Friday, 29 February 2008

Spirit of the times 7 HANG 'IM HIGH!


Incorporating the Imelda Gazette
Issue No. 7

HANG ‘IM HIGH!
It was another rainy day in Imelda. Yet despite the deluge, the townsfolk had gathered together to witness the hanging of the injun Dakaya for the murder of Eddie Barnes. The luckless young cowpoke had only recently joined the Fargo posse. In his first foray, he had met his untimely death by way of a hatchet in the forehead, courtesy of Shami’s deadly brave - Dakaya.
As ill-luck would have it, young Eddie was the youngest son of William Fitzgerald Barnes, Senator of Arizona. The Senator was incandescent with rage upon hearing of his youngest son’s death, and he was determined to see the “damned heathen redskin” hang for the killing of his boy. At first, the finger of blame had been pointed at Wells Fargo. He had recruited the fresh-faced Eddie into his brother Jake’s posse and, in doing so, some had held him responsible for placing the boy in harm’s way. Yet this charge had soon evaporated when Senator Barnes learned that the Feds had his son’s killer chained up in custody in Imelda jail.
Things were looking pretty bleak for Dakaya, but Shami was not about to let one of his favourite braves do a lonely dance at the end of a rope. An unlikely alliance had been hurriedly forged between the Apaches and Windy Valdez with the aim of rescuing Dakaya on the day of the hanging. The Fargo posse was also in town, mainly at the behest of the Feds. Although Wells had been cleared of the blame, he wanted to make sure that the sentence was carried out without a hitch. Word was out that Shami and his riotous redskins were going to try to save his man’s neck. Literally.
The hanging had been set for an hour after dawn. The Feds and the Fargo posse were already in town. Lt.House’s bluecoats were in charge of the proceedings and Jake’s cowboys were there to provide some extra security on the west side of town. Shami and Valdez had camped overnight in the timberlands to the south of Imelda. They made their approach before sun-up, and as the first dripping grey rays of dawn broke over the town, they were already in position on the fringe, near to the livery stable and the Overland Express Staging Post. With most of the townsfolk morbidly preoccupied with the hanging which was to take place in the middle of the northern part of Main Street, Valdez was confident that he and his injun allies would be able to sneak up on the proceedings without being seen.
Windy and Shami come a-sneaking into town…
well, that’s how it started out.
However, Windy hadn’t reckoned with the impatient fury of Shami’s apaches. They were in no mood to be sneaky. All they wanted was to rescue their brother brave, and take out as many of the palefaces as they could in the process.
Somewhat recklessly, Shami let his seething braves off the leash and allowed them to rush headlong into the Livery Stables and its adjoining corral. The flickering flash of their feathered headbands and their glinting tomahawks didn’t go unnoticed. They were spotted by Federal lookouts posted on top of the Grand Hotel, and immediately the alarm was raised. Shami was heard to mutter in his native tongue: “Dazza dreela dumha-dinga doo” which, roughly translated, means “That’s a totally stupid thing to do!” Few would have disagreed, and certainly not Valdez who, until that moment, had been quietly confident of bagging himself some booty from Imelda’s temptingly unguarded Staging Post.
Jake was quick to react to the alarm cry. He led a couple of his posse members towards the Clinton Hotel at a run, while brother Wells limped determinedly along Main Street with the remainder. The wound he had suffered to his right thigh during last week’s encounter at the Black Hills Mining Camp, was causing him some serious grief. Jake’s group raced into the lobby of the low-class hotel. Its south side windows looked out upon Injun Alley, where a couple of months earlier Jake’s posse had been decimated by Shami’s bloodthirsty injuns.

Jake Fargo gets a nasty feeling of déjà vu leading his men towards the Clinton Hotel and Injun Alley.

Meanwhile Valdez, having abandoned all hope of making a stealthy entrance to Imelda now that Shami’s braves were a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ all over the show, got himself into position near the giant cactus located at the south end of Main Street.

Peon-tu acting as a Windy shield… yet again!

Using his trusty Peon as both a shield and a rifle rest, he cocked his scoped buffalo gun and took aim at Jacob Skinton, one of the Fed lookouts on the roof of the Grand Hotel. On a clear day it would have been an easy shot, but Shami’s Medicine Man had been up to his old tricks and it was sheeting it down (as usual!) With visibility and range severely curtailed by the rain, Windy’s shot splashed harmlessly short in the mud of Main Street. The reverberating echo of Valdez’s rifle shot signaled the start of some serious lead-slinging. Mustachioed Rico took a pot-shot at Bill Bascom which went wide, and Bill returned the compliment. But his slug did little more than drill a neat hole in the side of the parked stagecoach. Charlie Plain drew a bead on Windy’s human shield, Peon-tu, and despite the rain, he managed to get the range. But that’s about all he got. Peon-tu survived the duck test and stood his ground, unflinchingly. Up on the roof, Jacob Skinton leveled his rifle and fired down on Lobo who was scurrying towards the Stage Post door, making him duck for cover as the .44-40 slug tore a big chunk of timber from the door jamb.
Over in the Clinton Hotel, things were now hottin’ up for Jake and his boys. With sidekick and comrade, Bushrod Wilkes, by his side, Jake covered the ground floor window with his shiny nickel-plated six-gun. He didn’t have too long to wait. Shrieking like a bat out of hell, in through the window came Numboy – the latest Apache recruit. Shami was seen to wince and shake his head in disbelief when he saw his impulsive apprentice hurl himself headfirst though the window. He was welcomed at once by a hail of Fargo lead, and peppered with holes all the way from his headband to his moleskin moccasins. Strike one injun. Jake was feelin’ mighty fine.

Jake Fargo & Bushrod Wilkes play “Splatteroo” with Numboy – novice apache and human colander.

Upstairs, Chuck Kershaw and three of the Fargo posse had installed themselves cozily in the Clinton Hotel’s best room. It had a commanding view of Injun Alley, the Livery Stables corral, and the western approaches to the back streets of Imelda. A couple of Shami’s braves vaulted over the corral fence and fired their bows at the upstairs window, making Mr Kershaw duck back to avoid getting a skewered forehead. One arrow whistled past Chuck’s craggy jaw and lodged in the timber-framed ceiling, while the other thudded harmlessly into the edge of the window frame. Chuck led rip a torrent of invective at the hapless apache bowmen, followed by a flurry of hand signals that displayed a rare talent for gesticulatory vulgarity. This prompted a brief round of applause from his fellow posse members, and quizzical looks from the two apaches who had installed themselves in the upper floor of the livery stable, directly opposite Chuck’s window.
At the north end of town, Lt House was busy marshalling his men into position around the Grand Hotel. Foxy Fargo had taken up a vantage point on the front balcony of the Golden Nugget Saloon and was covering the approaches to the hanging tree with her faithful Winchester repeater. Wells Fargo, feeling decidedly unwell, stumbled into Carter’s Dry Goods Store which is located next door to the saloon. Here he found a camp bed in the back room and decided to take the weight off his gammy leg for a while. Windy’s banditos had made good progress over on the east side of town, and had advanced as far as the Main Street Chapel without losing a man. The heavy rain was aiding their movement by keeping them obscured from Lt House’s eagle-eyed Feds.
Most of the exchange of fire was centered around Injun Alley. Hoo and Crow got into position at the loading bay on the first floor of the Livery Stable from where they let loose a flurry of arrows and thrown tomahawks at the hotel window opposite. Kershaw cackled as they thudded harmlessly into the outside timbers, then he blasted back at the skulking injuns with his pearl-handled sixgun. Despite the fierce exchange, not a drop of blood was spilled. Diyin scrambled through the ground floor window and narrowly missed being hit by Jake’s rifle bullet. His courage paid off and he was able to launch himself into a melee that pushed both Jake and Bushrod back to the far wall. The tide looked like it was beginning to turn for Shami’s manic rescue crew.
Meanwhile, back at the Golden Nugget, Foxy caught sight of Shami and Taklishin as they came riding hell for leather down the Main Street. They had circled wide around the west side of town and both were now making an audacious bid to rescue Dakaya from under the noses of the Feds and the Fargo posses. She drew a bead on Taklishin and fired, but the slug whistled a hand’s breadth past the injun’s bobbing head.
Shami & Taklishin make their move to rescue Dakaya.

In the next instant, fiery Foxy found herself confronted by two red-skinned savages – Mahklo and the Medicine Man. They had sneaked up the side stairs of the saloon while nobody had been watching. The murderous Mahklo led the pair and he hurled his tomahawk at Foxy as he closed upon her. Fortunately, the deadly axe was deflected off the Chantilly lace headband of her ranch hat and, remarkably, she survived this glancing blow without a scratch.
Foxy and Mahklo get up close and personal on the balcony of the Golden Nugget Saloon
.
Galvanized into action by the unexpected appearance of Shami and Taklishin, Lt House screamed the order to his men: “Fire!” A hail of bullets whistled from the guns of Bill Bascom, Jacob Skinton, and Charlie Plain… and not one of them found its mark. As the frightened townsfolk scattered in all directions before the thundering hooves of the apaches’ horses, Shami’s wildly audacious move was now looking like it might just pay off.
Back in the Clinton Hotel, things were getting decidedly unfriendly between Diyin and Jake. The brave injun attacker pushed the posse leader and his sidekick, Bushrod Wilkes, all the way back to the far wall of the lobby and was setting about them with his razor-sharp hunting knife. Upstairs, the exchange of fire between Kershaw and the injuns in the livery stable opposite continued unabated. Shami’s braves were pouring relentless showers of ill-aimed arrows into the upstairs window, so many in fact that the side of the hotel now resembled the back of a giant porcupine. Its owner, Fat Jack Clinton, later remarked that he was grateful to Shami’s boys. He intended to leave the arrows in place, as they would save him the expense of installing a fire escape.
Over on the east side of Main Street, the Mexicans had finally gathered themselves together behind the Main Street Chapel. Little did they know but Lt.House’s Feds were approaching them from around a blind corner.
Looks like it’s all about to kick off between
the Feds and the Mexicans.

Rico was the first to catch sight of the enemy and he got the drop on Gunslinger Keith, wounding him. Trooper David East winged Vasquez in the return fire, but the wily Mexican laughed off the bloody hole in his forearm with a guffaw of disdain (‘cause he still had 1 wound in reserve). Newbie Trooper Mohrah fired at Estavez but failed to secure a ‘duck for cover’ when the tortilla-chewer made his saving roll. Glen O’Reilly, a recently-promoted Pistoleer, fired off a noisy barrage of shots but failed to hit a solitary thing. Under cover of his not inconsiderable gunsmoke, Gunslinger Keith drew a bead on Rico and plugged him squarely in the forehead. The Meican’s eyes rolled skywards and he crashed heavily to the muddy ground with a soggy splash.
On the balcony of the Golden Nugget, things were going seriously pear-shaped for Foxy Fargo. Mahklo had swiftly swapped places with the Medicine Man, and this risible rainmaker had pushed the fair Foxy to the very brink of the balcony’s edge. Faced with the difficult choice of either fighting the feisty fiend or a leaping to the street below, Foxy chose the latter. With a sickening thud, she hit the muddy ground and dashed her head against the highway. Foxy was down and knocked well and truly out.

Taklishin gets stuck in to the townsfolk of Imelda.

Whooping with delight in a maniacal blood-frenzy, Taklishin galloped his horse into a trio of petrified townsfolk and began hacking them to bits with his tomahawk. As this wanton carnage took place, Shami reached the noosed-up Dakaya and cut through the hanging rope with consummate skill. Then he bundled the grateful brave across the back of his Appaloosa. Nearby, Lt House stood transfixed as he watched Shami’s audacious rescue plan coming to frightful fruition. As leader of the execution detail, and as the man standing nearest to the hanging tree, he knew that he was the only one who could do something to prevent the courageous Injun chief from spiriting away the condemned man.

Lt.House faces down Shami and Taklishin.

Taklishin slew the last of the hapless townsfolk. Spattered liberally with the blood of his victims, he pulled his steed away from their mutilated bodies and urged the horse to follow in the wake of his leader’s mare which was now heading south along Main Street. But the way out of town was not open. The fracas between the Feds and the Mexicans had spilled out from behind the Chapel and Shami soon found himself on a collision course with the plucky and determined Lt.House. Taklishin powered his horse alongside Shami and together they bore down on the steadfast officer. To his great credit, the lieutenant didn’t even flinch as the two injun riders closed in on him. He stood his ground and fought them both off with a potent mix of skill and good fortune. Shami lost 2 x Fortune in the encounter before he was able to disengage himself from this unexpectedly difficult melee.
Having been dislodged from the back of Shami’s horse during the fight, Dakaya now found
himself wandering around on foot in the middle of Main Street. On any other day save this it might have been a pleasant excursion for him, but not today, and especially not at this precise moment. A couple of Jake Fargo’s men had noted that Dakaya had lost his ride and was now standing alone, bemused, and vulnerable. Curly Spinks and Big Jim Douglas came high-tailing it down from the upper floor of the Clinton Hotel by way of the side stairs, and rushed straight across Main Street towards the unarmed injun. Seeing the danger, Shami turned his horse about and rushed to intercept the cowboys. As he galloped upon Curly Spinks, he let him have it with his tomahawk and dropped the cowpoke to the mud with one deft axe-swipe to the side of his bald head.

Shami clobbers Curley on the bonce… ouch!

Elsewhere in town, the action was just as fast and furious. In the foyer of the Clinton Hotel, the battlin’ injun Diyin was joined by fellow brave Naiche who came leaping through the open alley-side window. However, the tide was turning back in the favour of the cowboys, and Jake won this combat against the newly arrived Naiche while wily Bushrod Wilkes managed (against the odds) to get a wound in on Diyin. At the same time, just across the street, Gunslinger Keith was taken down by a scoped rifle shot from Windy Valdez, who let one slip in relief and celebration. Peon-tu was unfazed by the rancid stench now wafting over his shoulder. He had long become an expert at holding his breath.
Upstairs at the Clinton Hotel, history was about to be made. Chuck Kershaw, dangerously overconfident in the face of ineffective enemy arrow fire, decided to approach the window (which was bristling with spent apache shafts) and fan the livery stable opposite in the hope of hitting the two pesky bow-twangers who were hiding there. No sooner had his frame filled the open window, than a (dare I say) lucky arrow from Smaha’s bow pierced poor old Chuck’s windpipe and dropped him to the floor. He died, gurgling in disbelief. This was the first ever recorded kill resulting from arrow fire in the entirety of the campaign. The Apaches were elated. Their faith in the weapons of their forefathers had been vindicated at last. Shami henceforth proclaimed that the tribe would forever forego the use of firearms and, as we all know, the rest is history.

Chuck Kershaw – first man ever taken out by an arrow. How embarrassing is that?!

Barely audible amidst the murder and mayhem on Main Street, from the rear of Carter’s Dry Goods Store could be heard the faint chimes of a silver fob watch. It belonged to Wells Fargo and had been gifted to him by his father, M.Bargho Fargo, on the occasion of his twenty-first birthday. Wells had set the chimes to ring an hour after he settled down on the camp bed to catch forty winks, and rest his goddam aching leg. Stirred from slumber by the chimes of his pocket watch and the noise of the fighting outside, Wells rose stiffly from the bed and limped to the store’s front door as fast as he was able. No sooner had he emerged from the store and taken a few faltering steps onto the muddy, bloody Main Street, than he found himself being attacked by two fearsome, blood-spattered apache savages answering to the names Taklishin and Medicine Man. The nap must have done Wells a power of good for, despite the heavy odds against him, he engaged the attacking injuns and beat them both fair and square. Shami was aghast to see his beloved Taklishin stagger and fall face first into a muddy puddle. With his face submerged, and no bubbles to be seen, the Apache leader knew at once that Taklishin had just been dispatched with a one-way ticket to the Happy Hunting Grounds, courtesy of Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo sends Taklishin to the
Happy Hunting Grounds.

Across the street, Pistolero got the drop on the ‘new Fed in town’, greenhorn John Nicolson, and sent him tumbling to the mud with a bullet in the chest. Vasquez also found his form again and dropped John Thorne with a well-aimed shot from his trusty .45 cal. sixgun. Back at Clinton’s, the tables turn once more for Jake Fargo. This time he was on the receiving end of a vicious knife thrust from Diyin that robbed him of a precious wound point, while his sidekick – the irascible Bushrod Wilkes – was pushed back by a determined Naiche.
Elated by having witnessed Wells’ slaying of Taklishin, Sam Sturgis came running into the fray and wounded the Medicine Man before said savage could exact his revenge upon Wells for the death of his fellow brave. Fortunately for the cowboys, it was enough to persuade the ranting rainmaker to cease and desist his maniacal attack.
To Windy’s surprise, and somewhat muted dismay, he witnessed the death of Estavez. The swarthy mariachi-mangler was taken down by Gunslinger Keith, shot in the back as he exited the Overland Express Staging Post.
Shami’s shock at seeing Taklishin hit the mud with a thud, soon turned to thoughts of vengeance. He rallied Mahklo and the recently released Dakaya and led them in an attack against Wells, Sam Sturgis, and Big Jim Douglas. The cowboys literally fought for their lives and two of them, Wells and Sam, were very lucky to escape when they were pushed back in a hard-fought melee against the screamin’ injuns. Big Jim was not so fortunate. He was dropped by Shami, who was still wild-eyed and distraught following the demise of his gifted and favoured brave. To cap off a bloody, body-strewn penultimate round, Jacob Skinton took down Peon-tu with a well-aimed rifle shot, and Bushrod Wilkes redeemed himself by dropping Naiche in melee in the foyer of the Clinton Hotel.
Gagging for revenge, Shami pursued Wells Fargo as he retreated back towards the sanctuary of the Dry Goods Store. With great courage, Sam Sturgis bought Wells just enough time to get away when he rushed headlong at Shami and engaged him in a desperate hand-to-hand grapple. On paper, the injun chief should have beaten the cowpoke with casual ease, but the dice were to roll a different, unexpected outcome. Shami got blocked from reaching Wells and was then pushed back by gritty Sam in the ensuing melee.
Robbed of his revenge, but ever mindful of the mission in hand, Shami disengaged from the fight against Sam Sturgis and signaled to his braves to head south along Main Street and out of town. They had succeeded in rescuing Dakaya, but the price had been very high indeed. Taklishin subsequently lost his resolution roll; his demise is therefore permanent. It may have come as some small consolation to Shami that Jake Fargo was taken down in the last minute of the match by a determined Diyin. However, for Jake the final outcome was very different. He made his resolution roll and will return to fight another day.

Diyin does the dirty on Jake

Post Mortem
Federals
All of the Feds survived the encounter, although the loss of the convicted man and the deaths of several innocent townsfolk did not play well with Lt.House’s superior officers. In his favour, the courageous stand he made against Shami and Taklishin during their attempted escape from town was duly noted, and he was mentioned in dispatches. Possible disciplinary action against him was reduced to a $6 fine for spitting on the Imelda sidewalk, and a three-month deferment of any promotion.
Trooper Gen O-Reilly added +1 Fame
Jacob Skinton added +1 Pluck, as did Gunslinger Keith.
Perhaps the most surprising outcome was newbie Mohrah. He became a hero.
Veteran Bill Bascom gained +1 to his Shooting.
The dollar dice yielded a useful $25.
Apaches
Shami’s boys achieved their mission but paid a heavy price in the resolution rolls.
Taklishin, Naiche and Numboy were all killed outright.
Shami achieved a personal advance and gained +1 Grit.
Dakaya survived with his neck intact and gained, appropriately, +1 Fortune.
Smaha added +1 Wound
Crow gained +1 Grit
The dice, enhanced by a successful mission result, brought in a total of $49.
Windy’s Banditos
Having been shot up in right royal fashion, Rico developed a Bitter Enmity against the Feds. He also has a new skill = Trigger Happy.
Estavez and Peon-tu headed off to Boot Hill – may they both RIP.
Windy “El Flatulencia” Valdez gained +1 Wound. He now has 3 Wounds. That makes him one tough muchacha!
Pistolero aptly gained +1 Shooting.
Vasquez added a new skill to his repertoire = Fast Draw. Perhaps we should offer him a job as Lead Cartoonist at Sign of the Times?
The dice of dosh brought in $26 for ol’ Windy.
Fargo Inc.
Curley Spinks received a fatal blow from Shami’s tomahawk. He’ll be resting in Boot Hill tonight – may he RIP.
Jake Fargo and Big Jim Douglas both survived their take downs and will return next game.
Foxy Fargo suffered brain damage as a result of her swallow dive off the balcony of the Golden Nugget Saloon. Jake and Wells have shipped her back to the home ranch in Abilene for some rest and recovery. Her return to the posse is not expected to be a quick one.
Wells Fargo advanced and added a new skill = Rifleman.
Jake added +1 Pluck
The dollar dice rolled a mean result for the cowboys. Only $9. C’est la vie.

WILD WEST FACTS
In late 1849 Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson led the pursuit of a band of Jicarilla Apache who had kidnapped Mrs. J. M. White and her child from an emigrant caravan. Carson and a company of Taos soldiers tracked down and defeated the Apache, but they were too late to save Mrs. White, who was found with an arrow through her heart. Carson discovered a dime novel lying near White's body, featuring Carson as the hero of a story where he single-handedly fought off eight natives.
One of the earliest cattle barons of the great Southwest was the unlikely Jesuit explorer and mapmaker, Father Eusebio Franciso Kino. He came to southern Arizona in 1687 to found missions, but while he was there he introduced European livestock and ways to plant grain to feed them.
In Colfax County, New Mexico, Chunk Colbert invited Clay Allison to dinner with the plan of killing him. Colbert chatted amiably through the meal and then drew on his guest, his gun barely clearing the tabletop before quick-draw Allison shot him dead. Later, Allison would say of the event, "I didn't want to send him to hell on an empty stomach."
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, the American population was 5,308,483. Two-thirds of the people lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. One out of every five was a slave.
The Mayflower Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, not because it was their destination, but, rather, because they were running out of "victuals and beer." Had these vital supplies not been so low, they would have continued on to their original destination of Virginia.
In 1855, Los Angeles, California was a rough cow town, which averaged a murder a day. In one instance, the city's mayor resigned his position so that he could head a lynch mob, which stormed the jail to remove and then hang an inmate. When the inmate objected to being hanged by Mexicans, the Americans in the crowd took the rope and did it.
When Jesse James was killed, most people assumed that he had left a wealthy widow, but that was not the case at all. In fact, the only valuables that they owned were a few weapons, a bit of stolen jewelry, and assorted memorabilia. Zee James, Jesse's wife, was forced to sell most everything in the household in order to pay the creditors.
Contrary to popular thought, most cowboys didn't shoot up the many towns that they arrived in, as most of them didn't carry guns while they were riding. Carrying a gun was a nuisance to the riders that scared both the cows and the horses.
In the Old West, it was popular to take pictures of dead bandits after they were shot or hanged. The photographs would then be sold, for sometimes as much as one dollar, a heft price in those days for such a souvenir.
Harry Tracy, the last of the Wild Bunch riders escaped from prison in 1902 and was trapped on a ranch by possemen. Shooting it out to the last bullet, he saved one for himself rather than return to prison. His body was later displayed for all to see still clutching his six-gun.
Newspapers of the
Old West
Part Four

Kansas Territory
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 brought a new form of journalism to Kansas. This act granted self-determination to the citizens of the new territory on the question of slavery. For this reason, almost all of the newspapers in the territory took a stance that was clear to the reader of whether the paper was for or against slavery. The volatile issue created a rip-snorting style of journalism which resulted in many scathing editorial attacks. This style lasted for over a decade.
Following the Civil War, the role of the press in Kansas changed. The advent of railroads and the shipping of cattle brought a change in the newspapers. In the 1860's millions of acres of land were opened by the Homestead Land Act. This land was well suited for grazing, thus, Kansas became the terminus for a new industry -- cattle. With the advent of a new industry came the need for new towns along the "cow trails." Needless to say, where these new towns appeared, many also had newspapers. Ads for shipping of cattle are abundant.
A final bit of trivia on Kansas newspapers: In 1873 the Smith County Pioneer printed for the first time the words of the famous ballad Home on the Range. Discovery of the edition of the newspaper with the printing ended the long controversy over the ballad's authorship. (It was written by Dr. Brewster Higley.)
Idaho-Montana Territory
In 1860 gold was discovered along the Salmon River. Lewiston, Idaho was only a tent city then, but it was the closest supply post for the gold seekers and for trappers. Thus it became a logical spot for a newspaper. A. S. Gould established The Golden Age on August 2, l862. It was the first newspaper of the territory. As if the problems of producing a newspaper in the backwoods weren't enough, Gould had a major problem in keeping the paper going. In his first issue he denounced the common practice of ill treatment of the Indians by the miners and trappers. The records indicate that while his paper did last for a brief period of time, the editor disappeared after the first issue got off the press!
While there were many teenage editors in Old West journalism, one of the youngest was Lee Travis. In 1873, at the age of 14, he was editing a paper titled The News Letter. By no means was it a crude publication. It was a full-fledged newspaper. In addition to handling all the editorial and printing tasks, young Travis continually traveled over three rugged counties in a buckboard to promote subscriptions and advertisements! Before he died of acute bronchitis in 1882 at the age of 21 he had become a respected newspaperman who established several other newspapers, among them the Helena Morning Capitol.
Deadwood
Deadwood, named after the dead trees found in its gulch, is the county seat of Lawrence County, South Dakota.
The Treaty of Laramie of 1868 had guaranteed ownership of the Black Hills to the Lakota people. However, in 1874, Colonel George Armstrong Custer led an expedition into the Hills and announced the discovery of gold on French Creek near present-day Custer, South Dakota. Custer's announcement triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush and gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood, which quickly reached a population of around 5,000.
In early 1876, frontiersman Charlie Utter and his brother Steve led a wagon train to Deadwood containing what were deemed to be needed commodities to bolster business, that included gamblers and prostitutes, which proved to be a profitable venture. Demand for women was high, and the business of prostitution proved to be a good market. Madam Dora DuFran would eventually become the most profitable brothel owner in Deadwood, closely followed by Madam Mollie Johnson. Businessman Tom Miller opened the Bella Union Saloon in September of that year.
Another saloon was the Gem Variety Theater opened April 7th, 1877 by Al Swearengen who also controlled the opium trade in the town. After the saloon was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in 1879, it burned down again in 1899 causing Swearengen to leave the town.
The Gem in 1878
The town attained notoriety for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, and remains the final resting place of Hickok and Calamity Jane, as well as slightly less famous figures such as Seth Bullock. It became known for its wild and almost lawless reputation, during which time murder was common, and punishment for murders not always fair and impartial.
As the economy changed from gold rush to steady mining, Deadwood lost its rough and rowdy character and settled down into a prosperous town. In 1876 a smallpox epidemic swept through the camp, with so many falling sick that tents had to be set up to quarantine them. Also in that year, General George Crook pursued the Sioux Indians from the Battle of Little Big Horn on an expedition that ended in Deadwood, and that came to be known as the Horsemeat March.
Deadwood 1876
A fire on September 26, 1879, devastated the town, destroying over 300 buildings and consuming everything belonging to many inhabitants. Without the opportunities of rich untapped veins of ore that characterized the town's early days, many of the newly impoverished left town to try their luck elsewhere.
A narrow gauge railroad, the Deadwood Central Railroad, was founded by Deadwood resident J.K.P. Miller and his associates in 1888, in order to serve their mining interests in the Black Hills. The railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1893. A portion of the road between Deadwood and Lead was electrified in 1902 for operation as an interurban passenger system, which operated until 1924. Apart from a portion from Kirk to Fantail Junction, which was converted to standard gauge, the railroad was abandoned in 1930. The remaining section was abandoned by the successor Burlington Northern Railroad in 1984.
Some of the other early town residents and frequent visitors included Al Swearengen and his employees Dan Doherty and Johnny Burns, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, Sol Star, Martha Bullock, A. W. Merrick, Samuel Fields, Harris Franklin, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, the Reverend Henry Weston Smith, Buffalo Bill, First Federal Judge Bennett, General Dawson, and Madame Canutson (woman bull-whacker)
Second Life Simulation
The town of Deadwood is a western role-play sim in the popular online game Second Life. The RPG occurs in the town during the 1870's, and the simulation is famous for being a close to exact replica of the town at that time.
HBO Television Series
Deadwood, the American television drama series, premiered in March 2004 on HBO. The series is set in the 1870s in Deadwood, before and after its annexation to the Dakota Territory. At the time, Deadwood (a real town in the modern state of South Dakota) was little more than a makeshift camp, but it was a popular destination for those prospecting for gold in the Black Hills.
The series charts Deadwood's growth from camp to town, incorporating themes ranging from the formation of communities to western capitalism.
Deadwood features many historical figures, such as Wild Bill Hickok, Seth Bullock, Sol Star, Calamity Jane, Al Swearengen, Wyatt Earp, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter and George Hearst. The plotlines involving these characters include historical truths as well as substantial fictional elements. Some of the characters are fully fictional, although they certainly may have been based on actual persons.
The show was created by David Milch (NYPD Blue), who also serves as executive producer and head writer. The theme music was written by David Schwartz.The third and final season premiered on June 11, 2006 and ended on August 27, 2006. Although there were plans to conclude the series with two special made for TV films, the plans have yet to come into fruition. Several of the series stars have since commented that the series is now unlikely to return. As of 10 October 2007, however, HBO has reasserted the possibility of the two movies, declining to support the notion that the show is dead.
Glossary of American Mountain Men Terms,
Words & Expressions
Part Six
R
READ HIM A PAGE FROM THE GOOD BOOK
To give someone a tongue, lashing, or perhaps something a little more forceful.
RAISE, TO
To steal from another's cache. Any man found doing this was likely to become wolf meat.
RAISE HAIR
To scalp an enemy.
RAWHIDE
The dried, dehaired but untanned hide of any animal, usually cattle or buffalo. Very strong and useful.
READING SIGN
Interpreting the tracks, etc. when tracking.
REDSTICK
Indian.
ROBE HIDE
The winter-killed hide of the buffalo. usually used to make buffalo robes.
RUBBED OUT
Dead or killed. This expression comes from the early attempts of the Indian to learn English. To erase is to rub out, anything rubbed out no longer exists, so must be dead. Adopted by the mountain man with the same meaning.
S
SANTA FE TRAIL
A well-used route between Independence, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
SAW BUCK
A cross-frame used for cutting wood. Also a pack saddle.
SCALP FEAST
A time for counting coup, feasting dancing, and chanting over battles won.
SCALP LOCK
A challenging lock of hair grown on the crown of the heads of the warriors of some Indian tribes.
SCALP POLE
The pole used to display scalps taken from enemies.
SEGUNDO
The second-in-command of a large party or company
SHARPS
A breechloading percussion rifle invented by Christian Sharps.
SHINING
Splendid. To shine means to be extra good at something.
SHINING MOUNTAINS
An early name for the Rocky Mountains.
SHONGSASHA
A form of tobacco made from the bark of the red willow, sometimes mixed with Indian tobacco plant leaves.
SKIN TRADE, THE
The fur trade.
SKOOKUM
Good. An Indian word much used in mountain man slang.
SLEDGE
A flat-decked sled used for transporting provisions.
SLINGING
A method of securing provisions to the back of a mule.
SLUSH LAMP
See "Bitch".
SNAG
A dead tree in a river. Capable of sinking a canoe.
SNOW EATER, A
A chinook.
SOURDOUGH
Fermented dough used for making bread, biscuits flapjacks, etc.
SPUDS
Potatoes.
SQUARE
A term of respect. Any man of courage, honesty, self- reliance, and devotion to what he believed to be right was " square " and darn proud of-it.
SQUARE SHOOTER, A
See "Square".
SQUAW CAMP
A camp for women and children while the men were away hunting or at war.
SQUAW HITCH
A simple hitch used in place of the Diamond Hitch.
SQUAW MAN
A White man married to an Indian woman.
SQUAW WIND
An unexpected warm wind in the middle of a very cold spell. Like a chinook, but in the dead of winter.
SQUAW WOOD
Small dry sticks used for starting a fire or tending a very small. hard-to-see fire for cooking.
STIRRUP
Bread made from flour, fat, and water. It was baked in a Dutch oven or on a stick placed over or near a fire.
SWEEP
The steering oar on keel boats, rafts, etc.
T
TANGLE FOOT
Whiskey.
TAOS LIGHTNING
A whiskey made near Taos New Mexico.
TERRAPIN
Dog meat.
TINDER
Fine, shredded Birch bark or other highly combustible wood. Used for starting fire with flint and steel, or with a fire drill. Charred cotton was also used as tender.
THERE GO HORSE AND BEAVER
An expression meaning "I just lost everything I owned or had with me".
THRUMS
The fringe on buckskin or leather clothing.
THROW IN WITH, TO
To join a group or party. To go into partnership with someone.
THROW SMOKE, TO
To shoot a firearm
TIMBER WOLF
A large, gray wolf found at one time throughout the United States, now found only in the far north.
TOMAHAWK
A small hatchet used by the Indians and mountain men for fighting and woodcraft.
TOMAHAWK TALKS
Councils of war. Treaty councils. The tomahawk was an important symbol in both war and peace.
TIPI
The conical lodge used by the Plains Indians. (Teepee)
TOW
Unspun flax used for cleaning firearms. Also used as tinder.
TRACE, A
A trail.
TRADE GUN
See " Fusees".
TRAPPER'S BUTTER
Marrow from the leg bones of large animals.
TRAPPINGS
Accouterments, especially for a horse.
TRAVEE
A travois, a form of sled made by fastening two long poles together over the back of A horse or dog, then building a platform near where they drag to support a pack or cargo of some sort.
U
UP TO BEAVER
An expression meaning a very cunning persons one who can hold his own in any situation.
V
VALLEY TAN
Mormon whiskey.
VARA
The Spanish yard (33 inches); the unit of measurement used by many early traders.
VOYAGEUR
A trapper for one of the very early fur companies. Most voyageurs were French-Canadian.
W
WAGH
An exclamation, used by both Mountain Men and Indians, usually denoting admiration or surprise. This grunt-like sound is supposed to resemble that made by a bear. It is, in fact, believed to have ordinate from the sound made by a bear when mildly surprised.
WAMPUM
An Indian term for belts of small beads or shells that were used as money. Many mountain men adopted this term to mean all money.
WAR PATH. ON THE
A person spoiling for a good fight is said to be "on the war path,"
WASNA
Pemmican. (Dahcotah word)
WATTAPE
The fine root of a coniferous tree, used as thread or twisted into rope. (Voyageur)
WAUGH
See "Wagh "
WENT UNDER
To die.
WHITE INDIAN
A White man who went native and joined a tribe of Indians. Many captured White children became White Indians.
WICKIUP
The lodge of some southwestern Indian tribes.
WIGWAM
The dome-shaped lodge of some eastern Indian tribes.
WILLOW KILLER
The first real cold spell of Fall. When the leaves all fall off of the willows due to the cold, it is a sure sign that winter has arrived.
WIPE OUT, A
A massacre. Many a so-called "massacre" was not really one at all, as both sides had weapons and were able to and did fight.
WOLFER
A man who made his living hunting wolves for bounty. The wolfer was only considered a degree or two better than the hide hunter. Neither were ever considered a part of the skin (fur) trade.
WOLFISH, I'M
I am hungry.
Y
YELLOW LEGS
Dragoons.
YUNKS
Children.
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