Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Breakaway Roping 101

Since I have been asked about this sport, I thought I'd bring you an article that is concise and well-written by someone who writes for The Breakaway Roping Journal. Writer Chelsea Shaffer is the Western editorial director for The Breakaway Roping Journal, The Team Roping Journal, and Horse&Rider magazine. 

The Pendleton Round-Up added breakaway roping to its PRCA rodeo in 2017. Hubbell Rodeo Photos

Breakaway Roping 101
The most commonly asked questions about breakaway roping, answered.
by writer Chelsea Shaffer
August 31, 2020

What is Breakaway Roping?

Breakaway roping is an equine sport developed in the Western United States in which a person horseback ropes a calf around the neck, with the roper’s rope “breaking away” from the saddle once the calf is far enough away from the horse.

How Does Breakaway Roping Work?

In breakaway roping, a calf is loaded into the roping chute and the roper enters the box on the right side (heeler’s side) of the roping chute. The breakaway roper waits in the corner of the box, with the calf in the chute, until his or her horse is standing squarely looking ahead. Then, the roper nods his or her head, and a chute operator opens the gate, allowing the calf to enter the arena.

In most competitions, a small rope is looped around the calf’s neck, connected to the rope barrier in front of the roper and his or her horse. That rope barrier breaks when the calf runs far enough from the chute, insuring he has a head start on the horse and roper. When the force of the calf leaving the chute releases the neck rope, the roper may leave the box. Leaving the box early and “breaking the barrier” generally results in a 10-second penalty.

Once leaving the box, the roper’s horse runs after the calf from behind, putting the roper in position to rope the calf around the neck in a bell-collar catch. When the calf is caught, the roper stops his or her horse abruptly, pulling the rope tight and breaking the small string that ties it to the saddle horn—marking the end of the run and stopping the clock. In most associations and competitions, ropers are required to have a flag—usually made from a bandana or white cloth—at the end of their rope to make the break easier for a judge (often called a flagger) to see. The fastest time wins.

What Are the Rules of Breakaway Roping and What Penalties Can Breakaway Ropers incur?

The most common penalty in breakaway roping is the 10 seconds added when a roper breaks the barrier, failing to give the calf the appropriate head start. Breakaway ropes may also be flagged out (disqualified) for any catch other than a bell-collar catch—that is, a clean catch around the calf's neck.

Who Can Compete in Breakaway Roping?

Breakaway roping is primarily a women’s event, but it is also a stepping-stone event for young boys to help them learn to calf rope in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association and other similar organizations. In American Quarter Horse Association competitions, both men and women can compete in the breakaway roping. But in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association—the largest sanctioning body at the professional level of the sport—only women can compete.

What Types of Ropes do Breakaway Ropers use?

Breakaway ropes — generally shorter than any other ropes on the market, at 24 feet to 29 feet—are quickly evolving as the demand for them grows. Breakaway ropers often cut their ropes shorter to customize their feel.

Breakaway ropes are made from either a nylon/poly blend or pure poly, and are twisted and designed specifically for maximizing tip control to rope the calf around the neck.

Breakaway ropers are also designed to be more durable than team ropes, because the calf drags the rope out of the arena after each competition run. 


The above article was written by Chelsea Shaffer for The Breakaway Roping Journal

She is described as "a long-time advocate of women's roping, Chelsea Shaffer won the 2017 WPRA Media Award for the promotion of the sport. She is a graduate of Ohio University's Honor's Tutorial College and prioritizes solid news reporting and storytelling in her writing."

I hope you enjoyed this very well-written article on a sport that's enjoyed by many across the country.

Tom Correa 

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Sydney Ducks

The San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 was 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. Yes, sort of the same thing as our Declaration of Independence. It was meant to advise the world of why we were seeking independence. 

The constitution of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 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.

It is said that between April 1849 and May 1850, about 11,000 Australians arrived in California. Of those new arrivals, about 7,500 were from Sydney. Of those, many were families. But also, there was the criminal element that arrived as well. The vigilantes' primary target was that criminal element known as 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 like no other. But, along with the good came the bad apples. Among those who wanted to prey on others were 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 in 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 firebombed, 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 were 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 of them, held secret trials, deportations, and at least four lynchings while bypassing those in political power. While that's true, it might interest folks in knowing that they did hold their own investigations of those they apprehended, and in fact, held their own secret trials before determining sentences.

Before it was known as the "Barbary Coast," San Francisco's waterfront was known as "Sydney Town." The reason it was called "Sydney Town" had to do with the Sydney Ducks. The "Sydney Ducks" was not a political terrorist group like the Democratic Party created Klan. The Ducks were a gang of criminals from Australia.

They arrived in San Francisco because the British penal colonies in Australia thought it a good idea to ship their convicts to California when people worldwide arrived in California during the 1849 Gold Rush. It's said Australia ordered ship Captains to throw convicts overboard if they acted up in any way. And when they were dropped off in California, the convicts quickly took to mugging, murder, and extortion instead of doing the more challenging work of finding a job or digging for gold.

While the Sydney Ducks were not a political terrorist group like the Klan, they had something in common with the Klan -- they used arson to get what they wanted. But unlike the Klan that set fire to homes and businesses to intimidate Blacks and Republican administrators in the South on behalf of the Democratic Party, the Sydney Ducks used arson and the threat of fires to criminally extort money from their victims.

The Ducks were known to extort money from merchants, saloons, and any other business they believed could meet their demands. Of course, they beat the owners, threatened families, and set fire to their business if they refused. Their intimidation worked, and people paid because everyone saw that the Ducks meant business. After all, no one wanted to see their business burned to the ground. It was common knowledge in San Francisco that the Sydney Ducks used arson to get what they wanted. Yes, very much like ANTIFA arsonists today.

People today might not know how much people in the Old West feared fires. It was actually a town's number one concern even before setting up organized law enforcement. As for the Ducks, arson was their weapon of choice for extortion. Arson was what they used to prove they were serious. In fact, the Ducks are believed responsible for the 1849 fire that devastated San Francisco.

They set fires, and no one really knows how many died in those fires as they spread through the city. They did so without thought or care for human life. Sound familiar, it should. Of course, there was a reason that the Ducks were blamed for the fires. That's what they did. Like ANTIFA today, everyone knew arson was their weapon of terror. And just as we know why there is an increase in crime because of ANTIFA and BLM groups' rampage for months in places like Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon in 2020, the rampant crime in San Francisco from 1849 to 1851 had to do with the criminal behavior of the Sydney Ducks and their reign of terror and extortion. 

Many arrived chasing the dream of getting rich during the California Gold Rush, yet only to reap failure. Many craftsmen who wanted to quit their trade in favor of going after gold soon found themselves working their trade to keep themselves fed. Indeed, many a ship in San Francisco Bay arrived to lose its crew to the goldfields. Of course, the other part of that story is that many a sailor returned to the sea. Many a seeker of gold and fortune found only despair and disappointment when learning gold wasn't just lying around for the taking.

It's said the Sydney Ducks were criminals who took up to the criminal ways without finding such despair of the slim picking in the gold camps. It's believed the Ducks saw it easier to get rich through intimidation, violence, murder, and extortion. While some opened businesses to get the gold out of hard-working miners' pockets, the Ducks saw that as unnecessary. Instead, they robbed, killed, and burned down the city for gold.

As for following through on their threats to burn down the city? It is believed they started at least a half-dozen major downtown fires that leveled thousands of buildings between 1849 and 1851. All started by the Sydney Ducks as a way to get their victims to meet their demands.

If that does not sound like what is going on today, here's this. It is said that the Ducks lit a fire, especially picking those days when the wind blew downwind of Sydney Town, then they would loot the warehouses and businesses while others were busy fighting the fires.

The threat was real, and people knew it. They understood the ruthlessness, the fact that the Ducks didn't care who died in the fires. They intimidated business owners and city officials. Both paid the Ducks to ensure that their city wouldn't burn. Their lawlessness reached such a level that robbery, arson, and killings in San Francisco took place daily.

As for the law, they were simply too under-manned to search them out. Part of the problem with apprehending the Ducks is that they were part of a large proportion of foreign-born immigrants who had a history of looking at law enforcement and the authorities as oppressors. Though that was the case, the Sydney Ducks were criminals. Those Australian criminals were the dregs of society.

People came to believe that it would take a large force to deal with the Ducks. Certainly a party more extensive than what the county sheriff had on hand. Though brave and resourceful, the county sheriff was too limited to cure the situation.

But because the citizens had enough of what they saw as weak-kneed responses, political promises, and a corrupt city government either too afraid to take strong measures or seen as being run by incompetent officials, the citizens banded. Of course, some of the city fathers wanted to declare Martial Law and alert the militia to deal with the ongoing threat.

Using members from dozens of independent militia groups in San Francisco county, more than 700 citizens formed the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851. Among them were sailors, longshoremen, teamsters, wheelwrights, shipwrights, domestic servants, store owners, merchants, bartenders, saloon keepers, former soldiers, laborers of all types, and others.

The Sydney Ducks were the reason for the formation of the Committee of Vigilance of 1851. After a few years, and the burning of their city more than a half-dozen times, the death and the destruction, San Francisco citizens were fed up with the promises to stop the chaos. The citizens acted and formed their vigilante committee.

While some think of vigilante groups as merely "a mob," that wasn't the case. Working parallel with the local law, the San Francisco Vigilance Committee turned over some of those they caught to the local authorities. Others were not so lucky. For example, there's a story about when a Sydney Duck was caught stealing a safe. It's said a dozen members of the newly formed Committee on Vigilance chased the Duck on foot and then by rowboats as the crook tried to row away.

The criminal was not merely taken to a tree and hanged, as would have happened in many gold camps and California's ranchlands where other Vigilance Committees were not so inclined to work within the law's confines. While most such groups were not unruly mobs but instead were organized and used such things as Miners Courts as the basis for their judicial system, not all Vigilance Groups were the same. One such group in Northern California tried a rustler on their way to a hanging tree. Another is known to have pronounced judgment fifteen minutes after catching a sluice box thief in the act. He was caught, tried, and tarred, and feathered within an hour.

The Sydney Duck caught stealing the safe in San Francisco was accused and tried in a vigilante court where evidence was provided. He was actually afforded a defense lawyer who was a member of the vigilantes. His trial lasted five hours. He was hanged from the Mexican customs house in front of 1,000 citizens in Portsmouth Square. It's said that after the third hanging of Sydney Ducks, Australia looked like a much safer place for Ducks to apply their criminal ways. With that, Ducks were put on ships and shipped out of town. They left being warned that they would be shot on sight if found anywhere in California.

So how long did the Committee of Vigilance conduct their trials and hangings and conduct forced deportations of Ducks who, in many cases, were beaten before being taken aboard out-going ships? The citizens of San Francisco formed their Vigilance Committee, decimated the Sydney Ducks, and then disbanded in just 100 days.

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 kept at their headquarters, a few days later, the Mayor and County Sheriff John Coffee Hays, along with some deputies, made a surprise raid on the Committee of Vigilance headquarters. They stole Whittaker and McKenzie from the vigilantes and put them in the county jail. That was on August 20th, 1851.

The first San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851 had over 700 members. Just four days later, after reconsidering the loss of their prisoners, 36 Vigilance Committee members barged into the jail and overpowered the few deputies on duty. The vigilantes stole them back. That was August 24th. While the Sheriff was miles away when that took place, 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 already 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 their 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, September 14, 2021

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Welles Crowther -- The Man in the Red Bandana

If people want to know if there are real heroes, look to Welles Crowther. 

He led people to safety after terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Hanging of José Forner

The first legal execution held in San Francisco took place on December 10, 1852. The man hanged was Jose Forner. Thousands of people gathered around the scaffold on Russian Hill. His confession, and a sketch of the life of the murder, was published as a letter-sheet shortly after the execution.

Confession of José Forner y Brugada.

On the day that the killing was done, to wit: On the evening of the 8th of October, about the hour of 4 o’clock, in company with two young friends, talking of going to dine, they did not wish to go so early. I said, well, I would take a walk and see the Steam Paddy work. I then parted from my friends and walked towards Happy Valley; and while I was looking at the machine at work, one José Rodriguez (the deceased) came up to me and slapping me familiarly on the shoulder, said, “Hallo, José, what are you doing here?” 

I returned for answer, that I had come out for a walk, I at the same time noticed that the deceased looked strangely at me. After a few moments he asked me to come and take a drink with him, I said no, thank you, that I must away and obey a call of nature, I then left him and went on a sand hill, took off my body my money belt, which contained some four hundred dollars, I laid the belt on the ground: at the same time I took off my knife, that also I laid on the ground; whilst I was in the act of dressing myself, deceased came running up to me, and saw my knife laying on the ground, which he instantly seized, and said, “I want your money,” I said that I had but two or three dollars, which you can have if you wish it. 

He answered, “No, you have more and I will have it,” at that moment he jumped towards me, I stepped back to avoid him, when he struck me a blow with the knife, which took effect in the calf of my leg, I exclaimed that he was a d—d scoundrel, what did he mean. 

He ran down the hill, I after him, he dropped the knife, I picked it up while running after him, he made an effort to get the knife away from me, which I had done afterwards, God only knows, I was frantic with rage. I confess that I did intend to kill him, believing at the time, that it was his intention to rob me and perhaps to kill me if necessary in its accomplishment. 

The money which I had when arrested, was my own, I had worked hard for a portion of it, the other portion won at cards. I was cook and confectioner at the Jackson House where I received $125. I also worked at the Nueva Mondo and at the Laguna: from these two pleaces I received between $50 and 60, the balance of the money I won at cards at the El Dorado, Polka and Arcade: in all about $400

I was born in Valencia, (Spain) in the month of May, 1820, of highly respectable parents. My uncle is Alcalde of Valencia, and all of my family, with but few exceptions, hold office under the Spanish government. I am worth in Valencia from $4000 to $5000 in real estate. 

At the age of 16 years I went to learn the trade of confectioner with my uncle; served with him 5 years; from there I went to Barcelona, was three years in the service of Don Jina Costa; from thence I went with letters of introduction to the brother of my last employer Don Juan Costa, at Havana, Cuba, worked there two years; then went to my native place Valencia; from there to Madrid; from thence to Barcelona; then again to Havana, was there three or four months in the house of Dominicas; from thence to Vera Cruz, Medico; thence to Puebla; thence to the city of Mexico; thence to Acapulco, from there to the city of San Francisco, where I have been working five or six months. 

I had about $75 when I arrived here. I worked for the proprietors of the Jackson House, the hotel Nueva Mondo and the Laguna. This is the first time that I ever was in prison, and never wronged any man of one dime. The money found on me was my own.

José Forner y Brugada

Sketch of the life of José Forner

Published under the direction of the keepers of the County Jail and for sale by Bonestell & Williston, Clay St. San Francisco.

Source: San Francisco Museum

Friday, September 3, 2021

Testimony of Thomas Keefe in the Preliminary Hearing in the Earp-Holliday Case before Judge Spicer

On this tenth day of November, 1881, on the hearing of the above entitled cause, on the examination of Wyatt Earp and J. H. Holliday; Thomas Keefe, a witness of lawful age, being produced and sworn, deposes and says as follows:

Thomas Keefe, carpenter. To interrogation, says he saw a difficulty between Wyatt Earp and Thomas McLaury on October 26, 1881, to wit: 

"Around the corner of Fourth Street, about 50 feet from Allen Street, between there and Judge Wallace's court, I do not remember the exact time of day-it was about 12 o'clock I think-the man that Wyatt Earp had trouble with was walking towards Allen Street on Fourth Street. Mr. Earp was going from Allen Street towards Wallace's Court when they met. I did not understand what they said, and the fight commenced. I saw Mr. Earp knock McLaury down with his pistol, twice-I saw him fall twice-McLaury threw up his arms to knock the blows of the pistol off. Mr. Earp then put his pistol up and walked away from him. I couldn't say there were over two blows struck with the pistol. I could not swear to any more. 

McLaury then got up and staggered and walked toward the sidewalk and picked up a silver band or roll, to put on his hat again, that was knocked off. That was the last I saw of him, McLaury, for half an hour. He walked away. I saw no other blows struck, excepting those that were struck with the pistol. I did not hear any words pass between the parties. I was about 22 or 23 feet from them. There were other parties nearer to the difficulty than I was."

To further questioning, says he was at the scene of the killing, "after the killing was done." The shooting was over. He was at Fourth and Allen when the first shot was heard by him, "and I ran down Allen Street to Third Street, from Third to the corner of Fremont." 

My attention was called then to a man lying on the corner of Third and Allen Streets. It was Tom McLaury. He was dying. I called two or three men and said, "Let's pick this man up and take him in the house before he dies." 

We brought him in the house and got a pillow and laid him on the carpet and made him as easy as I could. I asked him if he had anything to say before he died and he made no answer. He could not speak. Then I unbuttoned his clothes and pulled his boots off and gave him some water, and the other man was halloing so with pain I sent for a doctor to inject morphine in him. I believe his name was Billy Clanton. The doctor arrived there then, and I helped the doctor inject morphine in him, alongside the wound. He was turning and twisting, and kicking in every manner, with the pain. 

He said, "They have murdered me! I have been murdered! Chase the crowd a­way from the door and give me air!" The last words he said before he died were, "Drive the crowd away!" I stayed there until the Coroner came; about eight or ten minutes afterwards.

Does not know who helped him carry Tom McLaury into the house-"Everything was all excitement." Says there were four or five men there. Did not see any arms on Tom. Again tells of unbuttoning Tom's clothing, "and as soon as Doctor Matthews came, we searched the body and did not find any arms on him. We examined him close enough to see if there were any arms on him, and there were none on him; we only found money on him.”

Tells of running to where Tom was lying, in the street, and says that three or four other men came up about the same time. He raised up Tom's head. Again declares that there were no ammunition or arms on Tom at that time, nor on the ground near or about him, nor on his person, nor was there any belt on him. Says when they took Tom into the house, Billy Clanton was there, and Mr. Noble and Mr. Campbell, the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and another man who stops at Vogan's, "I don't know his name."

As questions continue, he says he examined Billy Clanton and found he was shot through the right wrist, his arm was broken; he was shot on the left side of the belly; he was shot below the left nipple and the lung was oozing blood out of the wound; he was shot again through the pants of the right leg-it did not touch the skin. Says he examined the right wrist closely, even "ran my finger into the wound, feeling the bone." Says the ball passed through the arm about two inches above the knuckle joint of his wrist.


To questions:

Says he has lived here about one year. Came from Bodie, California, where he lived two years and a half, before that lived in Oakland, California, eight months; before that about one year in San Francisco. Worked as a carpenter and builder in Bodie. Has been busy at this trade, "pretty near all the time," in Tombstone. Did not know Billy Clanton nor the McLaury brothers, but knew Ike Clanton about two weeks be­fore the shooting. Had no business relations with Ike Clanton, and denies receiving either promise or money from Ike Clanton or anyone else connected with the prosecution. Says he knows William Allen for two or three months." Says Billy Clanton was in the house when they brought Tom in. Tells of sending for doctor and of Dr. Miller coming. Says he told the doctor to inject morphine into the wound near the stomach says Billy was "halloing" for morphine [because of pain]. Says he held Billy on his back while the doctor injected; that it was before the injection that Billy said he had been murdered; that he died, "about 10 or 15 minutes" after the injection of "two syringe fulls; morphine syringes; about the thickness of a small sized lead pencil about two inches long."

In response to question as to shot in wrist: "It went from the inside to the outside." Course of ball was diagonal across the wrist [here witness illustrates upon the arm of Mr. Fitch, the direction in which the ball passed through the arm of Billy Clanton, by showing that the ball entered the wrist nearly in line with the base of the thumb and emerged on the back of the wrist diagonally.] Says the orifice on the outside of the wrist was the largest. Did not see any powder bum on Billy Clanton's body or clothing.

(A) Bauer, the butcher, denies having conversed with anyone outside counsel for the prosecution prior to giving testimony. Is asked if he sought Mr. McLaury or not. Says this man sought him for three days. Then his various positions prior to and during the shooting are restated.

Says his relations with Isaac Clanton were not intimate, but that he conversed with him on the day of the shooting at Hafford's Comer, about 20 minutes or half an hour before the shooting.

(Q) Was anyone with Tom McLaury when he was hit by Wyatt Earp?

(A) I could not say.

(Q) Did you ever reside in the state of Nevada?

(A) I did.

(Q) When and where?

(A) At White Pine, Hamilton County, Virginia City, and Pioche in 1869-70-71 and '72. [Some of these places are not on modem maps.]

(Q) Were you at any time during your residence in Nevada, defendant in any action wherein the State of Nevada was plaintiff in any criminal action?

(A) I was not.

(Q) How long after Tom McLaury was carried into the house was it before he died?

(A) Six or seven minutes.

(Q) Did Dr. Miller treat Tom McLaury also?

(A) No sir.

To query, says there was no weapon on William Clanton, but there was a cartridge belt on him, and a pistol was lying near the door-a Smith & Wesson, large-sized-about two feet from the door-on the carpet. Says he picked [the] pistol up, examined it and thought there were two empty chambers. "Then Wes Fuller examined it and said there were three empty, and I looked again and saw that three chambers were empty." Doesn't know whose pistol it was. Dr. Matthews took it. Says Frank McLaury was not brought into this room. He remained there until Tom's and Billy's bodies were taken away in a wagon.

(Q) Were you not, during your residence in Bodie, during the times you have already testified to, a portion of that time, confined in jail there? [Objection]

(A) I was arrested and put in jail and honorably acquitted. I was in jail for entering my own house after coming back from Idaho and dispossessing a certain gentleman who was living there.

(Q) Go on and state all about the matter about which you have testified to in your last answer upon cross-examination.

(A) I went to the Yankee Fork Country, Idaho, the first of March, two years ago. I left Bodie. Was gone eight months and came back and heard some very bad talk in regard to my family arrangements-and a man named Don McShannon. I approached him upon the subject and he denied all charges in regard to being intimate with my woman. I requested him to leave the house and rapped at the door and was shot at through the door and I was arrested and put in jail. I was then tried and acquitted honorably [All the foregoing is crossed out, beginning with, "I was in jail." but there is no notice of motion to strike.]

(Q) You stated in your cross-examination that the pistol you saw lying on the floor by the door was a Smith & Wesson-are you sure of that?

(A) There was a long slot in the sight, and I know that Smith & Wesson pistols have that slot. . . . It was an old pistol, well-worn. There is more discussion and then, at request, he picks up from the table what he believes to be the pistol in question. Ordered to examine same, learns that it is a Colt.4 In examining gun, witness relates much of what has been said about shells fired from it, etc. Declares to court he does not think this is the pistol he examined in the house. [Witness now examines cartridge under the hammer being gone.] "I did not revolve the cylinder when I first examined it."

(Q) Now take the other pistol in your hand, brought in by the Coroner, and state. . . . if that is the pistol that you examined and you found lying upon the floor.

(A) No sir, I don't think it is.


(Q) What kind of pistol is the other one?

(A) The same as the other one, a Colt.

(Q) Have you seen the pistol you first examined from the time you last saw it on the day of the shooting until just now in this courtroom?

(A) I have. I saw it in Dr. Matthews' office between 12 and 1 o'clock.

(Q) Do I understand that after completing your cross-examination this noon, during the recess and before resuming the examination this afternoon, you went to Dr. Matthews' office and examined the pistol concerning which you have since testified on re-direct examination?

(A) I was asked to go up there and examine the pistol and I did so. I was asked to go by Judge Robinson.

(Q) What, if anything, was said to you while there, with respect to this pistol?

(A) Judge Campbell and Mr. Ben Goodrich were there, and wanted [me] to show which way the pistol laid on the floor when I first saw it, [and] which way Tom McLaury and which way Billy Clanton laid.

(Q) As to what about the pistols?

(A) I was requested to look at the two pistols and say which I thought was the one [found] on the floor of the little house on the day of the shooting.

[Signed] Thomas Keefe

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Feral Hogs Are Tearing Up Texas

Tourists Are Shooting Them from Helicopters.

Feral hogs are one of the most destructive invasive species in the U.S.

But to Texans, feral hogs are nothing new — and they’re no joke.

"The problem is extremely serious," said Olivia Johnson, co-owner and business manager of helicopter outfit Cedar Ridge Aviation in Knox City, Texas. "It would be like if you woke up and there was 3 million rats living in your house. You wouldn't live with them. You wouldn't just say, ‘Oh, well, welcome to my home.'"

The hogs are a menace to the environment and agriculture alike, and cause roughly $1.5 billion in damage each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They tear up crops and property, eat endangered species, and spread diseases to livestock and humans. The USDA estimates there are about 6 million hogs across the U.S., but some experts put the number closer to 9 million.

Roughly half of the hogs live in Texas, where people can't kill them quickly enough to manage the population. So in 2011, the state made it legal for helicopter companies to take anyone — even tourists — hunting from the sky.

"Helicopter hunting is the quickest way to kill a bunch of pigs," Dustin Johnson, an owner and pilot at Cedar Ridge Aviation, said.

Now, companies sell seats to thrill-seeking tourists for as much as $5,000 per person. Cedar Ridge charges about half that, hosting guests from as far as Australia and China.

On the day VICE News visited, two hunters from Amarillo, Texas, killed 54 pigs in one go. Overall, helicopter hunting killed 43,000 pigs in the state last year, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. That’s only about 1-2% of Texas’s hog population.

Dustin Johnson acknowledges that some object to killing dozens of pigs from helicopters, and says those people have never fought the pig problem in Texas. But Bubba Ortiz, a hog trapper in New Braunfels, Texas, isn"t a fan of their approach.

"I'd prefer to take them alive than dead, because when they're dead, I want to do something with the meat," said Ortiz, a Pueblo Nation member with Tigua and Acoma Sky City heritage. He sends hogs to certified hunting ranches or to meat processors for shipment overseas, where wild boar is a more popular menu item.

Ortiz said he trapped 417 hogs within the city limits of San Antonio in 2017, and another 300 in the county.  "I don't hate the pigs," Ortiz said. "I'm not a big fan of the pigs cause they're just so destructive. But I look at them like a good adversary."

-- end of the article related to the video.

I've written about the huge problems created by feral hogs. Besides killing family pets and attacking people, they are negatively impacting agriculture throughout the South. Of course, Texas and Louisiana are being hit especially hard. And while feral hogs thrive in almost any condition, climate, or ecosystem, they do especially well in those states. 

Feral hogs are a menace. And since they are considered opportunistic omnivores, they will eat anything when given the chance to do so. Of course, since they can root as deep as three feet, they destroy agricultural fields of every produce including potatoes, rice, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, melons, and others. They even destroy sod farms, hayfields, and cornfields. According to sources, "farmers planting corn have discovered that hogs will go methodically down the rows during the night, extracting seeds one by one."

Because they are intelligent, they evade traps and hunters. And since they have no natural predators, their numbers are exploding. Sows breed at 6 to 8 months of age and have two litters of four to eight piglets every 12 to 15 months during a life span of 4 to 8 years. A litter of a dozen is not unheard of. 

This all means killing them can be an expensive and full-time job that takes vital funds and time away from the arduous task of farming. And here's more, it should be noted that while feral hogs are costing farmers immense amounts of money to stay in business, livestock producers are also adversely affected since feral hogs attack livestock as well. 

They need to be eradicated.

Tom Correa

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Prevaricators In The Old West

As I said in a recent post, yarns and tall tales were a very popular form of storytelling back in the day. Well, here's another story that you might enjoy. It's a story that reminds us that some things haven't changed in the world. 

The U.S.Army was responsible for manning weather stations when they were initially created. One such remote weather station was located in the Rocky Mountains in 1876. Gurnsey's Rocky Mountain U.S. Signal Station and Observatory on Pikes Peak sat at an elevation of 14,336 feet. It opened on November 1st, 1873. During that first winter, the temperature dropped to 26 degrees below zero, the wind was clocked at 85 miles per hour, and they recorded 15 feet of snow. 

The U.S. Signal Service was a part of the U.S. Army. It was later redesignated as the Army Signal Corps. The weather stations were set up throughout the United States all in an effort to gather information. It was one of the early attempts to forecast the weather. As for the people manning the stations, it's very understandable how such duty as manning such a desolate place can be lonesome, boring, and isolated. It's also understandable how one's imagination and creativity can run wild.

The first indication of an imagination running wild took place that first winter. That was when an article on a giant lake creature in Mystic Lake, what is believed to be present-day Lake Moraine, appeared in an issue of the Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette on December 6th, 1873. The article reported how a soldier stationed at the Pikes Peak station sighted the giant creature. 

The man making the report was U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Seyboth. He was the first man to pull duty at the station. Seyboth reported that he was riding past Mystic Lake when he heard a loud splashing sound. Upon inspection, he reported that he saw a monster that was at least 100-feet long moving very fast through the water. The creature was pale brown and covered with scales. He went on to say that the monster had a long skinny neck and its head was sort of oblong with small beady eyes. Such a monster living in the lake was big news. In fact, it is said that several newspapers carried the story here and in Europe. 

Was there a rush to see if someone could find the beast? No. Was a scientific search of that ever conducted for the creature? No. Was there ever another sighting? Well, no one knows. 

Why not you ask? Well, tall tales in newspapers and magazines were not out of the ordinary. Some stories were shrugged off as simply being a yarn because they were too unbelievable, while other stories were taken as gospel. Of course, that's how tales of monsters begin. One person laughs it off as just a tall tale, while others will buy it completely -- hook, line, and sinker. Right or wrong, that's how things still are today. It's as if people want to see monsters when there aren't any. 

As for Seyboth's tall tale, while not bad, his story was eclipsed later when his replacement told a bigger whopper. That storyteller was Army Private John Timothy O'Keeffe. O'Keeffe's spectacular tale actually appeared in the Pueblo Chieftain entitled, "Attacked By Rats, Terrible Conflict On The Summit Of Pikes Peak," published on May 25, 1876.

In O'Keeffe's story, he warned visitors of vicious "mountain rats." He talked about how the rats lived in the rocky crevices on the summit of Pikes Peak. He spoke about them being aggressive, dangerous, man-eaters. His story didn't leave anything to the imagination as he described in detail the attacks that he and his family endured on the summit.

According to O'Keeffe, the rats would normally feed on a sweet gum that was a by-product of volcanic action that shook the mountain at irregular intervals. The volcanic action percolated the gum through the pores of the rocks. The gum was freed for the rats for longer than human history ever recorded. When the gum wasn't enough, the rats would seek out food -- including attack those there at the weather station.   
Private John O'Keefe had a vivid imagination. His job was to collect the meteorological information. That must not have kept him busy since he was known to pass the time by sharing tall tales with visitors. Of course, he supposedly had a drinking buddy who was also a newspaper editor. 

As for the rats, O'Keefe said they were nocturnal and dangerous. He supposedly told his wife on several occasions to guard their young daughter since he feared she would be attacked. His warnings were said to be an omen of what took place. 

The story goes that while O'Keefe was busy working on weather reports that needed to be sent off, he heard his wife scream. The rats were attacking and they had gotten into their kitchen. The rats swarmed over an entire side of beef and devoured it in the blink of an eye. It was then that the rats attacked Mrs. O'Keefe and their daughter Erin. 

O'Keefe, acting as the hero in the story, immediately protected his wife by wrapping her in a sheet of plate steel from the stove. He then ripped the stovepipe down and placed the sections over his legs as he fought the rats with a chair leg that he used as a club. It was about that time that Mrs. O'Keefe grabbed a spool of wire and hooked it to a nearby battery to electrocute the rats. The sparks made the rats flee back to the cracks and crevices of Pikes Peak.

Private John O'Keefe found the remains of their infant daughter Erin. She was attacked because the rats climbed into her cradle. Private O'Keefe and his wife buried what was left of their daughter beneath a pile of rocks near the summit of Pike's Peak. He then placed a wooden marker on her grave. 

The marker read: "Erected in Memory of Erin O'Keefe, daughter of John and Nora O'Keefe, who was eaten by mountain rats in the year 1876."

Friends, it didn't matter that volcanic action didn't percolate a gum through the pores of the rocks. It didn't matter that Army Private John Timothy O'Keeffe was not married, there was no Nora O'Keeffe, nor was there ever an infant daughter named Erin. It didn't matter that the whole story was a complete fabrication. 

It's said that O'Keefe's drinking buddy wrote down the story after visiting that gravesite. And after the story was published in a local newspaper, it's said hundreds of visitors made "the pilgrimage" to the weather station at the top of Pikes Peak just to view the infant's grave and pay their respects. 

Was there a grave as shown in photographs? Absolutely yes. There was indeed a grave. Of course, after realizing that his tall tale had gotten out of hand and that he may get in some sort of trouble, he finally admitted that the grave was a hoax. It was in reality the grave of a government mule that had died. The mule was used at the station as a means of transportation when relaying the weather reports. 

Of course, even after Private John Timothy O'Keeffe confessed to making up the hoax, people still believed there are mountain rats on top of Pikes Peak. And yes, there were people who still believed that those very same fictitious mountain rats once ate an infant named Erin O'Keeffe. 

Even when finding out the truth, many refuse to believe it. People are stubborn that way.   

Tom Correa

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Presidential Line of Succession Explained

Next in line?

Let's Debunk The Internet

I'm getting a lot of messages on Facebook and emails telling me that Nancy Pelosi may be the next Vice President of the United States. The idea behind this is that if Joe Biden is removed from office through the use of the 25th Amendment because of his inability to do his job or impeached for high crimes or misdemeanors, then Pelosi as Speaker of the House automatically becomes Vice President under Kamala Harris who would automatically become President. 

The notion that this would take place comes from the fact that the Speaker of the House, whoever that is, is third-in-line as a matter of ascension. The presidential line of succession is the order in which officials of the United States federal government assume the powers and duties of the office of the president of the United States.

There is an important distinction to be made here. That distinction is important, and Americans need to understand how it works. The importance of that distinction has to do with the "simultaneous" death, incapacitation, or removal of the president and vice president. Not merely the death, incapacitation, or removal of the president "or" the vice president. Both positions have to be vacant "simultaneously."

If the incumbent president becomes incapacitated, dies, resigns, or is removed from office, then the order of succession specifies that the office passes to the vice president. The order of succession also states that if the vice presidency is "simultaneously" vacant, or if the vice president is "also" incapacitated at that "same instant," the powers and duties of the presidency pass to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

The keyword is "simultaneously." So what happens if there is not "simultaneous" death, incapacitation, or removal of both the president and vice president? What happens if one or the other is still functioning? What happens if the President or the Vice President dies, is incapacitated, or is removed from office?

The answer to that took place in 1973. Yes, just a matter of a mere 48 years ago. And as for what took place, the Speaker of the House stayed the Speaker of the House. 

In the 1972 Presidential Election, incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon from California defeated Democrat U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. Spiro Agnew was President Nixon's vice president. Agnew had served as Vice President since 1969 as a result of President Nixon winning the 1968 Presidental Election. 

Spiro Agnew was President Nixon's vice president until he resigned in 1973. Agnew is the second and most recent vice president to resign the position. The other vice president to have resigned was John C. Calhoun in 1832. So yes, Agnew resigning took place in our recent history. 

Why did he resign, and what came as a result of that? Well, if memory serves me right, Agnew was the Governor of Maryland before being chosen by Nixon as his running mate in the 1968 Presidential Election. Agnew had become Governor of Maryland after defeating a Democrat opponent who was for segregation and against interracial marriage. When Agnew entered office as Governor, he cut taxes, allowing citizens of that state to keep more of their hard-earned money. He created clean water regulations that were new to the nation at the time. He repealed laws against interracial marriage in Maryland. 

Political enemies targeted Agnew, and by 1973, Agnew was being investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and tax fraud. Supposedly, Spiro Agnew took kickbacks from government contractors when he was a Baltimore County Executive and then as Governor of Maryland. Believe it or not, those kickbacks supposedly continued even after becoming Vice President of the United States. This was a shock that made all of the newspapers at the time. Of course, even though he said he was innocent, Agnew finally pled "no contest" to a single felony charge of tax evasion. It was then that he resigned as Vice President. 

On October 10, 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned. As for Agnew, he was never convicted and spent the remainder of his life out of politics. As for any involvement in the Watergate scandal, Agnew was never connected to it. 

Just as a side note, I remember all of this taking place because that was the year that I went into the Marine Corps. 

So now, with the Vice President resigning, did the Speaker of the House become Vice President? If we believe the misinformation on the Internet today, then Democrat Speaker of the House Carl Albert should have become Vice President in 1973. But that didn't happen because that's not how the system works. 

In fact, President Richard Nixon replaced his former-Vice President Spiro Agnew with Republican House Minority Leader Gerald Ford. Ford served as the House Minority Leader from 1965 to 1973. He was tapped for the job of Vice President after Nixon consulted with Congression leaders. It's said that Nixon wanted someone else at first, but was told by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate that Ford, who was seen as very respected and liked in the House, would be confirmed.

According to newspaper reports at the time, while President Nixon "sought advice from senior Congressional leaders about a replacement," Democrats in control of Congress "gave Nixon no choice but Ford." 

Gerald Ford was nominated to take the position of Vice President on October 12, 1973. It was the first time that the vice-presidential vacancy provision of the 25th Amendment Section 2 clause had been implemented. The 25th Amendment Section 2 clause states "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress." 

After being nominated, the United States Senate voted 92 to 3 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President on November 27. Then on December 6, 1973, the House confirmed him by a vote of 387 to 35. After the confirmation vote in the House, Gerald Ford took the oath of office and became our nation's 40th Vice President.

Because of the Watergate Scandal, Vice President Gerald Ford had to prepare himself to replace President Nixon. On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, and Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States. 

So now you ask, with President Nixon resigning and Vice President Ford becoming President, did the Speaker of the House become Vice President? Again, if we believe the misinformation on the Internet today, then Democrat Speaker of the House Carl Albert should have become Vice President in 1974. But that didn't happen because again that's not how the system works. 

The 25th Amendment Section 1 clause states " In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President." So when Gerald Ford moved from Vice President to President, a vacancy at the Vice President level was created. That meant that the 25th Amendment Section 2 clause again kicked in. Since it states "Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress," President Ford had to nominate a replacement for the position of Vice President. 

On August 20, 1974, President Ford nominated fellow Republican former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vice president vacancy that he himself had just vacated. After months of a lengthy confirmation process, on December 10, 1974, the Senate voted to confirm Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President by a 90 to 7 vote. The House of Representatives confirmed his nomination by a 287 to 128 vote.  Nelson Rockefeller took the oath of office as Vice President of the United States after the House confirmation on December 19, 1974.

As for Nelson Rockefeller, he became the second person ever appointed Vice President by way of the 25th Amendment. Of course, Gerald Ford was the first. And to date, this was all the last "intra-term" U.S. presidential succession to ever take place in American History. 

Please understand that for almost two months, from October 10th when Agnew resigned to December 6th, 1973, when Ford was confirmed as Vice President, the United States did not have a Vice President. And yes, for almost 4 months, from August 20th when Ford became President to December 19th, 1974, when Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President, the United States did not have a Vice President. During each case when the position of Vice President was vacant, the Speaker of the House did not ascend to the position of Vice President. 

Frankly, this episode in our history proves that the Speaker of the House is not in line for the Presidency if the President or Vice President have not died, become incapacitated, or have been removed "simultaneously." 

We know that if Joe Biden is removed -- then Kamala Harris will move into the Presidency. She would have to then nominate a Vice President. She would be able to nominate anyone to that position, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Of course, as one reader just pointed out, Harris would not be able to nominate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for that position of Vice President until October 13, 2024, since Cortez would be under the Constitutionally required age of 35 for the office of Vice-President or President. 

If Kamala Harris is removed because of her incompetency, and possibly emotional instability as demonstrated with her constant laughter, then Joe Biden has to nominate a replacement for Vice President. And yes, Biden could nominate anyone to that position, including Rashida Tlaib or even Nancy Pelosi. But as far as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi simply ascending to the position of Vice President merely because a vacancy is created, that's not how the system works. 
Sorry, Nancy! 

Tom Correa

Monday, August 16, 2021

Extermination of Wild Bison by Charles Goodnight (1931)

Still Hunting Buffaloes

On March 5th, 1931, The San Saba News and Star reported the following on Page 2:

As told to Annie Dyer Nunn 
by Charles Goodnight

Charles Goodnight, one of the first pioneers of the Panhandle, was known as a breeder of buffaloes and cattaloes. The cattalo is a cross-breed between buffalo and native cattle. His old ranch near Clarendon, Texas, where Col. Goodnight lived for half a century and where he established his buffalo herd, still flourishes and is known far and wide as a breeding ground for the native buffalo. Colonel Goodnight died December, 1929.

His knowledge of the buffalo in its native habitat dates back to the year 1845 when, as a child he saw buffalo grazing west of the Cross Timbers in Central Texas. He knew them in the ’60s when their numbers had increased to over two millions. He knew them in the ’70s–those years that marked their passing–when hunters killed them by the thousands for either mere sport or for the hides, which sold in the open market; from 10 cents to one dollar each.

“When you were in the buffalo country,” related Colonel Goodnight, “you were in it, that’s all. Buffaloes meant buffaloes by the hundreds of thousands. The prairies were literally thick with them. In all directions, as far as the eye could reach, there was a sea of these moving animals. They ranged, for the most part, in groups as close together as they could conveniently graze. They migrated from necessity only. I have known small herds to haunt some particular region for years, but the main herd, due to scarcity of grass or water at certain season of the year had to move or die.

The “Southern” and “Northern” Herds

“There were two main herds in the United States–the southern and the northern,” said Mr. Goodnight. “The southern herd ranged south of the Arkansas River, through a portion of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas; the northern herd stayed north of this river, in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Dakota.

“While the Civil War was in progress I was with Norris’ regiment of Texas Rangers, fighting Indians on the frontier, and during that time I was in close contact with the southern herd. After the war, as a drover, trailing cattle from Central Texas into New Mexico and Colorado, I was still in the heart of the buffalo country–for the next ten years, in fact, which was as long as the southern herd continued to exist.

“The herd would come into southern Texas for the winter, returning northwest into New Mexico and Kansas when the grass started; but not until it did start. I had good reason to remember this peculiarity, as the result of an experience I had on the trail when in 1867, I was retuning home from Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where I had gone to deliver 3,000 head of steers.

“Although it was the latter part of June and grass, owing to a drouth, barely up, the buffalo were still on their winter ground. Incredible numbers had died from starvation, and everywhere I looked I saw hundreds of carcasses rotting in the sun. The odor was fearful and the air black with flies. For two days and two nights my course led me through this belt of dead buffalo and desolation.

Killing for Commercial Purposes

“In the United States buffalo hunting for commercial purposes had been going on more or less since 1830, but in 1868 it began in deadly earnest. By this time wholesale decimation from every conceivable quarter descended upon the buffalo. They were slaughtered for meat by the settlers and by Indians in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska; by professional hunters employed to supply meat to military forts and railroad construction companies; by “sportsmen” who killed merely because they could kill.

I have seen passengers on a train, which had been held up by a herd that was slowly crossing the track, shoot buffalo for hours at a time.

The performance of the sportsmen was to me one of the most distressing features of buffalo extermination. The majority killed needlessly and with ruthless abandon. I have seen passengers on a train, which had been held up by a herd that was slowly crossing the track, shoot buffalo for hours at a time. Hundreds were slaughtered in this was, while others were wounded and left to a lingering death. For years the most conspicuous objects along western railroads were bleaching bones of these defenseless creatures that had furnished “sport” for passengers.

“There are stories of wanton slaying of buffalo by Indians, but I know this did not occur in the southern herd. The Indians killed what they could use and no more. They were maddened beyond measure by the wholesale slaughter of buffalo that was being waged all around them. It was the main cause of the Adobe Walls battle which occurred in Texas in 1874 between Indians and buffalo hunters. Buffalo meant everything to the Indians–food the year round, hides for tepees, robes to cover their bodies, etc.

Hide Hunters by the Thousands

“With the completion of the Union Pacific and the Kansas Pacific railroads in 1868 and ’70, buffalo hide hunters poured into the country by the thousands. They made military forts their bases of supply and their ammunition centers. There were some good men among the hide hunters but, generally speaking, they were a hard lot.

“At one time it was estimated there were 3,000 buffalo hunters in the Panhandle of Texas. From sun-up until sun-down their guns boomed death and destruction. Seasoned frontiersman though I was, I could never become inured to these scenes of brutal and wanton butchery. The buffalo had to go, of course, but there was no excuse for the hurry, waste and savagery that attended their extermination.

“Sharpshooters were employed mainly. The hunters moved in companies of from four to fifteen men whose work was systematized–some did the shooting, some the skinning, some the gathering of hides. I have talked with hunters who claim to have killed as many as one hundred buffalo in a day.

“‘Still hunting’ was the most popular method, for shooting on the run left the dead animals scattered over a wide area and increased the work of skinning. A sharpshooter would conceal himself in a thicket, behind a rock, or some other place he could not be seen by the herd, and begin operation. He would first kill the leaders of the herd, knowing that the dull-witted animals would seldom leave the spot where the leaders fell. Killing the leaders so bewildered the rest of the herd that they usually milled around in one spot until they were all killed. Aside from the fatigue of holding a gun for hours at a time, the hunter would experience no difficulty in continual slaughter.

Kills 1,114 Buffaloes in Six Weeks

“One Kansas still hunter killed 1, 114 buffalo in six weeks. Another hunter who built a blind around a mesquite bush near where a herd was passing shot them for three consecutive days. His partners did the skinning. The outfit followed this herd for many days, separating from it only when they ran into the teeth of a Kansas blizzard.

In Fort Elliot, the first and largest settlement in the Panhandle, I saw 300,000 hides at one time.

“Fresh hides were stretched on the ground by means of small pegs, then salted and dried. For years after the buffalo were gone cattle outfits moving through any part of the country had firewood in abundance from these pegs. After the hides were dried they were hauled into military forts and stacked there to await the coming of wagon trains which would carry them to railway centers for shipment. In Fort Elliot, the first and largest settlement in the Panhandle, I saw 300,000 hides at one time.

Wagon trains which hauled the hides constituted one of the most interesting and picturesque phases of frontier life. They brought supplies to the forts and to the big ranches. Low prices were made on hauling hides, since they were incidental freight; without them the wagon trains would have returned empty to railway centers. Lee & Reynolds owned the largest wagon train outfit in the West. It consisted of 1,000 head of mule, 1,500 head of oxen and a big string of wagons.

“Thirty wagons comprised a train. There were ten drivers, each operating three wagons and six head of oxen or mules. The oxen were used only in the summer time and were called “grass trains.”
Low Prices for Buffalo Hides

“Buffalo hides in 1870 brought as much as $3.50 each, but after it was discovered that they made inferior leather, the price dropped, each year, until they were bringing but seventy-five cents for a cow hide and fifty cents for a bull hide. Owing to improper curing of hides there was a great loss. It was estimated that every hide sent to market represented from three to five dead buffalo. Some hunters received as little as ten cents a piece for hides. Later, when the art of curing hides had passed the experimental stage, there was practically no losses of this kind.

“Some of the buffalo meat was sold to border settlers and some of it was shipped out of the country, but it was never handles in sufficient quantities to make this phase of buffalo hunting an industry. The meat that rotted in the wake of hunters would have fed a million people every year. No attempt was made to eat any part of the carcass but the tongue and the hump–the two choice morsels of the buffalo. The hump is on the top of the spine, just behind the neck. It had alternate layers of lean and fat, and was tender and delicious when broiled or fried. When cut out it was a strip about three feet long, ten or twelve inches wide, and four or five inches thick at its heaviest point. I never tasted anything better than a slice of hump meat about an inch thick, fired rare.

Wiped Out in Nine Years

“For nine terrible years a ceaseless slaughter was waged upon the southern buffalo herd. But gradually it became no longer possible to kill without reducing numbers; at last it was necessary to “hunt” for buffalo. The vast herd had dwindled to a few small bunches that fled into canyons. I had hoped that this remnant might be spared, but by 1878 it too disappeared, killed to the last animal. The four buffalo calves I captured that year were the only buffalo left in Texas.

“There were miles and miles of bleaching buffalo bones. Eventually they were gathered up, carted away and sold. They were made into phosphate fertilizer and into carbon used in the refining of sugar. The price generally paid for buffalo bones was $7 to $10 a ton at the markets.

“The … hunters moved northward and in Nebraska, Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The fate that had befallen the southern herd descended upon the northern. At the of the year 1883, the buffalo were practically exterminated from the United States. The last carload of hides was shipped from Dickerson, Dakota in 1884.

-- posted unedited (Copyright 1931, by the Home Color Print Co.)

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Cancelling the Alamo by Nate Hochman

by Nate Hochman

The woke iconoclasts come for Texas history—and Texas fights back.

A controversy has broken out in Texas over Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth. The 417-page broadside against the “heroic Anglo narrative” of the Battle of the Alamo, as it was dubbed by authors Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford, makes all of the predictable 1619 Project-style arguments—except its central target is not 1776, but 1836. According to a promotional synopsis, the book’s central aim is to “show how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late 19th and early 20th century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness.”

Forget the Alamo’s thesis—that the Battle of the Alamo’s central place in the “Texas creation myth” is fundamentally racist, that the men who sacrificed their lives during the fight against the oncoming Mexican army were not nearly as heroic as they were portrayed to be, and that the Texan war for independence from Mexico was waged to protect slavery and enshrine white supremacy—has quickly taken hold in all of the credentialed narrative-setting institutions, lauded by progressive critics and uncritically repeated as fact by sympathetic journalists.

But the book itself is plagued by flaws. “I am very well aware of how left-of-center the whole American history profession has become,” says Kevin Roberts, a historian and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “But I was astonished by the groupthink with this [embrace of the book]. It’s not a surprise that most historians’ political inclinations are going to align with the authors—the surprise was that they wouldn’t even offer a mild critique of any of the major problems in the book, which is that their historical research is awful. It’s riddled with omissions. Even if I agreed with the thesis of the book, I would have given it an F and told the student to rewrite it. It’s just embarrassing.”

It is a misunderstanding to view the book as a serious attempt to tell the truth about Texan history; its central purpose is political, not academic. As with the 1619 Project—which succeeded in making racism and white supremacy the core of the American tradition in the eyes of the ruling class—the release of Forget the Alamo initiated a process that serves as a blueprint for how the left wields institutional power to shape elite opinion: Left-wing activists create an ideologically skewed narrative under the auspices of beginning a “conversation,” rubber-stamp it with the imprimatur of elite institutions, and then weaponize that institutional legitimacy to discount and discredit any of the narrative’s critics as jingoistic reactionaries.

Once Forget the Alamo was embraced in elite circles, the progressive intellectual establishment was quick to paint the debate over the book’s dubious account of Texas history as between hard-nosed, objective historians on one side and chauvinistic right-wing propagandists on the other—what left-wing Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Barabak smugly described as “caught between those who like their history soothing and sanitized and others who prefer a truer, if less comfortable, rendering.” 

Never mind that none of Forget the Alamo’s authors are historians, and one of the three is literally a Democratic Party operative—facts have little bearing on the preferred ideological narrative of the moment. “The company line for people who are historians was that this is a great book, and you darn well better agree with that,” says Roberts.

Don’t Mess With Texas

Rather than assume the GOP’s traditional stance of appeasement on cultural issues, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick went on the offensive against Forget the Alamo’s “fact-free rewriting of TX history,” canceling a discussion panel featuring the authors scheduled at the state history museum. “We must make certain that the information being put forward at state-sponsored events is well-researched and based in fact,” Patrick said in a statement to local media. “That is not the case with Forget the Alamo, which has been debunked by a number of professional historians who point to the book’s shoddy research and selective use of facts. With its incendiary title, the authors clearly want to make Forget the Alamo another 1619 Project—a polemic posing as history which has also been debunked.”

The reaction was what one would expect. “I’ve worked all over the world for 35-plus years and I had to return to Texas to get my first government censorship,” tweeted one of the book’s three authors, repeating a talking point that was widely echoed in Texas media. (“Forget, for a moment, the Alamo. Remember the First Amendment,”declared the title of a July 8 missive from the Austin American-Statesman editorial board). But the willingness of a high-ranking GOP official to stand firm in the face of elite outrage, and to enter the fray to fight the progressive abasement of American history rather than to protest weakly from the sidelines, is a positive sign.

In June, Governor Greg Abbott—though not always a reliable executive when it comes to the culture war—signed into law a bill that created the “1836 Project,” which “would establish,” according to the bill analysis, “an advisory committee to promote patriotic education and increase awareness of Texas values.” Later that month, Texas became the third state to ban critical race theory in public K-12 education.

The Purpose of the Past

Americans, Irving Kristol wrote in 1996, “have a most emphatic relation to our past—an ideological relation, some would say.” Rather than a shared ethnicity, institutional religious authority, or any number of other traditional sources of national identity, our self-conception as a people is rooted in a collective attachment to our distinct political inheritance. We are defined by the story we tell about that inheritance; how we understand our history has everything to do with how we understand ourselves.

If the progressive project is to succeed, it must recast American history as a source of shame rather than wisdom and inspiration, replacing all residual loyalty to the past with allegiance to the symbols and pieties of the new regime. Independence Day and the national anthem are out, hopelessly passé and chauvinistic; true patriotism, as Joe Biden has argued at various intervals, is paying higher taxes and continuing to wear one’s mask indefinitely post-vaccination.

The crucial importance of our historic understanding is precisely why American history is the central target of the radicals at the vanguard of our revolutionary moment. History is, ultimately, where the fight for America will be won or lost. The national GOP has been slow to realize this—just look at the near-unanimous Republican support for the institutionalization of Juneteenth as the new “National Independence Day”—but there are real networks of resistance forming at the state level, as we have seen with the slate of red-state bans on critical race theory and the burgeoning resistance to anti-American history in states like Texas.

Texas in particular “is the big prize,” says Don Frazier, a Texas historian at Schreiner University. “I mean, by 2050 we’re gonna double the size of this state’s population—so all of a sudden, California doesn’t matter so much. The stakes are starting to get really high, and they’re having to come in and try to dismantle the scaffolding of the Texas story, but they’re having a hard time getting it fully dismantled because we’ve been tending to it pretty nicely in this state for years. And so this is a desperate attempt to throw a Hail Mary pass and see what happens.”

Initiatives like Forget the Alamo and the 1619 Project are about the exercise of ideological power, undermining America’s traditional self-understanding with the dutiful compliance of captured American institutions. But as Dan Patrick and the Texas GOP have shown in recent months, much of America is not yet ready to roll over. States like Texas are still filled with decent, patriotic men and women of conviction willing to defend the history of the country they love. Pushing back against these pressures will require more political courage than the institutional conservative movement has traditionally demonstrated.

-- end of Cancelling the Alamo by Nate Hochman as it appeared in The American Mind. 

Nate Hochman (@njhochman) is a Publius fellow at the Claremont Institute. He writes for National Review, City Journal, The American Conservative, and other outlets.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Freed Black Slave John Nolan Was William Quantrill's Chief Scout

 John Nolan attended the 1906 Quantrill's Raider Reunion.
His is located at the far right on the back row, 

William Clarke Quantrill was born on July 31, 1837. As a young adult, he became a teacher. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he joined the Confederacy. During his reign of terror, his band of guerrillas murdered, raped, and slaughtered the innocent. Besides the Lawerence Kansas Massacre, they burned and pillaged, and destroyed lives, all in the name of the Confederacy.  

By May of 1865, Quantrill was mortally wounded during a clash with Union troops in Central Kentucky. It was one of the last engagements of the Civil War. He died of those wounds weeks later on June 6, 1865. He is most notorious for "The Lawrence Massacre."
For those who are unfamiliar with what became known as "The Lawrence Massacre", the attack took place on the morning of Friday, August 21, 1863. Quantrill's Raiders picked Lawrence, Kansas because the town was known for its support of abolition. It also had a reputation as a center for the Jayhawkers. 

The term Jayhawkers came about in the 1850s in the Kansas Territory during the period known as Bleeding Kansas. The term was adopted by both free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking plantations in pro-slavery Missouri's western counties. Jayhawkers were also seen as guerrillas who fought against pro-slavery groups known at the time in Kansas Territory as "Border Ruffians" or "Bushwhackers." 

Quantrill's Raiders were also known as Bushwhackers. When they entered Lawrence, Kansas, on that Friday, August 21, 1863, they knew they were about to attack a Unionist town. They killed over 165 men and boys -- and burned the town.

John Noland was an African slave born sometime in 1844.  He was a Freedman, a freed slave, who was, in fact, Confederate William Quantrill's chief scout. Nolan is known to have helped in scouting Lawrence, Kansas, before the massacre by Quantrill's men in 1863. John Nolan scouted Lawrence before Quantrill's men attacked that unsuspecting town. Since he was a freed black man, Noland was able to come and go as he pleased. He entered Lawrence without a problem. 

On June 25, 1908, The Kansas City Globe reported the following:

John Noland Followed Leader During War. 

John Noland, the only negro member of Quantrell's band of guerrillas, died last night at the county farm in Kansas City, Mb. He wa3 taken there -two weeks ago. , Noland was devoted to Quantrell and followed the fortunes of the famous guerrilla chief as a personal servant. Several years ago an organization of the survivors of Quantrell's band was effected and an annual reunion is held each summer in or near Independence, Mo. John Noland was a unique and conspicuous figure in these gatherings.

As I said before, John Noland was William Quantrill's chief scout. He was very effective as a scout because he was in fact a freed black slave. And frankly, it's easy to understand why he was so effective since no one would have ever suspected a freed black man of being a part of Quantrill's Raiders. 

As for his being proud of being a part of William Quantrill's band of guerrillas? He was obviously very proud of his being a member of Quantrill's Raiders. That's evident since Nolan was known to have attended the annual reunions of Quantrill's Raiders. In fact, it's said that John Noland tried to attend most of the reunions and was extremely popular among his fellow Quantrill veterans. 

John Nolan was described by his Quantrill comrades as being "A man among men." That phrase was actually inscribed on his tombstone when he died in 1908. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery which became known later as Independence Cemetery in Independence, Missouri. It is said that all of his pallbearers were his Quantrill comrades. All were white men. 

Tom Correa

Friday, August 6, 2021

My Horses, Saddle, & My Preferred Bit

Hello Friends!

Some of you have asked about my horses, and if I have a favorite breed. Some of you have written to ask if I raise cattle, or if I have goats, pigs, and chickens. A few have asked if I own a custom-made saddle, and what sort of bit I prefer. Well, I hope you don't mind that I decided to answer your questions here instead of responding to the emails. 

As for my horses? These days I only have a few horses, no cattle or goats or pigs. And no, no chickens. We actually don't need chickens and pigs since we have neighbors who raise and sell pigs and neighbors whose chickens put out a lot of eggs.

As for my favorite breed of horse? I love Quarter Horses. But in reality, I also love horses of most breeds. In fact, while I prefer stocky cow horses, I really love all horses,. And lately, I've become a real admirer of the Draft/Quarter Horse crosses that I've seen. I wouldn't mind finding one for myself since I really don't think it's fair to the horse to put a lot of weight on a horse. 

What am I talking about? I weigh in at 320. My saddle is 42 pounds. That's a lot of combined weight to put on a horse for pleasure riding, nevertheless moving cows all day. So yes, I've been looking at Draft/Quarter Horse crosses horses lately as an alternative to ride. 

As for my saddle? No, I've never had the kind of money that it takes to splurge and buy an expensive custom-made saddle. My first saddle belonged to my grandpa. As you know, my family is originally from Hawaii and I've lived permanently in California since 1977. 

My grandfather had a few saddles. One was a Hawaiian Tree and the others were saddle that he bought while visiting California in the 1950s and 60s. I used one of his saddles for years. Then in 1983, I bought a Billy Cook saddle. For some reason, I didn't fit right and I ended up giving it to a close friend.  I bought a Circle Y saddle another in 1986. In 1995, I was handed a great deal on a Billy Cook saddle that I couldn't pass up so I bought it. But then in 1996, I bought myself a Tex Tan Hereford Brand saddle that I absolutely fell in love with.

The Hereford Brand by Tex Tan saddle that I bought, to my knowledge, has now been discontinued. The model is a Prescott Rancher.  While every saddle that I had was a roper built with a Cheyenne Roll cantel, my Tex Tan Prescott Rancher is a basic working ranch saddle with an old fashion straight cantel -- what some folks call a "pencil" cantel. 

My saddle is nothing fancy other than some hand-stamped basket tooling. I like the large brass dees and its one-piece smooth-out seat. Because of the horses that I've ridden, its bullhide-tree and Full Quarter Horse bars have fit me and those horses very well. Besides how I like its fit, I really like its drop rigging. It was something that I saw on old saddles when I was a kid, and I like it on mine.

As a matter of full disclosure, I haven't ridden in a while because of medical problems. That has made me give away a couple of saddles. But, that hasn't stopped me from keeping my Tex Tan saddle in good condition and ready to use. After all, I don't think I've seen my last day in a saddle. At least not yet. 

As for my choice of a bit? I used to work my horses a lot and they responded well. Because of that, a medium port Quarter Horse bit was all I've ever needed. The one that my horse Murphy loved was a medium port with a copper cricket, a 5" mouthpiece, and a 6 1/2" short shank. I have to admit that my horse Murphy loved to play with that cricket. He liked that copper roller and would play with it for all it was worth. 

It's a safe bet that someone will write to tell me that such bits are too cheap and don't give the action that other bits will give. Friends, I've found that choice of bit, and the fact that some bits are too severe for my horses, is all a matter of personal choice. The bit below give a little more control than a normal medium port.

The Reinsman Medium Port Copper Roller Jr Cutter Bit is probably one of the two best all-time shanks with medium-plus leverage and excellent balance. The mouthpiece is good for a nervous horse that likes to play with the bit. It does add some tongue pressure to help break a horse over at the poll for a better headset. It has 7" Cheeks. 5" Mouth. 1 1/2" Port.

Friends, I can say that over the years I've tried hackamores, snaffles, spade bits, and even some bits that looked like contraptions out of a torture chamber. And while that's true, and there are hundreds of different western bits with all sorts of subtle variations as well as some very strange names, I keep going back to basics with simple curb bits. 

Grazing bits and Quarter Horse bits are curb bits. They are probably one of the most common western bits around. The shanks are angled back so, in theory, a horse can graze with the bit in its mouth. And since I was taught that there were times while working cattle that a hand might want to just let his horse graze some while bridled and saddled, I've sort of stayed with simple medium port curb bits. 

There is something else, there were times that I used to just use a set of Side-Pulls to go riding. As most know, using Side-Pulls, especially one without a bit, is great for starting a young horse. Its contact on a horse's nose gives you control and the rein rings enable you to teach a horse to give his head. They are perfect for getting a good head set. 

While I never used Side-Pulls to work cattle, it worked out well when pleasure riding the backcountry or just getting some time in at an arena. And really, I've found that sometimes using Side-Pulls was a great way for a refresher. 

I hope this answered your questions. During my next post, I'll take on your questions about my guns and my shooting range. 

See you then! 

Tom Correa

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Scalping of Josiah Pugh Wilbarger

Josiah Pugh Wilbarger was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, in September of 1801. His family moved to Kentucky when he was age 17 and then to Missouri by the time he was 22-years-old. It was there in Pike County, Missouri, that he met and married Margaret Barker in 1827. Late that same year, the couple moved to Mexican Texas. They first moved to what is today Matagorda, Texas, located between Galveston and Corpus Christi. Josiah was a teacher there for about a year before the couple moved to La Grange and then onto Stephen F. Austin"s "Little Colony" of Bastrop, Texas.

Bastrop's name is interesting since it was named after a man from the Netherlands that was on the run for embezzling funds in his native country. His name was Felipe Enrique Neri, Baron de Bastrop. His importance to this story is that he is the man who helped Moses and Stephen F. Austin get their Spanish land grants. So yes, it's understandable why they would name the town after him.

As for Josiah Wilbarger losing his scalp, that happened in August 1833 when he was a member of a survey party. He and three others were attacked by a Comanche war party about four miles east of present-day Austin, Texas. Of the four, two were killed and scalped by the Comanches. Believe it or not, Josiah Wilbarger was scalped but left for dead. The last man was able to get away to tell the tale of what took place. I couldn't find out his name, but it's a safe bet to say that he would be shocked later to find out that Josiah survived.

This is where legend and facts get a little mixed up, but let's go with the legend since no one knows exactly what happened. It is said that Josiah Wilbarger survived by crawling into a nearby stream and there washing his wounds. According to legend, though thought dead, the Indians who took his scalp didn't know he would survive.

So being weak from his loss of blood, way too weak to make it to Hornsby Bend for help, it's said that he decided to wait until he was found. It's true. In a land where people were sparse at best, he decided to prop himself against a large tree and wait to be found. It's believed that Josiah Wilbarger figured out that he was just too weak to make it to the closest homestead, which was that of Reuben Hornsby's who was an early Texas pioneer.

It's said he was sitting there for several hours, lapsing in and out of consciousness. Legend says, and many like to think that this really happened and that he wasn't simply hallucinating, that during that night, he dreamed of his sister, Margaret Clifton. His sister Margaret didn't live in Texas. She actually lived in Missouri at the time. But, that didn't stop him from dreaming of her while lapsing in and out of consciousness. He later said she appeared to him and said, "Josiah, stay where you are, and your friends will come and get you."

Reuben Hornsby actually worked for Stephen F. Austin as a surveyor. Hornsby was one of the first settlers in Travis County. He and his wife Sarah Morrison immigrating to Texas in 1830. They settled in Austin in 1832, living just east of Austin along the Colorado River in the area known as Hornsby Bend. It is said that Hornsby Bend was given to Hornsby by Stephen F. Austin as payment for surveying the area.

During that night when Josiah dreamed about his sister, Reuben Hornsby's wife Sarah dreamed that Josiah Wilbarger was wounded and bleeding but still alive. Legend says she woke her husband Reuben to tell him what she had seen in her dream, but he told her, "it is just a dream, Sarah, go back to sleep."

Thinking he was right, Sarah went back to sleep only to again dream that Josiah was hurt, bleeding, but still alive. With that, she got up and prepared breakfast for her husband. It's said she was determined to send her husband and the other men off at first light to search for Josiah and bury anyone who had been killed. And, believe it or not, legend says that Sarah gave her husband an accurate description of the oak tree that Josiah propped himself up against.

Josiah was still alive when he was found the next day by Reuben Hornsby and the others. Some say he was almost naked when he was found. The search party then located the two other surveyors who were killed and buried them. They took the dying Josiah Wilbarger to Hornsby's home for treatment. 

It's said that while Josiah Wilbarger never completely recovered from his wound, he did, in fact, live for eleven more years. And, as remarkable as it sounds, he served in the fight for Texas Independence. I believe he rose to the rank of Colonel during the fight for Texas Independence. 

So how did he die? Well, at the time of his death, eleven years after his scalping, he actually died from an infection of the area where he had been scalped. It's said that he sadly died at his home after he accidentally hit his head on a low-hanging support beam inside his cotton gin. He was only 44 years old when he died on April 11, 1845, right there in Bastrop because his exposed skull became infected.

Wilbarger was a living legend because he survived being scalped by the Comanche in 1833. Along with that and his service to Texas, he gained a unique place in Texas history. While he was originally buried near his home in Bastrop, because he was a veteran of the Republic of Texas, he was reinterred in Texas State Cemetery in 1936. Today, Wilbarger County, Texas, is named in honor of Texas pioneer Josiah Pugh Wilbarger.

Tom Correa