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Legends Letter

March, 2005


Kathy Weiser

Hi gang!  Well, it's been a short but interesting month.  Took a trip down southwest Missouri way to finish up a little stretch of Route 66 and along the path, I found some really great ghost towns between Springfield and Carthage, Missouri.  Feels as if you might be riding on that original road back in the 1940s, as you pass closed up gas stations, country stores, and tumbling rock buildings.


As much as I love the Mother Road, I've been missing my ventures into the Old West while I've been working to finish up this Route 66 book.  So, taking a little break, I took a quick sally along that old trail and found more ghost towns , an Old West gambler named George Devol, and a couple of haunted hotels.


And, with the season premier of HBO's popular Deadwood series, I just had to write about Seth Bullock, Charlie Utter, and that no good scoundrel Al Swearengen.


Well, it's back to the writing road as I've got a really busy next few months.  See ya in April!


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



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In this Edition: 



New Additions to the Website


Carthage - America's Maple Leaf City


Featured Book- What They Didn't Teach You About the Wild West


Queen City Ghost Town- Sumpter, Oregon


HBO's Deadwood - Facts & Fiction


Coming Next Month:


A Lil' More Texas

Lynchings in the Wild West

A Coupla' New Screensavers


New Additions to Legends of America



So, along the Old West Trail, I discovered all kinds of new stories.   If you missed it,  we recently posted a new article on Old West Poker and, ohmagosh, I never imagined how popular it would be.  Well, I guess it goes without saying that gambling was a huge part of the frontier days of the Old West


So, we soon added the premier riverboat gambler, George Devol, who was said to have been not only the best card player during those times, but also a notorious con artist and cardsharp. (Yes, this is spelled right.  It was cardsharP in the 19th century and wasn't known as cardshark until the 20th century!)


After the days of the Old West , the poker and gambling infatuation died for a time, when the puritans of the early 1900s began to sanction all manner of vices.  Drinking was prohibited, gambling dens were closed, and most of the ever popular brothels were banned forever.


Interestingly, Nevada was the first state to outlaw gambling.  But, soon, it reversed itself, becoming the gambling mecca that it is today.  Over the years, gambling has had its growth spurts and lows, but today Poker has become the most popular game in the world


Do you know anyone between the ages of 14 and 30?  If you do, you have no doubt been hearing their tales of poker parties, tournaments held in local taverns, and online poker.  No longer is the current fad the "X-Box" and "Play Station" - now it's Poker !


Keeping up with the trends, Legends of America is now featuring a FREE E-Book called How to Build Your Online Poker Bankroll for Free.  Is this a stretch from our normal historical articles?  Well, maybe.  But, this E-Book was written by my good friend Bob Braun, who is an "unpaid" and often "dragged along" member of the "team."  And, if you're into online poker or, are thinking about it, this is a proven system that really works!


On to other topics, Route 66 in Missouri is complete!  From vineyards surrounding St. James to the Meramec Caverns, once the hideout of Jesse James, this historic and scenic stretch is well worth the travel time.  In addition to multiple Mother Road historic stops, you will also find that ghost towns and ghostly legends abound.


And, last but not least, we promised haunted hotels, and yes we found some.  Shoot, they're everywhere!  Check out the  Haunted Ivy House Inn in Casper, Wyoming , which is haunted by its former owner as well as her cats; the historic Red Garter Bed & Bakery, a very old inn in Williams, Arizona that served as a saloon and bordello for more than forty years; and the Haunted Inn at 835 in Springfield, Illinois that continues to be called home to the socialite that built it almost a century ago.



What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


This is a fabulous site, well laid out & wonderfully illustrated. I have just spent the last 2 hours with my mouth wide open.  It has made me realize what a fantastic history you Americans have.  I eagerly look forward to my next visit to your marvelous & beautiful country. - Steve, England


Was reading the "slang"  at your website and the can't stop laffin.  Part is these words are alive and well in Winnipeg, Canada!!!  :-) - Wes


I loved your work on the history of Moreno Valley.  Your
inclusion of the folk lore of the valley adds to the charm of your writing.  Thank you for your support of the area and our new museum. - Michael


Fantastic site.  I don't know of anyone else doing anything like it.  Thank you. - Ed


For anyone in America who can't get enough of the Old West, this is the website that handles all of those chores for ya.........what a great read! -  Scott


Your site is so wonderful and interesting I can't stop visiting it.  I don't want to go to bed it is so much fun. - Diane



Tell us what you think!

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Featured Travel Destination 


Carthage , Missouri - The "Bandit Queen," Belle Starr, Civil War battles, wealthy lead miners, and old Route 66, combine to make this historic city a great place to visit. 


Belle Starr spent her early days in Carthage before her father moved the family to Texas, to get away from the embroiled battles along the state line between Kansas and Missouri before and during the Civil War.  Later, Starr would become one of the most notorious of the lady outlaws, cohorting with the likes of the Younger Brothers and Jesse James.


The town provides a historic Civil War Battleground site as well as a Civil War museum, which provides the history of the Battle of Carthage and the terrible state of the war in southwest Missouri Missouri suffered the third largest number of engagements during the war.  Only Virginia and Tennessee had more.


In the 1890s, lead and zinc were discovered in the area and by the turn of the century, Carthage boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States. These wealthy mine owners built numerous buildings and homes that can be seen around the historics square and about the older areas of the city.


Today, Carthage's maple-lined streets, rich history, and numerous Route 66 landmarks invite visitors for walk down memory lane.


Questions From Our Readers



Jefferson Randolph ("Soapy") Smith... I am seeking information on my great grandfather, "Soapy" Smith, the infamous con man of Colorado  and Alaska (1880's to 1898). I am finishing up a true history of the man and am always seeking new stuff about the man. Thank you!

Jeff Smith


I am a member of a re-enactment group in Tombstone, Arizona. I play the part of "Curly" Bill Brocius and the information I have on him is very sparse. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Zane Thomas


Featured Guides and Books



What They Didn't Teach You About the Wild West by Mike WrightWhat They Didn't Teach You About the Wild West by Mike Wright

The Wild West goes back farther in time than you might imagine.  The first "cowboys" were rustlers during the American Revolution and by the end of the Revolution, the "frontier" was the Ohio River Valley.  It also extends much farther into modern times than most would think.  Early Hollywood cowboy movie star Tom Mix was a real cowboy in the late 1800s.  Wyatt Earp and Butch Cassidy lived into the twentieth century.  And, there is substantial evidence that the Sundance Kid lived until 1957!  Photographs, 370 pages, hardcover.



Bumper Sticker Wisdom



What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?


The police never think it's as funny as you do.


Closed minds always seem to be connected to open mouths.


We have enough youth, how about a fountain of Smart?


Ghost Towns



Sumpter, Oregon - Queen City Ghost Town - In 1862, five men from South Carolina were on their way to the California gold fields.  Before they arrived, the men camped near a place called Cracker Creek in Oregon, beginning to do a little gold panning.  Before you know it, the glittering metal appeared in their pans and destination California was immediately forgotten.


Nestled in a remote area, the camp grew slowly in the beginning.  However, by the turn of the century, almost nine million dollars in gold had been taken from the area's 35 mines and the settlement boasted about 5,000 people.  The town earned the nickname, The Queen City, as it became the hub for several surrounding mining camps.


In August, 1917 Sumpter was the site of a devastating fire, which consumed nearly 100 buildings and spelled a death knell for the settlement.  Hard rock mining was winding down in the area and most of the miners simply moved on to more profitable strikes.  However, mining continued with the help of dredges, the last one operating until 1954. 


Today there is still gold in the bedrock of Sumpter Valley and continues to lay there as it was too deep for the dredges to get to.  The town has seen a revival as a historic tourist attraction, where the evidence of its former gold mining glory days is still in evidence in the many mine tailings in the area.  Dredge #2 has been preserved and now sits in the midst of Sumpter Dredge State Park, where tours of the old dredge are available during the summer.  The town also provides a historic Narrow Gauge Railroad, where tourists can experience the early 1900s by taking a steam engine tour of the area.



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Legends of America is

heading to ......


April:  Headed to Nevada and maybe a lil' bit of the California border.


May:  Getting ready for the move to Texas !!


The Old West



HBO's Deadwood - Facts & Fiction - Ok, Old West fans, I just know you've been watching Deadwood, right?  At least most of you that I've "talked" to are glued to it every Sunday night and were counting the days for the new season to begin.  Me too!


When you're watching the series, do you ever wonder which parts are fact and which are fiction?  Did Trixie really work at the Gem Theater?  Is it true that our hero, Seth Bullock, had an affair with Alma Garrett?  Was Al Swearengen as bad as they make him out to be?    For that matter, did any of these people really even exist?  Well, my curious historic mind is always wondering so I've done some research and you can now sort the truths from the tales in the new article HBO's Deadwood - Facts & Fiction.


Here's a preview:  Alma Garrett didn't even exist, so our boy Seth couldn't have had an illicit affair with her.  Furthermore, Seth's wife Martha was never married to Seth's brother.  He  didn't even have a brother and Martha was his childhood sweetheart.  How about the scoundrel Swearengen?  Yup, he really did exist and he owned the Gem Theater.  Alas, it seems that he was actually worse than the series portrays.  HBO shields us from the fact that the evil Al was extremely brutal on the girls who "worked" for him, beating them regularly.  Married three times, his wives took the same abuse.  And, here's one that will throw you for a loop - old E.B. Farnum was married with three children!


Wondering what might happen next on the series?  Well, I certainly can't tell you what those hoopleheads in Hollywood will do, but historical  Deadwood has much more in its future, including the arrival of Morgan and Wyatt Earp, a raging fire that destroys the town, and a fall-out between wicked Swearengen and his henchman, Dan Dority.


In the meantime, I guess we just grab the popcorn and wait with bated breath every Sunday night to view the next turn of events.



From the Legends' General Store


Clint Hooks Indian CollectionClint Hooks Indian Collection - This new collection at the Legends' General Store comes from the popular Tipi Indian House in Dallas, Texas.  For more than thirty years, Robert Hooks, an Indian of of Sac & Fox, Shawnee, and Cheyenne descent, provided authentic and rare Native American items to his many customers.  After his death, the famous Tipi Indian House closed its doors forever, but thanks to his grandson, Clint, you can continue to see many of these rare pieces here at the Legends' General Store


Collection no longer available.


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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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