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Legends Letter

October, 2010


Kathy is VERY SCARY as a witch!Boo!!! From Kathy - Yup, spook day comin' tomorrow!  What cha gonna be? What cha gonna be? Monster, ghost, historic or fictitious character? As you can imagine, I've decided to be someone from the Old West. Care to guess? Calamity Jane, Poker Alice, Etta Place?? Nope, I'm goin' as Doc Holliday. Will be a very short Doc Holliday, but got my guns and mustache ready. Dave's going as my side-kick -- no, not Big Nose Kate, though I did suggest it. He didn't like that idea so much. He's gonna be old Wyatt Earp. Me bad -- he good, errr... maybe he just not so bad. Pics next time.  


So, how in the heck did this seemingly bizarre holiday come about anyway? I just had to find out. Seems as if it's one of the oldest holidays still celebrated, going back hundreds of years. More about that below.


Alternate 66 begins in Joliet, IllinoisWell, we did do a little traveling this month - made that Missouri-Illinois trip up Route 66 we had planned on. Didn't make it all the way to Chicago as we flat ran out of time. Me thinks we dink around to much. Anywho, starting out finishing a little piece of the Santa Fe Trail, we visited Blackwater, Missouri and the Bucksnort Trading Company and Saloon, Boone's Lick State Historic Site, and Arrow Rock before making our way to Daniel Boone's home near near Defiance, Missouri. Then, we're of to St. Louis, where we visit the Gateway Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion, before crossing over to Illinois and finding a quirky great big catsup bottle in Collinsville. We then off looking for Cahokia Mounds -- The Largest Archaeological Site in America before heading northward on Illinois Route 66


OMG - While Illinois' stretch of old Route 66 is fascinating, I had forgotten how exhausting it could be. I mean, sometimes, the many little towns along the route are only 4-5 miles from each other. That's a lot of starting and stopping, visiting, getting in and out, hunting for the dog, picture takin'! But, it was great and you'll soon see all kinds of new stories and photos for that piece the pavement.


We then toodled across Illinois to the west where we did some more of the Great River Road down the Mississippi River. On this trek we made stops at places such as New Boston and Keithsburg, Illinois; Fort Madison, Iowa; and Hannibal, Missouri, before finally starting for home. You can follow along our whole trip and see photos on our Facebook Fanpage Album (you don't have to be a member) or on our Legends Blog


Ok, I'm done for now. 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. And, have a happy and safe Halloween.



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 - Santa Fe, New Mexico


The Old West - The Ghost of Jesse James?


Ghostly Legends - The Origin of Halloween


Featured Product - Old West Books


Exclusive Newsletter Special - Discount Coupon




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.






New Additions and Feature Stories


Antique Store in Funk's Grove, IllinoisA lot of our new stuff is about pieces of Illinois Route 66 that we hadn't written about before including 66 Alignments in Illinois, as well as updates to our existing articles. You will now see the Pre-1930 Segment of Route 66 - Chatham to Staunton, Illinois, as well as, Auburn - Home of Brick 66, Chatham - Small Town Charm in a Springfield Burb, Virden and the Coal Mine Wars, Thayer - Working the Northern Mines, Girard - Still Keepin' the Pace, and Shirley and Funks Grove - Maple Sirup Country. Hold tight, there will be lots more plus updates to the many Route 66 towns in Illinois that we've already written about, such as Romeo and Juliet of the Plains, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington, Litchfield, and bunches more.


Scotty's CastleBefore we even left on our trip, I had already gotten a bunch of new articles up  especially about the ghost towns of Death Valley. I knew there were a bunch, but, OMG, there are dozens. Can't wait to make that trip. Maybe next year. Like a dog with a bone, I just kept checking and digging for more and more information and I'm still not done. However, you will already find lots here including the Bullfrog Mining District of Nevada, Swindle at the Gold Bar Mine, the Rise and Fall of Cerro Gordo, California, "Shorty" Harris - Single Blanket Jackass Prospector, Panamint City, California - A Hard-Broiled Hellhole, Ashford Mine and Mill in Death Valley and more.


You'll also find a couple more Old West tales including Disease & Death Comes to the Plains Indians. One of the earliest documented disease pandemics in the history of the American West took place when Anglo-European settlers moving westward during the 1830's and 1840's brought diseases to the Native American tribes of the Great Plains. Saloon Cowboys tells about how the Old West made them the icon that they are today. Ghost Towns Reveal Hidden Tales of Old West shares how Ghost towns, from mining camps to windblown prairie farms and settlements, hide tales of days gone by throughout the Old West.


Last, but, not least, we're making several changes and additions to the Legends' General Store including expanding our Old West and Route 66 books, while continuing to drastically reduce the price of books in other categories. Our plan is to eventually offer the best selection of books available for the Old West  and Route 66 and eliminate the other groups. Expansion of our Old West books will continue to include Native American,  Ghost Town,  and Treasure books, as well as Vintage Magazines. . .


You will also start seeing numerous new offerings of our Nostalgic Tin Signs and lots of new photos in our Photo Print Shop. Last month we also added Historic Maps on CD, part of a new Digital History section that we will also be adding many products to. Stay tuned.



Bumper Sticker Wisdom 


Bumper Sticker Madness


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Bumper Sticker Madness


Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot.


Witch's Parking - All Others Will Be Toad.


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Featured Travel Destination


San Migual Church - 1880Haunted Santa Fe, New Mexico - Established in 1607, Santa Fe is the second oldest city founded by European colonists in the United States. Only St. Augustine, Florida is older. It's long history of Indians, Spanish, Mexicans, and pioneers have led the city to be one of the most haunted in America. Furthermore, the city was built over an abandoned Tanoan Indian village where no doubt, Indian burial grounds might be found beneath the city's depths.


Santa Fe is one of the few cities that offers a full schedule of "ghost tours" and "ghost walks" year around, with as many as five operators conducting tours from Santa Fe's historic plaza. These tours primarily focus on the ten block historic area of Santa Fe, featuring such places as the La Posada and La Fonda Hotels, the Grant Corner Inn, Palace of Governors, the oldest house in the nation, and other historic buildings. Some tours also include area superstitions, as well as Santa Fe's history of vigilantes, gunfights, murders and hangings.


Whether you take a tour or stumble upon its many ghosts on your own, here are are a few of Santa Fe's ghostly legends.


El Muerto Headless HorsemanAlto Street - Reportedly a headless horseman haunts this street, riding his horse down to the Santa Fe River. Brandishing a sword, it is said the he lost his head to two Spanish witches, after complaining about a love potion they gave him. Most often this headless cowboy is sighted near the riverbank.


Casa Real Health Care Center - At this senior health-care facility at 501 Galisteo Street, employees, patients and visitors have complained of strange happenings ever since the facility was built in 1985. Constructed over the site of an old penitentiary graveyard next to another haunted building, most people say that an oppressive, uncomfortable feeling emanates from this building. Others have reported strange colds spots moving throughout the rooms and unexplained moaning is often heard in the north and south wings.


Grant Corner Inn - Just a few steps off Santa Fe's historic Plaza sits the historic Grant Corner Inn. The house was originally built in 1905 by a couple new to the Santa Fe area. Unfortunately for the young couple, shortly after they built their new home, a sickly son was born who required constant attention. To make matters worse, the woman's husband died shortly thereafter. The young mother soon remarried a man who was said to have not been a very nice person. Over the years, child continued to get worse and the mother threw herself into caring for the young boy. During this time, visitors to the home would often report hearing the young boy crying and banging on the walls of his upstairs room while his mother was downstairs visiting. Confined to a wheel chair, the boy was said to have continually rolled too close to the stairway, tumbling down, wheel chair and all, to the landing below. The child finally died of his ailments and the woman and her husband moved away.


Afterwards, when the house was empty, neighbors would often report seeing lights in the upstairs room that had belonged to the boy. When someone finally purchased the house, the new owners reported hearing noises in the child's room, as if he was still there. Today the house has been converted into a Bed and Breakfast.


More ....







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Old West


Jesse James in 1864The Ghost of Jesse James? - When Jesse James was still alive, America already loved him, for in him, there was adventure in an otherwise dull, slowly-turning-scientific age. Late in America's second century, the man rebelled against a society that he didn't like and became a folk hero. In the mid 1860's journalists, eager to entertain Easterners with tales of the Wild West, exaggerated and romanticized the gang's heists. Jesse James was touted as being the modern day Robin Hood because it was said that he robbed from the rich and was kind to the poor.  


At the time, his exploits were relished by those who could do no more than fantasize about living such an adventurous life. This obviously remains true today, as thousands of people are intrigued by not only Jesse James, but by the many outlaws who carved out the western frontier.


However, while Jesse was many things, including being a sometimes kind man, a dapper dresser, and a prankish charmer, he was also a cold-blooded murderer, robber, horse thief, racist, and terrorist. He and his gang were very dangerous men.


Jesse James FarmIt should come as no surprise that the Jesse James Farm in Kearney, Missouri is said to be haunted. Given the violent temperament of some of its inhabitants, the untimely death of Jesse James, the violence that occurred on the property, and the tragic death of Jesse's younger half-brother Archie, it would be more astonishing to hear that the property had no tales of ghostly activity.


Both Jesse and Frank James were raised in this house by their mother Zerelda, who was married to three different husbands and bore eight children. It was here that Jesse James was whipped as a teenager by Union militia who strung up his stepfather and burned nearby farms.


It was also here that Zerelda watched as her son Archie was murdered by Pinkerton detectives in an attack where she lost her right hand. After Jesse was killed, he was buried here, where she could protect the grave from trespassers or souvenir hunters. Later, his body was re-interred at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Missouri.


The James Family Farm has said to have been haunted for more than a century. Evidently home to a number of lingering spirits, lights are said to move about both inside and outside of the property buildings. Others report hearing the sounds of pounding hooves, muffled shots and cries that are reminiscent of the area history, dating back to events of the Civil War.


More ....



Did you know that the U.S. National Capitol is allegedly haunted?? Read about it HERE.


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I was delighted to find your site and it has been a great pleasure to work with you. It truly is as unbiased and informative as a site like this can be.  Kathy is a visionary and the "hobby" is a very informative tool for the traveler and history buff. - Dale, North Dakota




Ghostly Legends


History of Halloween - One of the oldest holidays still celebrated, this seemingly bizarre tradition originated hundreds of years ago with the Celtic people of pre-medieval Europe. The Celts were were a diverse group of tribal societies of the Iron Age and Roman-era Europe, which are thought to have originated in Austria about 800 BC. All speaking some version of the Celtic language, by 450 BC, the culture had expanded across Europe.


The Celts of Ireland, Britain, and France divided their year into halves: the "light half," roughly consisting of the spring and summer months when days are longer, and the "dark half," consisting of the autumn and winter months when days are shorter and nights are longer.


The Celts celebrated the end of the light half with the festival of "Samhain," which roughly translated to "summer's end" in the old Irish language. It was regarded as the "Celtic New Year," which not only celebrated the end of harvest and the beginning of a new year, but also, honored the dead. During this time, the ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin, which would allow both harmless and evil spirits to pass through and roam the streets and villages.


The event was celebrated with bonfires, feasts, and many superstitions. Following the Roman conquest of Britain, British Celts adopted the Julian calendar and fixed the date of Samhain's observance to November 1st. The evening before was referred to as All Hallows Eve, from which, the name "Halloween" comes from. To honor their ancestors and ensure that next year's crops would be plentiful, treats and gifts were left out for their spirits the night before. To ward off harmful spirits, the Celts wore costumes, masks, veils, or blackened their faces, and also left gifts in hopes of pacifying them. These customs evolved into trick-or-treating. The event also was marked by taking stock of food supplies and slaughtering livestock for winter stores. The bonfires played a large part in this tradition, as people and their livestock would often walk between two fires as a cleansing ritual.


While the holiday began strictly as a Celtic festival, aspects of Roman religion were incorporated into its observance over the four centuries of Roman rule in Britain (43-410 AD).  One of these is the tradition of bobbing for apples and making candied apples, in honor of the Roman goddess of fruit trees and gardens -- Pamona. As Christianity spread throughout the world, pagan holidays were either Christianized or forgotten. Halloween continued as it is the evening before All Saints Day, which was created by Christians to convert pagans, and is celebrated on November 1st. The Catholic church honored saints on this designated day.


In the early days of the United States, many settlers came from England, Ireland, and Scotland, brining their traditions and beliefs with them. Other immigrant groups added their own cultural influences including witchcraft, voodoo beliefs, black cats and more. The event was celebrated differently in various areas with barn dances, parades, firecrackers, and more superstitions.


More ....  



October in American History

October 2, 1968 - California's Redwood National Park was established.


October 3, 1863 - President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

October 5, 1813 - Shawnee Indian Chief Tecumseh was defeated and killed during the
War of 1812.

October 6, 1927 - The first "talkie" opened in New York.

October 8, 1871 - The Great Fire of Chicago erupted.

October 12, 1492 - Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World in the Bahamas.

October 13, 1792 - The cornerstone of the White House was laid by George Washington.


October 24, 1861 - The first transcontinental telegram in America was sent from San Francisco to Washington DC.

October 24, 1931 - Chicago gangster "Scarface" Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in jail for Federal income tax evasion.

October 26, 1881 - The shoot-out at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, occurred between the feuding Clanton and Earp families.

October 28, 1919 - Prohibition began in the U.S. with the passage of the National Prohibition Act.

October 31, 1941 - Mount Rushmore National Memorial was completed after 14 years of work.


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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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