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Legends Letter

September, 2010

 

Fall in MissouriGreetings from Kathy -  Well, I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in the Show-Me-State of Missouri, it's real Fall-ish. Love this weather, 'cept for the part that Fall comes right before winter. We're in a mad rush to get our hills smoothed out and plant some grass before the first freeze so we pushed back our St. Louis-Chicago trip until we get that very large chore out of the way. But, I'm hoping that delaying the trip will be even better, as maybe we'll get some great Autumn color in our photographs.

 

We did make our trip down to a little place called Howe, Texas, an annual get together with my sis, Debbie. With half the Fam Dam in the Lone Star State, it's getting tougher and tougher to find a new route each time, but, I seem to manage to figure it out. 

 

Devil's Den State Park, ArkansasMaking our way due south to Arkansas, we stopped and saw and old friend of my mom's before rolling through Eureka Springs, and a leisurely drive through Devil's Den State Park before making our way to Van Buren, a historic river port city just outside of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

 

We then criss-crossed our way down the OklahomaArkansas border, making stops at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas and Spiro Mounds Archeological site, in Oklahoma, a pre-historic Native American village that existed from about 950 and 1450 A.D. Then, we're back on the road to Heavener Runes State Park in Oklahoma. The runes were fascinating and I had never heard of them. So, these would make the Vikings the discoverer of America and not Christopher Columbus. Didn't learn that back in school. Then we're headed south through the Ouachita National Forest with my eyes pealed as I scan the dense forest hoping to spy Big Foot. Yup, there have allegedly been many sighting of the large, smelly creature lurking within these woods. According to one forest ranger, the tales have been circulating as long as there have been people in the area, with some of the earliest sightings reported by the Choctaw Indians. Well, we didn't see Big Foot, but the drive was beautiful.

  

1874 Courthouse, Washington State Park, ArkansasThen back into Arkansas, we're off to explore Washington Historic State Park, which provides glimpses into a nineteenth century community and its history of the people and events of Territorial, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras in Arkansas' history. Then we're off to see if we can find the legendary Boggy Creek Monster near Fouke, Arkansas. Nope, no big hairy, smelly beast here either. Darn!!

 

Fort Washita FireBack to Oklahoma, we make a stop at Fort Towson, built in 1824, when the area was rife with conflict between white settlers and Indians, as well as numerous lawless elements, and threats from Mexico. We then come upon the Doaksville Archeological Site, one the largest towns in the Choctaw Nation. Our final stop on the journey is Fort Washita, established in 1842 by General Zachary Taylor to protect the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations from the Plains Indians. Later it served as a major stop on the trail during the California Gold Rush. Sadly, we got to Fort Washita just in time. The reconstructed south barracks were destroyed by fire on September 25, 2010. The blaze is thought to have been arson. Who would do such a thing?!

 

Big Foot print??One final note on Fort Washita. Did we finally find traces of Big Foot where we weren't looking at all. My sister and I drag the boys down this trail pointing to a place called Government Springs and the old townsite of Hatboro. While the men are fussing about this short hike being a worthless endeavor, we trek on and find what? Yes, an old spring, but also some very strange tracks in the mud. Us girls are convinced that we have found signs of the great hairy beast -- Big Foot. The boys, not so much. We'll let you decide. (Click on picture to see a larger version.)

 

To follow our trip, check out our photos and information on our Facebook page HERE. You don't have to be a Facebook member to view.

 

Next month, we're off to trace a little more of the Santa Fe Trail and make a stop at the Bucksnort Trading Company and Saloon in Blackwater, Missouri. Here, Gerald and his wife have painstakingly reconstructed an old-fashioned saloon, with the help of my book Great American Bars & Saloons. He says with the help of all the photos, his book is in tatters. We'll take along a new autographed copy and check this place out. Then we're gonna make a stop to meet a "new" old friend -- Kay Weldon in Mexico, Missouri. Kay has been a long time reader of the newsletter and website, and has become a good friend on Facebook. We love meeting the people that we are in communication with. Then on to St. Louis and Chicago, Illinois, toodlin' along Route 66, so we'll have lots of new material for ya next month.

 

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.

 

Kathy Weiser-Alexander, Owner/Editor*

 

*(user of power tools, digger of rocks, obsessor of history, legends collector, and butt of Dave's jokes)

    

 

 

In this Edition: 

 

New Additions & Feature Stories

 

Featured Travel Destination - Fort Smith, Arkansas

 

The Old West - The Colfax County War

 

Ghostly Legends - 15 of the Most Haunted Places in the United States

 

Featured Product - Exclusive For Newsletter Subscribers - Kathy's newest book and another great 66 book discounted

 

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More to See:

 

Facebook Fan Page - Daily posts and photos.

 

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

 

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

 

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Examine history, for it is philosophy teaching by example.

-- Thomas Carlyle.

 

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Did you know?

   

Thomas Edison earned 1,093 United States patents, a record that still stands. He kept a cot in his New Jersey lab so he could work through the night when inventing.

   

President William Taft, who weighed 332 pounds, got stuck in the White House bathtub the first time he used it. A larger one was ordered.

   

The African custom of creating songs to transmit information was adapted by slaves in North America. Follow the Drinking Gourd is a coded song that provided the route for an escape from Alabama and Mississippi.

   

At his inauguration, President George Washington had only one tooth. At various times he wore dentures made of human teeth, animal teeth, ivory or even lead. Never wood.

New Additions and Feature Stories

 

We've been having a lot of rainy days and some cool weather here lately, which means I'm spending lots of time on the keyboard. So, you'll find a bucket-load of new articles. 

 

On another one of my obsessive kicks, I've been up to my eyeballs in the Civil War. Do you realize that the 150th anniversary of this beginning of this terrible war between the states is next year? Sesquicentennial events commemorating these pivotal events in our nation's history will be held over the next several years.

 

Preparing for the anniversary, I've begun to add a number of Civil War articles, as you've probably already noticed. You'll now find a summary of both the Confederate States of America and  The Union in the Civil War, as well as several new biographies including Jefferson Davis - President of the Confederate States of America, Robert E. Lee - Celebrated General of the South, Ulysses S. Grant - Civil War Hero & 18th President, Andrew Johnson - Reconstructing the South, and Stand Watie, a Native American brigadier general for the Confederacy and the last to surrender.

 

We've also got a new article on the Reconstruction Era. Though armed resistance in the South was at an end, there remained a great question, namely, how the North should use its victory and what to do about the South? Long before the close of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had laid out a plan for Reconstruction though the plan had not been finalized with Congress. When it came time to answer the many questions of Reconstruction, unfortunately Abraham Lincoln was no longer alive and it was left to Andrew Johnson. During the summer and autumn of 1865, when Congress was not in session, President Andrew Johnson proceeded to apply Lincoln's plan to the states of the South, just as if it had been definitely settled that Congress was to have no part in their reconstruction. But, Johnson, although having supported abolition, was not an advocate of black rights, and applied Lincoln's plan his own way. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them. Thus, Reconstruction was mired in politics, corruption, and the exploitation of freed slaves, which would last for years.

 

Continuing on, you'll now see all of the Civil War Battles of Tennessee, including

the vicious fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, which was the deadliest battle in American History at the time; as well as other large battles such as Stones River Chattanooga, Nashville, and Franklin, plus dozens more were fought in the Volunteer State. Hold tight, over the next year, we will be expanding our Civil War Campaigns and Battles for all states. While working on Tennessee's Civil War Battles, we also add up the History of the Volunteer State.

   

Back out West and continuing on the "war theme," you'll find the The Texas Revolution and one of its heroes, Samuel Houston, as well as the The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and Timeline. You'll also see some of the places we visited on our recent trip including Doaksville Archeological Site and Fort Washita, including information on the fire, in Oklahoma.

    

America's Greatest PatriotsI also figured since I've added a bunch of U.S. Presidents  already, I might as well list them all, so you will now see a short summary on all of the leaders of our country. To make it a little more fun, I also added up Presidential Trivia, Fun Facts & Firsts.

    

One final destination "Back East" is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. America’s most visited National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee preserving a rich cultural tapestry of Southern Appalachian history.  

    

We're also gearing up for Halloween and you'll find a new article on the Most Haunted Places in the United States -- more on that below. Hold tight ghost lovers, we'll be bringing you more creepy stories next month.

   

Oh, yeah, I about forgot. My newest book is out!!  Greetings From Route 66, and we're offering an autographed copy at a 33% off. See our Featured Product.

    

 

Bumper Sticker Wisdom 

 

Paddle faster! I hear banjos.

 

Warning:  Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear.

 

Stop repeat offenders - don't re-elect them

 

Hey idiot - You're driving a car, not a phone booth.

 

 

 Shop Bumper Stickers!

 

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September in American History


September 3, 1783 - The Treaty of Paris was signed formally ending the
American Revolutionary War.

September 4, 1886 - The last major
Indian War came to an end as Geronimo was captured.


September 8, 1900 - A hurricane struck Galveston,
Texas, killing over 8,000 persons, making it the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

September 11, 2001 - The worst terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred as four large passenger jets were hijacked then crashed, killing nearly 3,000 people. 

September 14, 1901 - Eight days after being shot, President William McKinley died from wounds.

September 17, 1862 - The bloodiest day in U.S. military history occurred in  Antietam, Maryland during the Civil War. By nightfall 26,000 men were dead, wounded, or missing.

September 17, 1908 - The first airplane fatality occurred as a biplane piloted by Orville Wright fell from a height of 75 feet, killing Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, his 26-year-old passenger. Wright himself was seriously injured.

September 25, 1789 - The first U.S. Congress proposed 12 Amendments to the
Constitution, ten of which, comprising the Bill of Rights, were ratified.
 

Featured Travel Destination 

 

Fort Smith National Historic SiteFort Smith, Arkansas National Historic Site - On the isolated edge of the American Frontier, Fort Smith was established on Christmas day, 1817. Under the command of Major William Bradford, the soldiers' initial task was to keep the peace between the Cherokee and Osage tribes. The site of the new fort was Belle Point, a prominent bluff overlooking the Poteau and Arkansas Rivers.

 

Sixty-four men of the Rifle Regiment erected temporary shelters in just eight days and then began the work on a permanent fortification. Construction progressed slowly, and upon completion, the fort was a simple log stockade with four sides of 132' each and two blockhouses at opposite angles. Barracks, storehouses, shops, a magazine, and a hospital were located within the walls.

 

In 1824, the Federal Government determined that the location of the fort was too far away from the  newly redefined Indian Territory (Oklahoma) and established Fort Gibson some 60 miles up the Arkansas River. As a result, the troops departed Fort Smith. The post then served as the Indian agency for the Choctaw tribe until more tribes were relocated in Indian Territory and fearful residents of the new State of Arkansas requested that a permanent military garrison be placed on their western border. In 1838, Congress authorized construction of a new fort adjacent to the old fort on Belle Point.

 

In the spring of 1839, construction of the new fort began. The design called for a pentagonal-shaped fort of stone with a bastion at each angle and enclosing seven acres. Inside the wall, several buildings were to be situated around a parade ground including two enlisted men's barracks, two officer's quarters, the commandant's quarters, a hospital, the quartermaster store, and other buildings. This ambitious plan, however, would never be fully realized. Over the next several years it had become apparent to the military that armed warriors would not descend on Arkansas from Indian Territory. Yet, hostilities threatened another frontier, and the Mexican-American War loomed on the horizon. Fort Smith was ideally situated to equip military units marching to the Rio Grande River and to supply frontier posts in Indian Territory. Therefore, in 1845, the half-finished post was formally designated as a supply depot.

 

On April 23, 1861, Confederate Arkansas State Troops occupied Fort Smith. Until September 1, 1863, when Federal soldiers re-garrisoned the post, Fort Smith served the Confederate Army as a major supply base and defensive bastion protecting Southern interests in Arkansas and Indian Territory.

 

In 1872, the United States District Court of the Western District of Arkansas occupied Fort Smith. A valuation of property indicated that 27 buildings stood on the former military reserve. Nearly all of these were relegated to civilian or federal use.

 

The former enlisted men's barracks became the Federal Courthouse and also housed attendant offices. A permanent gallows was constructed along the inward side of Bastion 3, or the old Magazine, and the Federal Courthouse basement served as a jail. When overcrowding in this makeshift prison, known as "hell-on-the-border," received adverse public attention, a modern prison wing was added to the south end of the courthouse. This structure was completed in February 1888.

 

Judge Isaac ParkerFort Smith is best known for Federal Judge Isaac C. Parker, whom President Ulysses S. Grant  appointed to the bench in 1875. Replacing Judge William Story, whose tenure had been marred by corruption, Judge Isaac Parker arrived at Fort Smith on May 4, 1875.

    

For the next twenty-one years Parker presided over 13,000 cases and 79 offenders were hanged for their crimes, earning him the nickname of the "Hanging Judge."

 

See More

 

Featured Product:  Exclusive for Newsletter Subscribers ONLY

 

Kathy's newest book - Greetings From Route 66

 

Greetings From Route 66 by Kathy Weiser and Other Route 66 Authorities

33% off Retail Price!

 

Keeping You On the Mother Road

Keeping You On The Mother Road

25% off Retail Price!

 

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Did you Know?

 

Texas was the most active gunfighting state, with some 160 shoot-outs from the 1850's through the 1890's.

 

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    I am one of those who never knows the direction of my journey until I have almost arrived.
 

-- Anna Louise Strong

  

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Old West

 

Road to Cimarron CanyonColfax County War (1870-1877) - Guns roared for almost two decades after Lucien B. Maxwell sold the largest land grant in U.S. history, located in northeast New Mexico

 

Maxwell, originally from Illinois, came to New Mexico just prior to the acquisition of the territory by the United States and the granting of the ranch then known as the Beaubien Grant. He was in the employ as a hunter and trapper for the American Fur Company. He then began to work as a guide and his work often brought him to the Beaubien-Miranda ranch, where he met and married one of Carlos Beaubien's six daughters, Luz. After his marriage, he continued to lead a nomadic existence as a guide and along with Kit Carson, led Colonel John C. Fremont  across the desert to California in 1846.

 

Lucien B. MaxwellThe ranch, one of the most interesting and picturesque in all New Mexico contained nearly two million acres of ground and was traversed by the Santa Fe Trail. In 1864, after the death of his father-in-law, Maxwell and his wife bought out the five other heirs eventually owning the entire grant. Paying a sum total of $35,245 (a little over two cents per acre) for the 1,714,765 acres,  Maxwell became the largest land owner in the world, renamed the property the Maxwell Land Grant, and made his headquarters in Cimarron, New Mexico

 

Over the years, Maxwell made a fortune, building businesses, managing a large ranch operation, and especially, when gold gold was discovered on his land. Later; however, he made large investments in banks and railroads, eventually losing most of his fortune. By 1869, he was looking to sell his land and did so the following year, along with all its assets, for $750,000. He then moved to Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

 

In the meantime, hundreds of squatters had settled on the immense acreage, a fact that both Beaubien and Maxwell had mostly ignored. By the time Maxwell sold the grant, many had built homes, businesses, and were mining on the property.

 

Colorado Senator Jerome B. Chaffee and the others who had purchased the land from Maxwell, almost immediately sold the land an English syndicate for $1,350,000; and, just six months later, it was sold again to a Dutch Firm in 1872. The new grant owners immediately began to aggressively exploit the resources of the grant, opening a sales office at Maxwell's old place in Cimarron. They waited for the customers to rush in, and they continued to wait. Faltering gold production and the shadow of Indian attacks spooked potential buyers. Meanwhile, folks who had already settled on the grant were riled at the brisk way the new owners tried to collect rents soon setting off the Colfax County War.

 

One of the first items on the Grant owners' agenda was the removal of the squatters who had moved on the grant during the past 30 years. The farmers and miners who had settled on the grant had held a grudging respect for Lucien Maxwell, but they felt no such loyalty to the absentee foreign firm. The settlers, having invested their lives and money into homes and businesses were not prepared to leave, especially because the title of the land Maxwell had conveyed was being contested.

 

Clay AllisonIn an effort to remove the settlers from their property, grant officials, in league with a group of lawyers, politicians and businessmen known as the Santa Fe Ring, began making false allegations against locals. Making matters worse, some who spoke out against the Santa Fe Ring were soon found dead. Locals then turned to Clay Allison, a local gunslinger for help.

 

A reign of terror then began in Cimarron and the town was out of control. Violence, lawlessness and apprehension fed the residents and many packed their belongings and left the area. At one time, guards were posted at all entrances to Cimarron and no one was allowed to leave town without the Colfax County Ring's permission. By November 9, 1875 the Santa Fe New Mexican informed the public that Cimarron was in the hands of a mob.

 

More violence began as the grant owners petitioned the courts to allow them to demand purchase or rent monies from the settlers in 1876. After sheriffs served eviction notices,  grant pastures were set on fire, cattle rustling increased and officials were threatened at gun point. Grant gang members made nighttime raids of area homes and ranches with threats of violence to encourage their cooperation.

 

The grant owners continued the fight in the courts and the guns continued to roar until in the spring of 1887, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the survey and legitimized the grant owners. Abandoned by their government, many of the homesteaders bought or leased their places, some just gave up and left, and a few continued the struggle, in the forlorn hope that the government might reverse itself. The Dutch Firm continued its exploitation of the many resources of the grant and it thrived for several decades.

 

In the end, it is estimated that as many as 200 people were killed in the Colfax County War.

 

 

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Ghostly Legends

Ghostly Legends

 

Most Haunted Places in the United States  - These destinations consistently rate as the most haunted places America from multiple sources. See 15 of the most haunted including the Bell Witch Cave, Adams, Tennessee; The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California; Mount Misery Road, West Hills, New York; the Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and 11 other scary places. 

 

Alcatraz IslandAlcatraz, San Francisco, California - With its centuries old history from ancient Native Americans, to Fort Alcatraz, to a Military Barracks, and most often known service as one of the toughest federal penitentiaries in the Nation, it is no wonder that this place is said to be one of the most haunted in the nation. Often described as a portal to another dimension, Alcatraz is filled with the energy of those who came to the "Rock” and seemingly never left. Today, these spirits that continue to lurk in the shadows of the often fog-enshrouded island have been heard, seen and felt by both the staff and many visitors to Alcatraz. The sounds of men’s voices, screams, whistles, clanging metal doors and terrifying screams are said to be heard within these historic walls, especially near the dungeon.

 

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Midlothian, Illinois - Largely abandoned since the mid 1960's, this 1800s-era cemetery is well-known for its haunted stories and ghost sightings. The small cemetery in the Chicago metropolitan area, is located near Midlothian and Oak Forest, Illinois in the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve at 143rd Street & the Midlothian Turnpike. Victim to vandals over the years, many of the tombstones are toppled and rumors circulate that the cemetery has been the location for satanic and occultist groups performing ceremonies. Over the years, numerous stories have been told of glowing balls, sightings of apparitions; strange noises being heard including moans, squeaks, and groans; and  voices. Paranormal investigators report  strange photos, anomalous recordings and sightings of unbelievable creatures. Near the cemetery is a quarry pond that is also said to be haunted. The foul, dark, algae covered pool is said to have been used by Al Capone and other gangsters as a dumping place of their murder victims. Other reports tell of the ghosts of a farmer and his horse who were drowned in the pond as well as another unknown "two-headed" ghost.

 

Moore Home-Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa - One the morning of June 10, 1912, the small mid-western community of Villisca, Iowa awoke to find eight of their own had been brutally murdered by an axe during the middle of the night. This fateful evening changed the town from a peaceful community where people left their doors unlocked and trusted their neighbors into a community of suspicion, where the townsfolk reinforced their locks and openly carried weapons.  Accusations, rumors and suspicion ran rampant among friends and families. Newspaper reporters, private detectives and law enforcement agencies from neighboring counties all verged upon the town collecting hundreds of interviews and and facts. Though there were several suspects, the murders were never solved. The walls of this old home today continue to protect the identity of the vicious murderer who bludgeoned to death the entire family of Josiah Moore and two overnight guests. Open for tours today, the old house is said to be the site of a number of paranormal activities. A number of reports have been given that visitors hear the sounds of children voices and laughter when there are none present, objects seemingly move of their own accord, mysterious banging sounds are heard throughout the house. paranormal investigators are known to have come away with mysterious  audio, video and photographic evidence.

 

And, there eleven more we've featured. Check them out HERE, for your Halloween fun.

 

 

History in our kind of society is not a luxury but a necessity.


-- Patrick Hazard

 

  Did you Know?

 

Buffalo bones, which were strewn across the Great Plains after the mass buffalo hunts of 1870-1883, were bought by Eastern firms for the production of fertilizer and bone china. "Bone pickers” earned eight dollars a ton for the bones.

 

Though the term "stick 'em up" is widely used in Western films, it wasn't actually coined until the 1930's.

 

Purchase Historic Maps on CDHistoric Maps on CDFrom historic maps  of the United States and North America, to the Civil War Native American, Railroads, the Revolutionary War and numerous States & Cities, you'll find dozens archival maps in this product offering. Great for locating old towns and locations of places that have changed names. Shipped on CD's and affordably priced at just $13.99. Or get whole collections at greater savings. To see them all, click HERE!

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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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