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Legends Letter

July, 2008


Kathy Weiser - Cowgirl DrawingI'm a little slow again, so June and July's newsletter will probably be combined as July is a very busy month. No travel in June and spent most of my time at the lake, doing lots of outdoor projects, but unbelievably, getting lots and lots more material added. Better do it now I figure, cause July is real busy, with the 4th of July and a 10 day trip to Montana and Wyoming. Stay tuned for lots more on those two great states next month.


So, I've been thinking.... Uh, oh!!


Why is it that the outlaws get all the attention when it comes to the Wild Old West? More dramatic, I guess. Much like the movies of today and the dime novels of the last century. Shoot, more than 100 years ago, readers lapped up the exaggerations told by writers of the outlaws' exploits, which in some cases has even changed history, as writers who followed decades later utilized many of these exaggerated tales as resources and incorporated them into the "historical truths." Of what exactly happened, in some cases, we will never know.


In any case, my rambling is beside the point. What I'm talking about is giving those many courageous lawmen credit for their exciting tales instead of so much emphasis on the bad guys. And, I'm not talking about those who were quick to toot their owns horns, such as Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, but littler known personalities that showed amazing bravery, shooting skills, and strong-willed tenacity on the "wicked" frontier. In fact, I've gotten so excited (and once again, compulsive) that I'm thinking about a whole book about these courageous dudes. Well, we'll see about that, but in the meantime, you'll find lots of new folks joining our big long list of lawmen, and yup, even a few women!!


Guess I better get going. In the meantime, I truly hope you enjoy the newsletter and the website!!


Kathy Weiser, Owner/Editor





In this Edition: 


New Additions


Featured Travel Destination - Old Idaho Penitentiary


The Old West - Harlots of the Barbary Coast


Ghostly Legends - White Lady of Spring Canyon, Utah


Featured Book - All American Cowboy Grill





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New Additions to Legends of America



While checking into all these law officers, I'm constantly bumping into other interesting stuff which leads me down a whole other path, such as one of the largest gunfights

in U.S. History - the Shoot-Out at Ingalls, Oklahoma between U.S. Deputy Marshals and the lawless Doolin-Dalton Gang. Though more furious and more deadly than the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, the Ingalls, Oklahoma gun battle is not nearly as well known and deserves more attention.

  Check it out Here!

And of course, when you're digging up information on lawmen , you're gonna "bump into" yet more desperadoes, so we now feature tales on the Bloody Espinosas, a murderous gang that terrorized Colorado in the mid 1800s; Indian Territory outlaws, Zip Wyatt and Ike Black, and one of the most vicious of all the Oklahoma hombres - George "Red Buck” Weightman, who was so bad that Bill Doolin kicked him out of his gang. In the end, all three were finally tracked down and killed by law officers.

Then we find a couple of lawmen who seemingly straddled the fence between good and evil - such as William "Billy" Brooks, who served as a brave and honest lawman in Newton and Dodge City, Kansas, before turning outlaw and horse thief. Instead of dying with a "badge of honor," he was hanged by a vigilante mob in Caldwell, Kansas in 1874. And, then there's another questionable character -- that of Johnny Behan of Tombstone. fame, who though a lawman, seemingly had more in common with the lawless Clanton Gang than in upholding the peace. And, while "in Tombstone, I discovered something I didn't know before, -- that the famed photographer Camillus S. Fly, who created one of the best pictorial records of the early Tombstone area that exists, and was most renowned for the photos that took of Geronimo's final surrender, was also a Cochise County, Arizona sheriff. Hmm.   

Other new lawmen feature articles include U.S. Doolin-Dalton Gang; Stephen Venard, a Nevada City, California Marshal and Wells Fargo Detective, who was known for his fearlessness and proficiency with a Henry rifle; Jack L. Bridges, who served in the lawless cattle towns of   Dodge City, Hays and Wichita, Kansas; Hamilton Butler Bell, a career lawman who transformed wicked Dodge City for three decades following lawman, Bat Masterson, and  arrested more alleged outlaws, with a warrant, than any other lawman in the West. Most importantly, we've got a new feature on the U.S. Marshal Service, which is more than two centuries old, provides numerous tales of brave deputies, and has been the inspiration for countless western films. Last, but not least, we begin to fill up our long list of lawmen with summaries on interesting characters such as David Monticello "Bud" Ballew, a noted gunfighter and Ardmore, Oklahoma deputy; John Bird, an Indian Fighter and Texas Ranger; and Edward "Ned" Wilkerson Bushyhead, a miner and publisher who later  served as the San Diego County, California sheriff the Police Chief of San Diego. These are just a start for a large project of filling up our Lawman List with hundreds, er ... thousands of Old West officers.

On an entirely new subject, you'll find lots of new California Forts, including the Benicia Arsenal haunted Drum Barracks, Fort Baker, Benicia Arsenal Fort Bidwell, and more. Also from the Golden State, comes several new tales by guest author and historian, Anthoni Belli --the tales of Hangtown or Bust!, Benicia Arsenal The Chilean Crusade for El DoradoChattel Hood to Freedom – Black Pioneers Help Settle California, and a treasure tale -- Lost Chinese Cache Volcanoville. Thanks Anthony!


I've also added up some other interesting characters including frontiersman, Uncle Dick” Wootton; and Native Americans, Winema - Woman Chief of the Modoc, Charles Alexander Eastman - Sioux Doctor, Author and Reformer, and Old Schonchin - Modoc Chief and Warrior.


Lastly, I ran into another century old author, who just love! -- Randall Parrish, who wrote a book about the Great Plains in 1907. Shoot, the whole book may be on the website before I'm done, but in the meantime you'll find these great chapters: Frontier Scouts and Guides, Border Towns of the American West, The First Emigrants, The Reign Of The Prairie Schooner, Adventures and Tragedies on the Overland Trail, Settlement in the American West, and Mushroom Towns of the American West. 


Then, of course, there are always the ghosts and strange legends, you can see in these tales: The White Lady of Spring Canyon, Utah, Benicia Arsenal

Ghosts Of The National Capitol, and  Tom Cypher's Phantom Engine.


Whew, whew, whew -- that's enough for now!



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Old West Factoids:


The first biography of Billy the Kid appeared only three weeks after his death.


When Jesse James was killed, most people assumed that he had left a wealthy widow, but that was not the case at all. In fact, the only valuables that they owned were a few weapons, a bit of stolen jewelry, and assorted memorabilia.


Despite its reputation for violence, Tombstone, Arizona saw only one lynching during its history -- John Heath.


Sixty-Five U.S. Deputy Marshals were killed in the line of duty between 1875 and 1891 while enforcing the law for "hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas.


There were about 45,000 working cowboys during the heydays of the cattle drives. Of those, some 5,000 were African American.




Featured Travel Destination 



Old Idaho Penitentiary - Want to see where those lawmen put some of those wicked bandits - check out the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho.

Idaho Territory was less than ten years old when the territorial prison was built east of Boise in 1870. The penitentiary grew from a single cell house into a complex of several distinctive buildings surrounded by a high sandstone wall. Built by convict labor, the prisoners quarried the stone from the nearby ridges to complete the construction.

Over its century of operation, the penitentiary received more than 13,000 convicts, of whom 215 were women. Spurred in part by conditions that sparked a general riot in 1971 and an even more severe riot in 1973, the inmate population was moved to a modern penitentiary south of Boise and the Old Idaho Penitentiary was closed on December 3, 1973.

After the Penitentiary closed in 1973, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today it is a fascinating Boise tourist attraction that offers one of the most informative prison tours in the West. The prison is open to visitors to walk through the courtyards, the cells, the gallows and the "coolers" where prisoners were sentenced to solitary confinement. You will begin your visit with a video presentation recalling prison history, notorious inmates, and daily prison life. Once inside the Yard, imagine life in the foreboding sandstone cell houses, see the contrasting beauty of the historic rose gardens, and view the effects of the 1973 riot. Exhibits are located throughout the site.

The prison is open all year and admission is charged for the tour.


Featured Book:


Cowboy Grill CookbookThe All-American Cowboy Grill

Blazes a new trail through the Old West as it partners savory recipes from American cowboys with photos and sidebars of related interest. 200 recipes, 100 photos,  new, softback, spiral bound.


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The Old West



Soiled Dove in brief costumeHarlots of the Barbary Coast - During the first six months of 1850 approximately two thousand women, most of whom were harlots arrived in San Francisco. Thereafter they came on every ship, and within a few years San Francisco possessed a red-light district that was larger than those of many cities several times its size.


However, in the beginning, there was such a dearth of females in the San Francisco of gold-rush days that a woman was almost as rare a sight as an elephant, while a child was an even more unusual spectacle. It is doubtful if the so-called fair sex ever before or since received such adulation and homage anywhere in the United States; even prostitutes, ordinarily scorned and ostracized by their honest and respectable customers, were treated with an exaggerated deference. Men stood for hours watching the few children at play; and whenever a woman appeared on the street, business was practically suspended. She was followed through the town by an adoring crowd, while self-appointed committees marched ahead to clear the way and to protect her from the too boisterous salutations of the emotional miners.  


Once while an important auction of city lots was in progress in a Montgomery Street building, a man poked his head into the auction room and shouted: "Two ladies going by on the sidewalk!” The entire crowd immediately abandoned the auction and rushed into the street to watch the women pass. It is related that they bared their heads in reverence, but that part of the story is probably the added touch of the incorrigible romancer.


According to one historian, there were only fifteen white women in San Francisco in the spring of 1849, but his estimate may be doubted, for San Franciscans were inclined to regard as white only natives of the United States and of a few European countries. In any event, however, the female population probably did not exceed three hundred for at least a year after the beginning of the gold excitement. Of this number, perhaps two-thirds were harlots from Mexico, Peru, and Chili. Together with male natives of these and other Central and South American countries, they were known in San Francisco by the generic name of Chilenos, or, contemptuously, "greasers.” These pioneer prostitutes occupied tents and board shanties in the vicinity of Clark’s Point, about where Broadway and Pacific Street run into the Bay, and on the eastern and southern slopes of Telegraph Hill, a three-hundred-foot elevation west and north of Yerba Buena Cove, from the summit of which the arrival of ships off the Golden Gate was signaled to the town in the valley and along the beach.


More ...



What our readers are saying about Legends of America:

What I find most amazing is not just the scope and size of your site, but the fact that it really is very well done. I don't know of any other place on the web that contains so much GOOD information on the West. - Kerby Jackson, Oregon

Hi Kathy -  I'm one or those people that have been with your from the start, and I love hearing from you. It is a pleasure to see your newsletter, open it, and read it. You make every place you visit interesting, and fun. You get to places here in the states that I will never get  to, and I thank you for introducing me to the history, the people, the good and the bad of it all. - Carol Fisher, Texas.

I got sidetracked and ended up spending quite a bit of well spent time at your website!  It's also wonderful to see comments from all over the world! - Alfred Bourguet, Albuquerque, New Mexico .

There is an incredible amount of information on your site. Priceless! - Kathryn Barr, Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Ghostly & Other Strange Legends



Spring Canyon GhostThe White Lady of Spring Canyon, Utah - Due west of Helper, in Carbon County, Utah is Spring Canyon, a one time coal mining mecca now filled with ghost towns. Here, along this rugged path, surrounded by mountains, boulders, mining remnants, and and the crumbling remains of once thriving buildings, roams an ethereal white lady.


Before the mysterious "white lady" and the many coal miners who lived in this canyon, the area was long occupied by the Fremont Indians, who left behind numerous rock art panels. Other larger occupants, namely dinosaurs, also left their marks in abundant large footprints which have

been found in many of the area coal mines.


Carbon County changed dramatically; however, when the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad began to seek a route from Denver to Salt Lake City in the 1880s and coal was found in the region.

Throughout the decades the Spring Canyon District was called home to over 2,000 miners, businessmen, and their families as the mines extracted almost 43 million tons of coal from the rugged hills through the 1960's. Though the mines brought people and prosperity to the region, it also brought tragedy and violence in mining explosions and major strikes. But, when Spring Canyon's heydays were over, it left behind only memories, scattered mining remnants, fading ghost towns, and legends, the most famous of which is that of the White Lady.


Persisting for years, the legend has numerous variations that have been told of who this mysterious woman might have been. Though her identity may always be in question, it is interesting to note that a century ago, women and mining equaled bad luck to virtually every miner in any type of mining camp. The superstition, having its roots in Europe, was very strong among immigrants, which tended to make up the vast majority of miners of the time. These miners believed that disaster and tragedy would follow if a woman visited a mine and could cite instance after instance of "true” stories that had occurred. Though outsiders believed these instances were purely coincidental, the miners didn’t think so, and became extremely agitated if a female even got near a mine shaft, causing almost as much nervousness in the mine workers as did ghosts or Tommyknockers.   More ...


Did You Know??


In 1833 a law was passed making it unlawful for any native person to remain within the boundaries of the state of Florida.


Though most people say that Kansas is "flatter" than a pancake and it certainly looks like it is, it actually slopes from an elevation of more than 4,000 feet long the Colorado border to 700 feet on the Missouri line.


The first covered wagons to travel the Oregon Trail arrive in Sacramento, California in 1841


Levi Strauss began manufacturing heavyweight trousers for gold miners, made of the twilled cotton cloth known as "genes" in France in 1850. Strauss had intended to make tents, but finding no market, made a fortune in pants instead.




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