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