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Legends Letter

January, 2010


Kathy Weiser Alexander drawingHey friends and neighbors, I'm back ................ Hope all of you had a great Christmas and survived the arctic blast that occurred last month. For us, December and the first part of January were the coldest that I can remember, with temperatures dipping into the negatives multiple times. As a result, I stuck close to my desk in my flannel leisure wear (that's jammies for those of you who don't know I virtually live in them during the winter months.) And, as, it's difficult to pull me out of the house, with anything less than a kicking and screaming fit when the temperature is below 30 degrees, you'll see lots of new articles on our "What's New" page. Now, about this darned weather, not only has it been the coldest December in Missouri in two decades, it's been the coolest year altogether - with temps in the 70's during the months of July and August -- unheard of at the Lake of the Ozarks. As a dear friend of mine says, "how can we buy some more of that global warming?"  Sorry, environmentalists.


Well, next year, if all plans work out, we're going to become snow birds and avoid these painful temperatures. No, we don't have an RV, and probably couldn't drive one if we did, so we're going to be taking up temporary residence during the months of January and February in a cabin, condo, studio, etc. somewhere in the south. The way we figure it, by breaking up these destinations, we've got places to go for the next ten years. Then, once we're there, we'll spend our time day tripping the area, really delving into the history and writing up new tales, rather than taking some of our exhausting and expensive fly, rental car, hotel trips that we've taken over the last several years.

Unfortunately, Arizona or southern California are out for next year, as both states have made the short-sighted solution to close most of their state parks. So, unless they change this up, we'll probably be headed to fiscally sound Texas or maybe New Mexico, but too soon to know where yet. As it gets closer, we'll be asking you for your opinions on where we might go and stay.


But, for 2010, we've other things on the agenda -- namely a townhouse in the Kansas City area that has to be readied to sell, before we can be fully living at the Lake of the Ozarks. This is already keeping us very busy and will for several weeks, with a target market date of March 1st. I'm already very weary of paint, paper, sanding and all the rest. However, we'll do our best to keep up with Legends, while also playing "rehab" junkies.


Before, getting on down the road, I want to send a thank you to our  friend, reader, and contributor, Sue Kerr. Sue sees our website as an opportunity for children to learn more of our history. However, I'm not always the best proofreader, so some of our pages don't "speak well" to children, with misspellings, etc. Sue, in order to give a little back to those very same children, has volunteered to help and now sends us emails on errors. OMG, Sue, what a great assistance!! Thank you so much!


And, there are others out there that have made updates and corrections that I truly appreciate. Keep it up, send your photographs, and even your writings, if so inclined. We adore the help from all of you and love giving credit and kudos!


In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoy the newsletter and the website!!


Kathy Weiser, Owner/Editor



In this Edition: 


New Additions & Feature Stories


Featured Travel Destination - Angel Fire, New Mexico


The Old West - Triggerfingeritis


Ghostly Legends - Player's Game Off After Stay at the Skirvin Hotel


Featured Book - BOOK SALE!






New Additions and Feature Stories



As I said, I've tried hard to get a bunch of new articles up, knowing that I will be focused on tedious jobs like stripping wallpaper and painting over the next several months, so you'll see bunches of new material.


Check out Tales of the Overland Stage in Nevada, which features several historic tales of the Overland Stage, written in 1891. Includes An Amateur Detective, Jim Jams, A Lone Highwayman, A Perilous Ride, Rushing To White Pine, and more. 


I also got on a roll writing and finding articles on the Fur Trade, an important part of American History, which led to many of the first trails being blazed, first explorations into the frontier, and ultimately, westward expansion. This new category includes dozens of new characters added to our Explorers, Trappers, & Traders. Check out William Becknell, Edward De Morin, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Joshua Pilcher, and many more. You'll also find full articles on some of the brave frontiersmen, including William L. Sublette, an explorer, trapper and trader who was part of William Henry Ashley's trapping group referred to as Ashley's Hundred. You'll also find Manuel Lisa who founded the Missouri Fur Company, Benjamin Bonneville an explorer and soldier, Ceran St. Vrain, a trader and frontiersman, who established Bent's Fort, Colorado along with William and Charles Bent, and more. Along with these individuals, we also added information on the Great Fur Trade Companies such as the American Fur Company, Hudson's Bay Company, Missouri Fur Company, Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and more.


You'll also find a little history that many people are not aware of -- Camel Caravans of the American Deserts. This is the story of the experiment made in the mid 1800's to utilize the Arabian camel as a beast of burden on the arid plains of Arizona, New Mexico and the deserts of the Colorado River. Along with the history, we also dug up a few legends. Though all the real camels have long disappeared some say Ghost Camels continue to roam the southwest.


You'll also find some new trail information including the Mormon Trail, Mormons in the American West, and a great stop at Register Cliff, Wyoming.


That should keep you busy for a while, and I've gotta go spill some more paint.


Bumper Sticker Wisdom 



How can I miss you if you won't go away?


There are two kinds of drivers; those who make dust & those who eat it.

Happiness is good health and bad memory.


I had a handle on life but it broke!


  Stop Global Whining!


Drive Home a Point!

Shop Bumper Stickers!






Featured Travel Destination 



Vietnam Veteran's Memorial at Angel Fire, New MexicoThe Birth of Angel Fire - My first thought was to write about somewhere warm, but this year, even those places in the south that are typically very nice this time of year, are suffering unseasonable cold. So, let's have some fun with it. How about a little skiing at Angel Fire, New Mexico?


An extremely "young" village for New Mexico and the northeastern part of the state, Angel Fire was only a concept until the 1960's, when land owners began to envision a "resort" area, complete with fishing, hunting, skiing and more. Before that time, it was comprised of rolling hills, high mountains, lush  valleys, streams and just a few owners over the years.   


Long before white settlers came to the area; however, the Moreno Valley was called home to the nomadic Moache Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes, who gathered here in the summer and fall. According to legend, the Ute called the glow against Agua Fria Peak the "fire of the gods."


When traveling Franciscan friars came through the area, they transposed the name into "the place of the fire of angels."  The mid-1800s would see the arrival of Lucien B. Maxwell, the largest land grant owner in U.S. history, and frontiersman, Christopher "Kit" Carson, who would soon coin the phrase "Angel Fire," in 1845.


In 1864 Lucien B. Maxwell acquired the full rights to the 1.7 million acre property, known as the Maxwell Land Grant, that at that time was only pasture and hunting ground for the Indians. In 1867, however, everything changed when gold was discovered on Baldy Mountain, overlooking the Moreno Valley and within a year, 7000 fortune hunters flooded the area. Though the land was privately owned by Maxwell, there was no stopping the prospectors who soon established the present-day ghost town of  Elizabethtown. More familiarly called E-Town by the locals, this mining camp was typical of other rowdy mining camps and became one of the principal towns involved in in the decades long Colfax County War, between  land owners and squatters.


In 1954, Roy and George LeBus of Wichita Falls, Texas, bought the 9,000 acre Monte Verde Ranch and in 1956 purchased another 14,000 acres, comprising the Cieneguilla Ranch, from the Maxwell Land Grant Company. Ten years after the initial purchase, they decided to develop the property into a resort community. They called the new development "Angel Fire," the phrase that Kit Carson had long ago coined after the old Indian lore.


Today, Angel Fire provides winter visitors with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snow boarding, sledding, snowshoeing through alpine meadows, snowmobiling, ice fishing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more. For summer mountain enthusiasts, the resort offers fishing and small boat rentals at Monte Verde Lake, hiking, biking, golf, tennis, horse-back riding and the beautiful mountain views along with the cool mountain air.


More ....




How soon we forget history ... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. and, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. -- George Washington




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The Old West



U.S. Deputy MarshalsTriggerfingeritis - The Old West Gunman - From reporter, writer, rancher and cowboy, Edgar Beecher Bronson, comes the tale of Triggerfingeritis. Written in 1910, Bronson actually knew several of these gunman and writes of such people as Boone May, Captain Jim Smith, Doc Middleton, Colonel Albert J. Fountain, Dallas Stoudenmire, and more.


On the Plains in the late 1800's there were two types of man-killers; and these two types were subdivided into classes.

The first type numbered all who took life in contravention of law. This type was divided into three classes: A, Outlaws to whom blood-letting had become a mania; B, Outlaws who killed in defense of their spoils or liberty; C, Otherwise good men who had slain in the heat of private quarrel, and either "gone on the scout" or "jumped the country" rather than submit to arrest.


The second type included all who slew in support of law and order. This type included six classes: A, United States Marshals; B, Sheriffs and their deputies; C, Stage or railway express guards, called "messengers"; D, Private citizens organized as Vigilance Committees -- these often none too discriminating, and not infrequently the blind or willing instruments of individual grudge or greed; E, Unorganized bands of ranchmen who took the trail of marauders on life or property and never quit it; F, Detectives for Stock Growers' Associations.


Throughout the 1870's and well into the 1880's, in Wyoming, Dakota, western Kansas and Nebraska, New Mexico, and west Texas, courts were idle most of the time, and lawyers lived from hand to mouth. The then state of local society was so rudimentary that it had not acquired the habit of appeal to the law for settlement of its differences. And while it may sound an anachronism, it is nevertheless the simple truth that while life was far less secure through that period, average personal honesty then ranked higher and depredations against property were fewer than at any time since.


As soon as society had advanced to a point where the victim could be relied on to carry his wrongs to court, judges began working overtime and lawyers fattening. But, of the actual pioneers who took their lives in their hands and recklessly staked them in their everyday goings and comings (as, for instance, did all who ventured into the Sioux country north of the Platte River between 1875 and 1880) few long stayed -- no matter what their occupation -- who were slow on the trigger: it was back to Mother Earth or home for them.


Of the supporters of the law in that period Boone May was one of the finest examples any frontier community ever boasted. A type diametrically opposite to that of the debonair Boone May was Captain Jim Smith, one of the best peace officers the frontier ever knew.


In 1882 the smoke of the Lincoln County War still hung in the timber of the Ruidoso and the Bonito, a feud in which nearly three hundred New Mexicans lost their lives. Depredations on the Mescalero Reservation were so frequent that the Indians were near open revolt. To quell the situation, Captain Jim Smith was brought in.


From 1878 to 1880 Billy Lykins was one of the most efficient inspectors of the Wyoming Stock Growers' Association. Probably the toughest customer Billy ever tackled was Doc Middleton.


In the early 1880's, El Paso, Texas was a lawless place. For months orgy ran riot and predatory bands grew bolder and cruder in their methods. Killings were frequent and few nights passed without numerous street hold-ups. To tame the city, its council brought in Dallas Stoudenmire.


Whenever the history of the Territory of New Mexico comes to be written, the name of Colonel Albert J. Fountain deserves and should have first place in it. Fountain was soldier, scholar, dramatist, lawyer, prosecutor, Indian fighter, and desperado-hunter.

In the early eighties, while the New Mexican courts were well-nigh idle, crime was rampant, especially in Lincoln, Dona Ana, and Grant Counties. To the east of the Rio Grande the Lincoln County War was at its height, while to the west the John Kinney Gang took whatever they wanted at the muzzle of their guns; and they wanted about everything in sight. County peace officers were powerless. At this stage Fountain was appointed by the Governor "Colonel of State Militia," and given a free hand to pacify the country.


More ...


What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


I love to read your newsletters. I used to work near Route 66 in Azusa, California, but now I am heading to Chicago and would like to know some tidbits about the beginning place of Route 66 as I know the ending place already. Thank you for the love and joy you bring through the love and joy you experience in this work.


I'm very envious of you for doing what you are doing. I'm retired now and wanted to do the traveling that you all are doing, but have custody of our grandson. Even though I'm not a writer like you seem to be, you  are doing a great and fantastic job. Enjoy your life together, because it does go by so fast. Peace & love -- Jim, Virginia, November, 2009


Much appreciation for the fine job in putting together history of our country. The photos and stories are wonderful and the layout easy to use. I find your treatment of military history honest and respectful of the people who did their best given the times, and often lacking the full support of politicians and the general public. Very nice work. -- W. Dorny, Arizona


Hi Dave - Welcome to the clan. Great to have you on board the wagon trail. Great to see the legends has a tenderfoot (haha). I know you will enjoy the many trips and exploring our great past of the wild west. Happy trails to you until we meet again (an old saying by one of the greatest cowboys of our times Roy Rogers and the sons of the pioneers).- Joyce, Tennessee


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Ghostly & Other Strange Legends



Skirvin Hotel Oklahoma CityHaunted Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City - Recently, the USA Today and New York Daily News stated that an NBA player from the New York Knicks claimed their game was off after a night of haunts at the hotel. Whether player, Eddy Curry had been perusing our tale of hauntings at the vintage hotel, is unknown, but for sure, the USA Today read the story and quoted us. Would you be afraid to stay at the Skirvin Hotel?


The Skirvin Hotel built in 1910 by oilman W.B. Skirvin, who was determined to have the finest hotel in the Southwest. Opening its doors in 1911, the plush hotel had two, 10-story towers containing 224 rooms, was one of the first buildings in Oklahoma City to have air conditioning, then called "iced air," had running ice water in each room, a ballroom that seated 500, and imported Austrian chandeliers that cost more than $100,000 each.


Skirvin's daughter, Perl Mesta, brought the hotel a national reputation by being the ambassadress to Luxembourg, and then Washington's "Hostess with the Mostess," portrayed in the famed Broadway musical, "Call Me Madam."


In 1930, a third wing was added, raising the structure to 14 stories and increasing capacity to 525 rooms.


The Oklahoma showplace became a popular speak-easy during Prohibition. It was during this time that W.B. Skirvin was said to have had an affair with one of the hotel maids. According to legend, the maid soon conceived and in order to prevent a scandal, she was locked in a room on the top floor of the hotel. The desolate girl soon grew depressed and even after the birth of her child; she was still not let out of the room. Half out of her mind, she finally grabbed the infant child and threw herself, along with the baby, out of the window.


The maid's name remains unknown, but her ghost continues to haunt the Skirvin Hotel and she was nicknamed "Effie" by former employees. Though the old hotel closed in 1988, former guests would often report not being able to obtain a decent nights sleep due to the consistent sounds of a child crying.


In October, 1979 the hotel was listed on National Register of Historic Places. When it closed in 1988 the building stood empty for more almost fifteen years. However, the historic hotel has now been fully restored and now open once again for guests.

Though millions of dollars were spent to restore the old hotel to its former grandeur, Effie allegedly still resides there.



More ....


Custom Postcards - Always thinking of something new and a way to use our thousands of photos, and a bit of artistic talent, we've started our own line of postcards.





Did You Know??


In Idaho, its against the law for anyone over the age of 88 to ride a motorcycle.


The old round barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma is the most famous and most often photographed barn on Route 66.


The oldest operating gas station in the United States is in Zillah, Washington.


Discovered in 1874, the caves located in Oregon Caves National Monument are carved within solid marble.  


One of the worst hell-holes of the Old West was Bodie, California which boasted numerous gunfights or death threats at all hours of the day.

Feedback and Suggestions


We always appreciate feedback about the website and our newsletter. Do you have a suggestion about content that you would like to see, or perhaps, would like to contribute a photograph or a story? We would love to hear about it! We also want to hear about suggestions for improvement. See a link that doesn't work or a picture that doesn't appear -- please let us know. Just drop us a line at our Email address and tell us what you think.


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Legends of America


A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded


28926 Cedar Hill Loop

Warsaw, MO 65355


Kathy Weiser






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