that they thought a Bowie knife would look like, it's said that only one in ten Bowies sold commercially was American made by the start of the Civil War. And don't make the mistake of thinking that English Bowie knife makers didn't recognize their target buyers. English cutlers are said to have used all sorts of marketing tricks to get Americans to buy their Bowie knives. For example, English makers would use clever motifs and blade etchings to appeal to patriotic spirit of Americans.

Their etchings included such labels as "American Bowie Knife," "Texas Ranger Knife," "Arkansas Toothpick," "Patriot's Self Defender," "Death to Abolition," "Death to Traitors," and "Americans Never Surrender." During this time, there were also schools teaching knife fighting specifically geared to using a Bowie knife. Of course, while this was taking place, I find it ironic that the same hysteria about guns today was actually acted out in regards to Bowie knives. Yes, believe it or not, by the early 1840's there were people in some places calling for bans on Bowie knives.

By the Mexican War in 1846, the Bowie knife was a popular weapon with Texas Rangers. Legendary Texas Ranger Captain John Coffee Hayes outfitted his men with Bowie knives and Colt Dragoon pistols. And during the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops were armed with Bowie knives. While the Bowie was still seen as a great defensive weapon after the Civil War, as a matter of use, the Bowie knife started to go out of favor by the late-1870s. It was about then that Bowie knives were being used more as a hunting knife than a defensive weapon. Part of the reason for that had to do with the reliability of revolvers by that time.

As for Jim Bowie, after the Sandbar Fight, he moved to Texas and took his famous knife with him. In Texas, he married into wealth and even searched for a lost silver mine. Sadly, he lost his family to cholera. He then became a leader in the Texas Revolution of 1835 to 1836.

Jim Bowie is a true American legend. He's a true American hero who fought for Texas Independence and died fighting the Mexican army at the Battle of the Alamo. Jim Bowie was a legend in his own time for all the right reasons. And while he was known as an early American frontiersman and a legendary knife fighter, he was actually in only one knife fight. That was the Sandbar Fight.
Believed Closer To The Original Bowie Knife Design

When one thinks of a Bowie knife, most think of a large blade with a concave arch (clip point) cut into the end of the blade, and a cross-guard to protect the hand. While that may be the case today, it's said that early examples of Bowies were not made that way. Many early Bowie versions were made with thick heavy butcher-knife type of blades with a straight back and no clip point or hand guard. Their blades varied in length from 8½ to 12½ inches and were only sharpened on the true edge. Thankfully those makers did hold to one aspect about the Bowie knife -- it was never designed for throwing.

The design of the Bowie knife evolved over the years. By the middle of the 20th century, it's design took on that of a large sheath knife with a "concave clip point, sharp false edge cut from both sides, and a cross-guard to protect the user's hands".
USMC Ka-Bar Fighting Knife

It's said that the Bowie knife is the basis for most modern fighting knives. The original Bowie knife was considered extremely simple, durable, and long-lasting, which are excellent qualities to have in an all-purpose fighting blade.

Here's something else, back in the early 1970s when I was a young Marine, as with all Marines, I attended knife fighting close combat classes. It was back then that I learned that our issue USMC Ka-Bar fighting knife's design was based on the Bowie knife design. But more than that, I found out that our knife fighting classes were a continuation of the knife fighting slash and stab techniques started back in the 1840s when U.S. Marines were outfitted with Bowie knives as part of their war-fighting gear.

Tom Correa 




Monday, February 10, 2020

Hollywood's Sad Version of the Old West

Last Saturday, I attended my first ever speaking engagement at The John Coffee Hays Club. My subject was "Vigilantes In The Old West." Since this was my first speaking engagement, I have to admit that I was sort of nervous at first -- and I did lose track of time. The overall message of my speech was simply "We are the law."

Since I was asked to talk about vigilantes in the Old West, and it is a group in honor of the great pioneer Texas Ranger and First San Francisco County Sheriff John Coffee Hays, I wanted to focus on vigilantes in California. I really believe that California cornered the market when it came to the number of active vigilante groups in the Old West.

From what I can tell, there were more vigilante groups in California than any other place during that period of time. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that California had more such groups than all of the other area West of the Mississippi during the period from 1851 and into the beginning of the 20th Century.

Part of my speech had to do with "Fake History." The false information we've all gotten. I specifically brought up how we are mislead by Hollywood's version of the Old West -- especially in regards to vigilantes and the citizens' role in the security of a town. During my speech, I used the Western film High Noon as an example of how Hollywood gets it wrong.

I've read that the movie High Noon is "about facing very tough odds alone." I've read how that film is a lesson telling us that we can't depend on our friends and neighbors when the chips are down. It is a lesson telling us that those closest to us will avoid helping us, or desert us when the going gets tough. I've also read that the film High Noon is "a metaphor movie about the Hollywood climate in the 1950s" when the government was attacking Communists in the movie industry. The sad part about that film is that to depict "the best in a single, anxious, far-from-perfect man," is that it uses the people of the Old West to depict the very worst in people.

Because it was filmed as a Western, those of us watching it have a certain amount of hope that it will be close to historically accurate. But other than wardrobe and scenery, High Noon doesn't do that. Instead, the film makers decided to use the movie High Noon to depict a town's residents as cowards. All of which turn down their town marshal's request for help. The marshal played by Gary Cooper can't find help anywhere, including after asking for help from the local bummers, the loafers and bar flies at a saloon. The cowardice of the citizenry is all out of a supposed fear of four outlaws returning to town.

This fiction is a sad story about a sad town filled with cowardly American pioneers who won't stand with its marshal. And sadly, because Hollywood made such a sad story into a Western, there are people who believed that's what the real West was like.

Of course, the fact that citizens back then were tougher than nails doesn't matter to the movie makers. The fact that they were hardened by toil and pain, or that they were resolute in their beliefs because of their journey West fighting the elements, Indians, bandits, starvation, and more, also didn't matter to the film makers. Yes, really no different than today's Hollywood.

People who think four outlaws would have frightened those folks, really don't understand a people who have weathered a lot more than such a small threat as four outlaws returning to town. I believe the people of that town would have shot Frank Miller down as he stepped off the train, and hanged the other three as a message to others. That's what really took place in the real West.

As for other film makers who didn't like High Noon, there was one who didn't like the film but also got history completely wrong. That was famed director Howard Hawks who is quoted as saying, "I didn’t think a good sheriff was going to go running around town like a chicken with his head off asking for help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him."

Howard Hawks' rebuttal to High Noon was to make the Western film Rio Bravo. In his version of the Old West, the town "sheriff" is being threatened by gunmen brought in by crooked cattle baron. Typical Hollywood, in Rio Bravo, the sheriff's only allies are his elderly crippled sidekick, an alcoholic deputy, and a young "fast gun". In Rio Bravo, unlike in High Noon, the local law doesn’t solicit help. The director of Rio Bravo makes the point that "it's not the job of married men with families to face hired guns." In fact, in the movie Rio Bravo, John Wayne's character turns down help that was offered to him because "they're amateurs."

This fictional tale is a misleading story about a sheriff who refuses to use the assets provided to him by way of the manpower ready willing and able to come to the aid of their community. It was a very common practice for lawmen to go to the citizenry for assistance in the Old West. This movie is very blunt in it's efforts to re-write history by saying that lawmen didn't do that. And sadly, as with the movie High Noon, there are people who believe that the movie Rio Bravo depicts what really happened in the Old West. To bad both versions are not correct. 

As much as I love the performances of film legends Gary Cooper and John Wayne, and actually like these movies for their entertainment value, both films are not even close to being historically accurate in their depiction of what the citizens or a lawman would have done in those situations. Fact is, in both scenarios, that's simply not what took place in the Old West.

Life in the Old West was not easy by today's standards. In fact, it wasn't easy by Eastern standards of the time. Prior to the Civil War, Americans were already coming West. After the Civil War, those numbers grew while more and more Americans came West attempting to seek better opportunities and escape the ravages of war.

Those coming West were a mixed bag of settlers, ranchers, businessmen, freed slaves, war weary soldiers, and others. Among those others were Americans tired of working for others and living in the squalor and poverty of the East, men and woman wanting more out of life. Of course, there were the criminals who were the parasites on society. Those looking to make a fast and easy dollar -- even if that meant cheating and stealing it.

For the outlaw, they saw the West as ripe for the pickings. Since most of the West was full of towns that had no organized law, no courts, and little to no government, criminals saw the West as wide open to anything they wanted to get away with. While many escaped punishment coming West, they saw the lack of law as an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. They and their seedier associates saw the law as something to laugh at. Saloons and dance halls, brothels and gambling houses went up across the West in small boom-towns and big, all to fleece others they saw as suckers.

As for the honest Americans moving West, they initially dealt with the noise and the ruckus by trying to live with it. But soon, the lawlessness got out of hand. Soon enough, citizens did what they had done for a few hundred years in America, they organized citizen watch groups, citizen committees, what we know as vigilante groups. Vigilantism is what citizens used when there was no law, long before "official" law enforcement came along. And frankly, it was vigilantism that citizens depended on when the law was crooked, inept and ineffective in dealing with crime, and when the courts were helpless in acting due to restraints.

Unlike what Hollywood depicts, honest lawmen didn't go into the saloons looking for people to join a posse. He didn't use the transients, the cutthroats, the tin-horn gamblers, pimps, con artists, or other dredges of society -- most who were there to fleece whoever they could -- as posse members. That's especially true when we understand that many of the bummers, what they called loafers in that period, were probably associates of those who were probably committing most of the local crime.

Citizens were an asset used by honest lawmen looking for help for any number of reasons. While that is true, citizens were a threat to dishonest lawmen who say the citizenry as a hindrance to their criminal activity. In most cases, dishonest law enforcement wanted the citizenry disarmed. In all cases, the citizens would have never turned down a lawman's request for help when there was an eminent threat to him or the town.

Before someone writes to say that that can't be completely true, think of this: Would you want your business to suffer, family to be shun, you to live in a town where your friends and family saw you as a coward? What might be hard for some to understand today is the sense of responsibility and self-interest citizens had in the Old West. Their name was important to them. Shame was a real thing. Frontier towns had certain expectations from it's citizens. Whether it was requiring them to be part of the fire brigade, the bucket brigade, or a posse when needed, people were expected to serve and not shirk their responsibility as citizens.

When needing help, a lawman went to the citizens and they eagerly volunteered. Of course, besides shame, there was another reason for their eagerness to do so. It was a matter of self-interest. Yes, self-interest. Citizens in the Old West knew they had a vested interest in making sure that a payroll was returned, that a bank robber was caught, that a killer was brought to justice, that they stayed safe, that the local marshal was helped, that the county sheriff was supported, that the lawmen were not killed, all so that they could go on with their lives.

People had a vested interest in their communities and would risk their lives to protect them. And let's keep in mind that the same people who were the militia were also on the citizens committee. They were the same folks on the fire brigade, the same friends who sat next to you in church, those who helped you deliver a foal, marched in the 4th of July parade, and helped raise your barn, who were part of the choir, who ran the mercantile, the telegraph, the livery, and so on. All were also on the local citizens committee, also known as the vigilance committee. And if we are to talk about how the West was won -- citizens won the West.

Lawmen wanted and got the same men who were the local militia -- especially since the militia was already armed, they wanted those who were part of the fire brigade, and yes those on the vigilante committee. They looked to the citizenry. And when they did, merchants, bankers, clerks, bakers, cooks, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, tradesmen of all different sorts, and more, stopped what they were doing to take up arms to help.

Using the Posse Comitatus law, Old West lawmen saw citizens as an asset. Fact is, whether forming a large posse or simply deputizing a couple of citizens on the spot, a lawman would use the Common Law of Posse Comitatus to call on all males over the age of fifteen for assistance in preventing any type of civil disorder and maintaining order.

A posse is defined as a group of civilians called upon by a Sheriff or other law enforcement officials to assist temporarily in preserving the peace, pursuing and arresting a fugitive, or giving assistance to that officer when called upon. It’s a group of citizens summoned by a Sheriff to help in maintaining law and order.
  
Yes, posse members turning tail and skedaddling did happen in some situations when bullets started to fly. In most of those cases, I’ve read where those members of the community actually picked up and relocated to another town out of shame. Since being a posse member was a duty and looked upon as something everyone in the community better be ready to do if asked, communities were known to shun those who refused or showed cowardice. But really, those instances are few. 

Citizens were always at the ready. Whether it was to man a fire brigade, or a set out after outlaws, American townsfolk didn't shirk their responsibilities. The farce about the movie High Noon is that it portrays Americans in the Old West as wimps and shirkers. The folks back then had a higher moral standard of taking care of their community. While that was certainly the case, they also had a self-interest in safe-guarding their communities. And frankly, they did so to bloody consequences for outlaws.

Let me repeat myself as I have a habit of doing. We're talking about pioneers who weathered all sorts of hardships to come West. They fought the elements, lack of food, disease, bandits, Indians, while most walked the Oregon and California trails. They came around the Horn, survived ship wrecks, starvation, and fought sea voyages that would just about kill a person today.

So really, think about it, getting those tougher than nails citizens together to kill four outlaws coming into one's town, as was the case in the film High Noon, would have been relatively easy in the Old West. Besides, we should also keep in mind that this was a time period when a verbal threat was enough to constitute killing a person in self-defense. And no, they did not have the sensitivities of folks in the East or many have today.

And as for "amateurs" defending a town from outlaws and "professional gunman" which John Wayne's character is against in the film Rio Bravo? Too bad the makers of that film didn't think about the fact that it was a time when there really was no such thing as "professional" law enforcement yet. But more importantly, those film makers should have understood that it was not lawmen and in fact were just ordinary citizens who took up arms to shoot the hell out of the professional gunman who made up the James Gang in Northfield, Minnesota, who wiped out the killers known as the Dalton Gang in Coffeyville, Kansas, and it was everyday citizens who killed a couple of bank robbers in Lewistown, Montana.

As for citizens, the local vigilantes, taking action out of a sense of duty even when their town marshal had been shot dead, there's a great example of this in what took place in Independence, California, in Fedruary of 1878. It is a great example about a lawmen going it alone when he shouldn't have. Inyo County Sheriff Thomas Passmore learned that you never go into a fight alone if there's help available. Too bad he learned that lesson the hard way. He should have gotten help from the citizens who were there. The town of Independence is the county seat for Inyo County. It was there that the official law was murdered. And there being no official law, the citizens rose up to take action.

It's said that Inyo County Sheriff Thomas Passmore knew the risk of the job when he took it. He is said to have been a brave and savvy man, not naive to the dangers posed by the outlaw sorts who hung out at a saloon in the town of Independence. Like most towns, saloons were places for the dredges of society. Sheriff Thomas Passmore was on the job for three years when on a Sunday, February 10th, 1878, he was shot and killed. But frankly, it was more like an assassination and the people there knew it.

His murder took place while attempting to arrest a killer who killed another man earlier that evening. The killer had gone to a saloon that was well known to be the hangout for outlaws and gamblers, pimps, bummers, cutthroats, the lowest of society there. When the sheriff arrived at the saloon, he stood outside and ordered the killer to come out and surrender. Sheriff Passmore knew he'd be smart to stay outside because he'd be completely outnumbered inside the saloon. Because he banked on his ability to take the killer alone if he ever came outside, he didn't ask for help from the citizenry.

It's said that when the killer refused to come out, Sheriff Passmore had no other choice but to go in after him. Against better judgement, he did just that and walked into what was really den of thieves and bandits, gamblers, con artists, prostitutes, bushwhackers, and at least one known killer. What he probably didn't know was that in essence he was walking into a trap.

It's said that as the Sheriff walked up to the saloon doors, that it was then that a couple of toughs moved in to block his way into the saloon. It was there at the door while being held in place that a single shot rang out from inside the saloon. Sheriff Passmore was struck in the chest with a single round. He was shot before even entering the saloon through the door. Some say he was killed instantly. Others say they could see him die. 

While the lowlifes inside the saloon might have thought that a good move on their part, they quickly learned how horrible a mistake they made. It really would have benefited them to have turned on that known killer and turn him over to the sheriff, because what happened next lead to their regretting that they didn't.

It's said that Sheriff Passmore was not cold yet when outraged townsfolk put out the hue and cry. Soon, the local vigilantes, the citizenry took up arms. Almost as fast as the call went out, the town's armed citizens gathered and surrounded the saloon. Then once in place, instead of calling for the killer to come out, the citizens opened fire on the saloon. In fact, they are said to have fired hundreds of rounds into the building wounding many inside. The walls and window didn't stop the hail of gunfire aimed at those inside. Thin wall construction didn't stop the amount of firepower poured on that building. 

At one point, the citizens saw the saloon owner trying to make a run for it. His attempt to escape out the back door of the saloon was cut off by a small group of men. He was immediately shot to death by the citizens. The killer that Sheriff Passmore was after also tried to make an escape, he too was shot to death by over a dozen citizens. It's said the residents there wiped out the criminal element simply because they didn't see the justice system as being able to do what they saw was needed to right things.

Imagine the scene for a moment, dozens of ordinary citizens open fire on the building. Citizens killed the saloon owner as he made a run for it. And they cornered and shot Sheriff Passmore's killer when he tried to do the same. Thus was the real Old West.

Tom Correa 


Friday, February 7, 2020

Lynched In San Francisco -- Samuel Whittaker and Robert McKenzie 1851


The article below appeared in The Steamer Alta California on September 1st, 1851:

Never Before Was San Francisco So Excited 

Through every street, in all directions, the hurrying crowd of humanity rushed with the utmost precipitation — no one knew whither, no one knew for what. The bell of the Vigilance Committee had sounded its alarum note — and instantly the streets were living, swaying masses of human beings — uncertainty and conflicting fears and hopes ruled the hour … with a sweep like the rushing of a torrent of lava they bend their course towards the Rooms of the Vigilance Committee. 

Almost instantly California street, Battery street, and all their approaches, are filled with one dense mass of human beings. From lip to lip the news flies that the two criminals, Mackenzie and Whittaker, have been taken by force from the jail, by an armed posse of the Vigilance Committee. On the eager and excited multitude press toward the Rooms. 

On, on, on — the crowd becomes denser and broader. Wonder is stamped on every face — a solemn, almost awful silence pervades the thousands who are anxiously gazing up at the building, when quickly the doors are opened — a moment of preparation — and the numberless multitude holds its breath as the two malefactors are seen suspended by the neck — a struggle or two, a spasmodic heaving of the chest — and each spectator feels a thrill of terror coursing his veins as he involuntarily utters — dead, dead, dead!

Yes, they were dead! The two men — Whittaker and Mackenzie — who were taken from the hands of the Vigilance Committee a few nights since, by virtue of a write of habeas corpus, had been torn from the jail by force, in the middle of the day, and at the risk of life, hurried to the Committee rooms, and executed without scarcely a moment’s preparation. It is a most terrible tragedy! Well, indeed, might one exclaim, “I have supped full with horrors!”

Such are the terrible effects of misrule — these are the fruits of maladministered laws — these the results of official corruption, neglect and malfeasance. Well may the patriotic and the good turn in sadness and grief from the contemplation of such horrors. 

The timid may shrink from beholding them — the quiet desire an end to them; but neither fear, regret, nor desire will accomplish our security. It must go abroad over the land that this community possesses the power and the will to protect itself against every species of wrong, and that it is resolved to do it at all hazards.

Whilst we regret that the Vigilance Committee have by this act, been brought into direct collision with the constituted authorities, we cannot but approve their course in executing the two criminals. This condition of affairs was not sought by the committee; it was rather forced upon them by the action of the authorities. 

True, the authorities acted rightly in rescuing the men; but the course they took has proved to be unnecessary and injudicious. No one doubts the guilt of the men executed, and no one believes but that they deserved the punishment they received. 

The Vigilance Committee felt this, and believing that the public welfare would be promoted by the act, they had resolved to execute Whittaker and Mackenzie. But the officers of the law, with unusual adroitness, prevented the decision from being carried into effect. 

The Vigilance Committee have now redeemed their honor, and carried out their original determination, by recapturing the prisoners and executing them. The line of division between the legitimate civil power and the Vigilance Committee is therefore plain, broad and unmistakable.

And what is to result? We see nothing disheartening or dispiriting in the prospect. On the contrary, we think we perceive that settled determination on the part of the body politic to have justice done, which is to be the great lever of our salvation. 

When crime is convinced, as it must now be, that nothing is capable of preserving it from speedy and avenging punishment — when the abandoned feel, as they will now feel, that there is no safety for them here — when all bad men shall understand, as they may now understand, that their unworthy acts will surely be visited with condign reward — then will the country rise above its tribulations and its sorrows.

But this is a dreadful storm! If we did not know the ship, the crew and the passengers, we might despair of our reaching port. As it is, we speak confidently. We feel that there is gloom around us, but there is nothing to alarm the honest and patriotic. 

The guilty may, and ought to, flee before the gale of popular indignation; but it is through such trials that our voyage is ultimately to become a prosperous and fortunate one. Through the watches of the night of darkness which now surrounds us, there is a gentle voice whispering "Be firm, be calm, be just, and the welcome daylight will soon come!"

-- end of 1851 article from The Steamer Alta California.

As for The Steamer Alta California news article above, I reproduced the article here just as it appeared in the newspaper at the time. So all misspellings, dashes, and use of an ellipsis here and there are as it was published back in the day. As for an ellipsis, that's a series of dots that usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. Ellipses in printed material usually appears as three dots (...). People use it because they are leaving out a word or words that are seen as superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues when writing. I try not to do that. 

It should he noted that the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 organized because of the lawlessness taking place in San Francisco at the time. To legitimize their formation, they published a constitution on June 9th, 1851, which was in effect a mission statement. It advised all that they were there "to do and perform every lawful act for the maintenance of law and order." And, that they "determined that no thief, burglar, incendiary or assassin shall escape punishment, either by the quibbles of the law, the insecurity of prisons, the carelessness or corruption of the police, or a laxity of those who pretend to administer justice."

Two days later, the Committee of Vigilance apprehended and hanged a former-Australian convict by the name of John Jenkins for stealing a safe. A month later, the San Francisco Vigilantes lynched James Stuart who was also a deported criminal from Sydney, Australia.

The vigilantes primary target was the Sydney Ducks. As I've said in other articles on this, during the California Gold Rush, not everyone coming to California came to dig for gold. Yes, there were those who saw miners and others as easy pickings. Criminal types, no matter if they were shifty gamblers, con artists, swindlers, and other lowlifes, saw hard working people as suckers to be fleeced or worse.

Since San Francisco was the primary destination inside the Golden Gate for all coming by sea, that city had a boom in population as no other. But, along with the good came the bad apples. Among those who wanted to prey on others was Samuel Whittaker and Robert McKenzie who had also arrived from Australia. 

Starting in 1788, Australia was a British penal colony that would see over 160,000 prisoners being sent there from England and Ireland over the years. In 1849, with the influx of people coming to California, the Australian authorities saw a way of unloading part of their prison population on San Francisco. Their deported convicts were known as Sydney Ducks. Known for running protection rackets targeting businesses who were made to pay up if they don't want to be fire bombed, it is believed that they were responsible for committing devastating fires starting in 1849. And besides their committing arson, the Sydney Ducks were known killers and thieves.

Mistakenly thinking he was going to save his own neck, Stuart informed on a number of his Sydney Duck cohorts. Of course, he was hanged and never saw Whittaker and McKenzie apprehended on his information. Stuart also never saw the Vigilance Committee rid San Francisco of his cohort pals. 

The Sydney Ducks was the reason for the formation of the first San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851. At that time, vigilantes conducted unlawful apprehensions of Sydney Ducks, beat confessions out them, held secret trials, deportations, and at least four lynchings while bypassing those in political power. While that's true, it might interest folks to know that they did hold their own investigations of those they apprehended, and in fact held their own secret trials before determining sentences. That's the reason some of the Sydney Ducks were banished by putting them on ships leaving San Francisco while others like Whittaker and McKenzie were hanged.

There is something to be said about Whittaker and McKenzie that can't be said about too many men who were hanged by vigilantes. They were stolen twice. It's true. After being apprehended by the vigilantes and keep at their headquarters, a few days latter the Mayor and County Sheriff John Coffee Hays, along with some deputies, made a surprise raid on the Committee of Vigilance headquarters. They took Whittaker and McKenzie to the county jail. That was on August 20th, 1851.

The first San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 had over 700 members. After reconsidering the loss of their prisoners, 36 Vigilance Committee members barged into the jail and overpowered the few deputies on duty. That was August 24th. It's said that when the Sheriff found out what took place, he rode back to town immediately. By the time he returned, Whittaker and McKenzie had been hanged.

A few weeks after the hanging, the first San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 disbanded itself. In the end, the vigilantes got what they wanted and effectively wiped out the Sydney Ducks. Because they accomplished what they set out to do, and rid the city of the Sydney Ducks, they saw themselves as not being needed. Besides, it's said that they made there point about being present if things got out of hand again. Sadly, it did and they rose up again in 1856. That next time, they were 6,000 strong. Yes indeed, the largest vigilante force in the history of the United States.  

Tom Correa






Tuesday, February 4, 2020

James Butler Hickok -- In The Newspapers of the Day


I've found it pretty interesting how some Newspapers decided to print the truth as they saw it first hand, while compared to how others seemed to have consciously decided to skip the truth and instead go with the fabrication. For one thing, it's James Butler Hickok -- not "William Hitchcock."

Leavenworth Daily Conservative (30th January, 1867)

The story of "Wild Bill," as told in Harper's for February is not easily credited hereabouts.

To those of us who were engaged in the campaign it sounds mythical; and whether Harry York, Buckskin Joe or Ben Nugget is meant in the life sketches of Harper we are not prepared to say.

The scout services were so mixed that we are unable to give precedence to any.

"Wild Bill's" exploits at Springfield have not as yet been heard of here, and if under that cognomen such brave deeds occurred we have not been given the relation.

There are many of the rough riders of the rebellion now in this city whose record would compare very favorably with that of "Wild Bill," and if another account is wanted we might refer to Walt Sinclair.
(end quote)

EYE WITNESSES SAY HICKOK HAD HIS PISTOL RESTING ACROSS HIS ARM
ALREADY AIMING AT DAVE TUTT WHEN HE CALLED OUT "DAVE"
AND FIRED.
Springfield Patriot (31st January, 1867)

Springfield is excited. It has been so ever since the mail of the 25th brought Harper's Monthly to its numerous subscribers here.

The excitement, curiously enough, manifests itself in very opposite effects upon our citizens. Some are excessively indignant, but the great majority are in convulsions of laughter, which seem interminable as yet.

The cause of both abnormal moods, in our usually placid and quiet city, is the first article in Harper for February, which all agree, if published at all, should have had its place in the "Editor's Drawer," with the other fabricated more or less funnyisms; and not where it is, in the leading "illustrated" place.

But, upon reflection, as Harper has given the same prominence to "Heroic Deeds of Heroic Men," by Rev. J. T. Headley, which, generally, are of about the same character as its article "Wild Bill," we will not question the good taste of its "make up."

We are importuned by the angry ones to review it. "For," say they, "it slanders our city and citizens so outrageously by its caricatures, that it will deter some from immigrating here, who believe its representations of our people."

"Are there any so ignorant?" we asked.

"Plenty of them in New England; and especially about the Hub, just as ready to swallow it all as Gospel truth, as a Johnny Chinaman or Japanese would be to believe that England, France and America are inhabited by cannibals."

"Don't touch it," cries the hilarious party, "don't spoil a richer morceaux than ever was printed in Gulliver's Travels, or Baron Munchausen! If it prevents any consummate fools from coming to Southwest Missouri, that's no loss."

So we compromise between the two demands, and give the article but brief and inadequate criticism. Indeed, we do not imagine that we could do it justice, if we made ever so serious and studied an attempt to do so.

A good many of our people - those especially who frequent the bar rooms and lager-beer saloons, will remember the author of the article, when we mention one "Colonel" G. W. Nichols, who was here for a few days in the summer of 1865, splurging around among our "strange, half-civilized people," seriously endangering the supply of lager and corn whisky, and putting on more airs than a spotted stud-horse in the ring of a county fair.

He's the author!

And if the illustrious holder of one of the "Brevet" commissions which Fremont issued to his wagon-masters, will come back to Springfield, two-thirds of all the people he meets will invite him "to pis'n hisself with suth'n" for the fun he unwittingly furnished them in his article - the remaining one-third will kick him wherever met, for lying like a dog upon the city and people of Springfield.

James B Hickok, (not "William Hitchcock," as the "Colonel" mis-names his hero,) is a remarkable man, and is as well known here as Horace Greely in New York, or Henry Wilson in "the Hub."

The portrait of him on the first page of Harper for February, is a most faithful and striking likeness - features, shape, posture and dress - in all it is a faithful reproduction of one of Charley Scholten's photographs of "Wild Bill," as he is generally called.

No finer physique, no greater strength, no more personal courage, no steadier nerves, no superior skill with the pistol, no better horsemanship than his, could any man of the million Federal soldiers of the war, boast of; and few did better or more loyal service as a soldier throughout the war.

But Nichols "cuts it very fat" when he describes Bill's teats in arms. We think his hero only claims to have sent a few dozen rebs to the farther side of Jordan; and we never, before reading the "Colonel's" article, suspected he had dispatched "several hundreds with his own hands."

But it must be so, for the "Colonel" asserts it with a parenthesis of genuine flavorous Bostonian piety, to assure us of his incapacity to utter an untruth.
(end quote)

HE DRESSED LIKE A "DANDY"
Atchinson Daily Champion (5th February, 1867)

"Wild Bill" is, as stated in the Magazine, a splendid specimen of physical manhood, and is a dead shot with a pistol. He is a very quiet man, rarely talking to any one, and not of a quarrelsome disposition, although reckless and desperate when once involved in a fight. There are a number of citizens of this city who know him well.

Nichols' sketch of 'Wild Bill' is a very readable paper, but the fine descriptive powers of the writer have been drawn upon as largely as facts, in producing it. There are dozens of men on the Overland Line who are probably more desperate characters than Hickok, and are the heroes of quite as many and as desperate adventures.

The wild West is fertile in 'Wild Bills.' Charley Slade, formerly one of the division Superintendents on the O. S. Line, was probably a more desperate, as well as a cooler man than the hero of Harper's, and his fight at his own ranch was a much more terrible encounter than that of 'Wild Bill' with the McKandles gang.

(end quote)
HARPER'S VERSION OF HICKOK'S FICTIONAL BATTLE
WITH THE SO-CALLED McCANLES GANG
WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSEDLY SHOT 11 TIMES AND STABBED 13 TIMES.
Henry M. Stanley, St. Louis Missouri Democrat (4th April, 1867)

James Butler Hickok, commonly called "Wild Bill," is one of the finest examples of that peculiar class known as frontiersman, ranger, hunter, and Indian scout. He is now thirty-eight years old, and since he was thirteen the prairie has been his home. He stands six feet one inch in his moccasins, and is as handsome a specimen of a man as could be found.

We were prepared, on hearing of "Wild Bill's" presence in the camp, to see a person who might prove to be a coarse and illiterate bully. We were agreeably disappointed however.

He was dressed in fancy shirt and leathern leggings. He held himself straight, and had broad, compact shoulders, was large chested, with small waist, and well-formed muscular limbs.

A fine, handsome face, free from blemish, a light moustache, a thin pointed nose, bluish-grey eyes, with a calm look, a magnificent forehead, hair parted from the centre of the forehead, and hanging down behind the ears in wavy, silken curls, made up the most picturesque figure.

He is more inclined to be sociable than otherwise; is enthusiastic in his love for his country and Illinois, his native State; and is endowed with extraordinary power and agility, whose match in these respects it would be difficult to find.

Having left his home and native State when young, he is a thorough child of the prairie, and inured to fatigue. He has none of the swaggering gait, or the barbaric jargon ascribed to the pioneer by the Beadle penny-liners.

On the contrary, his language is as good as many a one that boasts "college laming." He seems naturally fitted to perform daring actions. He regards with the greatest contempt a man that could stoop low enough to perform "a mean action." He is generous, even to extravagance. He formerly belonged to the 8th Missouri Cavalry.

The following dialogue took place between us; "I say, Mr. Hickok, how many white men have you killed to your certain knowledge?"

After a little deliberation, he replied, "I suppose I have killed considerably over a hundred."

"What made you kill all those men? Did you kill them without cause or provocation?"

"No, by heaven I never killed one man without good cause."

"How old were you when you killed the first white man, and for what cause?"

"I was twenty-eight years old when I killed the first white man, and if ever a man deserved lolling he did. He was a gambler and counterfeiter, and I was then in an hotel in Leavenworth City, and seeing some loose characters around, I ordered a room, and as I had some money about me, I thought I would retire to it.

I had lain some thirty minutes on the bed when I heard men at my door. I pulled out my revolver and bowie knife, and held them ready, but half concealed, and pretended to be asleep. The door was opened, and five men entered the room. They whispered together, and one said, "Let us kill the son of a bitch; I'll bet he has got money."

"Gentlemen," said he, "that was a time - an awful time. I kept perfectly still until just as the knife touched my breast; I sprang aside and buried mine in his heart, and then used my revolver on the others right and left.

One was killed, and another was wounded; and then, gentlemen, I dashed through the room and rushed to the fort, where I procured a lot of soldiers, and returning to the hotel, captured the whole gang of them, fifteen in all.

We searched the cellar, and found eleven bodies buried in it - the remains of those who had been murdered by those villains."

Turning to us, he asked: "Would you not have done the same? That was the first man I killed, and I never was sorry for that yet."
(end quote)

HARPER'S DEPICTION OF HICKOK AND DAVE TUTT
BEFORE THEIR GUNFIGHT
Henry M. Stanley, St. Louis Missouri Democrat (11th May, 1867)

"Wild Bill," who is an inveterate hater of the Indians, was chased by six Indians lately, and had quite a little adventure with them. It is his custom to be always armed with a brace of ivory-handled revolvers, with which weapons he is remarkably dexterous; but when bound on a long and lonely ride across the plains, he goes armed to the teeth. 

He was on one of these lonely missions, due to his profession as scout, when he was seen by a group of the red men, who immediately gave chase.

They soon discovered that they were pursuing one of the most famous men of the prairie, and commenced to retrace their steps, but two of them were shot, after which Wild Bill was left to ride on his way.

The little adventure is verified by a scout named Thomas Kincaid.
(end quote)

HICKOK'S PISTOLS ON DISPLAY IN A MUSEUM
Kansas Daily Commonwealth (11th May, 1873)

It is disgusting to see the eastern papers crowding in everything they can get hold of about so-called "Wild Bill."

If they only knew the real character of the men they so want to worship, we doubt if their names would ever appear again. "Wild Bill," or Bill Hickok, is nothing more than a drunken, reckless, murderous coward, who is treated with contempt by true border men, and who should have been hung years ago for the murder of innocent men.

The shooting of the "old teamster" in the back for a small provocation, while crossing the plains in 1859, is one fact that Harpers correspondent failed to mention.

And being booted out of a Leavenworth saloon by a boy bar tender is another; and we might name many other similar examples of his bravery.

In one or two instances he did the U. S. government good service, but his shameful and cowardly conduct more than overbalances the good. 
(end quote)

HICKOK DRESSED IN THEATRICAL COSTUME,
TAKE NOTE OF THE UNSHEATHED KNIFE.
Tom Correa