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Legends Letter

February, 2006

 Kathy Weiser

Hi Gang and Happy Valentines Day!  Though I send you best wishes, I ain't sendin no kisses - shucks, we hardly know each other.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it's not Valentine's day anymore, but it was when I wrote this, does that count?


I spent most of this past month in a small town in southwest Kansas where I grew up.  Mom's getting "on" in age and needed a little help, so that slowed down "production" here at Legends of America.  Not having all of the "tools" I needed for writing and research, I focused on what I call "painting."  Not the kind that makes a mess and stains my clothes - but the computer kind.  See the new logo at the top of the page?  That kind of painting!  I tend to get a little obsessed with this "artwork" and my friends tease me that I'm going to go blind "painting" each little pixel, after tiny pixel, and next minute pixel.  Anywho, I think it turned out pretty cool and I made it interactive.  You can click on the general store and go there, a click on the hotel takes you to our reservation page, the saloon pops up our Old West tales, and so on.  Stay tuned, cuz I'm on a "paintin'" roll.  Soon, you'll see scenes from the Mother Road and the Old West in graphic form - not only decorating the pages of Legends of America, but in print form to hang on your own wall!


Speaking of Old West Legends, I've been kind of slacking in that area, so this issue is dedicated to our Old West fans! From the ghost of Black Jack Ketchum, to the Route 66 Wild West town of Holbrook, Arizona, to a New Mexico Treasure Tale, and more slang from the Old West, you're sure to enter a time warp into the 19th century.


If you're new to Legends of America, we focus on travel destinations that appeal to the nostalgic and historic minded.  Not really interested in the glitter and glitz of the big cities, we hunt out those places with a little "elbow room," lots of history, and hidden attractions.   


I truly hope you enjoy the newsletter and the website!!


Kathy Weiser, Owner/Editor





In this Edition: 


New Additions


Holbrook, Arizona - Too Tough For Women or Churches


Questions From Our Readers


Featured Book - Villians & Outlaws


Old West Slang - Figure it out if you can


Cemeteries - Outdoor Museums of the Forgotten Past


Thomas Edison Mines For Gold


Coming Next Month:


More Outlaws & Lawmen


Treasure Tales of Washington


More Legends, Myths & Campfire Tales



"I take no sass but sasparilla," -- John Wesley Hardin, explaining his deadly disposition.

New Additions to Legends of America



The biggest addition to the website is our new Saloons of the Prohibition Era.  How in the heck did the American West move so quickly from boardwalks and swinging doors to totally making liquor illegal?  You'll find out here, along with information on  saloons of another era - the speakeasy.  Also, stay tuned for more information on this article, as well as our Saloons of the Old West, as they are combined to appear in a book that will  published within the next couple of months. 

You'll also find that we have added some more to our Quirky Kansas pages including the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas Fun Facts & Trivia, The Nation's Largest Sunflower, and You Know You're In Kansas When ....  As long as I was "when-ing," I also dug up You Know You're In Missouri When ..., and Arizona When.  Don't worry if you don't see your state.  We'll make fun of them all before it's said and done!

For our treasure hunting enthusiasts, you'll find a couple of new articles including Rockhounding in the Prineville, Oregon Region, and You Can Search For Black Gold.

And, we always have our ghost hunters.  For you, check out these new articles - Ghost Hunting Should Be Professional, Ghost Hunting on Oregon's Coast, and Find Spooky Places Near Your Home.

And, while these are not extremely new tales, since we're on the Old West, and they haven't gotten much attention, check out our Heroines of the American West, in these historic articles:  Heroines of the Southwest, Heroines Across the Plains, and Heroines in the Rocky Mountains.


Until next month, Happy Travels!!


Questions From Our Readers


Question:  I would like to utilize one of your articles in a newsletter that I do for school.  Is that possible? - Amelia


Answer:  Yes, Amelia, you can utilize any article on my website that is written by me.  All articles that do not show someone else's byline at the top of the page are written by Kathy Weiser.  Simply credit me and the website.




Legends of America has begun to receive so many requests from students, organizations, websites and publications regarding the use of our materials, that we have now put together a Reproduction/Reprint Policy.  If you have questions regarding the use of our material, just click HERE!




Featured Travel Destination 



Greetings from Holbrook, ArizonaHolbrook, Arizona - Too Tough For Women or Churches - Not only a popular stop on Route 66, Holbrook, Arizona is rich in its history of the Old West , complete with outlaws, gunfights, and legendary lawmen.  Getting its start as a stop along the railroad in 1881, the settlement was soon called home to numerous cowboys, cattle ranchers and railroaders.


Typical of Old West towns where law and order were initially non-existent and rowdy men far outnumbered the women, it quickly took on a number of vices including dozens of saloons, one of which was called the Bucket of Blood, gambling parlors, and brothels. 


In 1884, the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, better known as the Hashknife Outfit, began operations in Holbrook.  The second largest cattle ranch in the U.S., the cattle company had some 60,000 head of cattle, and employed hundreds of cowboys.


Holbrook initially welcomed the money of the cattle company and its associated cowboys, until they saw what they were in for.  The buckaroos of the outfit  quickly gained the unsavory reputation of being the "thievinist, fightinest bunch of cowboysĒ in the United States.  Many of the cowboys working for the Hashknife Outfit were wanted men and on two occasions, they were linked to train robberies at Canyon Diablo.


The outlaws happily continued with their wicked ways until in walked Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens, who is credited with taming the wild and crusty town. 


Today this city of a little more than 5,000 souls offers a great opportunity to explore Navajo, Hopi and Apache country, as well as the nearby Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest National Park, and its many Route 66 era icons. 


Featured Destination:  Would you like to showcase your travel destination in the American West?  Be it a city or a place, just click here to see how to make that happen.  If your city has historical value and great places to visit, your town could be featured on our home page and in our newsletter.  Just zap us an Email.






Hey, if you like the newsletter, forward it on to your friends!!

They too can receive updates when we add new content, provide product specials from our Legends' General Store, and more!  Click HERE to sign up for the newsletter.

Featured Guides and Books


Villains and Outlaws, by MacMillan Profiles


Villains and Outlaws is a unique reference featuring over one hundred profiles of notorious characters from antiquity to the present.  Read about gangsters, dictators, war criminals, assassins, murderers, pirates, Old West outlaws, traitors, and turncoat spies.  Every articled includes a description of the subject's life and times, as well as quotations, definitions, and a time line.  Presented in easy-to-find alphabetical format.  Hardcover, 361 pages.


Bumper Sticker Wisdom


Silly cowboy - trucks are for girls.


If You Are Gonna Ride My Bumper, you'd better put a saddle on it!


My SUV has 4 Legs, a mane and a Tail...


The Old West



Old West Slang - Are you all balled up about what

some of them tharí words mean when youíre reading an Old West novel or watching an old western movie?  And, I'm not just talkin' about all that Flannel Mouth gibberish and rank-lipped jawing they do on the HBO Deadwood Series.  In fact, though I love the program, those writers were a little on the prod when they wrote all that balderdash into the show.  Though them folks back in Deadwood and everywhere else in the Old West were prone to a bit of bad yammerin', back then, words such as crap, shit, and damn were considered hard case words.  To make their point, the show exaggerates, by using the "worst" words of today, in order to get their point across.


In the meantime, the pages of period newspapers, books, and memoirs are filled with slang that may leave us feelin' a bit cootish


What in the world is curly wolf, a berdache, a four-flusher, or a mutton puncher?  What are you up to when you're barkin' at a knot, ridin' a shank's mare, pirooting, or high-grading?  What would you rather be? -- "roostered" or "above snakes?"  Well, depending on your point of view, you might want to be both!  When is a coffee boiler not something to make coffee in?  When you're in the Old West!!  Back then, a shirker or a lazy person was often called a "Coffee Boiler," 'cuz they'd rather sit around the coffee pot than pitch in and help. 


Wondering about some of them thar' words myself, I got a bee in my bonnet, grabbed some Arbuckles, and decided to buck up and provide some answers.  But a funny thing happened as I began the research - shoot, I already knew a whole bunch of those words.  Growing up in West Texas , I was using a lot of 'em when I was just a tenderfoot, between the hay and the grass. Then, once I joined the Free-Soilers here in Kansas, I never could shindy why people looked at me funny when I was talking.


Maybe that explains why, when I met Dave, another waddy from the Llano Estacado, I made a mash.  I guess when he got off that hurricane deck, he could understand when I said something like "I'm fixin' to finish this up, I'll be there directly."  Instead of shinning out and leaving me with the mitten, that pie eater stuck around.  No more mudsills for me, this grass widow had found herself a Simon Pure.


Next thing ya know, I euchered him into putting on his best bibs and tuckers, standin' before a sin-buster at the doxology works and gettin' hitched next summer. You can just bet that Ho Down is going to be a hog-killin time with the John Barleycorn and Bug Juice flowing freely and most likely, more than one saddle stiff full as a tick.


Don't that just take the rag off that lil' ole' me finally found myself a tall hog at the trough -- a buckaroo that I can ride the river with!


If you're all to pieces at sea, just cowboy up and check out our Old West Slang pages to twig them thar' Old West terms.  In the meantime, I'll hobble my bazoo and get on down the path to see the elephant.


Saloon Style Photographs - When readers visit our Saloons of the Old West article and our Saloon Gallery, we get dozens of emails from people who want to decorate a room in a saloon style atmosphere.  Now, you can find some of those Old West type advertisements that no doubt dotted the walls of these historic drinking places.  Check out our brand new Whiskey, Women & Vices Photo Gallery!








Cowboy JokeA cowboy rides up to a saloon on his horse. He goes in, orders a drink, then leaves. His horse is gone. He goes back to the saloon, and asks, "Where's my horse?"

No one replies. So he says, "I'll order one more drink, and then if my horse isn't outside, I'll have to do what i did in Texas
and I don't like doing that."

So the locals hurry around, and when he leaves, his horse is outside.

As the stranger gets on his horse, the bartender asks, "What did you do in Texas
?" to which the cowboy replies, "I had to walk home."

Ghost Towns



Cemeteries - Outdoor Museums of the Forgotten Past - What is it about old graveyards that inexplicably draw me to them?  Is it my inherent nostalgic way, sense of history, the monuments themselves, or simple curiosity? 


Flying down a winding Missouri road in the Ozarks, I glimpse from the corner of my eye a headstone peeking through the trees.  The truck comes to a screeching halt, making a swift u-turn in the middle of the highway, almost mindless to oncoming traffic. 


Parked at the side of road, I sit quietly studying the old graveyard.  Several crumbling headstones rise from overgrown weeds and grass, all but obliterating the memory of those long past.  I curse the fact I havenít brought along my camera.  The obsession to take pictures of these timeless monuments is as strong as the need to stop.


It is an early spring morning, and my jeans are quickly soaked by the morning dew of the tall grasses surrounding the burial place.  I pass a small sign: "Kreizel Family.Ē  I know some people in the area by that name.  Are these long forgotten pioneers somehow related?  In the small graveyard, there are about ten headstones bearing the faint marks of those living more than a century ago.  I can see from the dates that they lived through the time of the Civil War when this part of Missouri was a war-torn battlefield.  Who were these people?  What stories would they tell of their lives, their families, their hopes and their dreams?  I look at my watch; an hour has passed as Iíve contemplated these unknown faces.


I have another obsessive desire to make headstone rubbings.  You know, the process where you place a piece of paper against the headstone and rub a soft lead pencil or crayon against the engraving.  Though, I have not resorted to headstone rubbings as of yet, these too, will no doubt, become a part of the graveyard fascination at some point in time.  But, what will I do with these these rubbings?  Hang Doc Hollidayís epitaph upon my living room wall, place Wild Bill Hickokís engraving in a scrap book, or more likely, let them pile up in the basement with a growing collection of old bottles, magazines and other memorabilia from lives lived decades ago?  This obsession is getting out of hand.

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, Iím just sure that I will somehow find a hidden secret in these historic and often dignified reminders of our past.  Carvings and epitaphs tell me a bit about a person that might otherwise not be remembered.  These people existed, they were once vibrant and alive with wives and husbands that cared for them, children they doted upon, and they lived through ordinary every day struggles as we do, feeling sorrow and happiness during their lifetimes.

Now, they are but a name on a headstone, if the monument has survived.  But, at least for a moment, they are thought of, if unknown, in the minds of the many like me who are drawn to these outdoor history museums.


What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


I love your website!  I have only just found it and have already spent way too much time on it.  I am using your information for a weekend walk about to the Leavenworth area.  I have lived in the [Kansas City] metro area for 20+ years and thought it was about time I saw the area.  I was doing a Google search for some information on Leavenworth and found your site.  Lucky me!  - Carol, Kansas City


I have been looking for the treasure story of Father LaRue for over 20 years. could not find it in any library or website. I lost the book I had and was never able to replace it. Thanks to you, I can now read that story to my kids. i lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico 10 miles away from the Organ Mountains. Please put as many stories as possible. You are awsome.  - Nora


Great and Informative Website!
Lots of Good Historical Information and more. Keep up the good work.
Walk in love and beauty, Native American Embassy - Ambassador/Minister ThunderWolfe Von Noaker


Great site, I have enjoyed this site for many years now. I have also been fortunate to meet Kathy. What a nice lady and a dedicated lady. Her website has helped inspire me, inform me, and entertain me. Cheers, Robert Garcia, New Mexico


Tell us what you think!

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Ghosts of the American West



The Ghost of Black Jack Ketchum - Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico .  He was also the only man ever hanged for train robbery in the entire state, a law that was later found to be unconstitutional.  But, unfortunately that was a little too late for poor Black Jack. If that wasn't enough, the hangman bungled the execution and when Thomas was hanged, he was decapitated. Perhaps this old outlaw is just a little ticked off -- so much so that he decides to hang around the world just a tad bit longer. 

The notorious train robber is said to have been seen lingering at a cave on the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico .  One of Ketchum's old hideouts, the place is beneath a large rock overhang, where at least one scout has claimed to have seen his ghost.

Years ago, while the scout was snoring soundly in his sleeping bag, he was awakened by a commotion.  Opening his eyes, he saw a cowboy, dressed all in black come running out of the bushes toward the hideout. He said the man was mostly solid but some parts of him appeared translucent.   He described the man as filthy dirty, with a tattered hat, clothes from the 1800's, and terribly yellowed teeth.  Additionally, the apparition's face was very red, glistening with sweat, with lots of facial hair and he was holding a revolver.

As the scout watched, a strange fog emanated from the tree line across from a small stream and he could hear men yelling followed by muffled gunfire.  The cowboy then turned and fired his revolver six times into the trees before running toward the cave, where he stood right over the scout.  The cowboy was wounded in the shoulder and discharged six shell casings from his revolver right on top of the boy.  As he watched, the casings disappeared as they fell onto his sleeping bag. 

More ...


Video Store - States Across the American West

If you would like to see a preview of your travel experience in the American West, check out our travel videos!

Discoveries...America, Arizona DVD  Discoveries...America, Colorado DVD  Discoveries...America, Nevada DVD   






Legends Blog!

Treasure Tales


Thomas Edison Mines For Gold - A little know fact about New Mexico gold mining is that Thomas Alva Edison came to Santa Fe to recover gold from the Ortiz Mountains southeast of the city.  The gold found in New Mexico's Ortiz Mountains in Santa Fe County was the first North America gold rush west of the Mississippi. The discovery of gold in 1828 attracted 4,000 gold prospectors to a 95 square mile grant bestowed by the Spanish government upon Jose Francisco Ortiz. The gold prospectors found placer gold in the desert sand. Prospectors were dry panning because water was not available and when so such little gold was found, gold prospecting in the Ortiz Mountains had ceased by the 1880's.


Prior to this time, Edison had invented a machine that separated non-magnetic iron ore from sand-like particles without the use of water. Edisonís invention was a electrostatic separator that caused a thin film of dry particles to pass over an electrically charged drum. The iron ore would stick to the drum while non-iron particles would pass on by without sticking. He learned that gold, like iron ore, would stick to the drum while the sand would not. When Edison learned of the Ortiz Mountain placer gold deposits he was able to obtain a sample for testing. Using his invention he saw the New Mexico gold was readily separated from the sand. An elated Edison obtained a lease on 54,000 acres of the Ortiz Mountains in January, 1898. Before long shipments of milling machinery arrived by rail and horse-drawn wagons. Edison spent some $500,000 on conveyor belt assemblies, bucket elevators, engines, generators, and sand screens.


He soon found the sand an inch or two below the sun-baked surface contained enough moisture to short-circuit the electrostatic drum. There was one disaster after another that foiled his attempts to get the mill into production. The sudden drenching rain storms would often stop production and damage equipment. When winter arrived the entire operation was suspended when a late November blizzard isolated the area. He finally shut the operation down for the winter of the following year. It is to be noted this failed mine is close to Santa Fe, New Mexico in a region of 10 square miles it is estimated containing gold worth $800,000.00


By 1903, the Edison mill in the Ortiz Mining District was closed,

ending his interest in the area. Left behind, and still there, are the many screened heaps of desert surface, coarse portions full of large rock, cactus and gray pinon wood, beside large heaps of fine sand made ready for Edison's machinery.


~ By David Sandahl.  David is the editor for the Gold Prospectors Association of New Mexico's Newsletter.


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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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