Monthly Archives: February 2018
Gold brought miners from the east to multiple areas of the American west…all looking to make their fortune in the gold fields. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just gold and silver miners who flooded Nevada, or any other gold rush area, in the late 1800s in search of their fortunes. The West was indeed wild, and it and the gold also attracted plenty of outlaws and bandits, looking to make their fortune too, but not willing to do the work to mine the gold. Nevada, like other states of the Wild West, attracted its share of outlaws and bandits. One such man, named Andrew Jackson “Jack” Davis, led a gang of thieves involved in robbing stage stops, bullion wagons, and trains in Western Nevada.
Davis first arrived in the area in 1859. His plan was to lead two different lives, and he carried it out quite well. To the outside world he looked like a legitimate business man when he set up a livery stable in Gold Hill. However, in his “spare” time, Davis and his gang took to the bandit road, taking gold and bullion from any source they could find. Davis built a small bullion mill in Six Mile Canyon east of Virginia City, Nevada. There, he melted down his stolen gold, selling it as legitimate gold bars. He then buried his proceeds so people would not notice or catch on to how wealthy he really was, because after all, how rich could a livery stable owner be.
On November 4, 1870 the gang robbed the express car of the Central Pacific Railroad near Verdi, Nevada taking some $40,000 in gold coins and bullion. Pursued by lawmen, they were said to have buried the stolen cache along the north bank of the Truckee River, between Reno and Laughton’s Hot Springs west of town, near the site of the long-abandoned River Inn. The entire gang was apprehended and all were sent to the Nevada State Prison, but would not tell where they had hidden their stolen loot. In 1875, Davis was paroled but two years later, he was shot in the back during a Wells Fargo stagecoach robbery near Warm Springs, Nevada. If Davis ever returned for his cache is unknown, but many believe it is still hidden in Six-Mile Canyon or in the vicinity of the Truckee River. Treasure hunters have long searched these two locations without success. If the money is still there, it may never be found.
Another legend abounds that the ghost of Jack Davis protects his treasure in the canyon. Many who have looked for the treasure have been frightened away by the white screaming phantom that is said to sometimes sprout wings and rise into the air. I suppose some would say I shouldn’t be so skeptical, but since I don’t believe in ghosts, my guess is that people just get freaked out, and their imagination runs away with them. Nevertheless, those who think they have seen what they believe to be a ghost, would not be persuaded by my disbelief in same.
My uncle, Jack McDaniels was such a sweet man. He cared about everyone he knew. He was a friend to all, and all of the kids in the family loved him. He was first and foremost, a family man, and took care of anyone who needed it. For many years, his mother lived just a few steps away in a little trailer house, basically in the front yard of the family home. It kept her close to the family, and he could take care of her.
Like a lot of men, Uncle Jack loved tinkering with cars. In his younger days, he drive a stick car, and once that is in your blood, it follows that car races are something that never really gets out of your system. Uncle Jack was no different. I’m sure there were many days when the television at the family home was locked into one car race or another. I don’t know how my Aunt Bonnie, his wife, felt about car races, but it could have very easily been a matter of like it or go find something else to do. I rather think that she ended up liking it, because they loved spending time together. You rarely saw one without the other, at least on his days off.
Uncle Jack was a walking Casper Historian, which is something I wish I had known years ago. The stories he could gave shared with me would have enriched my blog greatly, I’m sure. He wasn’t a pushy person though, and so unless you asked, he probably didn’t feel like he could intrude. If only I had known to ask.
Along with history and car racing, Uncle Jack loved hunting, fishing, and camping, making him a true Wyoming outdoorsman…not surprising since he was born and raised right here in Casper, Wyoming. He grew up with all the great things there are to do here, and he wanted to show his family all the wonderful things he had been able to do as a kid. He wanted them to have the same kind of amazing life he did. Today would have been Uncle Jack’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Jack. You were a great man. We love and miss you very much.
My grand nephew, Easton Moore is a busy guy. He is always on the go. Right now, he and his family are into Nerf Guns. They love to have Nerf battles, and the family very likely used sneak attacks to gain a little leverage. Basically, you just never knew when the attack was going to come, until the Nerf bullet hit you. Easton really likes the Nerf gun, and he is very interested in how they work, so he likes to take them apart and modify them so they will shoot further. It’s not surprising that he like to find out how his Nerf gun works, because it is something his Dad, Steve Moore loves to do too. Building, dismantling, and learning all about the guns they use, real and Nerf, is a hobby the Moore family has been into for quite a while now, and since Easton has grown up in that atmosphere, he is completely comfortable with the inner workings of a gun. So, for a new challenge, his mom bought a bag of rubber bands, and over the last few weeks there has been a new war going on in the Moore house. Easton is getting good at shooting them, but his arm was all red from learning how to shoot them. Still, he never gave up.
Easton really likes building things too. Legos has been a starting point for him, and something he continues to like to do. The schools these days have embrace the Lego craze, and added robotics, giving the kids new activities to stir up the creative side of their brains. They learn how to make their robot be the best functioning one in the competition. Who would have thought that a toy we have all played with could morph into a way to teach the kids about architecture and mechanics? Nevertheless, Legos have done this, and it is really a cool thing for a kid like Easton, who really loves to find out just how these things work.
Easton loves sports. He played football again this year and is thinking about tennis in the spring. He is an active kid, who doesn’t much like sitting still, so sports was the next logical idea for him, but he has a few other activities up his sleeve too. He has helped his grandparents with their rentals and had made a little cash. He worked with PESCO which is the concessions stand for games and after school and made money doing that. Easton has decided that he doesn’t have that much time to save money for the car he will need in a couple of years when he turns 16, now if his mom could just slow down time a little bit, she would feel better, because, she doesn’t want him growing up. Today is Easton’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It’s amazing how much we can fear the things we don’t understand. As an example, the Indians who lived around the geysers of Yellowstone. The early Indians thought that the hissing and thundering were the voices of evil spirits. Even though the geysers were frightening, the Indians regarded the mountains at the head of the river as the crest of the world, and the man who gained their summits could see the happy hunting-grounds below, brightened with the homes of the blessed. They loved this land in which their fathers had hunted, and when they were driven back from the settlements the Crows took refuge in what is now Yellowstone Park, but they were still not safe.
The soldiers pursued them, intent on avenging acts that the red men had committed while they were being so wrongly mistreated. A small group of the original fugitive band gathered at the head of that mighty rift in the earth known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone…a group that had succeeded in escaping the bullets of the soldiers, and with great courage they resolved to die rather than be taken and carried away to be held in a distant prison. They built a raft and laced it on the river at the foot of the upper fall, and for a few days they enjoyed the plenty and peace that were their privilege in former times. A short-lived peace, however, for one morning they are awakened by the rifle fire, and they knew that the troops are upon them.
Boarding their raft they thrust it toward the middle of the stream, perhaps with the idea of making it to the opposite shore. If that was their intent, the rapid current kept them from attaining their goal. A few among them had guns, but their bullets had only a slight effect at the troops, who stood watching in amazement from the shore. The soldiers didn’t fire, but watched, with something like dread, the descent of the raft as it passes into the current. Then, with many a turn and pitch, it whirled on faster and faster. The death-song rises triumphant above the lash of the waves and that distant but awful booming that is to be heard in the canyon. Every red man has his face turned toward the foe with a look of defiance, and the tones of the death-chant have in them something of mockery and hate. The Indians went defiantly to their deaths, refusing to show the slightest amount of fear.
The raft was now between the jaws of the rocks. Beyond and below are vast walls, shelving toward the floor of the gulf a thousand feet below. The beauty of the falls will be their last vision…brilliant colors shining in the sun of morning that sheds as peaceful a light on wood and hill. They believe they are heading to a place where humans don’t shoot human, and where they will be free again. The raft was galloping through the foam like a racehorse, and even the hardened soldiers could not hold back the shudder as they imagined the fate of the brave Indians. Now the brink is reached. The raft tips toward the gulf, and with a cry of triumph the red men are launched over the cataract, into the bellowing chasm, and the rocky floor that waited below.
When the ranchers began to take over the western plains, there were those who were honest, and those who were scoundrels. One of those scoundrels was Albert John Bothwell (1855-1928), who was one of the main instigators of the Johnson County War in Wyoming. Bothwell was born in Iowa and migrated to Wyoming, where he quickly became one of the most prosperous cattlemen in Sweetwater County. Bothwell was an arrogant man, who tended to take what he wanted. He had been grazing his cattle on unclaimed homestead land, which was not his to use, but as I said, he tended to take what he wanted. When James Averell and his girlfriend, Ellen Watson came along in 1886, and filed a claim on the land Bothwell had been using, they found that he had gone so far as to illegally fence much of their land with barbed wire. In his mind, Bothwell had decided that the land was somehow his, that his needs were more important, or that no one would ever put in a claim on it, at least not if he had any say in the matter.
When Averell and Watson moved onto the land, Bothwell’s illegal use of the property came to light, and of course, led to repeated disputes between Bothwell and the young couple. Bothwell, was a powerful man, as many cattle barons are. They have men to keep what they believe to be theirs protected. The problem here was that the land wasn’t his…it belonged to Averell and Watson. When Averell wrote to the Casper Daily Mail criticizing Bothwell and claiming that the cattle barons had too much power, Bothwell retaliated by claiming that Averell and Watson were stealing his cattle. Dubbing Watson with the moniker of “Cattle Kate,” he also accused her of being a prostitute who sometimes accepted stolen cattle in payment.
As the dispute continued to rage over the next several months, Bothwell convinced other area ranchers of Averell and Watson’s guilt, and on July 20, 1889, he convinced five other men to help him hang the pair at a small canyon by the Sweetwater River. Though the men were charged with murder, key witnesses began to mysteriously die or disappear and all of them were acquitted. Both Averell and “Cattle Kate” were “tried” in the press, which was owned or influenced by the cattle barons, and branded as “outlaws.” Bothwell later acquired both homesteads of the murdered victims.
After the dust settled and many years had passed, re-investigations into the whole affair have found that most likely neither James Averell, nor his girlfriend Ellen “Cattle Kate” Watson, were guilty of any crime. In the meantime, this event, as well as several other similar events, led to the Johnson County War in Wyoming. Albert Bothwell, however, walked away free of any repercussion and continued to run his ranch until his retirement, when he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he died on March 1, 1928. No one was ever prosecuted for the murders of James Averell and Ellen Watson.
As the world is watching the 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, looking at the hope for gold in this group of young talented athletes, I have been thinking back to another group of young talented athletes…athletes that would never get the chance to realize their dreams. Yes, this group had won gold before, so they were not new to the world of competition, but their hopes of any future gold were crushed forever on February 15, 1961, when they were on their way to the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
On that day, the entire 18 member United States figure skating team, along with the 16 people who were accompanying them, which included family, friends, coaches and officials, as well as the crew and 38 people who were not with the figure skating team, died when the plane went down around 10am in clear weather while attempting to make a scheduled stopover landing at the Belgian National Airport in Brussels. One person on the ground, a farmer working in the field where the Boeing 707 crashed in Berg-Kampenhout, several miles from the airport, was killed by some shrapnel. Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the crash, although mechanical difficulties were suspected.
Killed in the crash was 16 year old Laurence Owen, who had won the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in the ladies’ division the previous month. She was featured on the February 13, 1961, cover of Sports Illustrated, which called her the “most exciting U.S. skater.” Bradley Long, the 1961 U.S. men’s champion, also perished in the crash, as did Maribel Owen (Laurence’s sister) and Dudley Richards, the 1961 U.S. pairs champions, and Diane Sherbloom and Larry Pierce, the 1961 U.S. ice dancing champions. Also killed was 49-year-old Maribel Vinson-Owen, a nine-time U.S. ladies’ champion and 1932 Olympic bronze medalist, who coached scores of skaters, including her daughters Maribel and Laurence, and Frank Carroll, who went on to coach the 2010 men’s Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan. The crash was a tragedy that devastated the U.S. figure skating program and meant the loss of the country’s top skating talent. Prior to the crash, the U.S. had won the men’s gold medal at every Olympics since 1948…when Dick Button became the first American man to do so, while U.S. women had claimed Olympic gold in 1956 and 1960. After the crash, an American woman named Peggy Fleming would be the next to win, but she would not capture Olympic gold until 1968, while a U.S. man, Scott Hamilton would not do so until 1984. The incident was the worst air disaster involving a U.S. sports team until November 1970, when 37 players on the Marshall University football team were killed in a plane crash in West Virginia.
Shortly after the 1961 crash, the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund was established. To date, it has provided financial assistance to thousands of elite American skaters. In 2011, the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, the 18 members of the 1961 figure skating team, along with the 16 people traveling with them to Prague, were inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.
I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?
There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.
Religious beliefs have caused a number of issues in governments over the centuries, sometimes pitting family members against family members. They were, in fact, the main reason that the United States was founded…to get away from religious persecution. Such was also the case in the coup that was called Britain’s Bloodless Glorious Revolution. At the time, King James II was the king in Britain, and he was a Catholic. At first that didn’t seem like a huge problem, but King James’s policies of religious tolerance after 1685 began to meet with increasing opposition from members of leading political circles, who were troubled by the King’s Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis facing the King came to a head in 1688, with the birth of his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, on June 10. This changed the existing line of succession by displacing the heir presumptive, his daughter Mary, a Protestant and the wife of William of Orange, with young James Francis Edward as heir apparent, because at that time it was the first born “son” who inherited the throne. The establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in the kingdoms now seemed likely, and the people weren’t happy about it.
Some Tory (conservative) members of parliament worked with members of the opposition Whigs in an attempt to resolve the crisis by secretly initiating dialogue with William of Orange to come to England…outside the jurisdiction of the English Parliament. Stadtholder William, the de facto head of state of the Dutch United Provinces, feared a Catholic Anglo–French alliance and had already been planning a military intervention in England, so he was very much open to the plan. After consolidating political and financial support, William crossed the North Sea and English Channel with a large invasion fleet in November 1688, landing at Torbay in Devonshire with an army of 15,000 men, William advanced to London, meeting no opposition from James’ army, which had deserted the king. After only two minor clashes between the two opposing armies in England, and anti-Catholic riots in several towns, King James’s regime collapsed, largely because of a lack of resolve shown by the king. Following Britain’s Bloodless Glorious Revolution, Mary, the daughter of the deposed king, and William of Orange, her husband, are proclaimed joint sovereigns of Great Britain under Britain’s new Bill of Rights. At first I thought that odd, because by rights she would have been in the royal line, but I suppose you would have to honor the warrior who made it all possible.
King James was allowed to escape to France, and in February 1689 Parliament offered the crown jointly to William and Mary, provided they accept the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, which greatly limited royal power and broadened constitutional law, granted Parliament control of finances and the army and prescribed the future line of royal succession, declaring that no Roman Catholic would ever be sovereign of England. The document also stated that Englishmen possessed certain inviolable civil and political rights, a political concept that was a major influence in the composition of the United States Bill of Rights, composed almost exactly a century later. The Glorious Revolution, the ascension of William and Mary, and the acceptance of the Bill of Rights were decisive victories for Parliament in its long struggle against the crown.
In the years between 1791 and 1794, a man named Captain George Vancouver was exploring the Pacific Northwest area which would eventually become part of the United States of America. Captain Vancouver was the commander of the HMS Discovery and its accompanying ships sent to survey the northern Pacific Ocean. It was Vancouver and his crew who first recorded the sighting of Mount Saint Helens, and the first to explore Puget Sound. Following the coasts of Oregon and Washington and intending to explore every bay and outlet of the region, he sent men in smaller boats to explore the Columbia River and enter the strait of Juan de Fuca.
Vancouver commanded a variety of ships to complete his mission, so while the smaller vessels explored the many channels and rivers along the coast, the larger ships, including the Armed Tender of the HMS Discovery, called the Chatham, often anchored in safe harbors. On April 29, 1792, the ships entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca and anchored in the calm waters of Discovery Bay. Utilizing the bay as a base, Vancouver and his men explored the waters of Admiralty Inlet and Hood Canal.
Several weeks later, the Chetham began to sail north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to explore the San Juan and Lopez Islands. After successfully doing so, the Chatham sailed southward in May to rejoin the HMS Discovery and continue their explorations south. The explorations continued as far as Commencement Bay in Tacoma, before turning around and returning north, where the waters were safer. Arriving at Puget Sound, they found a storm raging with severe currents and tides. Crossing an unknown channel, the Chatham was caught by a flood tide and swept helpless. To slow her progress, her stream anchor was dropped but the strain was too much and the cable snapped. However, the Chatham survived and after sweeping the waters unsuccessfully for the anchor, the ship rejoined the HMS Discovery.
Vancouver would write in his journal on June 9, 1792: “We found tides here extremely rapid, and on the 9th in endeavoring to get around a point to the Bellingham Bay we were swept leeward of it with great impetuosity. We let go the anchor in 20 fathoms but in bringing it up such was the force of the tide that we parted the cable. At slack water we swept for the anchor but could not get it. After several fruitless attempts, we were at last obliged to leave it.”
In 2008, an anchor was located off Whidbey Island’s northwestern shore. The anchor they found is believed to be the lost Chatham anchor, that was thought to be in Bellingham Bay. Anchor Ventures, LLC of Seattle salvaged the anchor, thought to be the one documented in mariners’ journals as breaking free from the Chatham in heavy currents on June 9, 1792. Previous searches for the anchor had been focused in Bellingham Channel, where the main ship Discovery had been with high seas reported. The Chatham, a brig that was eventually captained by Peter Puget, was apparently not with the Discovery during the storm, the salvage team believes. The anchor was placed temporarily at the Northwest Maritime Center in downtown Port Townsend before being moved to Texas, where is was restored and is on display today.
Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess were senior officials in the British Foreign Office and in 1951. They were trusted diplomats, but they had a dark side. They were well known to have left-leaning ideas, and eventually their ideas moved them so far out of line with the jobs they had that it was suspected, if not known that they had become spies for the Soviet Union. Maclean and Burgess were two of the original members of the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring, which was a ring of spies in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II. They were active at least into the early 1950s. Four members of the ring were originally identified: Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonyms: Tony, Johnson). Once jointly known as the Cambridge Four and later as the Cambridge Five, the number increased as more evidence came to light.
The group was recruited during their education at the University of Cambridge in the 1930s…hence the term Cambridge. There is much debate as to the exact timing of their recruitment by Soviet intelligence. Anthony Blunt claimed that they were not recruited as agents until they had graduated. Blunt, an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, was several years older than Burgess, Maclean, and Philby; he acted as a talent-spotter and recruiter for most of the group save Burgess. Several people have been suspected of being additional members of the group; John Cairncross (cryptonym: Liszt) was identified as such by Oleg Gordievsky, although many others have also been accused of membership in the Cambridge ring. Both Blunt and Burgess were members of the Cambridge Apostles, an exclusive and prestigious society based at Trinity and King’s Colleges. Cairncross was also an Apostle. Other Apostles accused of having spied for the Soviets include Michael Whitney Straight and Guy Liddell.
The group was radical in their dealings, so I’m not sure that anyone was overly surprised when both Maclean and Burgess disappeared from England in 1951, although they may have assumed that they were assassinated. For years there was no trace of them, and I suppose people began to forget all about them. Nevertheless, there were rumors that they had been spies for the Soviet Union and had left England to avoid prosecution. For five years, nothing was heard of the pair. British intelligence suspected that they were in the Soviet Union, but Russian officials consistently denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.
Then, on February 11, 1956, the pair resurfaced and invited a group of journalists to a hotel room in Moscow. Burgess and Maclean were there to greet them, give a brief interview, and hand out a typed joint statement. In the statement, both men denied having served as Soviet spies. However, they very strongly declared their sympathy with the Soviet Union and stated that they had both been “increasingly alarmed by the post-war character of Anglo-American policy.” They claimed that the decision to leave England and live in Russia was due to their belief that only in Russia would there be “some chance of putting into practice in some form the convictions they had always had.” They were convinced that the Soviet Union desired a policy of “mutual understanding” with the West, but many officials in the United States and Great Britain were adamant in their opposition to any working relationship with the Russians. They concluded by stating, “Our life in the Soviet Union convinced us we took at the time the correct decision.”
While the surprise news conference solved the mystery of where Burgess and Maclean had been for the past five years, it did little to settle the question of why they had gone to the Soviet Union in the first place. Their statement also did not clear up the issue of whether or not they had spied for the Soviet Union. Evidence from both British and American intelligence agencies strongly suggested that the two, together with fellow Foreign Office workers Kim Philby and Sir Anthony Blunt, had engaged in espionage for the Russians. Both men spent the rest of their lives in the Soviet Union. Burgess died in 1963 and Maclean passed away in 1983. I don’t suppose we will ever know all of the British and possibly American secrets they shared with the Russians during those years, only that they were treasonous traitors.