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rom the gold rush and land rush to cowboys and Indians to ranchers and loggers, the iconic story of the American West endures through the decades and continues to define much of the American character today. Beginning with the early explorers who laid claim to the land and changed forever the lives of the Native Americans, the book covers the figures, legends, and epic events that made the American West renowned around the world. Illustrations and photographs from the National Geographic archives illuminate the fascinating stories, and historical and custom maps set the scenes. This gorgeous book awakens the westerner in all of us.

b also available b


@NatGeoBooks Š 2015 National Geographic Society



n his many movie roles and in real life, John Wayne typified the best of the American spirit. He was larger than life in many ways. Standing over six feet tall and towering over audiences on the big screen, John Wayne’s intimidating stature, combined with his heroic persona, represented the courage and values we hold dear. He was honorable, direct and caring. Throughout his life, and even at the end of his battle with cancer, his personal courage and dignity served as an inspiration to us all. Now, America Remembers, with authorization from John Wayne Enterprises, proudly presents The John Wayne Western Legend Tribute Rifle, a handsomely decorated working firearm issued in remembrance and tribute to this distinguished American and legendary Western film star. The Tribute is licensed by John Wayne Enterprises in a strictly limited edition of only 2,500 Tributes. The John Wayne Western Legend Tribute Rifle is issued on a classically designed lever-action rifle – the Silverboy, in caliber .22LR. The Silverboy is an all-new design by Uberti, modeled after the classically designed lever-action rifles of America’s Old West. The working rifle features a state-of-the-art aluminum alloy frame and a 19-inch round-contour barrel. Craftsmen commissioned specifically for this project by America Remembers handsomely decorate each rifle in stunning 24-karat gold artwork on the elegant chrome-plated receiver capturing John Wayne, America’s favorite Western film star.

An American Legend John Wayne played many roles in his remarkable career, but we tend to remember him best for the Westerns we enjoyed for so many years. He was the gunfighter who fought for justice, the lawman who brought law and order to the toughest Old West towns, and the determined cowboy who wouldn’t back down. As his career flourished, audiences around the world recognized John Wayne as someone who represented the steadfast determination that makes America great. He portrayed men of conviction and courage who rarely flinched in the face of danger. Americans of all ages admired him and were inspired by him. Many Americans enjoyed John Wayne films when they were younger and many fans watch his films regularly. More than 35 years after his death, John Wayne still continues to rank among the 10 most popular movie stars in the annual Harris Poll, and his movies continue to be viewed by millions of people worldwide. John Wayne is the only movie star who has appeared in every Harris Poll since its inception many years ago. The left side of the receiver features a classic portrait of John Wayne with his cowboy hat and familiar Act Now – An Exclusive Limited Edition bandanna around his neck. In the background you’ll find Only 2,500 John Wayne Western Legend Tribute Rifles will be available the barren rock formations of the western frontier. Framing in this strictly limited edition available exclusively through America this striking artwork is an elegant patriotic banner featuring Remembers. Order now and you can be one of the fortunate owners of stars and stripes with, “John Wayne” featured on the left and this handsome Tribute honoring a larger-than-life American legend “A Western Legend” on the right side of the art. who became America’s favorite Western movie star, and still remains a favorite today. Delivery of your working Tribute will be arranged through a licensed firearms dealer of your choice. As always, you will receive your John Wayne Western Legend Tribute Rifle with our 30-day guarantee of satisfaction. If you are not completely satisfied, you may return your Tribute in original, unfired condition for a full refund. You can mail in your order, or to prioritize your order and confirm availability, call us toll free at 1-800-682-2291. John Wayne was the quintessential Western film hero. Beloved by his fans, he stands as an everlasting symbol of America’s legendary days of the “Old West,” a fascinating, uniquely American era that was the inspiration for so many classic Western films. Likewise, the Silverboy is a classically designed leveraction firearm in the tradition of the legendary days of the “Old West,” and brings to mind an era when rifles were indispensable weapons for those who faced dangers on the Western frontier. John Wayne’s contribution to Western The right side depicts John Wayne on horseback riding down the street of a Western frontier town. The patriotic film history, and this banner features “Duke” on the left side and a depiction of John Wayne’s signature on the right. Tribute are certain to bring back some JOHN WAYNE®, , DUKE & THE DUKE® are the exclusive trademarks of, and the John Wayne name, image, likeness of your favorite and voice, and all other related indicia are intellectual property of John Wayne Enterprises, LLC. ©2015 All rights reserved. memories of “Duke.”

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CURTIS CLOSEUPS A portfolio of compelling portraits by Edward S. Curtis, a photographer committed to recording American Indian faces, traditions and spirituality




THE KID’S FINAL ESCAPE By Paul Andrew Hutton

ON THE COVER Don Prechtel’s Escape of Billy the Kid suggests the deadly nature of the New Mexico Territory outlaw who was sentenced to hang for shooting a Lincoln County sheriff and then killed two Lincoln County deputies to cheat the hangman. (© Don Prechtel, Creswell, Ore.) 2 WILD WEST


By Abraham Hoffman

William S. Hart chanced upon outlaw Al Jennings in Oklahoma Territory in 1897, and years later their paths crossed again in the Hollywood hills


In April 1881, facing a death sentence, the Kid escaped from New Mexico’s Lincoln County Courthouse—and two deputies paid the price



In the Civil War era artists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson offered relief from battlefield images



ler By Reid Mitenbu

scene early Whiskey made the t not until bu st, in the Wild We ly tame did ge lar s wa the frontier quality standards reformers push for


Just whose profile is on the Indian Head nickel?


By Candy Moulton Christopher Cardozo discusses Edward S. Curtis

18 GUNFIGHTERS AND LAWMEN By Don Chaput Nevada miner, lawman, fighter and saloonman

Dick Paddock knew how to hide a gun and found death by one


By Jim Winnerman French Icarians sought to create a socialist

utopia in America until money woes ended their dream


By Bill Farley Jim Murray followed seven strategies to make

a million and then some on the Western frontier


By Johnny D. Boggs Kiowa beadworker Teri Greeves applies her craft in striking traditional and contemporary fashion


By John Koster Buffalo Bird Woman shared Hidatsa history and hands-on tips about her people’s farming techniques


By Terry Halden Residents of the Montana mountain mining town of Coloma were rich in gold—and books


By Linda Wommack The Union Pacific



By John H. Monnett

In 1868 Kansas homesteaders shared horror stories of Cheyenne raids, but some also spoke of white outlaws in the mix of marauders

Railroad Museum is in Council Bluffs, Iowa —one end of the first transcontinental railroad


By J.R. Sanders The Burgess folding shotgun was concealable and quick to fire, delivering six rounds in three seconds


Western author and film buff Johnny D. Boggs suggests 10 “Must See, Must Read” Christmas offerings


North Dakota’s Badlands are good medicine DECEMBER 2015


Editor’s Letter





In Billy at the Window 3-D artist Thom Ross captures that dreadful moment when the Kid plugged Bob Olinger.

Wild West editor Gregory Lalire wrote the 2014 historical novel Captured: From the Frontier Diary of Infant Danny Duly. His article about baseball in the frontier West won a 2015 Stirrup Award for best article in Roundup, the membership magazine of Western Writers of America.


Lincoln, New Mexico, is a wonderful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Well, that’s not exactly true. Allow me to amend that: I wouldn’t have wanted to live there in the 1870s and early 1880s when the Lincoln County War and other unpleasantness caught the attention of not only Santa Fe but also Washington, D.C. No doubt when one warring faction was making its headquarters at the L.G. Murphy & Co. store and the other was based at the nearby J.H. Tunstall & Co. store, I would have been in serious hiding down the street at the store operated by José Montaño, who managed to remain neutral during the bloody disorder. All three stores (the adobe and stone structures that once housed them, that is) are prime stops on any present-day tour of Lincoln (see PP. 34–35). In 1880 the county purchased Murphy’s former store for a courthouse. It was in that building (now known as the Old Lincoln County Courthouse) Billy the Kid was to be held for his May 13, 1881, execution after being convicted down in Mesilla for the April 1, 1878, murder of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady. The Kid, of course, had other ideas. The courthouse had no actual jail, so the prize prisoner was kept handcuffed and shackled day and night in a large second-floor room (Murphy’s former bedroom) on the northeast corner of the building. On April 28, 1881, the Kid escaped this unusual death row. Exactly how he did remains in debate, but this is certain—in making his getaway he killed Sheriff Pat Garrett’s Deputies James Bell and Bob Olinger (see story, P. 28), and no one tried to stop him when he rode out of town like a young man of leisure. After that, Billy kept making the newspapers, as Frederick Nolan notes in The West of Billy the Kid: “Thrilled by accounts of his cool, reckless, daring escape, readers—not only throughout the territory but also as far apart as San Francisco and New York—waited HE GALLOPED INTO bated breath for his next daredevil exploit. There THE REALM OF LEGEND’ with were reports of him here, there, everywhere.” —PAUL ANDREW HUTTON Billy’s actions during the Lincoln County War had been well reported, but much about that conflict was confusing, and lawmen and soldiers weren’t necessarily the “good guys.” But Billy’s courthouse escape was equally dramatic and easier to get a handle on—a desperate man of action had acted coolly and saved himself from the noose. “The day Billy escaped and so casually rode out of town, he galloped into the realm of legend—where he has been riding ever since,” says historian Paul Hutton, who like Nolan has long been fascinated with Kid stuff. “The escape is essential to the outlaw myth, and we certainly can see how it worked for later desperadoes like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde. The escape elevated Billy into the pantheon of almost mythical outlaws.” Garrett, who had been out of town, didn’t think too highly of Olinger, who liked to taunt the Kid. Bell, though, had treated the Kid fairly. Both deputies had been shot dead in Lincoln. Is it any wonder that Garrett took no chances when he confronted Billy the Kid at old Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881? WW

the powerful force of good In Native American culture, a warrior chief is the ultimate example of honor, strength, wisdom and courage. This ring is a bold expression of the qualities so revered by men everywhere—and a fitting tribute to the traditions that inspired it. Forged from solid stainless steel, with 24K ionplated accents, this striking ring features a uniquely sculpted bust of an warrior chief against a genuine black onyx inlay. Each side of the ring features a wing-like pattern and a profile of a sculpted bison, the Native American symbol for strength and life. Four chevron bands positioned at north, south, east and west compass points are representative of the four parts of the Native American Medicine Wheel, a sacred circle of life. The proud warrior sits at the center of it all, a noble force for good.

A Remarkable Value... Available for a Limited Time This ring is a remarkable value at $99*, payable in 4 easy installments of just $24.75 and backed by our 120-day guarantee. It arrives in a custom case along with a Certificate of Authenticity. To reserve, send no money now; just mail the Reservation Application today! Available in men’s whole and half sizes 8-15.

A Fine Jewelry Exclusive from The Bradford Exchange ©2015 The Bradford Exchange LIMITED-TIME OFFER


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DECEMBER 2015 / VOL. 28, NO. 4

Nez Perce Chief Joseph in his later years posed for his friend Edward Curtis.




ADVERTISING Extended Interview With Christopher Cardozo “Edward Curtis essentially sacrificed everything that was dear to him to create the record of native people that continues to touch so many lives today,” says the author of Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks.

More About Beadwork Artist Teri Greeves Her mother was not a beadworker, but her Kiowa grandmother had been, earning recognition at county and state fairs as well as tribal ceremonies in Gallup, N.M.

Billy the Kid Encore For more on the Kid’s April 1881 breakout from the Lincoln County Courthouse in New Mexico Territory and other Kid facts visit 6 WILD WEST




WILD WEST (ISSN 1046-4638) is published by HistoryNet, LLC 19300 Promenade Drive, Leesburg, VA 20176-6500 703-771-9400 Periodical Postage paid at Leesburg, Va., and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER, send address changes to: WILD WEST, P.O. Box 422224, Palm Coast, FL 32142-2224 List Rental Inquiries: Belkys Reyes, Lake Group Media, Inc. 914-925-2406; Canada Publications Mail Agreement No. 41342519 Canadian GST No. 821371408RT0001 The contents of this magazine may not be reproduced in whole or part without the written consent of HistoryNet, LLC. PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA




John Wayne


JOHN WAYNE, , DUKE and THE DUKE are the exclusive trademarks of, and the John Wayne name, image, likeness and voice, and all other related indicia are the intellectual property of, John Wayne Enterprises, LLC. ©2015. All rights reserved.

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Meticulous handcrafting, hand-painted artistry and stunning detailing captures the look of the Wild West in this oneof-a-kind tribute to the man who was a symbol of the qualities that made America great! Impressively sized at 16.75 inches long, the fully sculpted stagecoach, with its team of spirited sculpted horses in full gallop—their nostrils flaring and manes flying free in the wind—features The Duke at the reins as he thunders the stagecoach across the American Frontier. A wealth of details make this a true masterpiece including real rope reins, stagecoach lanterns, the weathered luggage riding up top, each individually crafted wagon wheel spoke, and, of course, the fully-sculpted figurine of John Wayne himself, riding tall and full of grit. This heirloom-quality presentation will be enjoyed by generation after generation of John Wayne fans wherever its displayed.

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Stagecoach measures approx. 6.5” L x 3.25” W x 5” H Horses measure approx. 5.25” L x 1.5” W x 4” H John Wayne figurine measures approx. 3” H

Handcrafted, hand-painted museum-quality 4-horse Stagecoach and John Wayne figurine—all in one collectible tribute

True Spirit of the West Masterpiece

Fine collectible. Not intended for children under 14.



Detective Allan Pinkerton wasn’t shy about touting his ability to nab criminals, but the James boys eluded him.





Concerning the article “Allan Pinkerton: ‘They Must Die’” [August 2015 Wild West]: Author Ron Soodalter has perpetuated the fictional account given by the Pinkertons that the device thrown in the James’ house was solely an incendiary device. In fact it was a bomb meant to explode after burning. This was revealed in an October 1992 True West article “The ‘Greek Fire’ Bomb,” by Fred R. Egloff, and later included in the book Frank and Jesse James: The Story Behind the Legend, by Ted P. Yeatman (2000). Incidentally, the book was a Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist for best western biography. Half the bomb was made of wrought iron and the other half of cast iron, so it would land right. It was held together by an iron band and had explosive powder in the center. So the explosion was no accident. Tom S. Coke Belle Plaine, Kan. Ron Soodalter responds: As with many, if not most, historical events,

the details may never be known. The device thrown into the Samuel cabin by the Pinkertons has been a subject of conjecture since that January night. As my article indicates, I tend to align with the opinion of T.J. Stiles as written in his excellent book Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War: “It was certainly meant to light up the interior of the house.… It was probably meant to set the building on fire as well; but it was definitely not intended to do what it did next.” I’ve put forth an alternative and plausible account of what the device was and what it was meant to do. I do find it illogical, however, that Pinkerton would stoop to blowing up a house in which an old woman was living, knowing the maelstrom of bad press it would— and ultimately did— engender. Please note, by the way, that Greek fire was not designed to explode but rather to burn when exposed to oxygen. It failed more often than it succeeded, especially if improperly mixed, and was used to minimal effect in the 1864 Confederate plot to burn New York City and the raid on St. Albans, Vt., that same year.



PINKERTON IMAGE I eagerly await the arrival of each new issue of your wonderful publication. (Congratulations on the new look!) I carefully read, cover to cover, and note interesting points for discussion. I then pass it along to my uncle in Minnesota, who is another Wild West enthusiast, so we can discuss those points. We both enjoyed articles about Billy the Kid and the conďŹ rmation of its “mirror imageâ€? and his not being left-handed. That being said, while reading the feature by Ron Soodalter about Allan Pinkerton in the August 2015 issue, I was curious about the image of William A. Pinkerton and two associates on P. 48. This also appears to be a mirror image. At ďŹ rst I thought it unusual that all three appeared to be lefthanded. Then I noticed the telltale loading gate on the Winchester rie. Hmmm. Donald Bryson Eagle Pass, Texas Ron Soodalter responds: Good eye! It’s safe to say the image is indeed reversed, as evinced by the loading gate of Pinkerton’s Winchester, which— although seemingly on the left side in the image—was

always manufactured on the right side of the receiver. Just as in the “Billy� tintype (which sold at auction for $2.3 million), the Winchester is the dead giveaway. Also, the buttonholes on Pat Connell’s coat seem to be on the right side— the wrong side for a man’s

garment. Given such details, all three men look to be right-handed. Send letters to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176 or by e-mail to wildwest@ Please include your name and town/state of residence.



THE TALL TARGET I am very happy that the Reviews section of your August 2015 issue mentions the 1951 ďŹ lm The Tall Target. Made by director Anthony Mann before he made a name for himself with top-notch Westerns, this movie is a ďŹ lm noir classic about the efforts to prevent President Abraham Lincoln from being assassinated on a night train bound for Washington, D.C. The hero of the ďŹ lm is “John Kennedy,â€? played by Dick Powell. Kennedy trying to save Lincoln is just one more item on the odd list of coincidences between the two assassinated presidents. Great ďŹ lm and one of my favorites. Mike Coppock Enid, Okla.

Mullan’s famed 624-mile military wagon road provided a route through the western wilderness, from Fort Benton in the future state of Montana, to Fort Walla Walla in Washington Territory. Ă“Â™ĂˆĂŠÂŤ>}iĂƒĂŠUʙ°xĂŠĂ?ʙ°xĂŠUĂŠÂŤ>ÂŤiĂ€]ĂŠfĂŽn°ää For a FREE catalog of our western books contact:

Mountain Press P U B L I S H I N G CO M PA N Y

P.O. BoXsMissoula, MT 59s6-728-1900 800-23-sINfo



Nov. 5, 1870, at Verdi, Nev. Robbers climbed over the tender to capture the engineer and fireman at gunpoint in the first train robbery in the West. Thirty-three years later came the 10-minute Western silent film The Great Train Robbery , though that was shot mostly in New Jersey.

2 3 4 5 6

April 11, 1876, at Blue Jacket switch, Indian Territory. Robbers used a red flag, a danger signal no engineer could ignore, to stop a train. Although done at night when a lantern should have been used, it aroused no suspicion.


May 13, 1892, at Temple, Texas. Creating a “human barricade,” two robbers laid across the tracks to stop a train—but when they rose to their feet, the train sped on. —R. Michael Wilson

Sept. 19, 1877, at Big Springs, Neb. Robbers first used a red lantern to stop a train at night. Aug. 19, 1878, at Medicine Bow, Wyo. “Big Nose George” Parrott tried to wreck the first Western train by removing a rail. Parrott remains the only train robber ever lynched, skinned and pickled. Aug. 31, 1881, at Cape Horn Mills, Calif. Robbers pulled off the first successful wreck of a Western train by removing a rail—but then fled empty-handed. March 9, 1882, at Palmer, Texas. Robbers for the first time built an obstruction on the tracks atop a trestle to wreck a train. After it plunged into the swollen river 30 feet below, they robbed the express, the mail and the dead and dying passengers and crew.




Edwin S. Porter’s short Western The Great Train Robbery hit screens in 1903, 33 years after the West’s first real train holdup.


WEST WORDS ‘The foreigners who wage war against the Mexican nation have violated all laws and do not deserve any consideration, and for that reason no quarter will be given them, as the troops are to be notified at the proper time. They have audaciously declared a war of extermination to the Mexicans and should be treated in the same way’ —Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna said this of the Texian rebels in December 1835.

The Croquet Kid, Redux A circa-1880 tintype that reportedly shows Billy the Kid playing croquet (see P. 16 of the April 2015 Wild West) is the subject of Billy the Kid: New Evidence, premiering October 19 on the National Geographic Channel. Kevin Costner is the executive producer and narrator of the two-hour special from Leftfield Pictures and 18Thirty Entertainment. Randy Guijarro of Fresno, Calif., says he bought the 4-by-5-inch tintype for $2 in 2010. On closer inspection he was amazed to recognize what he believes are several famous Westerners, including the Kid (fourth from right) and two of his Regulator pals—Tom O’Folliard (fifth from right) and Charlie Bowdre (on horse at far left). The only known authenticated photo of the Kid sold at auction for $2.3 million in 2011. If the experts hired by National Geographic are able to authenticate Guijarro’s tintype, it might fetch an even higher price. That’s one big if, of course, as the “Croquet Kid” tintype lacks provenance. Tune in for the decision. Below is the photo in question. Does the inset show the Kid (at right) and pal Tom O’Folliard?

Gunslingers & Shootouts Wild West history is back in force on the small screen. Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies recently wrapped a 10-episode look at Western characters on the Fox News Channel, while the American Heroes Channel aired its six-episode second season of Gunslingers (right). The new series Blood Feuds, produced by Lion TV for AHC, features episodes on Alaskan con man Soapy Smith, Wyoming’s Johnson County War and Arizona’s Pleasant Valley War. Shootouts, by Warm Spring Productions for AHC, will depict a range of encounters—from the Wild West (O.K. Corral and Jesse James) to the gangster era (Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker) to the Vietnam War (sniper Carlos Hathcock). Shootouts is co-hosted by historian Paul Andrew Hutton (whose book The Apache Wars will be released next May) and screenwriter Kirk Ellis (Into the West). Next summer American Movie Classics (AMC) plans to premier an eight-episode docuseries (tentatively titled The West) covering the frontier world of Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Sitting Bull. Robert Redford is one of the executive producers.

Chinese Gunslinger This fall Dark Horse Comics [] will debut Kingsway West, a new Western series featuring a Chinese gunslinger in a fantastical Wild West. The main character is Kingsway Law, who while searching for his missing wife in the magical Old West must battle racism and monsters. Writer Greg Pak and artist Mirko Colak collaborated on the project. “Our story,” Pak told USA Today, “takes place in an alternative Old West that reflects the real history of great diversity and terrifying racial conflict of the actual Old West. But we are creating an alternate world that could have a very different future from our own.” DECEMBER 2015



The Lone Ranger’s Colt

lthough most Lone Ranger fans associate Clayton Moore with the title TV character, John Hart portrayed the masked rider for 52 episodes. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West [] in Cody, Wyo., has acquired a six-shooter with steer-head ivory grips used by Hart in his acting career. Hart, who died in 2009, carried a Colt Single Action Army revolver in the series, although museum officials says this particular gun (at the center’s Cody Firearms Museum) was not used during filming of The Lone Ranger. Moore portrayed the Lone Ranger first, but Hart replaced him in 1952 when Moore sat out, supposedly over unmet salary demands (not enough silver ?).


Pancho Villa’s Raid On March 9, 1916, Mexican Revolutionary General Pancho Villa led nearly 500 troops on a cross-border raid of Columbus, N.M., and battled with the 13th U.S. Cavalry Regiment stationed at adjacent Camp Furlong. The Villistas killed 18 Americans, burned much of the town and stole guns and horses, Villa rode into Columbus, N.M., in 1916. in turn suffering some 90 dead and incurring the wrath of the U.S. government. Columbus and Camp Furlong became the staging area for John J. “Black Jack” Pershing’s 1916–17 Punitive Expedition, in which 10,000 soldiers, supported by aircraft and motorized vehicles, marched into Mexico in search of an elusive Villa. Today the historic district of Columbus holds 60-acre Pancho Villa State Park [], centered on period structures and an exhibit hall that relates the story of the raid and Camp Furlong. In March the annual Camp Furlong Day opens with the Cabalgata Binaciónal Villista (Binational Villa Cavalcade), in which Mexican riders from Palomas, Chihuahua, cross the border, join U.S. riders and trot peacefully into Columbus. The town and park commemorate the raid centennial in 2016. For more information call the park at 575-531-2711.

Famous Last Words

‘Mr. (Elko County Sheriff Ed) Seitz, I thank you for your kindness to me, and I hope to meet you in a better world. I wish now to bid farewell to my colored friends’ 12 WILD WEST


—Former slave Sam Mills, who was sentenced to hang for the shotgun killing of friend William James Finnerty (probably not his intended target) in Halleck Station, Nev., said these words on Dec. 21, 1877, before shaking the hands of a few black friends, being bound and hooded, and dropping to his death.

See You Later, Ivan Doig A National Book Award finalist for his 1979 memoir This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, Ivan Doig, 75, died of multiple myeloma at his Seattle home on April 9. The Montana native [] authored more than a dozen novels, including English Creek (1984) and Ride With Me, Mariah Montana (1990).


The C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Mont., will auction the 1907 Thomas Moran oil Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming (above) and two original watercolors by Charlie Russell during its annual fundraiser The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum, March 17–19, 2016. The Russell pieces are Water Girl and Grizzly at Close Quarters. Visit

Western Adornment See jewelry, beadwork, quillwork and silver pieces designed and produced by American Indian artists in the exhibition “Adornment in the West,” which runs through Oct. 16 at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo. The nearly 230 carefully selected objects include a stag design silver and turquoise bracelet (pictured) and a circa-1980s Charles Loloma Hopi hairpiece made of silver, ironwood, coral, lapis, turquoise and malachite. Call 307-587-4771 or visit

Indigenous Beauty Browse some 120 masterworks in the traveling exhibit “Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art From the Diker Collection,” visiting the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta (Oct. 10, 2015–Jan. 3, 2016) and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio (Feb. 12–May 8, 2016). Visit and

Send upcoming event notices to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176. Submit at least four months in advance.


HEADS UP Recognize the profile of this Oglala Lakota chief? The distinguished-looking Iron Tail, or Sinte Maza (1850–1916), was an international celebrity in his friend William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West and, as he demonstrates in this 1909 photograph, a friend to “little chiefs” everywhere. A favorite of photographers, notably Gertrude Käsebier (1852– 1934), Iron Tail remained a familiar face even in death as the head of the Indian Head, or Buffalo, nickel the U.S. Mint rolled out in 1913. Sculptor James Earle Fraser (1876– 1953) rendered a buffalo (reportedly a Bronx Zoo bison named Black Diamond) for the reverse (“tails”) of the new five-cent piece. He said the profile on the obverse (“heads”) was a composite of three American Indian models— Iron Tail (“The best Indian head I can remember”); Big Tree, a Kiowa; and Two Moons, a Cheyenne. The mint discontinued Fraser’s design in 1938 but adapted it for a 2001 commemorative silver dollar. (Photos: Lee A. Silva Collection)




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Christopher Cardozo considers Curtis the consummate Indian chronicler By Candy Moulton

Why do Curtis photos captivate us? Curtis’ photographs of native people are unique in many ways and on many levels. First and foremost they are the result of a highly collaborative, cocreative endeavor. Even a superficial inspection reveals the native people were critical participants and co-creators. They were as committed as Curtis to creating this record that would become, in many cases, the only record their descendants would have of what they looked like, who they were and what they believed in. In many of Curtis’ finest portraits one sees an intimacy, vulnerability and intensity of involvement on the part of the native participants that simply does not exist in any depth or consistency in the work of any other photographer of the American Indian. There have been thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of photographers who photographed the American Indian, yet rarely do we see other photographs of native people that combine such aesthetic sophistication, vulnerability and beauty of object. Never do we encounter an entire body of work with those qualities, a result of Curtis’ unwavering 30-year commitment to this project— a commitment that was unique and unprecedented. How would you describe his legacy? Unparalleled. He helped change the way an entire nation viewed its native people—and did so at a time when many others were still actively advocating for the extinction of all native people on this continent. His work has taught many generations about diversity, inclusion, compassion, environ16 WILD WEST


mental concerns, etc. I describe it as a sacred legacy of beauty, heart and spirit. It is fundamentally a healing message that has touched people in more than 40 countries for over a century. In the breadth, depth and power of his work he is sometimes compared to Rembrandt, James Jay Audubon or even William Shakespeare. It is not hard to imagine people will still be moved by his work hundreds of years from now. Which of his photos do you prefer? Virtually all of the photographs in my collection are meaningful to me, though some more so than others. The ones I go back and look at over and over are almost always, first and foremost, beautiful objects. They are what I refer to as “objects imbued with spirit.” They have a presence I rarely see in any other photographs. They embody beauty, heart and spirit and are deeply healing. I tend to gravitate toward, and am most moved by, Curtis’ platinum prints, his gold-toned printing-out paper prints and his cyanotypes. His platinum prints possess extraordinary complexity, depth and richness. His gold-toned printing-out paper prints have a razor sharpness, warm hue and intensity that give them an extraordinary impact. His cyanotypes, because they were made in the field, often within a day of his negative being made, possess an immediacy, directness and connection to Curtis and his co-creators that is unparalleled. WW

BOOKS BY CARDOZO: He has written or edited eight books about Curtis, including the monographs Native Nations: First Americans as Seen by Edward S. Curtis (1993) and Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and The North American Indian (2000). Also see Cardozo Fine Art online [edwardcurtis. com]. One Hundred Masterworks is published in association with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography [].

Read the full interview at


Among the most iconic images of American Indians are those captured in the early 20th century by Edward S. Curtis, a man who gave the field of ethnology a phenomenal resource in his 20-volume collection, The North American Indian. The quest for traditional people to photograph took Curtis among the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, the Plains, the Southwest and other regions. He found support from such patrons as President Theodore Roosevelt and financier J.P. Morgan. One of the world’s foremost Curtis authorities, Christopher Cardozo has developed exhibitions of his photographs that have toured more than 40 countries. Cardozo’s personal collection of Curtis photographs is the basis for his latest book, Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks (DelMonico Books/ Prestel, 2015). Cardozo recently spoke with Wild West about the legendary photographer and his work.

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Gunfighters and Lawmen

Paddock, at right, gets the worst of it in a Jan. 2, 1878, saloon fight in Virginia City.



n Wild West mining camps violence turned thousands of young men into perforated corpses or mangled them so badly they couldn’t bend an elbow at the bar. Virginia City, in Nevada’s silver-rich Comstock District, was one such dangerous place in the 1860–70s. Kansas cow towns such as Dodge City and Abilene were practically childhood playgrounds by comparison. By the 1860s local tough Dick Paddock, born in Ireland around 1838, was working the Comstock



mines, prizefighting and drinking steady. In late September 1863 he provoked an argument with Virginia City newcomer “Farmer” Peel in Robinson’s saloon. The two decided to settle the matter at gunpoint in the street, agreeing that if either were wounded, he would not file a complaint against the other. Once outside they stood paces apart and each got off at least three shots. Peel hit Paddock in the wrist and left side; Paddock missed. “One gentleman,” the Virginia Evening Bulletin reported dryly, “had a ball pass through his hat.”


Nevertheless, Nevadan Dick Paddock met his end in a saloon gunfight By Don Chaput

Gunfighters and Lawmen


His wounds didn’t slow Paddock long. He married that year, and the couple brought four little Paddocks into the world. By the spring of 1866 he was a city policeman, and on May 7 he looked into a domestic row during which the wife, according to the Territorial Enterprise, “drew a pistol and blazed away at the husband.” The husband chased her down and “belted h_ll out of her” before fleeing. The bleeding woman was unwilling to press charges. In an October 1870 free-for-all in nearby Sevenmile Canyon, one man was shot, another was beaten about the head, and Paddock had his shoulder blade broken. Paddock dabbled in running a Virginia City saloon, where armed men and drinking didn’t mix well. He got to thinking about that and maybe about his lost duel against Farm Peel. Determined not to be outdrawn again, Dick devised the “sack coat side pocket idea,” an improvement on the “hip pocket scheme” for concealed carry of a pistol. The Clothier and Furnisher, a New York trade journal, held forth on its merits: The advantage of the side pocket is that the pistol can be fired without drawing it, the ball passing through the cloth or the lining of the coat. The pocket must be large enough to give room for the hammer to fall without danger of catching in the cloth. The new hammerless revolvers are the best for this purpose, as there is no exposed mechanism about them to get entangled with anything. A variation of this method is to cut through the lining of the coat, so that the hand can pass from the side coat pocket through the coat to the hip pocket and seize the pistol, which can be drawn unperceived and fired from under the coat. An overcoat side pocket is the best place for a revolver when one is going home late at night and is liable to meet footpads [robbers]. It is better to be without a weapon than to have a pistol buttoned up under two coats in a hip pocket. A man feels cheap when a highwayman makes him hold up his hands, goes through his pockets and steals his pistol.

Newspapers nationwide and even London’s Pall Mall Gazette also praised Paddock’s gimmick, which he himself had once employed in the 1870s, according to the June 1889 Clothier and Furnisher. It happened when a gun-waving drunk in a Virginia City saloon insisted everyone drink, and Paddock twice declined. The ruffian bellowed, “Then I’ll

blow your…” A muffled report cut short the threat, and “the bully doubled up on the floor with a bullet through his abdomen.” The article added, “Dick would not have revealed his new trick, but the bystanders were quick to see a thing of that kind, and it was not long before every gunfighter on the Comstock had a sack coat with big side pockets.” It is not known if Paddock ever had cause to use his gimmick again. His life ended abruptly on Jan. 2, 1878, in Virginia City’s Delta Saloon. When Officer Robert McDonald arrived about 5 a.m. and told New Year’s Day celebrants to settle down or be arrested, saloonman Tom Hughes, who operated a cockfighting pit with Paddock, protested and pulled a revolver. Undeterred, McDonald moved to arrest Hughes. “When Hughes and McDonald closed,” the Virginia Evening Chronicle reported, “Paddock sprang between them, it is said, to make peace, and receiving a bullet in the head, reeled a couple of paces and fell senseless near the bar.” A coroner’s inquest determined Hughes had cracked McDonald over the head with the butt of his revolver, causing it to fire the fatal bullet into Paddock’s left temple. Hughes and McDonald then exchanged several shots, and Hughes, too, collapsed to the floor, dead. McDonald had a scalp wound. Paddock, the Chronicle reported, was taken to his home, “the blood and brains oozing from a ghastly hole in his forehead.” He hung on until January 5. Ironically, the man who had perfected the pistol side pocket had been unarmed and acting as a peacemaker during the saloon fight. As for McDonald, he recovered but by May 1879 was in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia and delusions that friends of the men he had killed were invading the ward to seek revenge. He died on May 11. WW

As this Harper’s Weekly image suggests, alcohol and guns didn’t mix well in saloons. That reality gave Paddock an idea.

Pioneers and Settlers

ICARIANS WENT WEST IN SEARCH OF UTOPIA The colonies are long gone, but Iowans recall the movement By Jim Winnerman


ccused of treason against the Orléanist monarchy in 1834, radical left Frenchman Étienne Cabet fled to England. While in self-exile the philosopher, writer and utopian socialist outlined his beliefs in the romantic fiction Voyage to Icaria, the purported diary of an English lord who learns of an ideal community in a remote part of the world. Convinced he knew how a society could live in harmony, Cabet returned to France in 1839 to press for a communitarian social movement. The premise of Etienne’s book and his Icarian movement was that the government would provide jobs, housing and education and distribute food and supplies equally. Exchange of money within the community would be unnecessary. With no private property and no crime, there would be no need for courts or jails. Marriage and family would be strongly encouraged. There would be no formal religion, but adherents would follow the spirit of the Golden Rule. Cabet’s book proved popular in Europe, and within a decade the Icarian movement had attracted an estimated 400,000 adherents, enough to establish an actual Icaria. Followers decided that the economic, political and social environment in 20 WILD WEST


France was not a suitable proving ground for Icarian ideals. In “Let Us Go to Icaria,” Cabet suggested the United States as a site for colonization, with most settlements lying west of the Mississippi. On Feb. 3, 1848, 69 Icarians left Le Havre, France, for the journey by sea and overland to Texas, where Cabet (who remained in France) had negotiated a deed for land on the Red River. It was not an auspicious beginning. The Icarians suffered obstacles en route and disease on arrival. Moreover, the land was divided into parcels unsuited to communal living. Many became disillusioned and left the movement. Hearing of the setbacks, Cabet went to America to rally his followers. More than 500 Icarians—pioneers and new arrivals—met him in New Orleans in 1849, but fewer than 300 chose to remain. The others returned to France. Eschewing settlement in Texas, Cabet led the Icarians to Nauvoo, Ill., where a few years earlier the Mormons had abandoned their settlement, leaving their buildings intact. It seemed a ready-made Icaria, and indeed the movement prospered at Nauvoo for many years. Bolstered by continued new arrivals from France, the settlement peaked with some 500 residents. Still Cabet continued to champion establishment of a colony in the wilderness, apart from outside influences, and in 1852 a breakaway group settled in Adams County, Iowa.

Étienne Cabet (1788–1856) was founder of the Icarian social movement that found a home in the United States for a half-century.


The small building at center was a one-room schoolhouse used by the Icarians in Adams County, Iowa. At right is the restored communal dining hall.

Pioneers and Settlers

Back in Nauvoo the community slid into economic decline, and Cabet grew dictatorial. Discontent within the group resulted in a further split. Expelled from Nauvoo, Cabet led his followers to St. Louis but died of a stroke within days of arriving. In 1858 the surviving group of 151 Icarians purchased a few hundred acres in nearby Cheltenham, Mo., and adopted their own constitution. During the Civil War, however, many of the men served in the Union Army, and it became difficult for the few remaining residents to meet debt obligations and manage the colony. By 1864 only 20 of Cabet’s followers remained, and they soon disbanded. By then the Icarian community in Nauvoo, racked by debt and dwindling membership, had also disbanded. But the Iowa community, bolstered by Icarians who had left Nauvoo and conducting a brisk free-market trade with outsiders in livestock and wool, survived the war. In 1874 journalist Charles Nordhoff visited the Iowa commune and found 63 Icarians in a settlement of “nearly a dozen frame houses, which included the dining hall, a washhouse, a dairy and a schoolhouse. All the dwellings are small and very cheaply built.” Another split developed in the 1870s over the issue of women’s suffrage. The measure was defeated by a vote of 31 to 17, and the losing group, which favored a woman’s right to vote, started another colony a few miles away. The group that remained went bankrupt in 1878 and disbanded. The American experiment in Icarian utopian socialism ended in 1898 when the breakaway Iowa commune disbanded and “integrated into the surrounding community, and many descendants remain in the area today,” says Saundra Clem Leininger, executive director of the French Icarian Colony Foundation [] just outside Corning. “Having been established 46 years earlier, it remains the longestlived nonreligious communal living experiment in American history.” Despite its failure, Cabet’s experiment in communal living made contributions to American society. “The first group of Icarians to arrive in America included architect Alfred Piquenard,”

Leininger notes. “He floated in and out of the movement, but he designed the Illinois and Iowa capitol buildings and the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City, Mo.” Other contributions included the introduction of rhubarb, asparagus and Percheron horses to Iowas. In Nauvoo, Baxter’s Vineyards [nauvoo], the oldest surviving winery in the state, was started by an Icarian couple in 1857. Icarians there also started Dadant & Sons [], the world’s largest beekeeping supply business. “Our one-room schoolhouse, communal hall buildings and a cemetery are all that is left of the movement in the United States,” Leininger says of the Iowa site. “Our foundation is dedicated to preserving information about the precepts upon which the colony was founded.” Each October the foundation throws its Fête de Maïs, or Festival of Corn, in the village communal hall east of downtown Corning. “The event,” she adds, “includes a four-course French supper from recipes researched, prepared and served by the Icaria Cooking Group.” WW

IF YOU GO The French Icarian Colony Village is in Adams County, Iowa, 3 miles east of Corning. Tours are by appointment. The office is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The third annual Fête de Maïs will be held Oct. 2, 2015. For more information call 641-322-4717 or email Icaria@



Western Enterprise


Jim Murray amassed a fortune with his enterprising schemes in Montana Territory By Bill Farley


orn in Ireland in 1840, Jim Murray lived in Canada from age 8 until 18, when he sought gold in California. Five years later he went to Montana Territory with no formal education and little money. By 1873 he had established a banking house in Butte. When he died on May 11, 1921, at his 15,000square-foot seaside mansion in Monterey, Calif., he was a millionaire several times over. In today’s dollars his estate was worth more than $2 billion. His path to riches provides a colorful guide on how to make a fortune in the West. Here are seven strategies Murray followed to emerge as a self-made tycoon:

you fellows the worst of it, and he never sleeps.” Murray spared no one. He enforced every contract to the letter—even foreclosing on widows and close friends. But besides tenacity, Murray needed a business or two to build a fortune. He started with mining and gambling.


Drive to bedrock: Murray’s first business

venture in Montana Territory was prospecting. When Murray trekked into the mountains, he took more than a simple prospector’s kit; he took a hoist and dug to bedrock. The Irishman knew the big paydays were not in the streams sifting flakes. You had to find a rich vein you could chase deep into the mountainside.


Stack the deck: In Murray’s early years his


Wear your guns in sight and never give an inch: Murray’s tenacity was the single most

important factor in his success. A reporter from The St. Paul Globe wrote, “He carried his weapons in sight, and whenever anyone questioned his right, he would say simply ‘What’s mine is mine, and I’ll have it if I have to go to hell for it.’” One of Murray’s longtime friends gave this warning to lawyers trying to protect an estate from Murray’s reach: “He will do anything and everything to give



second income came from gambling in Butte. He played with marked cards, dealt from the bottom of the deck and found surething proposition bets. One of his favorite “cinches” was to find a trader trundling a load of merchandise through town. Murray would pay an accomplice a small sum to count the items in the wagon and then have the merchant park outside a saloon. The wily gambler trimmed plenty of suckers (his words) willing to bet on the number of items in the wagon.

Murray, below, had this hacienda built in Monterey, Calif. The property was razed in the 1940s to make way for canneries.

Western Enterprise


Lend to the dreamers—and then foreclose:

5 6

Keep the best: If Murray foreclosed on a

After Murray’s initial success with mining and gambling, he put his savings to work grubstaking prospectors. He took their mining claims and livestock as collateral and foreclosed the minute they failed to make payment. This gave Murray a great deal of mines and horses to manage. He bred and sold the horses for profit and leased out the marginal mining claims to a steady stream of new prospectors. In the unlikely event they made a strike, he included a provision for royalty payments.

claim with good prospects, he kept it for himself and hired down-on-their-luck prospectors to work it for him. Plenty of men in camp would work for a guaranteed paycheck.

Obstruct and extort: Murray learned through


his frequent court visits that blocking progress paid off. He could sue someone in a hurry to advance a project, or who had little seed money, and might get a handsome settlement if the party wanted to avoid, or could not afford, a court proceeding. Murray hit the mother lode with this strategy when he purchased mining claims in Butte’s central business district. As the town grew, builders and public officials needed the surface rights covered by his mining claims, and Murray held the businesses and city hostage. If they failed to pay him rent for his surface rights, he took them to court and had them evicted. Murray collected more than $600,000 a year in rental payments from this scheme until the courts finally deemed it unjust. The newspapers commented wryly, “Now a man can buy a lot in the heart of the Silver City by paying for it but once.”


Pick the deep pockets: Murray noted that government at all levels had deep pockets and a tolerance for paying over-market prices. He chased a number of real estate and utility projects from Seattle to San Diego with the endgame being a sale to a government agency. For example, Murray bought the Pocatello, Idaho, water franchise and provided adequate service for several years, until he decided to sell and simply stopped regular water deliveries. Furious city officials and residents tried to force him to improve service. Murray’s loyal superintendent turned back one such

effort with a few rifle shots, but the town formed a posse and overtook the plant. To diffuse the situation, Murray suggested the city buy the water franchise. It took some time, but he was able to get his price from desperate officials. A Butte newspaperman summed up Murray’s business strategies this way: “Had he lived in the days of Drake and Raleigh, he would have been a buccaneer.” The millionaire spent more time in saloons carousing with old friends than he did in boardrooms. “He who never made an enemy was not worth having as a friend,” he once said. In the last months of his life he rejected a deal with San Diego for one of his waterworks, as city officials would not meet his price. He went to the grave never giving an inch. His widow Mary, nephew James E. Murray and business partner Ed Fletcher all wanted a piece of his estate. Neither James, later a U.S. senator representing Montana, nor Ed, later a California state senator, could best Mary, who won the majority of the estate in court despite being left out of Murray’s will. After all, she had learned from the best, and never gave an inch. WW

Murray owned three hot springs in Montana, including those in the postcards above. The Boulder Hot Springs Inn and Spa, between Butte and Helena, remains in business [boulder].

Bill Farley is an independent historian and researcher interested in capitalism and labor in the American West.



Art of the West


The Kiowa artist’s beadwork is both traditional and contemporary By Johnny D. Boggs


n 1999 Kiowa beadworker Teri Greeves stood in line to enter an umbrella for judging at the Santa Fe Indian Market [], the world’s oldest and largest juried Indian art show, held each August in the New Mexico capital. It wasn’t a typical umbrella, of course, but an antique frame spanned by a 3-by-3½-foot braintanned deer hide adorned with beads, abalone shell, turquoise, metal studs, Indian head nickels and cloth. The entry stumped the judges. “They didn’t know what it was,” recalls Greeves, 45.



“They wanted me to define it as to what it was in their classification, their category. They wanted me to argue it.” What the judges also didn’t know was that Greeves had just completed studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was preparing for the LSAT with plans to enter the University of New Mexico law school and pursue a legal career specializing in American Indian issues. “I told them, ‘I don’t know whether it’s traditional or contemporary,’” Greeves recalls. “‘My mom, you can say, wears them traditionally when she goes to pow-


Becoming a lawyer was once her dream, but Greeves has no regrets about focusing on her beadwork— as her creations attest.

Art of the West

wows. But this is contemporary, because I’ve never seen one before. So you tell me.’” Indian Parade Umbrella ultimately won best of show at the market and sold for $10,000. Greeves in turn decided she could “fight the good fight” without becoming a lawyer by tackling Indian and women’s issues in her beadwork. She hasn’t slowed down. “I usually say I’m a beadworker,” Greeves says from her studio outside of Santa Fe. “And when they give me that weird look, like, ‘What the hell is that?’ I say, ‘I’m an artist,’ because the medium I work in itself is so defined by craft that it’s not really recognized broadly as a valid artistic medium.” Greeves has done much to change that perception, exhibiting her works at the Denver Art Mu-

seum, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and the British Museum in London. Her Kiowa mother, Jeri Ah-be-hill, married Italian-American sculptor Richard Greeves and moved to Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, where Jeri ran the Fort Washakie Trading Post. It was there Teri, at about age 8, first learned how to do beadwork. Her Shoshone aunt taught her the craft, while her mother taught her the business of being an artist. Greeves parents later divorced, and Teri and her mother moved to Santa Fe in 1986. The young woman studied at St. John’s College in Santa Fe and Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, Calif., before moving on to Santa Cruz, all the while making and selling beaded tennis shoes and other works for book or rent money. Greeves has no regrets about abandoning her dream of practicing law. She likes fighting the fight in her own way. “Part of it is fighting for sovereignty, mutual respect,” she says. “That’s what my great-grandfather fought for as a Kiowa person.” Greeves would have made a pretty good lawyer. “My husband tells me that all the time,” she says with a laugh. WW See more from the artist at

Clockwise from top left: SunboyZ shoes, depicting an original Kiowa superhero; a flicker bolo tie; and a monarchs and milkweed concho belt.

Johnny D. Boggs, a special contributor to Wild West, writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction from Santa Fe, also home to many art galleries. Read the full story at



Indian Life

Buffalo Bird Woman (Maxi’diwiac) uses a bone hoe in her own garden in 1914. Her gardening advice remains sound today.

BUFFALO BIRD WOMAN, THE OTHER HIDATSA CELEBRITY She followed Sacagawea and filled gaps in Hidatsa history By John Koster


istory’s most famous Hidatsa was Sacagawea—the Pocahontas of her time. The teenage girl offered useful service on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, fostered dubious romantic legends and showed up on a 20th-century dollar coin. But Sacagawea was Hidatsa only by happenstance, having been captured from the Shoshones by a Hidatsa war party in about 1800. Renamed Bird Woman (roughly pronounced Sacagawea in Hidatsa), she became, either through purchase or as a gambling win, one of Toussaint Charbonneau’s two Hidatsa wives. When the trapper hired on with the Corps of Discovery in the winter of 1804–05, he brought along Sacagawea—who would help interpret in Shoshone country—and their newborn son, Jean Baptiste.



Although overshadowed by Sacagawea, history’s other Hidatsa celebrity was one from birth. In the early 20th century the Rev. Gilbert Livingstone Wilson, a Presbyterian minister in North Dakota who stumbled on anthropology as a means of obtaining fresh air and exercise, bonded with Edward Goodbird, a Hidatsa lay preacher of the Congregational Church. Goodbird, in Hidatsa tradition, came to consider Wilson his brother. That made Wilson the foster son of Maxi’diwiac, or Buffalo Bird Woman, born in 1839 and about 18 years old when she saw her first iron cooking pot. In 1906 Wilson, with brother Frederick as an assistant and adoptive brother Edward as translator, began recording Buffalo Bird Woman’s accounts of Hidatsa history and culture as well as her practical treatise on farming techniques of the Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara tribes gathered at Fort Ber-

In 1912 Buffalo Bird Woman made this grass-lined cache pit in which to stack and store vegetables for overwinter use.

THREE IMAGES: STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF NORTH DAKOTA, 00086-281, 00086-00437-2, 00075-00386

Indian Life

thold Indian Reservation and known collectively as the Three Affiliated Tribes. According to Buffalo Bird Woman, the nomadic early Hidatsas knew nothing of corn until a 10-man Hidatsa war party spied a Mandan village on the opposite bank of the Missouri River. Each side was afraid. “The Mandans,” she said, “parched some ears of ripe corn with the grain on the cob; they broke the ears in pieces, thrust the pieces on the points of arrows and shot them across the river. ‘Eat!’ they said, whether by voice or signs, I do not know. The word for ‘eat’ is the same in the Hidatsa and Mandan languages. The warriors ate of the parched corn and liked it.…A few years after a war party of the Hidatsas crossed the Missouri and visited the Mandans.…The Mandan chief took an ear of yellow corn, broke it in two and gave half to the Hidatsas. The half-ear the Hidatsas took home for seed, and soon every family was planting yellow corn.” The Mandans taught the Hidatsas how to grow all their favorite crops, including beans, squashes and sunflowers. They ate dried sunflower seeds as a snack and pounded roasted seeds into meal to make seed balls known as mapi. Every warrior or hunter carried a mapi along with sinews, spare arrowheads and the like. “It was amazing what effect nibbling on the sunflower seed ball had,” Buffalo Bird Woman said. “If the warrior was weary, he began to feel fresh again; if sleepy, he grew wakeful.” Hidatsas pulled weeds in the fields of good bottomland, left them to dry in the sun and then burned them with other dried vegetation so the ashes would soften the soil. To break up the soil, one used a hoe made from a buffalo’s shoulder bone affixed with rawhide into the split end of a sturdy stick. A digging stick was fashioned from a shaft of ash carved with a long slanted tip. A rake comprised the shed antlers of black-tailed deer affixed to a shaft with rawhide. In Hidatsa mythology Old Woman Who Never Dies, a grandmotherly protective spirit, first taught the Hidatsas to make antlers into rakes. “It is a tradition with us,” Buffalo Bird Woman said, “that worms are afraid of horn, and we believed if we used black-tailed deer horn rakes, not many worms would be found in our fields that season.” Buffalo Bird Woman’s village planted nine corn species, each adapted to a particular type of soil, in mounds 4 feet apart. The Hidatsas disdained manure, as it brought insects and weeds. When horse apples fell in their fields, planters would toss them out on the plains. The Hidatsas understood a

poor yield signaled the need to fallow the field for two years. They also knew corn could “travel” (cross-pollinate), thus tainting strains set aside for specific purposes. “We Indians understood the need of keeping the strains pure, for the different varieties had not all the same uses with us,” Buffalo Bird Woman explained. “We also knew that when a field stands alone, away from other fields, and is planted with white corn, it will grow up in white corn only.” Amid their fields the Hidatsas built raised, shaded platforms on which girls would sit to keep an eye on the crops and sing to make them grow. When boys visited, the girls often sang flirtatious songs to tease them for their lack of prowess on the warpath. For example: When the fight was on, you ran and hid! And you think you are a brave young man! Behold, you have joined the Dog society; Therefore, I call you just plain dog! When harvesting their corn, the Hidatsas braided it in the husk into strips of 55 to 60 ears to hang from drying racks. To prepare for winter, they stored dried corn, beans, sunflower seeds and squashes in grass-lined underground cache pits, filling the empty spaces with loose corn, a seed reserve that would remain fertile for two years. Their efforts bore the Hidatsas good yields, not to mention subtle revenge for decades of Lakota intimidation. “The Standing Rock Sioux used to buy corn of us, coming up in midsummer or autumn,” Buffalo Bird Woman recalled. “They came not because they were in need of food, but because they liked to eat our corn, and had always meat and skins to trade with us. For one string of braided corn they gave us one tanned buffalo robe.” Gilbert Livingstone Wilson’s 1917 book Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation was republished in 1987 by Minnesota Historical Society Press as Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden. WW

Braided corn is displayed with a scapula hoe and willow rakes —tools like those used by Buffalo Bird Woman.





In late April 1881, two weeks before he was to hang, the desperate prisoner broke from custody and killed two deputies, including hated adversary ‘Pecos Bob’ By Paul Andrew Hutton



oner might get loose. Billy, he insisted, had no more chance of escaping than of going to heaven. Pecos Bob was a bear of a man, well over 200 pounds, with long, shaggy reddish-blond hair, a bushy mustache, meaty fists and a surly disposition. His size had allowed him to bully his way through 40 years of life, and he remained one tough hombre. During the Lincoln County War he had sided with the Lawrence Murphy–James Dolan faction and ridden with the posse that had murdered Billy’s English employer John Tunstall. Current Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett had never trusted him. “Olinger was a born murderer at heart,” Garrett later told writer Emerson Hough. “Of course, you understand we had to use for deputies such material as we could get.” “He was a cold and dangerous man,” echoed Jim East of Olinger.


n Dec. 23, 1880, Garrett’s posse— including Jim East, five other Texas cowboys and two New Mexicans—had captured Billy the Kid and several companions at Stinking Springs. During the pursuit Garrett had killed Billy’s compadres Tom O’Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. The “arrest warrants” the new sheriff of Lincoln County carried were really hunting licenses, and it was something of a surprise he did not also gun down the Kid. Garrett liked Billy. The tall lawman from Alabama was a former buffalo hunter and well-known



obert Olinger hated the Kid. “Pecos Bob,” as he styled himself, blamed Billy for the deaths of friends Bob Beckwith (during the brutal July 1878 climax of New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War) and Jim Carlyle (during the November 1880 shootout at Jim Greathouse’s road ranch outside White Oaks). Even more disquieting to Olinger was the Kid’s vow to kill him for the cold-blooded murder of John Jones in late August 1879. Vengeance was the driving force of Billy the Kid’s life, and Olinger well knew it. April 28, 1881, found Pecos Bob and fellow Deputy J.W. Bell guarding the Southwest’s most notorious outlaw at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Lincoln. Billy was to hang on May 13 for the murder of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady, and Olinger took pleasure in taunting the boy. The deputy, who had loaded each tube of his double-barreled Whitney 10-gauge shotgun with 18 buckshot, loved to shove the gun in the Kid’s chest and bully him. “The man that gets one of those loads will feel it,” he told the Kid. “I expect he will,” Billy retorted, “but be careful, Bob, or you might shoot yourself accidentally.” Olinger declared Billy “a cur, and that every man he had killed had been murdered in cold blood.” The deputy scoffed at repeated warnings his pris-

The Kid takes a certain delight as he prepares to give Deputy Bob Olinger his comeuppance, in Gary Zaboly’s 2015 painting Escape of Billy the Kid.





A circa-1886 photo of the Lincoln County Courthouse, above, shows the secondstory side window from which the Kid shot Olinger (left).

the killing of his close friend Carlyle, but “never, by word or action, did he betray his prejudice, if it existed.” If anything Bell was too kind and trusting of Billy. Olinger, of course, was another matter. “There was a reciprocal hatred between these two,” Garrett observed, “and neither attempted to disguise or conceal his antipathy for the other.”


he courthouse building had once housed Murphy and Dolan’s mercantile store, and the room in which Billy was confined had been Lawrence Murphy’s bedroom. It was a good-sized room with a big window that faced north toward Lincoln’s main street and another, smaller window that opened eastward on the yard. Garrett’s own bedroom was directly behind Billy’s room, while his office was the next room to the west. Other prisoners were held across a hallway to the west, while the sheriff’s armory—


hard case with a reputation as a gunman. Cattleman John Chisum, who had been allied with the Kid in the bloody Lincoln County War, had maneuvered Garrett into the sheriff’s job to clean out Billy’s gang of rustlers, who preyed on his herd. The political and business establishment in New Mexico Territory—which included Territorial Governor Lew Wallace, who had reneged on his pledge of a pardon for the Kid—needed the outlaw dead if the territory was to develop and have any hope for statehood. Billy was bad for business. Garrett had played his part to perfection. Billy’s gang was broken, the young outlaw chieftain captured, hurriedly tried in Mesilla, sentenced to hang and transported to custody in Lincoln. Garrett was the hero of the hour. The celebrated sheriff then made a series of fatal errors. His fondness for Billy led him to order new leg irons for the boy. Billy could hardly move in the short-chained shackles he initially wore during his confinement in a second-story room on the northeast corner of the Lincoln County Courthouse. “It is not necessary for that boy to have them short shackles on,” Garrett told Olinger and Bell. “You can take care of him with longer ones just as well, and they will make it much more comfortable for him.” Comfortable indeed. “[Billy] expressed no enmity toward me,” Garrett later declared, “acknowledging that I had only done my duty, without malice, and had treated him with marked leniency and kindness.” But the sheriff also recognized the Kid “was daring and unscrupulous, and that he would sacrifice the lives of a hundred men who stood between him and liberty.” Deputy Bell had taken no part in the Lincoln County War and held no enmity toward Billy. Garrett knew Bell had reason to hate the boy, for

once Jimmy Dolan’s room—was down the hall, past a narrow stairway, on the south side of the second floor. Billy was kept isolated from the other prisoners in his relatively comfortable room. There he awaited his date with the gallows. The construction of that gallows was on Sheriff Garrett’s mind on April 27 when he rode out of Lincoln on a two-day trip to nearby White Oaks to collect taxes. En route he planned to stop at Las Tablas to order the lumber for the gallows. At 6 p.m. on April 28 Olinger escorted the five other prisoners across the street to the Wortley Hotel for their dinner. He left his shotgun in Garrett’s office, right beside the Kid’s room. Soon after they left, Billy asked Bell to take him out back to the privy. They clattered down the narrow stairwell, out the back door and across the little yard to the wooden outhouse. Billy was not there long. As the two made their way back upstairs, Bell behind, the Kid twisted at his handcuffs. Billy’s wrists were larger than his small hands, and he managed to work one hand free. He then turned and used the heavy cuffs as a weapon, striking Bell across the head. As the deputy staggered back, the Kid wrestled away his pistol. When the stunned Bell fled down the narrow stairway, the Kid shot him in the back. Bell stumbled out the back door, met startled cook Godfrey Gauss, fell into the arms of the old German and died. “I did not want

to kill Bell,” Billy later confessed to friend John Meadows, “but I had to do so in order to save my own life.” Olinger was another case altogether. Billy, his legs still shackled, hopped down the hallway to the armory window to check on Bell. Slipping his other wrist free, he tossed the cuffs out the window and then shuffled over to Garrett’s office to grab Olinger’s shotgun. Bob had heard a gunshot and rushed from the Wortley to the courthouse. “Bob, the Kid has killed Bell!” Gauss cried out. As Olinger opened the picket fence gate just below the east window of Billy’s room, he looked up to see the Kid peering down over the twin barrels of Bob’s own shotgun.“Yes, and he’s killed me too,” the burly deputy replied to Gauss. “Hello, Bob,” Billy said as he unloaded both barrels into his mortal enemy. As Olinger crumpled to the ground, Billy smashed the gun stock against the windowsill and tossed down the pieces beside the bloody corpse. “Take it, damn you!” the Kid exclaimed. “You won’t follow me anymore with that gun.”

Billy the Kid (above, in the only widely accepted image of him) did far more than pose with weapons on April 28, 1881.


he Kid then spied Gauss, who had once been a cook for Tunstall, and ordered him to throw up a nearby pickax. When the old German complied, Billy then told him to go and saddle up a fine horse that belonged to county deputy probate clerk Billy Burt.

THREE ESCAPE THEORIES Pat Garrett (left), in his biography The Authentic Life of Billy, The Kid (1882), was convinced Billy bolted up the courthouse stairs, broke into the armory and grabbed the pistol he used to shoot J.W. Bell. He then retrieved the shotgun from the sheriff’s office and used it to kill Olinger. Garrett’s account is solid but remains speculative. Many authors and filmmakers have naturally followed his account of the escape.



Fred Nolan, a leading authority on Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War, believes a gun was hidden in the privy, and Billy used it to kill Bell on the staircase. The Kid had many friends in Lincoln, and among his suspected accomplices in the privy plot are José María Aguayo, Yginio Salazar, Sam Corbett and Godfrey Gauss. The gun in the privy theory, which originated with historian Maurice Fulton, is a popular one in both movies and books.

2 3

Robert Utley and this author agree on the account presented in this article— that Billy overpowered Bell on the staircase. Walter Noble Burns presented a variation of that story in The Saga of Billy the Kid (1926). —P.A.H.





Two days later in Santa Fe an oblivious Governor Wallace—basking in the critical acclaim of his recently published novel Ben-Hur and anxious to leave the dust of New Mexico behind—signed Billy’s death warrant. The governor, who had disgracefully betrayed the Kid by not honoring his promise of a pardon, ordered that Garrett “hang the said William Bonney, alias Kid, alias William Antrim, by the neck until he is dead.” The governor learned of Billy’s escape later that night. He promptly offered a $500 reward for the capture of the Kid and decamped a month later to the more congenial climate of Turkey, to which he had been appointed U.S. minister. It is somewhat ironic that Wallace’s infamy as a Judas figure in the tale of Billy the Kid matches, or even overshadows, his fame as author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Sheriff Garrett learned of the Kid’s escape on April 29. He returned to Lincoln the next day and hurriedly set out on Billy’s trail. His posse found no sign of the fugitive. A few days later Burt’s horse returned to Lincoln dragging a rope. The Kid had sent the sheriff a calling card. When Billy the Kid rode out of Lincoln on Billy Burt’s spirited pony, he rode not to freedom but into immortality. An Angel of Death was already on his trail, but that would only add to his fame as America’s most romantic outlaw. The dramatic final escape of Billy the Kid was a daring leap into the mists of legend. WW

Paul Andrew Hutton, distinguished professor of history at the University of New Mexico, is a frequent contributor to Wild West and numerous television documentaries. His new book, The Apache Wars, will be published by Crown in May 2016. Recommended for further reading: Frederick Nolan’s The West of Billy the Kid, Bob Boze Bell’s The Illustrated Life and Times of Billy the Kid and Robert M. Utley’s Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life.


Billy was in a fine mood. He broke the chain on the leg shackles, danced a little jig on the courthouse balcony for all to see and then serenaded the gathering crowd. He remained on the porch for nearly an hour. No one attempted to molest him. “He had at his command eight revolvers and six guns [rifles],” noted one awestruck eyewitness. “He stood on the upper porch in front of the building and talked with the people who were in Wortley’s but would not let anyone come toward him. He told the people that he did not want to kill Bell but, as he ran, had to.” Gauss had trouble with Burt’s skittish horse and it took him some time to saddle the animal and bring him around to the front of the courthouse. Billy, loaded down with weapons, had a difficult time mounting the contrary horse, which promptly tossed Billy and bolted down the street. The Kid, with a wave of a Winchester, ordered a reluctant citizen to fetch the animal. “Old fellow,” Billy said to the man as he returned with Burt’s pony, “if you hadn’t gone for this horse, I would have killed you.” According to another witness, the Kid told the gathering crowd he was “standing pat” against the world, and “while he did not wish to kill anybody, if anybody interfered with his attempt to escape, he would kill him.” No one moved. “Tell Billy Burt I will send his horse back to him,” Billy told onlookers as he rode west out of Lincoln. And he later sent the horse back, as promised.

Sheriff Pat Garrett and posse capture the Kid at Stinking Springs on Dec. 23, 1880, in this calendar image.



illy the Kid has featured in at least 75 films—far more than any other historic Western character—not to mention a famed ballet with a classic score by Aaron Copland, a play by Michael Ondaatje and novels by Pulitzer Prize–winning authors N. Scott Momaday and Larry McMurtry. Billy’s escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse is a crucial scene in many of the films, such as King Vidor’s 1930 film Billy the Kid (1930), in which Johnny Mack Brown plays the title role (top left). A central character in the Kid story is Deputy Bob Olinger, always the villain of the tale, with fellow Deputy J.W. Bell usually played as an affable incompetent. In 1957’s The Left Handed Gun (top right, available on CinemaNow), Billy (Paul Newman) jokes with Bell (Paul Smith) before making his escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse. In Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (above right, see CinemaNow) Billy (Kris Kristofferson) confronts Bell (Matt Clark) on the courthouse stairway. In Young Guns II (above left, see CinemaNow) Emilio Estevez plays a charming but deadly Billy. Olinger has been played by such fine character actors as Alan Hale Jr. (1954’s The Law vs. Billy the Kid), Denver Pyle (The Left Handed Gun), Slim Pickens (1961’s One-Eyed Jacks), R.G. Armstrong (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) and Leon Rippy (Young Guns II). —P.A.H. DECEMBER 2015




incoln, New Mexico, appears frozen in time, and that’s a good thing for Wild West aficionados, as that time is the late 1870s and early 1880s. Yes, it was the most violent time in New Mexico history—what with the 1878 Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid’s escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse on April 28, 1881—but those years are loaded with other historic happenings and intriguing personalities, and today visitors can walk in peace among the 17 structures and outbuildings that make up the Lincoln Historic Site. Held on-site, the annual “Last Escape of Billy the Kid” folk pageant [] was first presented in 1940. For general tourist information call 575-653-4372 or visit

Recent visitors enjoy a firearms demonstration in Lincoln, N.M., where Kid-related attractions aren’t the only draw.

T Tunstall Store 34 WILD WEST



he Tunstall Store (left and below) is where cattleman John Tunstall and lawyer Alexander McSween set up their rival business. On display is 19th-century merchandise in the original shelving and cases. An open field beside the store marks the site of the McSween House, which burned to the ground on July 19, 1878, when under siege by the Murphy-Dolan faction.

Old Lincoln County Courthouse


he building in the two pictures below was used as a store (run by the Lawrence Murphy–James Dolan faction, aka “The House,” during the Lincoln County War) before it became the courthouse (and jail for convicted murderer Billy the Kid). It now houses a museum. Historical documents on display include a letter Billy wrote to Territorial Governor Lew Wallace. You can visit the room where the Kid was held prisoner and peer out the window from which he shot Deputy Bob Olinger. You can also walk the stairs where Billy shot Deputy James Bell, passing a wall marked by a hole—rumor has it—made by Billy’s bullet. At right is an old program for Lincoln’s annual “Last Escape of Billy the Kid” event, first held in 1940.

Other Structures


he Anderson-Freeman Visitors Center offers a time line of historical exhibits and a 20-minute video about Lincoln and the war. Also check out exhibits at the Montaño Store (neutral during the Lincoln County War), the Dr. Woods House, the Wortley Hotel (where Bob Olinger had his last meal), the Torreón (right, a 30-foot stone tower built in the 1860s for protection from Mescalero Apaches) and the San Juan Mission Church (built in 1887 and still holding Roman Catholic services).

CURTIS CLOSE-UPS Edward S. Curtis captured American Indians in scores of photogravures but also in rare, fine ‘master prints’

The Arikara Bear’s Belly, according to Curtis, was born in 1847 at Fort Clark in what became North Dakota and one day shot three bears, keeping one bearskin to wear and selling the other two. 36 WILD WEST




isconsin-born Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952) took more than 40,000 photographs of American Indians from more than 80 tribes and produced The North American Indian, a 20-volume book series published between 1907 and 1930. The images in his magnum opus are photogravure prints, but he also made higher quality “master prints,” some of which are featured in the richly illustrated Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks, by Christopher G. Cardozo (DelMonico Books/Prestel, 2015). “A photogravure,” Cardozo writes in his introduction, “has the potential to be extraordinary in its own right, but as a single-color, ink-transfer process it lacks the complexity and depth of Curtis’ most highly realized master prints.” These are the images Curtis exhibited and/or sold. “Many of these master prints,” Cardozo adds, “have a potent ‘object presence’ that transforms the image into something visceral, emotional and simply ‘more alive.’” Along with his photography Curtis wrote ethnographic reports, was a groundbreaking filmmaker and made some 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Indian language and music. “Curtis’ work changed the way our nation viewed native Americans and generated a broad-ranging dialogue for greater compassion, understanding and inclusion,” Cardozo writes. What follows are nine Curtis images—some iconic, others rarely viewed—from the personal collection of Cardozo, who has written or edited eight books about the photographer (see Interview, P. 16). Cardozo selected 100 masterworks from his collection for the 192-page book and a traveling Curtis exhibition that runs through September 20 at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati. Other venues on the schedule include the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa (Oct. 10, 2015–Jan. 17, 2016); Palm Springs Art Museum in California (Feb. 19–May 29, 2016); Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta ( June 18–Sept. 18, 2016); and Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Fla. (Oct. 11–Dec. 31, 2016). WW

In his 1910 photo Waiting in the Forest—Cheyenne Curtis captures a well-wrapped young man who is “alert for the opportunity to steal a meeting with his sweetheart.” DECEMBER 2015


This Sioux mother with a curious baby on her back posed in 1905. Opposite top: Taken on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this photo shows two Nakoaktok Indians (Kotsuis and Hohhuq) in ceremonial dress.

Opposite bottom left: It wasn’t hard for Curtis to get this Nez Perce Babe in a cradleboard to remain motionless for this 1900 photo. Opposite bottom right: Curtis took memorable portraits of Navajo children, including this 1903 platinum print.





Grinnell and Curtis In 1897 Edward Curtis kept busy photographing Mount Rainier and leading climbing expeditions up the Washington state mountain. The next year Curtis rescued a party of lost Rainier climbers, including anthropologist George Bird Grinnell, editor of Forest and Stream magazine; Gifford Pinchot, chief of the U.S. Division of Forestry (today’s U.S. Forest Service); and naturalist Clinton Hart Merriam, chief of the U.S. Biological Survey. A grateful Grinnell became interested in Curtis’ photography and invited him on an expedition to Montana in 1900 to witness a Blackfeet Sun Dance ceremony. The anthropologist also instructed Curtis on proper methods to gather scientifically valid data. “Only weeks after his expedition with Grinnell,” writes Curtis biographer Cardozo, “Curtis initiated his own expedition to photograph Indians in the Southwest.”

In this 1904 gold-toned platinum print, Curtis captures the silhouettes of Navajo riders as they cross the desert at the base of Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona.







On the last day of the Hopi Snake Dance in 1921, Curtis focuses on a small boy Awaiting the Return of the Snake Racers.



The Princess and the Photographer In 1895 Edward Curtis met elderly Princess Angeline (aka Kickisomlo), last surviving daughter of Duwamish Chief Seattle, from whom the largest city in Washington takes its name. Angeline, who would die the next year, was the first American Indian to pose for Curtis. In 1898 Curtis presented two of his images of the princess at a prestigious National Photographic Society exhibition. “Angeline’s connection to Curtis,” writes author and ecologist Michael Charles Tobias, “would prove monumental to the future cultural and spiritual understanding of native Americans, not just in the United States but worldwide.” In many photographs throughout his career Curtis celebrated working Indian mothers and their children.

Hopi women pose atop a pueblo in the 1906 Curtis image On the Housetop.



THE ACTOR AND THE OUTLAW William S. Hart crossed paths with Al Jennings in Indian Territory in 1897— and years later they met again in Hollywood By Abraham Hoffman


he Wild West era was drawing to a close by the 1890s, a decade that also witnessed the birth of the motion picture industry. In the years that followed, Hollywood made hundreds of films that mythologized the Old West in highly fictionalized plots that pitted notorious outlaws against heroic lawmen, cattlemen against sheepherders and U.S. cavalrymen against American Indians, among other such frontier clichés. Yet a closer look at the transition between the real West and reel West reveals a mix of real-life former outlaws and cowboys among the actors in early 20th-century films. Take, for example, the relationship between actor William S. Hart and outlaw Al Jennings. They crossed paths in unexpected and intriguing ways, beginning around a campfire just outside the town of Muskogee, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), in October 1897. William S. Hart achieved international fame as a silent film actor, appearing in some 70 motion pictures between 1914 and 1925. His primary role was that of a Westerner, and his films were noted for their authenticity in costuming and setting. But fame and wealth came late in his career. From the late 1880s until 1914 Hart made his living as a stage actor, doing repertory theater with traveling companies. In the spring of 1897 Hart had it in mind to head his own company. The troupe toured with The Man in the Iron Mask, The Bells, The Lady of Lyons, Camille and other plays with which he was familiar. Profits were slim, but audiences were enthusiastic.




When it came to being an outlaw, Al Jennings wasn’t putting on an act. He posed for these 1902 mugshots when doing time at Leavenworth.

Actor William S. Hart ďŹ rst met Jennings while touring Indian Territory with his own repertory theater company. Years later, as an international silent screen star, Hart again met the outlaw.



“Damme!” says the little redhead, “if I haven’t got a mind to go!” Then he asked me what was the news in Muskogee. I told him that Muskogee County had elected a new sheriff on his pledge to get the Jennings Gang or bust. He’d been parading the streets with banners and transparencies to that effect and a brass band. There were thousands of dollars offered. There was going to be another parade that evening. I told the redhead all about it. “Mister actor,” says he when I’d finished telling him, “we look mighty rough to ride into that nice moral town. Don’t we look like mighty rough cowpunchers?” “You look good to me, and you’re welcome to come to the show,” I said. “Do you know what my name is?” suddenly he shot [sic] at me. “No.” “It’s Jennings.” I tried not to swallow my Adam’s apple. I tried to be as cool as he was. “All right, Mr. Jennings. I reckon the invitation still holds. Your pass will be honored.”

Hart often played a two-gun shootist on-screen, but one loaded with integrity.

Hart contracted to open in Muskogee on Oct. 14, 1897, at the Turner Opera House. Onstage would be The Man in the Iron Mask, in which he would play the dual roles of Louis XIV and his evil twin brother. Taking a breather before the evening’s performance, Hart rented a horse from a livery stable and rode out of town. Spotting a campfire, he trotted up and greeted the four men around it. They hospitably invited him to dismount and share some chuck. Twenty-one years later Hart described the meeting: Good bacon, good coffee—I guess I felt good after the meal. Anyway, I told them there was a show opening that night at the Turner Opera House in Muskogee. I asked them if they’d like to go. A little red-haired man with blue eyes and a blue-steel voice said, “What kind of a show?” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” I told him. “Any good actors?” says he. “I’m one,” I said, and he laughed me silent before I had time to tell him there were some better ones in the company. “Do they let you write passes?” said the redhaired man. “The pass will be honored all right,” I said, writing it. “They’re [the company] behind in salaries, and if they want to, they can take it out of what they owe me.”



Hart had encountered the outlaw near the tail end of his brief criminal career. Born in 1863 in Virginia, Al Jennings grew up the son of an Oklahoma Territory judge and practiced law himself in the early 1890s. On Oct. 8, 1895, in a saloon shootout between squabbling attorneys in Woodward, O.T., Temple Lea Houston, son of Texas hero Sam Houston, wounded Al’s brother John and killed brother Ed. Houston was acquitted, and an embittered Al ultimately turned against the law. The Jennings Gang crime spree began in the summer of 1897 and ended about six weeks after Hart met Jennings. Besides Al and brother Frank, the gang included brothers Morris and Pat O’Malley as well as Richard “Little Dick” West, the only bona fide criminal in the bunch, having ridden with the Bill Doolin Gang. After lawmen drilled Doolin full of holes in August 1896, West sought opportunities elsewhere, reportedly helping to form the Jennings Gang a year later. Starting in early June 1897 the new gang began a series of successful, if not highly profitable, robberies of stores and saloons in Oklahoma Territory. Al and his partners in crime became more ambitious in late summer when they attempted several train robberies. In the first, on August 16, they stopped a southbound Santa Fe train near

Dan Duryea took to the screen as Jennings in 1951, 10 years before the outlaw himself died in Tarzana, Calif., at age 98.



enjoyed the play that October night was Bud Ledbetter. The marshal had no idea the men he was pursuing were sitting just a few rows away—a detail Jennings rejoiced in telling friends and, over the years, anyone else who would listen.


Hart has hat in hand as he holds hands with Mary Pickford in 1917. Standing to their left are filmmakers Jesse Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille.


Edmond, north of Oklahoma City, but were unable to shoot or smash open the safe. Within days Al and Frank, mounted and toting revolvers, tried to flag down a train, but the engineer just gave them a friendly wave and left their tired horses in the dust. Not long after they stacked railroad ties on the tracks as a barricade, but a locomotive smashed right through it without even slowing. On October 1 the Jennings Gang, comprising six men this time, did rob a train at the Rock Island crossing near Chickasha. They collected jewelry, watches and a few hundred dollars from the passengers, but a miscalculation with dynamite destroyed the express car and sent the safe soaring a quartermile, its door remaining stubbornly shut. By then capable Deputy U.S. Marshals James Franklin “Bud” Ledbetter and Paden Tolbert had taken on the assignment of bringing in the gang. On October 14 The Man in the Iron Mask opened to a full house at the Turner Opera House. Al and three of his cohorts thoroughly enjoyed the performance. “Those four men with a price on their heads, risking them to see road-dusty actors in a bum melodrama!” Hart recalled in 1918. “And trusting an actor kid to keep his mouth shut! It was the greatest exhibition of nerve I’ve ever known.” Actually, by 1897 Hart was hardly an “actor kid”; he was 33 and had been acting for at least nine years. Another audience member who apparently


wo weeks after the play the Jennings Gang robbed merchant Lee Nutter but only got $15 and some of the store’s stock (including a jug of whiskey). That convinced Little Dick West to quit the gang. On November 30 a posse under Ledbetter and Tolbert caught up with the gang at a ranch house and in a rapid exchange of shots wounded all four outlaws. The Jennings and O’Malley brothers got away, but not for long. The next night the lawmen, on a tip received by Ledbetter, caught them all trying to flee in a wagon. Not a shot was fired this time, and the lawmen locked up the outlaws in Muskogee. On April 7, 1898, a posse that included legendary lawmen Bill Tilghman and Heck Thomas caught up to Little Dick 5 miles southwest of Guthrie and killed him. Convicted of armed robbery in February 1899, Al Jennings received a life sentence in federal prison, but after appeals from family and friends, he was released for good behavior in 1902. Five years later President Theodore Roosevelt granted him a full citizenship pardon, meaning he could vote and even run for office. In 1911 Jennings resumed his law practice, this time in Oklahoma City. In 1913 the former outlaw published his biography, Beating Back . The next year, in a failed run for governor of Oklahoma, he finished third out of six candidates in the Democratic primary. By then, though, he was ready to move on and pursue a career in film. In 1914 he starred as himself in the big-screen adaptation of Beating Back . Coincidentally, that was the year William S. Hart also started his career in film. In contrast to his years of struggle on the stage, Hart found immediate success in Hollywood. He developed the character of the “good badman,” an outlaw who early in the film meets a respectable woman, falls in love, reforms and redeems himself. On-screen

he smoked, drank and rode hard. With one hand he could roll a cigarette, sprinkling tobacco on the paper and striking a match with his thumbnail to light it. Boys who saw his movies were warned not to try to imitate him, lest they set themselves on fire. Within a year Hart had won over audiences in such Westerns as The Bargain , The Passing of Two-Gun Hicks and On the Night Stage . In 1918 the actor started his own production company. Fan mail poured in from around the world. Jennings, meanwhile, made his way to California, where he appeared in a number of films, contributed stories, served as a technical adviser and even produced a few films after forming his own production company in 1918, the year Hart began his. His first production was the 60-minute The Lady of the Dugout , in which Al and brother Frank play themselves, two outlaw brothers who rob a bank and head for the desert. There they encounter a young woman and her child living in a sod dugout. Abandoned by her no-good husband, the woman and her young son are starving. When the brothers learn a crooked banker has swindled the woman, they rob the bank and give her the money. The drunken husband betrays the outlaws and leads a posse to the dugout, but the brothers manage to slip away. After learning of the husband’s death, they return to escort mother and son home to Arkansas. One of few Westerns to depict a family living in a dugout, The Lady of the Dugout opened at the Mason Theater in Los Angeles on Dec. 9, 1918. Three days earlier Jennings sent Hart a pass, telling him, “It may remind you of the passes that you gave me many years ago, in the wooded mountains of Oklahoma, when you were opening the Turner Opera House at Muskogee.” The men had come full circle. First, the actor met the outlaw; then the outlaw, as an actor, met the actor who played outlaws. Newspapers had fun with the item. An article in the Oklahoma City News of Oct. 20, 1919, showed side-by-side photos of Jennings and Hart under the headline W H ICH OF ’ E M L OOKS MOST D ANGEROUS? O UTLAWS, R EAL AND M IMIC, IN FILMS.” The caption read, “Jennings once was a real outlaw. Now he’s in the movies, as pictured above.…Is Hart imitating Jennings, or is Jennings imitating Hart?” William S. Hart died at age 81 on June 23, 1946, while Al Jennings long outlived lawmen and eyewitnesses who had disputed his claims of holdups

In a case of art imitating life, Jennings put a revolver to work on the big screen, here in poses for 1919 lobby cards.

and shootouts. In his old age Jennings gave newspaper interviews in his San Fernando Valley home. There he showed off his memorabilia and shared stories that grew more and more exaggerated. Some historians suggest Jennings may have come to believe what he was saying. Either that or he was having fun with the gullible young journalists. On Nov. 17, 1961, Maude Jennings, Al’s wife of 57 years, died. After that the heartbroken outlaw didn’t see much point in living. He took to bed, shut down and died the day after Christmas at age 98. Al and Maude are buried side by side at Oakwood Cemetery in Chatsworth, amid surroundings that served as a backdrop for many Western films and TV shows. Friends attending the funeral sent him on his way with a six-gun salute. One obituary noted that at the time of his death “he was working on his biography as well as a TV series.” WW

Abraham Hoffman, who writes from Canoga Park, Calif., is the author of the 2014 book Mono Lake: From Dead Sea to Environmental Treasure. Suggested for further reading: My Life East and West, by William S. Hart; William S. Hart: Projecting the American West, by Ronald L. Davis; and Beating Back, by Al Jennings.



Albert Bierstadt’s first trip to the West in 1859 inspired his masterpiece The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, completed in 1863. The dramatic cloud effects are intended to represent the stairs to heaven. METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK


FOR THE WAR WEARY Sublime Western landscapes helped paint a brighter picture during the Civil War era By Dan Flores





before a historic conflict that tore America apart might seem odd or shallow. Yet the Romantic artists of the period were not the first to have turned to nature when the United States became embroiled in wars over ideology or expansion. During the American Revolution, Quaker naturalist William Bartram had written Travels, the first notable nature book any American had produced, and a volume that wholly ignored the Revolution. Thoreau had worked nonstop on Walden, published in 1854, throughout the Mexican War. American diplomat George Perkins Marsh’s best seller, Man and Nature, appeared in 1864 when newspapers were full of news about the horrifically bloody Battle of the Wilderness. Flight from war into nature is a pattern throughout the nation’s history. So Bierstadt and other artists of the era were not inventing a strategy to take the public’s mind off the horrors of the Civil War. But the stark visual contrasts they offered up must have been startling. Photographs from the battlefields showed the gritty, awful reality of fragile flesh and mortality, the futility of all our dreams, while the soaring landscape art of the West brimmed with beauty and optimism, even reassurance of a divine spark in the world. A society that clamored for the frontline images of Mathew Brady and his crew of Civil War photographers may have required a set of contrasting scenes from the American West. What Bierstadt, Jackson and Moran offered to Civil War America was a Western psychic salve for the agonies of the war.

An 1862 photo by Alexander Gardner captures the gritty, awful reality of the Battle of Antietam.

Photographer Mathew Brady (1822–96) brought the horrors of the Civil War home to the American public.



n the summer of 1859, as the political divide in the United States was pulling the North and South ever closer to violent conflict, a 29-year-old painter stood poised to introduce the country to the healing possibilities of the American West. That was the summer Albert Bierstadt, who was born in Germany and raised in Massachusetts, saw the West and its inspiring landscapes for the first time. Fresh from nearly four years of interaction and study with the art students and professors of Germany’s famed Düsseldorf Academy, followed by a grand tour of the Alps with artist friends Worthington Whittredge and Sanford Gifford, Bierstadt by the late 1850s was about as soaked in Romanticism as one could get. Recall that time in American history: James Fenimore Cooper’s literary heroes and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau’s Transcendentalism stood as cultural bookends for Americans of Bierstadt’s class, while poet Walt Whitman was in search of an “American Adam.” They paved the way for someone like Bierstadt, who in the Civil War era could invoke the healing properties of the Western American landscape. Looking back on a time dominated by the enslavement of a race of people, and a bloody war waged to free them and preserve the Union, there is almost a tinge of unreality to this story of art and landscapes. That Bierstadt—along with fellow painter Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson—could somehow have put adventure in pursuit of America’s wildest landscapes

When Brady shocked viewers by exhibiting photographs of corpses from the September 1862 Battle of Antietam, it marked the first time the American public had confronted the unvarnished reality of warfare. No one who saw those images could ever expunge those scenes from their memories. But between 1859 and ’73 Western artists offered the country powerful landscapes into which one might retreat for relief and reassurance about America’s future. The timing was likely no coincidence.



he Civil War was a conflict in which combatants on both sides convinced themselves God represented their interests and motives. Art that could heal had to spring from the same source, so it is no surprise to discover that when Albert Bierstadt saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time, he was in near religious rapture at the thought that wild places were “sublime” places. Nineteenth-century Romantics firmly believed that sublimity was an emotional state one felt in the presence of God, and that the reason wilderness landscapes produced such feelings was they represented fresh examples of Creation. As philosopher Immanuel Kant had explained to Romantics in his Critique of Judgment, the sublime, as distinct from the beautiful, is “a feeling of displeasure from the inadequacy of the imagination.” That displeasure stems from apprehension, an emotion a populace dealing with an uncertain war confronts repeatedly. In January 1859 Bierstadt’s hometown newspaper in New Bedford, Mass., reported the artist was about to set out for the West “with reference to a series of large pictures.” Bierstadt was accompanying Colonel Frederick Lander, chief engineer of a wagon road across South Pass. The group left St. Joseph, Mo., in early May, and on June 24, during the long days of the summer solstice, reached South Pass. Just north of their road rose the legendary Wind River Range, mountains Americans had read about in the writings of explorer John Charles Frémont. Bierstadt was enthralled. He reported his first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains to the arts magazine Crayon. “As seen from the plains, they resemble very much the Bernese Alps,” he wrote. “Their jagged summits, covered with snow and mingling with the clouds, present a scene which every lover

of landscape would gaze upon with unqualified delight.” Entering the foothills of the Winds, he found places that reminded him of the Northeast’s White and Catskill mountains. “But,” he added, “when we look up and measure the mighty perpendicular cliffs that rise hundreds of feet aloft, all capped with snow, we then realize that we are among a different class of mountains.” Bierstadt also wrote this much discussed and quoted line: “The color of the mountains and of the plains and, indeed, that of the entire country reminds one of the color of Italy; in fact, we have here the Italy of America in a primitive condition.” On his return to the East the artist toted bags bulging with small plein air works, sketches of Indian camps and stereoscopic photographs. He then set about translating his experiences and emotions into art for his time. His underlying ideology was plain enough: To heal the psyche of a fractured nation, Romanticism sought to show visually there was a readily perceived divine presence in America’s wilderness landforms. A puzzle

for critics and historians since has been to sort out what Bierstadt actually saw, for he appeared confused about where he’d been, resulting in mislabeled ranges and peaks, and in his zeal to reproduce how the American West made one feel, he often combined scenes from different places. The resulting paintings were epic, often melodramatic “Wagnerian exultations,” as one critic called them. In other words, Bierstadt’s scenes realized their

Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) painted sweeping Western landscapes that helped war-torn America begin to heal.

Besides producing wildly romantic vistas, Bierstadt also made studies of Indian chiefs at Fort Laramie.



intent admirably. But the places he painted are difficult to pinpoint on the ever-shifting Western earth. Take, for example, the 1861 oil on canvas the artist originally titled The Wasatch Mountains. The Lander party had actually been nowhere near that Utah Territory range, and Bierstadt later renamed the painting Island Lake, Wind River Range, Wyoming. He likely saw Island Lake, at the base of Fremont Peak high up in the Winds. But the painting actually appears to depict Island Lake in the Wyoming Range, a region the Lander party entered many days after traversing the Winds. Whatever the work captures, it represented Bierstadt’s first attempt to impress upon Americans that their West truly was Italy “in a primitive condition,” and he suffused the scene with the plaintive saffron wash of late afternoon mountain light. Another of his attempts to capture the Italian light of the West was his Sunset Light, Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains. It also dates from 1861, a year of high drama nationally, when seceding states formed the Confederacy, and artillery fire on Fort Sumner sparked the first pitched battles of the war.

Bierstadt’s standout masterpiece from the 1859 trip was his 6-by-10-foot oil The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak, completed in 1863 and sold two years later for $25,000, the most money an American painter had yet made from a single work. The Rocky Mountains is a perfect example of the effect the artist wanted to have on his time. Among its dramatic features were its theatrical cloud effects, intended to represent the stairs to heaven, an antidote to the fragility of human life in the 1860s. To create a Western landscape that would convey all the emotions of the sublime, Bierstadt composed a scene that fused at least three different places in the Winds. The lake and waterfall were from Island Lake, high up in the Winds’ Titcomb Basin. The Shoshone camp was from an Indian encounter the artist had recorded in the sagebrush country of South Pass. As for the mountain itself, it was neither Lander Peak nor Fremont Peak. Instead, to represent the face of God, Bierstadt added the summit of 12,977-foot Temple Peak, miles south of Island Lake, to his mountaintop. In fact, the scene represented in

William Henry Jackson (1843–1942) also captured the sublime Western landscapes, albeit with a camera.

Bierstadt depicted the West as “the Italy of America in a primitive condition” in his 1861 work Island Lake, Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The Rocky Mountains was not a real place. On the other hand, drawing on the Western landscape to counter such horrific clashes as Vicksburg and Gettysburg and the slaughter of Pickett’s Charge clearly called for some tinkering with the world. At a fragile moment in American history Bierstadt had launched a phenomenon, employing the Western landscape as a sublime marker of hope and beauty in an ugly age. The public devoured the artist’s sacred mountains, clamored for more, and the painter obliged. The war itself threatened to intervene in 1863 when Bierstadt was drafted, but he hired a substitute to serve in his place. Later that year he and Fitz Hugh Ludlow, author of the best-selling 1857 drug memoir The Hasheesh Eater, visited the Colorado Rockies and then Yosemite Valley in California’s Sierra Nevada, inspiring Bierstadt to produce some of the most wildly romantic landscapes ever painted. In the postwar years, after stealing Ludlow’s wife, Rosalie, Bierstadt and his new bride went on to achieve Hollywood-like status at a time when Americans were discovering the fascinations of celebrity.



hat see you when you get there?” asked Edwards. “Creation,” said Natty, dropping the end of his rod into the water and sweeping one hand around him in a circle— “all creation, lad.” So James Fenimore Cooper wrote of Leatherstocking Tales protagonist Natty Bumpo’s emotions on arriving in the high mountains. Creation certainly seemed the goal in the summer of 1872 when a photographer, his assistant and an obliging mule named Old Molly lugged some 300 pounds of gear—including a heavy wet-plate camera and tripod, fragile glass negatives and a portable darkroom—to the ragged top of a granite peak in the northern Rockies. With one of the most sharply serrated ranges in the West on the horizon, the 29-year-old photographer composed his shot in the viewfinder, inserted a dripping glass plate and then posed with his assistant as the mule packer removed the lens cover and counted down the exposure. Except for a crazy Englishman named Eadweard Muybridge, who’d had himself and his cameras lowered by rope and pulleys to snag vertigo-inducing shots in the Merced River Canyon of the Yosemite, no one had ever taken a photo-

graph in such a place, and the name the young man gave his resulting print reflected a certain amount of pride in that. He called it Photographing in High Places. The photographer who posed amid Wyoming’s majestic Grand Tetons was to the postwar years what Ansel Adams would be to the 20thcentury West. His name was William Henry Jackson. Ten years earlier Jackson had enlisted in the 12th Vermont Infantry of the Union Army and was put to work as an artist and mapmaker, specializing in the visual memoir of the young man in uniform. Back home in Rutland he courted Caroline “Caddie” Eastman who—at least as he remembered it later—was the belle of Vermont. When she broke off their engagement in the spring of 1866, a mortified Jackson struck out for the West. “We were now in a new and exciting country,” he wrote on passing through the Rockies in a wagon train that fall. “The yellows were turning into reds and saffrons, while the blues were becoming deep purples. And the air was so clear that the highlands

In Photographing in High Places, Jackson and his assistant pose amid Wyoming’s Grand Tetons.



With his Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Thomas Moran joined Bierstadt in helping Americans to stop worrying about the war and its aftermath.



In 1870 Jackson joined Hayden’s survey of the Rocky Mountains and then signed on for the geologist’s 1871 survey of the fabled headwaters of the Yellowstone River. Explorer Nathaniel Langford had roamed that surreal plateau during the 1870 Washburn Expedition and trumpeted its virtues during a well-attended lecture in Washington, D.C. Some in that 1870 party, with the collusion of the railroads, floated a radical idea: Perhaps the government ought to set aside the region for public pleasure and (admittedly profitable) tourism. Hayden’s assessment of the Yellowstone plateau was funded with an eye toward that goal.


n the Hayden survey Jackson worked alongside an almost cadaverous young painter named Thomas Moran, who would join Jackson and Bierstadt as the third of the Civil War–era visualists who helped turn the country’s gaze from the war years. Moran shared working-class roots with Jackson. He had grown up in Bolton, England, an industrial village Marxist theorist Friedrich Engels once described as “a gloomy, unattractive hole.” Moran’s father,


to the west seemed almost within grasp.…The air at 8,000 feet was exhilarating. The Wind River Mountains, blue-purple and topped with snow, were a splendid sight.” Who wanted to print endless copies of Civil War memoirs when this kind of world, untouched by the war, lay beyond the Mississippi River? Jackson decided to photograph this new country instead. It was one of those “right place, right time” moments. In 1869 a professor from the East looked over the young photographer’s images of the West, admiring a man with the stamina to get heavy camera gear into the wilderness. Jackson’s admirer was geologist Ferdinand Hayden, whom Congress had recently appointed to survey the Western ranges, a task that could stretch over several seasons. He already had a painter—Hudson River artist Sanford Gifford, Bierstadt’s old acquaintance from Düsseldorf. What he needed was a photographer to record the sublime West in black-and-white. The wildest natural scenes had a deep, Edenic significance for Americans of the period. The West was powerful and mysterious, and Jackson considered ways to portray it so viewers could appreciate the nation’s most resplendent settings.


after hearing American Indian painter George Catlin speak in London in 1840s, soon left for America with wife and seven children in tow. Moran had no formal training as a painter, but he studied every nuance and trick employed by artists he admired, notably the great European landscapists Claude Lorrain, Salvator Rosa and J.M.W. Turner. In 1862 Moran traveled to England with brother and fellow artist Edward to study Turner’s paintings firsthand. He returned to a nation embroiled in conflict and for the war’s duration faced the unwelcome prospect of conscription. Passed over for service, Moran contributed to the war effort by providing paintings to an agency of the U.S. Sanitary Commission for a fundraiser to benefit sick and wounded Union soldiers. In the postwar years Moran returned to Europe to study art and then, fueled by the heady tonic of Romanticism’s love affair with mystery and feeling, came home to dabble in pastoral landscapes and mythical Indian subjects, though he’d never ventured to the American West. He got his chance in 1870 after Scribner’s Monthly asked him to create professional versions of crude sketches illustrating an article called “The Wonders of the Yellowstone,”

by Nathaniel Langford. It was Langford’s article that prompted Hayden’s government-funded survey of the region the following summer, and Moran —with letters (and loans) from the magazine and the Northern Pacific Railroad—wrangled an invitation to the party as a guest artist. Stepping off the train at present-day Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, the artist made his way down to the Green River. Mesmerized by the cliffs looming over the riverbank, Moran rendered his first sketch of the West. But for a reality check, compare it to Jackson’s photograph of the same scene. By 1871 the outward signs of industrial capitalism had arrived in Wyoming, and beneath Citadel Butte lay railroad tracks, a bridge and a water tower. Ever the Romantic, Moran omitted them and painted the Green River the way Western America was supposed to look—as a sublime wilderness. In Yellowstone country the painter and the photographer were each challenged by the other —Jackson by Moran’s deft use of color to evoke feeling, Moran by those crystal-clear photographs everyone assumed could never lie. But together their work gave powerful testimony to the effort to preserve the wondrous landscape. Moran’s 7-by-12-foot oil Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (Congress bought it for $10,000) joined Bierstadt’s works as evocative Western art that deflected Americans from worries about the war and its aftermath. And the following year Congressmen who had only “seen” Yellowstone through artists’ eyes gave us the world’s first national park. That summer of 1871 brought both Moran and Jackson lasting fame. They spent the next quarter-century traveling and working with the government surveys of the age, Moran famously attempting to capture the sublimity of the Grand Canyon (“the most magnificent sight of my life”), the Tetons and other marvels. Jackson spent nine seasons with Hayden in the employ of what evolved into the U.S. Geological Survey and left posterity more than 25,000 glass negatives of the West. For his part Bierstadt was the most famous American artist of the post–Civil War age. In the end, the Romantic grandeur these three artists rendered provided Americans a release from recent battlefield horrors and the brutal assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Seen through their eyes, the continent itself seemed to proclaim that America was blessed and that a divining hand was guiding its destiny westward. WW

Moran (1837–1926) spent a quarter century seeking to capture the sublimity of Western marvels.

New Mexico resident Dan Flores, who held the A.B. Hammond Chair in Western History at the University of Montana from 1992 to 2014, wrote “Where the Pronghorns Play,” in the August 2015 issue of Wild West. His book Visions of the Big Sky: Painting and Photographing the Northern Rocky Mountain West is recommended for further reading, as are Thomas Moran, by Nancy K. Anderson; Mr. Lincoln’s Camera Man: Mathew B. Brady, by Roy Meredith; The Rocky Mountains: A Vision for Artists in the Nineteenth Century, by Patricia Trenton and Peter H. Hassrick; and American Sublime: Landscape Painting in the United States, 1820– 1880, by Andrew Wilton and Tim Barringer.



JUG OF EMPIRE Known by many colorful monikers, whiskey flowed unregulated and unrestrained across the frontier By Reid Mitenbuler



frontiersmen and fonts reminiscent of Hollywood wanted posters. Bulleit Bourbon bottles are even shaped like—take your pick—tombstones or apothecary bottles of the sort peddled by snake oil salesmen. The iconography raises some uncomfortable questions, for Leutze ascribed virtues like perseverance and guts to what might also be described as a booze-fueled land grab. Here’s how early Moravian missionary John Heckewelder described the frontier ethos: “When the object is to murder Indians, strong liquor is the main article required; for when you have them dead drunk, you may do to them as you please, without running the risk of losing your life.” It is easy to glorify a free West detached from intrusive government meddling, but its “benefits” were largely a myth. It also begs the question: What did freeflowing whiskey from the Old West really taste like? Popular nicknames offer a hint: mountain howitzer, coffin varnish, chain lightning, strychnine and tangleleg. Absent regulations, trademark protections and the bureaucracy that enforces them, frontier whiskey lived up to its colorful monikers. Before the landmark consumer protection laws passed during President Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, nothing prevented people from labeling a product, say, PURE KENTUCKY BOURB O N W H I S K E Y , A G E D 10 YEARS, even if no part of the label were accurate.

Left: Present-day whiskey bottles such as this one from Bulleit make the connection between whiskey and the Old West. Above: An 1880s advertisement by A. Bauer & Co. out of Chicago used this politically incorrect scenario of the Wild West.



n July 1861 painter Emanuel Leutze secured a commission to render a 20-by30-foot stereochrome mural in a stairwell of the U.S. Capitol. More adept at patriotic sentimentalism than subtle nuance, Leutze created Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, a grandiloquent portrait of Manifest Destiny—pioneers on a divine pilgrimage, emerging from cold shadows of the wartorn East to bathe in the warm light of the glowing Western horizon. Mark Twain lampooned Leutze’s schmaltz in Life on the Mississippi, appropriating the painting’s title in the line “Westward the Jug of Empire takes its way.” The satirist floated an alternative narrative: “The earliest pioneer of civilization, is never the steamboat, never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbathschool, never the missionary—but always whiskey!” According to Twain, those who followed the whiskey were, in descending order, missionaries, poor immigrants, traders, the miscellaneous rush, gamblers, desperadoes, highwaymen and “the smart chap who has bought up an old grant that covers all the land.” Cleaning up after them were undertakers, vigilante committees and lawyers. Regardless, the legend of the West is hard to resist. Present-day whiskey bottles, modern reincarnations of Twain’s “Jug of Empire,” likewise pursue Leutze’s romantic theme, with images of buffalo and


What consumers often got instead were rough base spirits, dressed up with additives like burnt sugar to add color and mask flaws. In the decades following the Civil War only a fraction of the product on the market consisted of the quality spirits a modern consumer might recognize as “straight” bourbon or rye whiskey— that made purely from specified grains, distilled at a proof lower than 160 and aged in a charred new oak barrel for at least two years. Much of what was sold originated with bulk operators who specialized in manufacturing tasteless, high-proof spirits marketed today as vodka (after the proof is lowered with water) or as fuel or for use in other industrial purposes. These pure ethanol products, almost indistinguishable from one distillery to the next, are commonly known as grain neutral spirits. Some westbound whiskey might have started out as quality bourbon or rye, but en route to the saloons middleman “rectifiers” often mixed it with water or grain neutral spirits to inflate the supply and boost profits. Lack of oversight often tipped the scales in favor of corner cutters. Lax trademark enforcement allowed them to steal label designs such as Old Taylor Bourbon to move a product actually distilled from a low-grade variety of molasses called “blackstrap,” dressed up with adulterants like burnt sugar, glycerin, prune juice or various acids.

An 1880s ad (see above) for rectified whiskies produced by Chicago’s A. Bauer & Co. offers a less savory alternative to the romantic West depicted in Leutze’s painting. It features a cowboy, a Chinese man and an American Indian playing poker atop a blanket. The Chinese man has just claimed the pot with three aces, but the cowboy moves to take the loot at gunpoint, while the Indian makes a grab for the distracted cowboy’s whiskey. In the background is Sam Toughnut’s saloon, which hangs out shingles for several of Bauer’s whiskies. In 1897 whiskey businessmen such as Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. and George Garvin Brown urged Congress to pass the Bottled-in-Bond Act, making the federal government the guarantor of a whiskey’s quality. Affixed to the product, the BOTTLED IN BOND stamp assured consumers the spirit originated with the maker on the label, was made all at one distillery and was aged four years or longer in a warehouse supervised by federal officials. In 1906 Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drug Act, which further enforced proper labeling, and in 1909 President William Howard Taft clarified the rules regarding whiskey, putting in place many of the standards that remain today. In the end it took an unlikely coalition of scientists in white lab coats, litigious capitalists and, yes, reform-minded bureaucrats to transform American whiskey into a world-class sip. WW

High West Distillery, in Park City, Utah, uses various labels to remind whiskey consumers of the wild frontier days.

Reid Mitenbuler is the author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey (Viking, 2015).



THE BLEEDING GROUND That’s how homesteaders and Indians regarded north central Kansas, where in 1868 violence erupted on the road to the Washita By John H. Monnett



land sacred, a blessing Maheo, the Creator, had provided for their spiritual and economic wellbeing. White settlers believed much the same—it was their destiny, ordained by God and sanctioned by the federal government in duly passed homesteading laws, to possess the land in privately owned “quarter sections.” Conflict was inevitable.


he whites came not to hunt like the tribes but to till the earth with plows and fence it off. Such a transformation would spell doom for the Plains Indians’ nomadic existence, and they resisted settlement, often sparking violence. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s failed negotiations of 1867 only exacerbated tensions. The Medicine Lodge Treaty of October 1867, intended to end the conflict, had exactly the opposite effect. By summer 1868 the Indians were complaining about late annuities, especially powder and firearms (albeit surplus Lancaster muzzleloaders) for hunting. John Henderson, chief architect of the peace commission, had verbally promised the Cheyennes they could continue to hunt in north central Kansas, but that assurance never made it into the written document. In early August 1868 a party of Cheyennes and other tribesmen in company with mixed-bloods George Bent and Edmund Guerrier rode north from Walnut Creek to raid Pawnee enemies. En route they encountered homesteads they viewed as a blatant violation of the Medicine Lodge guarantees, a broken treaty promise, and thus an act of war. Many turned into the settlements in the Saline and Solomon valleys to drive the “invaders” from



orth central Kansas looks peaceful if much forgotten today. On the rolling windswept prairie cut by the Saline River one may find s o lace amid the bluestem and buffalo grass that once nurtured teeming herds of buffalo. It was not always so. For millennia north central Kansas witnessed a turbulent nexus of cultural interaction and brutal warfare. The rivers of the region that extend like skeletal fingers from the Kansas River west to their headwaters lured tens of thousands of people to the game-filled ranges between the divides. Pitched intertribal warfare was not uncommon. The trade economy did not cease with white settlement in the 1860s but instead brought Americans into the mix of commerce and violence. When drought gripped the high Plains after 1850 and Colorado settlement pressed eastward following the founding of Denver, buffalo herds also moved east in droves. By the 1860s north central Kansas had become one of the last concentrated ecological biomes for the species. Competition for hunting range grew intense and transformed this land into a bleeding ground. After the Civil War settlers flooded into the region, prompted by the federal government to farm 160-acre homestead claims. Most knew little about the Indian populations, and many held disparaging stereotypes of native ways. The Cheyennes, meanwhile—especially the Hotamétaneo’o (Dog Men) warrior society, by then a distinct clan—claimed hunting rights in north central Kansas by acquiescence of the federal government following the 1865 Little Arkansas Treaty. They considered the

This homesteader seems prepared to protect his family and his sod home on the prairie. Cheyenne Indians weren’t the only threat to north central Kansas settlers in 1868.



What had begun with raiding along the Saline had erupted into a widespread war that would encompass a greater part of one state and three territories. Raging between the summers of 1868 and 1869, the yearlong conflict would be the bloodiest between whites and Indians in Kansas history.


ome of the victimized settlers of the August 1868 depredations relocated to the reinforced Schermerhorn farmhouse and then to Fort Harker. Sheridan interviewed them shortly after his arrival at Harker and shared his findings in a field report to division headquarters. He described how the raiders had entered the settlements, demanded food and coffee and then threw the hot coffee in the faces of the women serving it, ostensibly for serving it in tin cups. They then “commenced the robbery of the houses, and violated the women until they were insensible from brutal treatment.” But in 1869—pressed by Eastern reformers, frustrated in his efforts to have Indian Affairs transferred to the War Department and hounded by inquiries as to why Custer had reportedly abandoned Major Joel Elliott at the Washita—Sheridan changed his tack, his rhetoric about the raids becoming more elaborate as he sought justification for the Washita. He even alleged that peace chief Black Kettle, who was killed in that battle, had orchestrated the August raids. In a rant against reformers in his annual report of 1869 Sheridan denounced them as “aiders and abettors of savages who murdered, without mercy, men, women and children, in all cases ravishing the women sometimes 40 or 50 times in succession, and, while of insensible from brutality and exAnticipating the arrival Men— Dog troops, haustion, forced sticks up their perU.S. such as the one depicted sons, and in one instance the 40th in this detail from James or 50th savage drew his saber and Bama’s Cheyenne Dog used it on the person of the woman Soldier—struck first. in the same manner.” The raiders had first hit the homes of settlers David Bacon and Simeon Shaw on August 10. Sheridan almost certainly interviewed Bacon’s wife, Jane. She later testified that some 50 Indians had raped her and asserted in a claim affidavit that her husband had placed a bill for lost property directly in Sheridan’s hand. Shaw likewise testi-


Severe punishment was what Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan had in mind for the entire Southern Cheyenne tribe in August 1868.

their hunting grounds, ultimately killing more than a dozen white people. The settlers and the military, however, viewed the Cheyenne depredations as the initial treaty violation, giving Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan—Hancock’s replacement as commander of the military Department of the Missouri—justification to retaliate. Sheridan believed the entire Southern Cheyenne tribe should be punished until reduced to poverty. Sheridan arrived at Fort Harker on August 20 and soon moved on to Fort Dodge. From there he called for reinforcements and dispatched units to monitor Indian activities while contemplating a winter campaign. Sheridan brought in seven companies of 5th U.S. Cavalry to augment his eight companies of 7th Cavalry. He dispatched four companies of 10th Cavalry to the Walnut Creek Crossing of the Arkansas and transferred troops from the 3rd Infantry at Fort Dodge to augment those of the 38th Infantry patrolling the railroad line on the Smoky Hill. By September the general had sent troops in pursuit of the Indians. Fights at Beecher Island, Beaver Creek and along the Canadian River further inflamed the brewing conflict. Anticipating attack by the newly arrived soldiers, the Cheyennes—principally the Dog Men— and Arapahos struck first, hitting settlements and freight wagons from the Republican River country up north to Indian Territory in the south and the Colorado Front Range to the west. Then, on November 27, Lt. Col. George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry decimated Black Kettle’s Southern Cheyenne band in winter camp on the Washita River.


fied the Indians had repeatedly raped his wife and sister-in-law, and he too filed a government claim. Early settler-historians repeated these stories of horror and abuse through the first three decades of the 20th century. During the Progressive era Americans indulged in nostalgia for historical memory of frontier life. It marked a time of cultural celebration by Western communities. Towns erected stone monuments to residents martyred in Indian attacks. In Lincoln County, Kan., Elizabeth N. Barr (1908), Christian Bernhardt (1910), Margaret Hill McCarter (1910) and Adolph Roenigk (1933) all wrote heroic tales. These local volumes waxed triumphant in honoring the sacrifice of the early pioneers as vanguards of a divinely ordained conquest of civilization against savagery. None yet expressed any understanding of the reasons Indians had resisted conquest or the fractured warrior society politics of Cheyenne life in the 1860s. On August 13 Edward W. Wynkoop, agent for the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos, met with Cheyenne Council Chief Little Rock at Fort Larned and asked him to identify those raiders who had violated the women. In a transcribed follow-up interview with Wynkoop on August 19 Little Rock named Red Nose and White Antelope’s brother Oh-e-ah-mo-he-a as two of the men who had committed rape and promised to deliver them up to Wynkoop. (In 1869, after the Washita, Edmund Guerrier also named Stone Forehead and Red Man as participants in the raid.) But Little Rock and his

followers soon crossed the Arkansas south into Indian Territory with Black Kettle’s followers. The named warriors were quite possibly perpetrators in a mix with others who committed atrocities. But who were the others? Sheridan stuck by what he claimed the settlers had told him, but he had not been the first ranking officer to interview them. By August 13 Lt. Col. Alfred Sully, commander of the District of the Upper Arkansas, had reached the Saline. No lover of Indians, Sully —who had crushed a mixed Sioux force at the 1863 Battle of Whitestone Hill—headquartered at the Schermerhorn farm, where he interviewed the refugees. He drew up his official report of those interviews, dated August 19, and sent it to department headquarters at Fort Leavenworth. Sully’s report, which lay undiscovered in the National Archives for more than a century, reveals new information shared here in context for the first time. While acknowledging the presence of marauding Indians among those headed north, Sully stated the August 10 raiders were “speaking in English” and told the homesteaders they “would be back again in a few days and intended to clear out all of the settlers on the Saline and Solomon creeks.” Sully personally interviewed both Jane Bacon and Simeon Shaw. “Mrs. Bacon,” he wrote, “who was so badly abused, tells me there were seven /7/ white men in the party that mistreated her, and they were the most brutal of the party, except for one to whom she appealed for protection.” Shaw’s testi-

The sale to Indians of illegal whiskey, as well as firearms, was big business— and posed a big problem—in Kansas through the 1860s.



Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Sully issued a report, which lay undiscovered in the National Archives for more than a century, indicating that white men were among the August 10 raiders.

mony was more explicit. “White men overhauled his trunks,” Sully reported, “read his letters and papers, took what they thought valuable. Amongst his papers was his marriage certificate. This they handed him back, telling him in a joking way that they ‘guessed they would have no use for that,’ this after they had abused his wife and sister-in-law.” The settlers, Sully reported, told him the mixed white and Indian raiding party had ridden in from the Platte and included “Northern Arapahos, Northern Cheyennes and Lakotas, besides with them were quite a number of white men. Everyone that came in contact with this party state this fact. Some of them say they had blue eyes and light hair though dressed like Indians.” Sully concluded, “I do not think this attack was made by any organized band of Indians but was only a raiding party consisting of the rascals of different bands & outlawed by white men. They do not wish to make war but to plunder.” But Sully also noted the Indians in the mix “seem to be determined to turn the settlers out of the country that they claim never to have ceded, the land now being surveyed and sold [by railroad land grant agents] as homesteads.”


acon and Shaw later changed their stories of personal travail in elaborate depredation affidavits (Bacon in June 1869, while Shaw’s remained in litigation in 1891), presumably because they could not expect financial compensa-



tion under the law unless their losses occurred at the hands of Indians. So who might be the whites in this raid, and what might be their motives? Certainly in the history of the frontier Indian women had taken white husbands and birthed their mixedblood progeny. But this does not explain the numbers of outlaws in Kansas who were committing atrocities for reasons other than the preservation of Indian hunting rights. Economic interests were surely at stake, and those economic interests depended on open trade, consumer relations, even business partnerships between the races. As Texas had witnessed the lawless “Comanchero frontier,” Kansas since before the Civil War proliferated with various toughs—Border Ruffians, Jayhawkers, Bushwhackers, etc. Many had conducted illegal whiskey trade with Indians. The sale of both illegal whiskey and firearms to Indians was big business and continued largely unabated through the 1860s, as did horse theft and plunder. Such trafficking was profuse at road ranches along the Smoky Hill and Arkansas rivers, particularly Walnut Creek Crossing, almost in sight of Fort Zarah. Walnut Creek Crossing had emerged as a primary whiskey distribution center for the trade by 1866, when a man named Dietz defied the law to operate his wholesale business. Agent Jesse Leavenworth reported to no avail that “evil-disposed white men” were promoting a brisk, uninhibited trade with the local tribes at Walnut Creek Crossing, and that Indian agent I.C. Taylor, “was constantly drunk




and sold whiskey from his office at Fort Zarah.” The most infamous road ranch at the crossing was that of Allison and Francis Booth, later owned by Charles Rath. Rath and his Cheyenne wife, Making Out Road, had partnered in the trade with Cheyenne Chief Eagle Head (Minimic). In 1867 General Hancock reported that Rath was selling gallons of whiskey in addition to modern rifles and revolvers to the tribes. Such trade for stolen horses and plunder flourished in 1868. Although Rath denied any involvement, a 1969 University of Kansas archaeological dig of the ranch site unearthed keg stays and firearm parts dating to the late 1860s. The warriors who came into north central Kansas in August 1868 did not need obsolete, government-issued singleshot Lancaster muzzleloaders had they wished to make general war. By 1868 the trade had spread to Fort Dodge. That spring Major Henry Douglass, 3rd U.S. Infantry, reported he had spilled “1,354 gallons of whiskey that had been cached on the prairie by outlaws intending to recover it at night.” If such enterprises were rampant in Kansas, they paled in comparison to illegal trade on the Platte. Still more white traders had married Indian women in this region. Yet this does not account for the presence of Dog Men, who did not tolerate white males in their camps and villages. If the settlers were correct in their report to Sully that the diverse group of raiders came from the Platte, perhaps white outlaws were riding with Sioux bands in the group. Still, if the Southern Cheyennes identified by Little Rock were also in league with outlaws, other Cheyennes and Lakotas committed depredations in August and afterward to drive settlers off the buffalo ranges. But Sheridan was after the Southern Cheyennes. Had he ignored Sully’s findings? There is evidence he knew of the settlers’ reports. In an interview after the Washita by a St. Louis Democrat reporter, Sheridan was quoted as saying that living among the Indians at war in Kansas “are many white men …and are the very worst of their class—men who are not allowed to live among the whites.” But Sheridan was determined to punish the Cheyennes to advance his main priority of protecting the railroads. Any acknowledgment of what the settlers had told Sully may not have compromised the winter offensive. But keeping such information from the ears of reformers (especially the recent peace commission), sympathetic journalists and opponents of his efforts to move the Indian Bureau

to the War Department became politically prudent in Sheridan’s view. Unaware of Sully’s findings, the commission bowed to Sheridan in October, adjourned and never assembled again, clearing the way for the winter campaign.


olitics was the wild card that unduly influenced the Kansas Indian war. The Kansas Pacific Railroad needed to sell 6 million acres of land grants along the main line to settlers in order to complete its route to Denver. Sheridan and Kansas Governor Samuel Crawford were attuned to the needs of the railroads. As Sheridan biographer Paul Andrew Hutton wrote, “Dead Indians meant live voters on America’s frontiers.” For Sheridan mixed groups of outlaws and renegade Indians were a minor nuisance in comparison to determined Cheyenne Dog Men committed to fight to the death for what they felt was their right to hunt in north central Kansas. For the outlaw enterprises, success of the Medicine Lodge Treaty and the impending 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie with Lakotas would mean removal of their Indian constituencies and reduction of their illegal profits at road ranches flanking the Kansas settlements. Thus they, like the Cheyennes, were eager to run off Kansas homesteaders. Sully’s report of August 19 thus yields important new insights. It does not simply revive redundant discussions of body counts, Indian/white ratios or moralized rationalizations of any single group as possessing lone “guilt” for the Kansas Indian war. Instead, it suggests multiple groups were involved in committing depredations. It reveals the importance of an overlooked historical actor on the scene, one with the same motive as the Cheyenne Dog Men—to thwart settlement. The report also conveys a contextual understanding that the war reflected a dynamic present for centuries in the cultural crossroads of north central Kansas. The causes of the 1868–69 war were a multidimensional intersection of politics, commerce, vengeance, conquest and defense of coveted land and resources among diverse groups. For a balanced understanding it cannot be measured in such generalized terms as good and evil or stereotypes as savagery vs. civilization. The Kansas Indian war is part of a far larger history that turned the bluestem pastures and buffalo grass hills on the plains of north central Kansas into a bleeding ground. WW

Charles Rath, who was married to the Cheyenne Making Out Road, reportedly sold whiskey and modern firearms to the tribes.

John H. Monnett is emeritus professor of history at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He thanks Gary Clayton Anderson for discovering the Aug. 19, 1868, Sully report and sharing it for further research. Suggested for further reading: Monnett’s “Reimagining Transitional Kansas Landscapes: Environment and Violence” (Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, Vol. 34, No. 4, Winter 2011– 2012; available online at and William E. Unrau’s Indians, Alcohol and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe.



Ghost Towns


This mountain town was rich in gold and books till the mines played out By Terry Halden

In the early 1880s interest in the mining district resumed with the filing of the neighboring Cato claim. In 1885 its owners built a small stamp mill, the ďŹ rst in the Garnets. In 1892 O.C. Warner installed a 10-stamp Huntington mill a quarter mile from where Coloma was to emerge. This development encouraged Van Gundy to restart his mine, and he soon secured enough Eastern capital to form the Mammoth Gold Mining Co. Within a few years he, too, had erected a 10-stamp mill.

Above: A miner’s cabin at the Coloma townsite. Below: A circa-1900 photo of the mining town. 66 WILD WEST




n 1868 J.E. Van Gundy led a group of prospectors to the northwest slopes of the Garnet Range. There, near the head of McGinnis Creek, they sank an 18- to 20-foot discovery shaft they named the Mammoth. Finding scant gold and lacking a reliable water supply, they moved elsewhere. Van Gundy, however, retained ownership of the Mammoth by doing the necessary $100 worth of assessment work each year, as he perceived the mine might someday prove a valuable asset.

Ghost Towns

Given all this mining and milling activity, the need arose for shelter, supplies and sustenance. In 1894 the Mammoth built a boardinghouse for its male employees, and families drawn to the area soon erected cabins. The fledgling town— appearing, for reasons unknown, on early maps as “Colona”—took root beside the Mammoth property. By 1895 it sported two general stores, a meat market, a blacksmith shop, a restaurant,

several saloons and a post office, with Mrs. Anna Richards serving as postmistress and notary public. A school opened the following year, its teachers recruited from Butte. Coloma also had something its sister town, Garnet, 4 miles southeast, lacked—a library. The Mammoth company library held some 400 books and boasted a reading room stocked with the latest newspapers, magazines, board games and playing cards, though strict company rules forbade gambling. The small streams in the area are freshets and thus dry most of the year, but the water problem was solved when someone discovered a spring near the center of the town. It served residents as the main water supply. Ore shipped to the smelters in Butte fetched more than $90 a ton in gold by the end of the 19th

century. But the Mammoth was losing much of its gold in the tailings, so in 1897 the Boston owners of the Mammoth Gold Mining Co. sent out mining engineer Arthur B. Browne to assess the situation. He introduced a cyanide method that recovered 80 percent of the gold in the ore, but the boost came too late. Within months Missoula, Mont., merchants brought suit for outstanding debt, and a sheriff ultimately marched in, closed the mine and sold off the company assets. Coloma’s biggest operation fell silent. A new company, the Coloma Gold and Silver Mining Co. of Philadelphia, reopened the Mammoth in the early 20th century, and by 1907 the shaft was down to 350 feet. The resurgence was short-lived. Other mines in the area soon played out and closed, and when the Mammoth shut down for keeps in 1908, so did the post office. Residents left, and Coloma was on its way to becoming a ghost town. Bordering Bureau of Land Management property, Colma remains privately owned and for the last year has been listed for sale. Don’t expect to find a mineral bonanaza nearby. But for $79,900 you can purchase the entire 40-acre ghost town, which is designated for recreational use. WW

Left: Not much of the boardinghouse remains standing. Below: Whoever once slept on this bed must have been rather short. Above: But he was resourceful, using this old oil drum as a furnace.




COUNCIL BLUFFS TRACKS UNION PACIFIC HEYDAY This Iowa museum recalls the first transcontinental railroad By Linda Wommack

History meets modern technology in a museum that opened 134 years after the first railroad crossed the nation. 68 WILD WEST


the nation’s oldest corporate collections. Its artifacts, documents and photos cover the transcontinental railroad and much ground (and miles of track) after that monumental event. The museum’s mission is to “educate the public about the past, present and future of America’s largest railroad and the railroad industry.” Mission accomplished. Encompassing the first floor is the state-of-theart “Building America” exhibit, which relates the construction of the transcontinental railroad through



ou don’t have to be a train buff to know that in the 1860s Union Pacific crews laid tracks west from the terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to meet up with eastbound Central Pacific crews in Utah Territory and complete the first transcontinental railroad. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act on July 1, 1862, and the next year designated Council Bluffs “Milepost 0” on the line. The completed route opened for business on May 10, 1869. Well, Union Pacific still hauls freight today, and Iowans honor its long history at t h e Union Pacific Railroad Museum in downtown Council Bluffs. Union Pacific officials opened the museum in that city on May 10, 2003, the 134th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Operating out of the 1905 Beaux Arts–style building Andrew Carnegie funded to house the city’s first public library, the museum showcases one of


a wealth of artifacts, images and interpretive displays. The work was grueling and often dangerous, and museumgoers will get a real sense of its scope by using provided 3-D glasses to view 64 period stereographic images of the project. An Xbox Kinect gaming device, using software designed exclusively for the museum, allows visitors a hands-on railroadbuilding experience. Unique artifacts include the Arizona Spike, one of several ceremonial spikes driven at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, when the Union Pacific met the Central Pacific in 1869. Highlighting the evolution of railroad communication from 1869 to 1980 is a display of 60 railroad lanterns and signals. Another display features 50 firearms railroad employees used over the years. Museum planners were certain to honor the critical role of President Lincoln, known during that era as the “Union Pacific’s founding father.” Among other treasures you’ll find in the “Lincoln Collection” are a rocking chair from Lincoln’s law office in Springfield, Ill., silverware and furniture from his private railcar, and artifacts from the assassinated president’s 1865 funeral car. The “Working on the Railroad” exhibit centers on actual Union Pacific railcars. Interactive displays include a locomotive cab from which visitors can simulate travel along six different sections of the Union Pacific system, including historic Bailey Yard in North Platte, Neb., and the scenic Feather River Canyon in northern California. The “America Travels by Rail” exhibit celebrates the passenger experience with three detailed cutaways of coach, lounge and dining railcars; mural-sized photos of ticket offices, depots and celebrities who’ve ridden the rails; and vintage glassware and china used when train travel was the only way to go. Railroad buffs will especially appreciate the model trains and detailed technical information. Film buffs will find an autographed original script of the 1939 film Union Pacific. The museum also boasts a 360-degree projection room for showing newsreels, short films and vintage TV ads.

A young visitor, top left, tries to peer through a survey scope, while another child, center left, “blows it up!” to learn about black powder. The museum is full of colorful history and exhibits, below.

Officials from both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific recognized photography as a vital medium for promoting travel along the route. In 1864 the Central Pacific hired Alfred A. Hart to photograph the construction of its line across the Sierra Nevada, while in 1868 the Union Pacific commissioned Andrew J. Russell to photograph its crossing of the Continental Divide. Many such Hart and Russell photos are on display at the museum. Today the Union Pacific, which operates in 23 states west of Chicago and New Orleans, is all about freight. Exhibits trumpet the company’s ongoing commitment to moving the goods that help power the nation. Should your train of thought switch back to the first transcontinental railroad, however, you’ll be forgiven. Admission to the museum (200 Pearl St.) is free. Visit or call 712-329-8307. WW

Linda Wommack writes books about her native Colorado. Her latest title is Historic Colorado Mansions & Castles.



Guns of the West

THE BURGESS FOLDING GUN SCORED A HIT WITH LAWMEN It was quick to fire but didn’t replace the revolver By J.R. Sanders

A shooter could fold the loaded shotgun in half, then draw it, lock it into firing position and put it into action in seconds.





everal years before he took point up Cuba’s San Juan Heights, future President Theodore Roosevelt headed the New York City Police Commission. One of many apocryphal Roosevelt anecdotes tells how on an otherwise uneventful day in 1895 a traveling salesman with an unorthodox but effective pitch visited the “commish.” As the story goes, Charlie Damon, sales representative for the Burgess Gun Co., of Buffalo, N.Y., paid Roosevelt a cold call at his Mulberry Street office. The men had exchanged casual greetings when, without further preamble, Damon whipped a folding shotgun from beneath his coat and fired a half-dozen blanks at the commissioner’s ceiling. The unflappable Roosevelt is said to have ordered 100 of the weapons on the spot. The tale may be fanciful, but the unique shotgun and its inventor were very real. Born in New York in 1837, Andrew Burgess started as a photographer and spent his early career working alongside noted Civil War photographer and neighbor Mathew Brady. While in Brady’s employ Burgess is believed to have taken the familiar portrait of Abraham Lincoln later used on $5 bills. In the early 1870s Burgess turned his artistic talents to firearms design, creating patterns later used by Colt, Whitney and Marlin, among others. So popular was the 1883 Colt-Burgess lever-action rifle that Winchester reportedly threatened to start making pistols unless Colt got out of the rifle market. Colt heeded the warning and after 16 months ceased producing its “New Magazine Rifle.” Unfazed, Burgess established his own gun works in Buffalo. Among his new and improved designs was an innovative shotgun made for defensive, rather than sporting, use —the very gun Charlie Damon was said to have demonstrated so dramatically. The Burgess folding gun, patented in 1894, used an unusual slide action Burgess had employed on earlier sporters, with a sleeved pistol grip operating the ejector/loader in place of the forearm slide common on other companies’ shotguns. “The handle unlocks


Guns of the West

by the shock of recoil in firing the gun,” wrote Edward S. Farrow of the Burgess design in his 1904 book American Small Arms, “and with proper charge and natural pull of the right hand, the ‘counter recoil’ will start the shell and operate the handle to open the breech.” This made the Burgess model so quick to fire—practiced shooters could score two hits in an eighth of a second—that ads described the guns as semiautomatic. But the unique feature of the gun was that it folded in two for concealability. A strong pivot pin between barrel and receiver and a sturdy, spring-loaded latch along the top of the barrel allowed the loaded and folded shotgun to be brought quickly into play. With minimal practice a shooter could draw the weapon one-handed from its specially designed belt holster and flip up the barrel, locking it into firing position. Burgess claimed the gun could be deployed and emptied of its six rounds in three seconds, and he hired exhibition shooters to prove it by smashing six clays thrown simultaneously, breaking the last before the first ejected shell hit the ground. Legend doesn’t record whether Damon matched this speed in Roosevelt’s office. Burgess manufactured the guns in 12 gauge (plus a few centerfire models in .30-30 and .45-70), in barrel lengths of 19 and 20 inches and a weight of 5 to 6½ pounds. Company claims that the folding gun would “take the place of a revolver, and do much better and more certain work” were mere hype, but its low weight, speed and portability made the shotgun instantly popular with lawmen. The company capitalized on this, advertising the guns as ideal for “Police Officers, Sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, Express Messengers, Prison Guards, Banks, etc.” Law dogs in El Paso, Texas, carried the shotgun, and it was a favorite of famed Wells, Fargo detective Fred Dodge. Pat Garrett—the former sheriff of Lincoln and Doña Ana counties in New Mexico Territory— had his trusty folding Burgess along, though not within reach, when bushwhacked in 1908 along a dusty road outside Las Cruces. Deputy Sheriff Ben R. Clark packed a Burgess in its custom holder strapped to his saddle as he policed Graham County, Arizona Territory, in the 1890s. He used a rifle

in the April 1897 shootout in which Clark’s posse cornered the vicious High Fives gang and killed its leader, Will “Black Jack” Christian, in a rocky arroyo that has since borne the name Black Jack Canyon, but Clark’s Burgess was no doubt a welcome backup. Elsewhere in Arizona Territory, the Sept. 9, 1899, Coconino Sun reported the gift to Coconino County Undersheriff John Francis of “a new Burgess shotgun…of the style known as the officer or messenger gun” and predicted that “the wrongdoer who comes within range of this weapon will stand no chance of getting away.” Burgess sold his business in 1899 to his old rival, Winchester, which discontinued the folding shotguns. But existing folding guns remained in use for many years and were popular among prison and train guards. Burgess continued to design weapons, amassing almost 900 firearms patents in his nearly four-decade career—second only to John Browning. Surviving examples of the Burgess folding gun today are rare and command premium prices when they do come up for sale. Italy-based Uberti makes replica 1883 Colt-Burgess lever-action rifles for the Cowboy Action Shooting crowd but apparently has no plans to reproduce the folding gun. WW

In this period ad for the folding gun a man demonstrates its concealability and ease of deployment.

IN ACTION For a look at a well preserved original Burgess folding gun, check out the National Firearms Museum’s Curator’s Corner video “The Burgess Folding Shotgun” on YouTube.

The Burgess was designed as a defensive, rather than sporting, firearm. Its size and speed of operation made it ideal for lawmen, and its folding capability gave it an edge over Winchester 1893 and 1897 pump shotguns. DECEMBER 2015



MUST SEE, MUST READ Having trouble picking a suitable Wild West gift this holiday? Try a little help from our Christmas wish list By Johnny D. Boggs

The Gray Fox: George Crook and the Indian Wars (2015, by Paul Magid): Picking up the story after his Spur Award–winning 2011 biography George Crook: From the Redwoods to Appomattox, Magid details the general’s post–Civil War campaigns against Paiutes, Apaches, Lakotas and Cheyennes through 1877 in the second part of a planned three-volume look at the legendary military figure.


This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon (2015, by Nancy Plain): Aimed at younger readers, this beautifully illustrated volume relates the life story, warts and all, of explorer, writer, bird lover and artist John James Audubon (1785–1851). Adults will enjoy it, too. 72 WILD WEST


Texas Rising (2015, by Stephen L. Moore): Yes, this is a TV tie-in, but forget about the inaccuracies depicted in this year’s 10-hour miniseries on the History channel. Moore, fast becoming one of the most talked about Texas historians, retells the history of Texas’s rise from revolutionary colony to sovereign nation and the beginnings of the Texas Rangers. Revolt at Taos (2015, by James A. Crutchfield): Among the foremost historians of the early frontier,

Crutchfield, a recipient of Western Writers of America’s Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement, takes a balanced look at the bloody revolt that remains controversial more than 150 years later. Buffalo Trail: A Novel of the West (2015, by Jeff Guinn): Yes, it’s fiction, but Guinn (author of The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral—and How it Changed the American West) is no stranger to nonfiction. His love of the West comes through in his writing. This is the second book of a planned trilogy after last year’s enjoyable Glorious.

VIDEO Films of Al Jennings (2012, on DVD, Grapevine Video): When you get right down to it, Al Jennings was a better filmmaker than an outlaw. After his presidential pardon he turned to Hollywood, and his 1918 feature The Lady of the Dugout ranks among

the best of the silent-era Westerns. This disc includes three shorts, notably 1908’s The Bank Robbery , in which Comanche Chief Quanah Parker makes a cameo appearance. Read the related feature about Jennings and actor William S. Hart (P. 44). Monte Walsh (1970, on Blu-ray and DVD, Kino Lorber): Director (though better remembered as a cinematographer) William A. Fraker’s look at the end of the West, loosely based on a lyrical, brilliant masterpiece of a novel by Jack Schaefer (author of Shane ), doesn’t always work, but Lee Marvin and Jack Palance are fun to watch. It looks a whole lot better on Blu-ray. Compañeros (1970, on Blu-ray and DVD, Blue Underground): Team a Swedish arms dealer with a trigger-happy Mexican bandit. Have them kidnap a professor to track down a fortune in gold. Send a


ly e et th th h G on or wit m f 0 . 0 es 20 LK 40 nut of TA i m ice EM pr W


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IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION: WEMTALK offer valid on 400 minute plan and applies to new GreatCall customers only. Offer valid until plan is changed or cancelled. Jitterbug is owned by GreatCall, Inc.Your invoices will come from GreatCall. All rate plans and services require the purchase of a Jitterbug phone and a one-time set up fee of $35. Coverage and service is not available everywhere. Other charges and restrictions may apply. Screen images simulated.There are no additional fees to call GreatCall’s U.S. Based Customer Service. However, for calls to an Operator in which a service is completed, minutes will be deducted from your monthly balance equal to the length of the call and any call connected by the Operator, plus an additional 5 minutes. Monthly minutes carry over and are available for 60 days. If you exceed the minute balance on your account, you will be billed at 35¢ for each minute used over the balance. Monthly rate plans do not include government taxes or assessment surcharges. Prices and fees subject to change. We will refund the full price of the GreatCall phone and the activation fee (or set-up fee) if it is returned within 30 days of purchase in like-new condition. We will also refund your first monthly service charge if you have less than 30 minutes of usage. If you have more than 30 minutes of usage, a per minute charge of 35 cents will be deducted from your refund for each minute over 30 minutes. You will be charged a $10 restocking fee. The shipping charges are not refundable. Jitterbug and GreatCall are registered trademarks of GreatCall, Inc. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. ©2015 Samsung Electronics America, LLC. ©2015 GreatCall, Inc. ©2015 firstSTREET for Boomers and Beyond, Inc.


pot-smoking sadist after them. And set it during the Mexican Revolution. Director Sergio Corbucci has long stood in Sergio Leone’s shadow, but Corbucci’s spaghetti Westerns (Django, The Great Silence ) were always fun, vibrant and imaginative. The remastered English version looks great. Treasures 5: The West, 1898–1938 (2011, on DVD, Image Entertainment): A truly outstanding three-disc (plus booklet) collection of early silent and sound films—shorts, features, documentaries, newsreels, travelogues, etc. Highlights include 13 minutes of ex-lawman Bill Tilghman’s Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws (1915) and Thomas Ince’s powerful pro-Indian two-reeler Last of the Line (1914).

BOOK REVIEWS Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid & Ned Kelly, by Robert M. Utley, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 2015, $30 Picturesque scenery aside, what distinguishes the legendary frontier outlaw from the average criminal is his 74 WILD WEST

Slow West (2015, on Blu-ray and DVD, Lions Gate): A vibrant, quirky and thought-provoking gem… from Scotland and New Zealand. Writer-director John Maclean’s story of a bounty hunter who guides a 16-year-old boy to his imagined true love reimagines plenty of Western tropes with a wild blend of violence and humor. See review (P. 79) in the October 2015 issue of Wild West.

motivation by a grievance to which those around him can sympathize—or empathize. These “social bandits,” as English historian Eric Hobsbawm called them in his 1959 book Primitive Rebels , “are considered by their people as heroes, as champions, avengers, fighters for justice, perhaps even leaders of liberation.” With that foundation in mind, Robert Utley’s latest book,


Wanted , explores two renegades living parallel violent lives in roughly the same time period (1875–85) in similarly sparsely settled environments on opposite sides of the world. What they have most in common is a lasting place in legend in their respective countries: Billy the Kid in the United States and Ned Kelly in Australia. Needless to say, Utley devotes most of his two sections to

straight biographies, doing his best to separate the known and documented facts from the embellishments. He then starts comparing the young men and the cultures in transition that drove them to their respective doom—and respective immortality. Likely born in New York, Henry McCarty (aka William Antrim, aka Bill Bonney) went west during America’s Gilded Age, when commercial corruption ran rampant, including in New Mexico Territory, where competition could still be settled by violence. He proved a quick study when it came to horsemanship and gunplay, and between his exposure to local banditry and the side he took in the 1878 Lincoln County War, the Kid made his reputation partly through his own actions—more often than not re actions. Territorial Governor Lew Wallace’s promise of a pardon for murder in exchange for Billy’s testimony to a murder he witnessed—a bargain subsequently broken—gave the Kid his ultimate grievance for a daring escape from the Lincoln gallows and his final owlhoot trail ride. Despite its vast tracts of unexplored

territory, Australia in the late 1870s was a relatively orderly place. The only exceptional case of corruption in the bush country of Victoria happened to be among the police, whose primarily English members were prone to accept bribes, plunder homes they searched, perjure themselves in court and harass the Catholic Irish “selectors” who worked the small farm parcels. Among their most frequent victims were the Kellys, from whom arose the most famous —or notorious—outlaw, or bushranger, of them all. Australia remains

divided to this day over whether to regard him as a coldblooded villain or a national hero, but from the time he met his final fate on the gallows in 1880 with the alleged words “Such is life,” Ned Kelly has come to be as outsized a character in Australian folklore as the Kid in the States.


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Utley explores the legends and concludes with comparisons of his protagonists. The result is an intriguing look into widely separated characters that may leave the reader wondering why no one thought of it before. —Jon Guttman The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015, $28 The 2,200-mile emigrant wagon route from Missouri to Oregon remained a busy frontier highway from the 1830s until 1869 when work crews completed the first transcontinental railroad. Like many writers before him who became “rut nuts,” Rinker Buck became fascinated with the Oregon Trail and read most of the pioneer journals and old travel guides. But in 2011, unlike anyone in more than 100 years (since Ezra Meeker in 1910), he set out to travel the route in a covered wagon, along with his handy if eccentric brother Nick—who did most of the driving and repair work—a Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl and three draft mules with distinct personalities. Yes, in places highways and 76 WILD WEST

railroad tracks cover over the old trail, but it is well marked, and, Ricker writes, “Except for two bad stretches of suburban sprawl around Scottsbluff, Neb., and Boise, Idaho, most of the rest of the trail is still accessible along remote farm and ranch roads in the West.” Some original wagon ruts remain in western Nebraska and central Wyoming. Regardless, the brothers sometimes got lost or sidetracked (the trail has many offshoots and optional routes, as was the case in its 19th-century heyday). The Bucks tackled many of the same challenges faced by emigrants—broken wheels and axles, thunderstorms, forced marches to reach water, runaway mules. One new challenge was going it alone, not as part of a wagon train. But they received ready and willing help from ranchers and others en route. “Our covered wagon trip was not so much an adventure


shared by two brothers,” Buck writes, “but a display of the communal ingenuity and hospitality still to be found in the American West.” The author provides plenty of solid information about wagons (big Conestogas were generally Eastern wagons, while the pioneer prairie schooners were lighter and fleeter) and mules (they were superior to horses for pulling wagons cross-country). He seamlessly presents historical information on such trail subjects as missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, scout and showman William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, South Pass and the Mormon hegira to Salt Lake that began in 1847. He also delivers some moving flashbacks. “An apparition was riding with me across the [Oregon] trail,” Buck writes. “At critical moments of the trip I was flooded with memories of my father and reflexive comparisons of our adventure now and our covered wagon trip to Pennsylvania in 1958.” It’s a compelling read, although afterward even readers who travel only by car, train or plane may have to treat, as the author puts it,

“the effects of wagon withdrawal.” —Editor American Mythmaker: Walker Noble Burns and the Legends of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Joaquín Murrieta, by Mark J. Dworkin, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2015, $29.95 This first full biography of Walter Noble Burns (1872– 1932) was the last work of dedicated researcher Mark Dworkin (1946–2012). Although accuracy was not Burns’ primary objective, he made three 19th-century Westerners come to life for the American public in his Wild West trilogy The Saga of Billy the Kid (1926), Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest (1927) and The Robin Hood of Eldorado: The Saga of Joaquín Murrieta (1932). The Kentucky-born Burns was already 60 and a prominent journalist when inspired to write about the Kid after rubbing elbows with El Paso saloon owner Tom Powers, a close friend of Pat Garrett (the man who shot Billy). “The Saga of Billy the Kid ,” Dworkin writes, “would take a local tale and recast it as an epic narrative of

Western mythology.” Burns’ next subject, Wyatt Earp, was still alive and had another biographer, John Flood, in mind—which made the writing and publication of Iliad an interesting tale in itself. The mythologization of Earp, whom Burns called the “lion of Tombstone” had begun. “In Iliad, as he had in Saga , Burns took real people and transformed them into epic heroes and villains,” Dworkin writes. Flood’s manuscript never was published, though Stuart Lake’s 1931 biography Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal was a bestseller that has come to overshadow Burns’ Earp offering. Burns

moved away from Old West subjects for a while and then decided to tackle Murrieta, the mythic California bandit, instead of lawman James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok. That book contained even less truthful history than the first two entries in the Western


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trilogy, but Dworkin calls Burns’ sympathy for a Hispanic figure “extraordinary.” Dworkin, who also wrote about Burns in the October 2011 Wild West, had just completed the manuscript when he died (author Jeff Guinn helped prepare the manuscript for publication). Burns often strayed into myth to relate entertaining stories. Dworkin stuck with facts and thoughtful analysis to entertain us with the Burns story. —Editor The Notorious Luke Short: Sporting Man of the Wild West, by Jack DeMattos and Chuck Parsons, University of North Texas Press, Denton, 2015, $29.95 “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” notes the newspaperman in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance . Well, Jack DeMattos and Chuck Parsons prefer to print both when they profile notable frontier figures, and Luke Short is their latest case study. After scrupulously gleaning period newspapers, accounts by such contemporaries as Bat Masterson and other reliable sources, the authors chronicle what is known of the

life and times of the man. At the same time they compare those accounts against less reliable ones that popped up in Short’s lifetime and progressively distorted the picture thereafter. In so doing, the authors unravel the process of just how historical fact evolves into legend. The key to understanding Short’s place in Western history lies in his chosen profession as a “sporting man,” or gambler— applicable not only to gaming tables but also to boxing and horse racing. In the early 1880s that

profession was not necessarily viewed as shady or seedy, and certainly the dapper Short did not look the part. In that decade, however, authorities in places like Dodge City, Kansas and Fort Worth sought to close down gambling houses and drive their proprietors out of town. As Short often proved when he took his persecutors to court, such actions

were often motivated less by moral conviction than by greed and a desire to eliminate competition. Short had a fearsome reputation as a gunfighter and did kill two noteworthy opponents—Charlie Storms and Jim Courtright— but truth be told, he spent far more time and enjoyed more success appealing in the courtroom than trading shots on the street. It was after a negotiated settlement to the Dodge City War that Short appeared in one of the iconic Western photographs when on June 10, 1883, Charles A. Conkling captured “The Dodge City Peace Commission,” consisting of Short, William H. Harris, Bat Masterson, William F. Petillon, Charles E. Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLean and Neil Brown. Though Short was never immortalized on stage or screen— save for a small role on the TV series Bat Masterson (1958– 61)—his biography might pass for a glimpse of the diminutive historical figure behind the fictional Brett Maverick. Neither the book nor the man it chronicles should be sold short. —Jon Guttman

DOCUMENTARY REVIEW Power’s War, 2015, Cameron Trejo Films $29.95 Cameron Trejo’s engaging, precise documentary depicts Arizona’s most deadly shootout. No, not the one in 1881 Tombstone; that is merely the best known. The deadliest happened 37 years later, in 1918, at Jeff Power’s cabin in the Galiuro Mountains, after a four-man posse ventured onto his remote property seeking to apprehend Jeff’s sons Tom and John for draft dodging. In brisk but detailed fashion the film chronicles not only the shootout itself but also the events that caused it and its protracted aftermath— the latter encompassing the film’s most poignant moments. Trejo relates the complex, tragic and largely untapped story via firsthand accounts and journals, interviews with historians and descendants, and stylish, graphic novel-like animations (a welcome stand-in for more traditional re-enactments). Of the many themes covered in the whipfast 64 minutes, the

most interesting and controversial is also the most topical: authority’s abuse of power. Who fired the first shot at the cabin is not known for sure, but the Power brothers’ account of the gunfight (depicted in the film’s most compelling animated sequence), in which the posse opens fire without warning on their father, is evocative of recent national headlines. “I put my hands up, and they shot me,” Jeff Powers reportedly told his sons hours before becoming the fourth fatality (the other three were lawmen). Power’s War, which has screened at many festivals and events, was produced by Trejo and Dagen Merrill, researched by Trejo and Heidi Osselaer and narrated by Mad Men’s John Slattery. —Louis Lalire



Bleached tombs of ancient rock rise from the mixed-grass prairie of the Dakota Badlands— a place of remembrance and forgetting. In the summer of 1884 Theodore Roosevelt fled here to lose himself in ranching while mourning the deaths of his mother and his wife within hours of each other that Valentine’s Day. Though he failed as a rancher, the place restored him body and soul. Learn more at Theodore Roosevelt National Park []. In 1905 Oglala Lakota Chief Red Hawk posed at this Badlands oasis (inset) for photographer Edward S. Curtis (see P. 36). Perhaps the veteran of the Indian wars also found respite from his demons. WW





Go West

Call Me Billy  By Patrick Manley 

JULY 14,1881: BILLY THE KID is shot dead at Fort Sumner under suspicious circumstances. Who was William H. Bonney? More than one hundred years after his death, we are still asking that question. CALL ME BILLY sets the record straight. An entirely new perspective of the young outlaw by those who knew him best.

Hereis what thereaders aresaying CALL ME BILLY by Patrick Manley A New Look at the Short Life of Billy the Kid Available in paperback and Kindle at: Available to Book Retailers at: Direct Retailer Application

This book reminded me of Lonesome Dove. The characters seemed real and there was quite a bit of humor. I finally feel like I know who Billy the Kid was. There’s a lot in here about the Lincoln County War and corrupt politics in New Mexico..... As a writer, I was obsessed with this account of Billy the Kid. I found it historically accurate and felt very close to the characters..... My dad has read every Western ever written. He liked this book so much he’s reading it a second time.....I loved Billy. Sad the way it ended.

Wild west december 2015