Saturday, November 17, 2018

Old House 142

Mt. Dora, New Mexico.

Texans’ 1872 raid reclaimed stolen cattle from Eastern New Mexico

(Santa Fe New Mexican) In midsummer of 1872, a Texas cattleman, John Hittson, led 50 hard-bitten cowboys on a vigilante-style raid of Eastern New Mexico, and he did so with the approval of his state governor.
  … The trouble that prompted Hittson’s daring act had its origins in the famed Comanchero trade of the southern plains. Comancheros were native New Mexicans who, for more than a century, had been venturing upon the wide Llano Estacado to trade with the warlike Comanche Indians. Continued

Thursday, November 15, 2018

1822: William Becknell arrives in Santa Fe

Map courtesy of the National Park Service
(Wikipedia) The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th-century transportation route through central North America that connected Independence, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pioneered in 1821 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. Continued

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Frederick Jackson Turner

(Wikipedia) Frederick Jackson Turner (November 14, 1861 – March 14, 1932) was an American historian in the early 20th century, based at the University of Wisconsin until 1910, and then at Harvard. He trained many PhDs who came to occupy prominent places in the history profession. He promoted interdisciplinary and quantitative methods, often with a focus on the Midwest.
He is best known for his essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," whose ideas formed the Frontier Thesis. He argued that the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character from the colonial era until 1890. He is also known for his theories of geographical sectionalism.
In recent years historians and academics have argued strenuously over Turner's work; all agree that the Frontier Thesis has had an enormous impact on historical scholarship and the American mind. Continued

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thieves’ Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer’s Path to the Little Bighorn

Capt. George A. Custer and Gen. Alfred Pleasonton on horseback (Library of Congress).
(Wild West) Countless books deal with Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s ill-fated “Last Stand” at the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.
Much less ink has been expended on Custer’s venture into the Black Hills in the summer of 1874. There may have been less shooting during that expedition, but it laid the groundwork for the scrapping of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie with the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne … Continued

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day

Charles H. Surguy was my great grandfather's brother's son, which, I guess, makes him a cousin to me. Most of his life was spent in the vicinity of Happy, Texas. He was a farmer and the Sunday school superintendent at Vigo Park Methodist Church for 30 years. During World War One, he was a private in the 141st infantry (1st Texas). Above, is a picture of him in his uniform, and of his final resting place. Lest we forget.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mark E. Neely Jr.

(Wikipedia) Mark E. Neely Jr. (born November 10, 1944 in Amarillo, Texas) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian best known as an authority on the U.S. Civil War in general and Abraham Lincoln in particular.
... Neely is best known for his 1991 book The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties, which won both the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for History and the 1992 Bell I. Wiley Prize.
In March 1991 he published an article in the magazine Civil War History entitled "Was the Civil War a Total War?", which is considered one of the top three most influential articles on the war written in the last half of the 20th Century. Continued

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Heyday of Train Robberies

A couple of old ones, Strasburg, PA. (MDRAILS)
(True West) … According experts there should not be less than five men to pull a successful train robbery. One to hold the horses and one on each side of the train to fire at any passenger who might try to interfere. Two outlaws took control of the engine, order the engineer to the express car and direct him to order the messenger open the door. Continued

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cavalry column discovers German sisters in Cheyenne camp

(Texas Day by Day) On this day in 1874, a cavalry column under Lt. Frank D. Baldwin charged a Cheyenne encampment north of McClellan Creek, about ten miles south of the site of present-day Pampa. The surprised Indians abandoned the village and left most of their property intact.
Riding through the deserted camp, Billy Dixon and other army scouts noticed movement in a pile of buffalo hides; they were astonished to find two white captives, Julia and Addie German, both emaciated and near starvation. Continued

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Jeff Milton

(Wikipedia) Jeff Milton (November 7, 1861 – May 7, 1947) was an Old West lawman and the son of the Confederate Governor of Florida, John Milton. ... At age 15, he moved to Texas where he worked as a cowboy, then lied about his age and joined the Texas Rangers in 1878.
After serving with the Rangers for four years, he moved through west Texas and into New Mexico, where he became a Deputy US Marshal in 1884.
For a time in the 1880s he worked under Sheriff John Slaughter in Cochise County, Arizona, during which time the two were involved in several manhunts and shootouts with outlaws. Continued

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Raised from the Dead: One historian knows how to give ghost towns a new life

From one of our best ghost towns, Yeso, New Mexico.
(True West) Looting, wildfires, pollution, vandalism, time, the elements—Western ghost towns have lots of enemies.  Thankfully, they’ve also got friends like Krista Evans.
“I love abandoned landscapes. They’re very beautiful and a little surreal,” Evans says. “I like imagining how they might have been in their heyday, when they were a happening place, but I also love the quiet of them now.” Continued

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Cowboy Strike of 1883

(Encyclopedia of the Great Plains) From 1880 to 1883 a new corporate ownership spread throughout the Texas Panhandle. Ranch cowboys no longer knew the owners by name, had any particular trust in the new company, or saw any signs of loyalty or tradition. The cowboy lost his place as a valued member of the ranch family and became only an employee.
... In the spring of 1883 the cowboys went on strike. Wagons and men from three of the biggest ranches in the Canadian River valley came together for a meeting. The three wagon bosses were not malcontents. They were all respected top hands who had earned their positions only to see their influence diminished. Continued

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Rock Island Rail Trail

The Choctaw Rocket was a luxury train that once travelled
between Memphis, Tennessee and Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Once upon a time, the Rock Island Railroad used to travel between Tucumcari and Amarillo. It shut down in the early 80’s, but the Right-of-Way (ROW) is still there.
If you look at Google Maps, in satellite mode, you can see where it parts from the existing Union Pacific tracks, just northeast of Tucumcari (northeast of the lake), not far from Route 54.
The right of way seems almost entirely intact from there to the tunnel under I-40, a distance of about 3 miles. The Tucumcari area could use some more hiking trails and the old ROW looks like just the spot.
There are several advantages to rail trails. For one, they combine history with outdoor recreation. Railroad lines are graded to be as flat as possible, meaning a large portion of the population can walk the trail with ease. They are already partially constructed. Trails, by law, can revert to railroad use, if need be. Rail trails have proved to be enormously popular throughout the country, not only providing recreation, but economic stimulus to local businesses.
For more information, check out the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Highlights of the trail could include the Tucumcari Wildlife Management Area
and this tunnel.

Will Rogers

(Wikipedia) William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was a stage and motion picture actor, vaudeville performer, American cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator.
Known as "Oklahoma's Favorite Son", Rogers was born to a prominent Cherokee Nation family in Indian Territory (now part of Oklahoma). He traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 "talkies"), and wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns.
By the mid-1930s, the American people adored Rogers. He was the leading political wit of his time, and was the highest paid Hollywood movie star. Continued

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Glimpse of Grzelachowski's Store

Puerto de Luna, New Mexico
(National Register of Historic Places) … Billy the Kid frequented the Grzelachowski store. A.J. Padilla, who was married to Grzelachowski's daughter, was the source of many stories told to him by his mother-in-law. Billy, she said, was fascinated by Grzelachowski's learning and by his tales. He would listen intently and beg Grzelachowski to speak Latin, Polish, or Greek.
Billy would stand in front of the store and shoot at tin cans, shifting his gun from hand to hand and shooting as well with either. Grzelachowski instructed his clerks not to argue with Billy and to give him anything he wanted. Once when Grzelachowski was away, the clerks saw Billy riding into town with a few of his companions and immediately ran out the back door. Finding the store deserted, Billy and his friends took what they needed and rode on.
Several days later when he returned through town, the Kid asked Grzelachowski what he owed. Grzelachowski replied that he didn't think that the Kid owed anything. Another time a clerk noticed the Kid taking ammunition and accused him of trying to steal from a friend. Whereupon Billy put the boxes back. Continued