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Legends Letter

August, 2010

 

Dave and Kathy in the Old WestGreetings from Dave -  Howdy! It's been a great, but busy summer for Kathy and I as we continue to settle into our homestead and grow the business.  Last couple of months we've been stuck at the lake house, but you won't see me complaining too much.  Although it's a tough job to be entertainer, boat driver and barbeque director on the weekends, I somehow managed to pull through just fine.

 

We also decided to start our final construction project, adding 15 feet onto the front of the house for Kathy's new office. Trying to make sure everything is in place by the time colder weather gets here so maybe I can have the garage back. Right now it's full of stuff that still needs a spot, which hopefully the addition will address. (Note to Kathy - Sure would like to park "in" the garage before it snows!)

 

Speaking of construction, as Kathy mentioned last month, you may have noticed quite a bit of that on Legends. Kathy spent a good part of July "remodeling" the website. Ya see, back in '03 when she established Legends, she was learnin' on the go, so a few of the older pages had to be corrected to make more sense moving forward. In the process, we wound up breaking quite a few links to pages that have been renamed. We think we have most of them corrected, but if you run into one, please let us know. You can still find what you're looking for by using the site search on the upper left hand border of every page. Not to worry, we haven't removed anything, just re-arranged.

 

Now that all that mundane technical stuff is calming down, Kathy and I are looking forward to our next adventure. She's been busy planning a leisurely trip through more of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, with plenty of history to take in along the way. While I'm excited about that, my real anticipation comes from our hopes to learn more about the legend of Bigfoot. I know what some of you are thinking, but, I can't imagine not having more stories of the elusive beast to talk and write about. It's a part of Americana I'm fascinated with, and who knows what we may get pictures of :) Winding up in Howe, Texas (that's north of Dallas) to visit family, we'll keep you updated on our progress on the blog and Facebook.

 

Finally, I promised a while back that we would offer something special to our loyal readers, and the best way I can think of doing that at the moment is through Exclusive Offers to Newsletter readers only. This time it's books, next time, something else. So if you have a chance, check out our pages for Newsletter Readers only. You won't find a link to these pages anywhere else on our website, and you can only get to them if you receive the newsletter by email. They include clear out prices on some books that were already on sale, as well as special offers to some more popular books on Route 66. These pages will change from time to time, and some of these books in our initial offering are limited in stock, so it's first come first serve. I'll keep thinking of different ways to say thanks and include more Exclusive stuff in future newsletters.

 

Next month, we're off to Chicago, Illinois, toodlin' along Route 66 from St. Louis, Missouri. Planning on taking a tour of the Museum of Westward Expansion and Jefferson Barracks, which is supposed to be very haunted, in St. Louis; grabbing lots of good photographs and eats at the diners along the Mother Road; and while in Chicago -- a gangster tour and perhaps a ghost tour. Boo!

 

In the meantime, we truly value you as a reader, and hope that you enjoy this newsletter and Legends Of America for years to come.

 

Dave Alexander - Owner/Operations Manager*

 

*(Shipper Dude, digger of rocks, griller of steaks and anything else Kathy can come up with).

 

 

 

In this Edition: 

 

New Additions & Feature Stories

 

Featured Travel Destination - Cairo, Illinois

 

Route 66 - San Gabriel Valley

 

Featured Product - Bumper Sticker Madness

 

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More to See:

 

Legends of America Hits the Highway - Our blog when we travel.

 

Flicker Photo Page - A growing gallery of our travel photos.

 

Facebook Fan Page - Daily posts and photos.

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History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity. ~ Dexter Perkins

 

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New Additions and Feature Stories

 

The Purple GangSure can tell it's been too hot to play in the yard. Kathy's been spending a lot of time indoors this month and our readers are reaping the benefits with plenty of new additions. She wrapped up July with The Purple Gang. Led by Abe Bernstein, the Purple Gang was a mob of bootleggers and hijackers who operated out of Detroit, Michigan in the 1920s. Then she moved into August with a fascinating in-depth look at how racism killed Cairo, Illinois. This eight page article includes the 150 year history of the town located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at the southernmost tip of Illinois, and is by far, one of the strangest and saddest cities Kathy's ever visited.

 

You'll also enjoy reading a tribute to a true Route 66 Icon by one of his good friends. We thank Ken Turmel for his contribution to Legends with A Tribute to Bob Waldmire, renowned artist and Route 66 devotee, who lived on the Mother Road his entire life, died in December, 2009.

 

Kathy then spent some time in southwest, writing about The Civil War in New Mexico, and several battles including the First Battle of Mesilla, the Battle of Valverde, and the Battle of Glorietta Pass. You'll also enjoy New Mexico Forts of the Old West, which includes several new forts like Fort Bascom, Fort Fillmore, Fort Marcy, and Fort Seldon.

 

We've added to our Native American pages as well, including the Five Civilized Tribes which were five Native American nations that were officially and unofficially called such to collectively designate the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes. The term was applied by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because these tribes had adopted many of the colonists' customs and generally, had good relations with the white settlers.

Kathy's always expanding our long list of Native American Tribes, and you'll now see dozens of new summaries, which include both current and extinct tribes, such as Caddo, Cahokia, Catawba, Cayuga, Cayuse, Chawasha, Chehalis, Chesapeake, Chine, Chinook, Chetco, Clatskanie, Clatsop, Costanoan, and dozens of others. And, we can't leave out Pocahontas - Legendary Indian Princess.

 

Mary Edwards WalkerThis month Kathy also added to our list of American Women in history, with stories on Mary Bickerdyke, an energetic heroine whose sole aim during the Civil War was to more efficiently care for wounded Union soldiers; Mary E. Walker, feminist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, prisoner of war and surgeon in the Civil War, who is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor; and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum she wrote about Lavinia Fisher,  America's first female serial killer, who was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820, and her ghost is said to continue to haunt this historic city.

 

Speaking of Charleston, though it has experienced two major wars, fires, hurricanes, and largest earthquake ever to rock the eastern coast of the United States, an extraordinary number of Charleston's historic buildings remain. These many events of the last three centuries have all combined to make Charleston an unrivaled tourist destination for history buffs, and Kathy writes about it as we continue our expansion into The Old States - Back East. We were never sure that we would move eastward beyond the Mississippi River in our writings on Legends of America. Since its inception in 2003, we have dedicated ourselves to the American West. However, as we delve deeper into American History on topics ranging from Native Americans to the American Revolution, and the Civil War, we find legends, people, and historic destinations that just beg to be added. This includes People of the Old States - We keep adding up people related to the eastern United States, so they now get their own page. And this month a couple of new stories on Eastern Forts. Including Fort Sumter, South Carolina best known for being the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, and Fort Moultrie, South Carolina,  with a history that dates back more than two centuries, Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivan's Island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, has a long history of seacoast defense, encompassing three different forts over the years.

 

It's quite possible I left something out, as I know Kathy's been busy uploading new stuff. Luckily for me the weather is starting to cool a bit and I might just see my wife a little more. In the meantime check out the ever changing What's New page to keep up to date.

 

Bumper Sticker Wisdom 

 

Student Driver

 Parent Impaled on Front Bumper

 

I go where I'm towed to.

 

Money isn't everything but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

 

Bad government results from too much government

 

Don't bother me - I'm living happily ever after.

 

 

Shop Bumper Stickers!

 

 

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August in American History

 

August 5, 1861 - President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first Federal income tax, as an emergency wartime measure during the Civil War.

August 9, 1974 - Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency as a result of the Watergate scandal. He was the only U.S. President ever to resign.

August 14, 1935 - President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.

August 16, 1896 - Gold was discovered in Rabbit Creek, Alaska, resulting in the Great Klondike Gold Rush.

August 18, 1920 - The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting
women the right to vote.

August 21, 1863 - During the
Civil War, William Quantrill
led 450 irregular Confederate raiders on a pre-dawn terrorist raid of Lawrence, Kansas, leaving 150 civilians dead.

August 24-25, 1814 - During the
War of 1812, Washington, D.C., was invaded by British forces that burned the Capitol, the White House and most other public buildings.

August 28, 1963 - A march on Washington D.C. occurred as over 250,000 persons attended a Civil Rights rally at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his now-famous I Have a Dream speech.

 

Featured Travel Destination 

 

Cairo, IllinoisCairo, Illinois - Death By Racism -

Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers at the southernmost tip of Illinois is the town of Cairo, pronounced "Care-O." By far, one of the strangest and saddest cities I've ever visited, I am immediately intrigued by the empty streets and abandoned and crumbling buildings.

We pass under an arch depicting "Historic Downtown Cairo" to take a peek at this city that has been standing on the river for more than 150 years. Though the town has a population of some 3,000 people and is the county seat of Alexander County, its Main Street, called Commercial Avenue, is empty of people and lined with buildings in various stages of decay.

 

Doors stand wide open on commercial buildings that display rubble filled interiors, windows are broken or boarded up, Kadzu crawls up brick walls, streets signs are faded and rusty the streets and sidewalks cracked and choked with weeds. On a side street the lovely Gem Theatre stands silent next to the Chamber of Commerce. In other parts of the city, the large brick hospital is overgrown with vegetation, churches are boarded up, and restored mansions sit next to abandoned and crumbling large homes.

 

What has happened here? I'm sure, with Commercial Avenue's proximity to the Ohio River, the town has been devastated by a flood, but I don't know and find no one to ask. Finally, after wandering about the deserted buildings for a time, an elderly gentleman parks his truck and walks out along river. I stop and ask him. He tells a brief story of how the town was destroyed by its own inhabitants, and points out a building that once served as a fine dining and dancing establishment that he and his wife enjoyed decades ago. Cairo died because of racism.

 

The peninsula where Cairo now stands was first visited by Father Louis Hennepin, a French explorers and missionary priest in March, 1660. It was noted again by other traveling priests over the next few years, but it would not be settled until 1702, when French pioneer, Charles Juchereau de St. Denys and a party of about 30 men built a fort and tannery a few miles north from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The party of men was extremely successful collecting thousands of skins for shipment back to France. However, the next year the fort was attacked by Cherokee Indians who killed most of the men and seized the furs, effectively ending the life of the fort and tannery.

Nearly a century and a half later,
Lewis and Clark left Fort Massac, Illinois and arrived in the vicinity of what would later become Cairo in November, 1803. Here, they worked jointly on their first scientific research and description; to study the geography at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. On November 16, they began the diplomatic phase of their journey when they visited the Wilson City area of Mississippi County, Missouri, and met with Delaware and Shawnee Indian chiefs. They ended their surveys at Cairo on November 19th, and proceeded up the Mississippi River, now working against the current.

 

The first attempt at settlement occurred in 1818 when John G. Comegys of Baltimore, obtained a charter to incorporate the city and the Bank of Cairo from the Territorial Legislature. He bought 1,800 acres on the peninsula and named it "Cairo," because it was presume to resemble that of Cairo, Egypt. Working along with Comegys, was Shadrach Bond, who was the first governor of Illinois. These men and other speculators invested and tried to develop Cairo into one of the nation's great cities.
 

The land of the peninsula was to be made into lots and sold, a portion of the money put into improvements, and the rest of it was to constitute the capital of the bank. The peninsula was surveyed and a city laid off. However, when Comegys died in 1820, his plan died with him. But, he left behind a contribution in his choice of the name Cairo, and as a result, "Egypt" became the popular nickname for southern Illinois.

 

See More

 

As always, enjoy the ride!!

 

Featured Product:

 

Bumper Sticker MadnessBumper Sticker Madness - We've got bunches of new bumper stickers. Check them out HERE!   

 

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Did You Know?

 

Women in Switzerland didn't receive the right to vote until 1971.

 

There are 83 million acres in the National Park System?

 

About 150 couples get married in Las Vegas each day.

 

Five of history's pioneer trails, including the Oregon Trail and the California Trail, cross Southern Idaho. Wagon ruts are still visible all along the rugged terrain.

 

 

 

Just For You!

Newsletter Exclusive Offers

 

 

 

 

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History is herstory, too. ~ Author Unknown   

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Route 66

 

 San Gabriel Valley in 1900

The San Gabriel Valley on Route 66- Lying at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, the 200 square mile valley that was once primarily agricultural, is today highly developed into a diverse urban area. Steeped in history, the drive through the valley provides an abundance of museums, historical landmarks, roadside peeks, and entertainment for a new generation of Route 66 travelers. To the north of the valley, in the San Gabriel Mountains, adventurous travelers can find find hiking trails, camping, water sports, and old mining towns among the forests and canyons.

 

San Dimas - A Slice of the Old West

 

Straddling the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys, San Dimas was first called Mud Springs when people began to settle there in the early 1800's. Part of the Rancho San Jose, the last Spanish land grant, the area was swampy, hence its nickname.

 

The town was officially formed by the San Jose Ranch Company when the railroad came through in 1887 and the community's name was changed to San Dimas to reflect the San Dimas Canyon to the north. E.M. Marshall opened the first business a hardware store at the corner of Bonita and Depot Streets.

 

In each of the town sites along the railroad, a hotel was built for the expected rush of settlers. However, the land boom lasted only two short years before collapsing in 1889, without the hotel ever having had a single visitor. This historic building is the only one of the many hotels along the line from San Bernardino to Los Angeles that has survived into modern times. When the hotel failed, it was purchased by the J.W. Walker family whose family occupied the home for six generations, from 1889 to 1978. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, the old hotel is now owned by the City of San Dimas, with plans for restoration. The historic landmark is located just north of the intersection of Bonita Avenue and San Dimas Avenue.

 

San Dimas developed as an agricultural center like the many other small towns along the railroad. After trying out several different crops, area farmers recognized that oranges, lemons, and avocados did the best. At one time, the city boasted four citrus packing houses and a marmalade factory. It was here that the Sunkist name, originally spelled "Sunkissed," originated. The San Dimas Feed Company, established in 1897, continues to operate today and is the oldest business in the city. Unfortunately, by the 1950's the citrus trees were suffering from a disease and the quiet agricultural life came to an end as groves were cleared for housing tracts.

San Dimas today prides itself in its heritage, especially that of the Old West. In the 1970's a "Western Village" concept was developed for the downtown core, complete with wooden sidewalks and false wood storefronts for a frontier look. In the fall each year, San Dimas hosts a rodeo at Horsethief Canyon Park along with Western days, and a myriad of equestrian paths exist throughout the city.

 

Other historical peeks can be seen at the San Dimas Train Depot, which now serves as a museum, located on Bonita Avenue at the west end of Old Town; the old hotel, called the Walker House today, is just north of the intersection of Bonita and San Dimas Avenues; and the Chamber of Commerce located in the historic Martin House at 246 East Bonita Avenue.

 

More ...

 

 

What our readers are saying about Legends of America:

 

Just wanted to thank you all for this website. It's got such a huge variety of information and things to read, I just enjoy it immensely. Thought maybe you don't hear it every day and wanted to tell you it's appreciated! -- Jennifer Pierce

 

I've been looking at the most famous gunfighters -- the Earps Doc Holliday Ben Thompson, who I did not even knew was a gunfighter, alongside Wild Bill. Also, I've watched all of Deadwood and did not know that Al Swearengen, Seth Bullock and Sol Star were true life characters. Your website is great and I hope you unearth other characters whom we know nothing about. Carry on with the good work. -- Alfie Smith, Cheshunt, England 

 

This is a great site. I've had the opportunity to travel to many of the places noted and continue to go back there every year. I've also sent this to my friends with kids who still have to write history reports! -- Mona V., San Diego, California

 

Well shoot, I got every one of those, You Know Your in Kansas When's. Does that make me a red neck or what? I bet there are people who think that stuff is made up but, I'm liven' breathen' proof that it's for real. Thanks for putten' it out there ya'll. --

Clinton Helena, Andover, Kansas

 

Fantastic website! I've only scratched the surface, but am truly impressed. I grew up in Ohio at least 100 years too late. As a kid, I could be found digging around in the biography section of the library for a new story of someone who went West. There is a lot of new ground to cover on your site - Thanks for getting me digging again. -- Gregg


 

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Legends of America

 

A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded

 

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Kathy Weiser

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