guns

My uncle, Bill Spencer has always been a very interesting man, and I mean that in the very best sense of the word. I don’t know what kind of a student Uncle Bill was in school, but he has always loved learning, probably more so on his own than in a classroom. Somehow he doesn’t strike me as a kid who would have loved being in class, but I could be wrong. His passion was, of course, the family history, but Uncle Bill likes history to go along with his family history, and that is where my uncle and I are the most alike. My Uncle Bill worked meticulously and tirelessly on the family history, someday hoping to get it into the hands of the younger generation, which ended up being me and a few others who cared about it the same way he did…and for his hard work, I will be forever grateful.

Much of my uncle’s knowledge about things was self-taught. He learned about antiques, guns, stamps, and coins; and then he incorporated his knowledge into businesses he owned and ran. And he would pass his knowledge along to anyone who wanted to listen. It was Uncle bill who got me interested in stamps and coins, and while I don’t have large collections, I have a few that I like. I think it might have been his love of stamps, coins, and guns that sparked Uncle Bill’s interest in antiques, but I don’t know that for sure. His knowledge of family history and his Dad, Allen Luther Spencer’s ability to make furniture, might have had a part in that too. In addition, the era that my Uncle Bill was born into, did not have the ability to mass produce furniture like we have today, so the beautiful furniture pieces became one-of-a-kind works of art, and not just the useful, but cookie-cutter furniture on our day.

Uncle Bill is getting older now, and some of his recent memory escapes him, but the past remains vivid, at least on his good days. The last time I saw him was a good day, and that made my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my cousin, Pam Wendling, and me very happy. His stories about the old days were vivid and full of knowledge, and any slips in his memory, were humorous and sweet, and still tied to people of the past. His advancing years, make me feel the urgent need to visit as often as I can, and my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and I hope to make the trip late this upcoming summer for another visit. With each passing year, we just never know if Uncle Bill will still be with us. He isn’t the oldest sibling in his family, but he has lived the longest. Nevertheless, one day, he will no longer be with us. I pray that day is a long way off. Today in Uncle Bill’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

Since the 17th century, Texas, or Tejas as the Mexicans called it, had technically been a part of the Spanish empire. However, there were only about 3,000 Spanish-Mexican settlers in Texas, even as late as the 1820s, and Mexico City’s hold on the territory was very weak. Tensions were growing between Mexico and Texas, and on October 2, 1835, the area erupted into violence when Mexican soldiers attempted to disarm the people of Gonzales. People just don’t take kindly to having their guns taken away in any era, I guess. The citizens of Texas chose a war for independence of allowing the government to take their guns.

Mexico had just won it’s own independence from Spain in 1821. At this point, Mexico welcomed large numbers of Anglo-American immigrants into Texas. They were hoping that these citizens would become loyal Mexican citizens, thereby keeping the territory from falling into the hands of the United States. During the next decade men like Stephen Austin brought more than 25,000 people to Texas, most of them Americans. But while these emigrants legally became Mexican citizens, they continued to speak English, formed their own schools, and had closer trading ties to the United States than to Mexico.

The situation exacerbated in 1835, the president of Mexico, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, overthrew the constitution and appointed himself dictator. Recognizing that the “American” Texans were likely to use his rise to power as an excuse to secede, Santa Anna ordered the Mexican military to begin disarming the Texans whenever possible. He underestimated the people. His attempt to disarm proved more difficult than he could have ever imagined, and the situation exploded on that October day in 1835.

That day, the Mexican soldiers were attempting to take a small cannon from the village of Gonzales. To their surprise, they encountered much stiffer resistance than they ever thought possible from a hastily assembled militia of Texans. After a rather brief fight, the Mexicans retreated and the Texans kept their cannon. The determined Texans would continue to battle Santa Ana and his army for another year and a half before winning their independence and establishing the Republic of Texas. This truly goes to show that a nation, whose citizens are armed, is much more likely to be able to fend off their enemies…even if that enemy is a tyrannous government; than an nation of disarmed citizens. Yes, the ensuing war lasted for another year and a half, but the people won their independence in the end. They later went on to become a part of the United States, and they continue to carry their guns to this day. The people of Texas are just as adamant about their right to bear arms today as they were in 1835, as are a good number of their fellow Americans. It’s a fight that would not likely be won by the government today either. The American people won’t accept the loss of guns without a fight of epic proportions!!

In any war, when soldiers are killed or wounded in battle, their guns, grenades, and bullets were left behind…forgotten. Those who assisted the wounded and carried off the dead, had more important things to attend to than the soldier’s weapons and such, which were simply left behind…discarded. As the front lines shifted from one area to another, battlefields were deserted, and in the absence of the trampling footsteps of the soldiers, the grass and low plants began to grow again. As the months and years passed, trees continued to grow. The littered items somehow became embedded in the bark of the growing trees. That phenomena has always amazed me. How could the tree bark accept this odd foreign object into itself…and yet it did. Of course, it was not without scars that the odd pair would coexist. The foreign items would be wrapped with a knotted looking bulge, or would appear to eat up portions of the foreign object, while completely ignoring another part, as if it was simply laying beside it.

Like the weapons of war, the soldiers’ helmets were often discarded in an injury or more likely death situation. The likelihood of survival for the owner of a helmet that contained a bullet hole, was slim to none. The helmet was not likely to be needed by its owner again, so the helmet lay on the battlefield where it had been discarded. As time went on, the little sapling trees growing up after the end of the war started up under the helmet. In order for the tree to grow up, it had to make its way, somehow through the helmet or to topple it in order to survive. A bullet hole provided the perfect way to get through the heavy helmet. The tiny tree peeked through the hole to find the sunlight necessary for the tree’s survival. As the tree grew, the corroding helmet allowed the hole to be expanded, and the tree became larger. Soon the helmet became a part of the growing tree. There was not a knotted wrapping of the tree around the helmet, but rather the helmet took on a mushroom like appearance. It looked like an odd sort of umbrella to anyone who might come across this odd marriage of nature and the man-made helmet. Only on occasion did the tree protest the marriage, or the helmet refuse to allow the expansion of the hole, thereby creating the knot that was so often seen as the tree absorbed the foreign object. Even then, the tree could not fully absorb the helmet, and so it looked almost like the tree was wearing the helmet on its knotted head…and the branches protruding from the knot looked like messy hair. The strange looking trees, were a lingering reminder of a war that was long over, but somehow not forgotten…and nature prevails.

When I asked his dad what was new with my grand-nephew, Zack Spethman, the first thing he said was, “He’s tall.” And that is the truth. Zack has literally shot up in height in the past couple of years. It shocks me every time I see him. I pretty much have to stand on my tip toes just to give him a hug. While Zack is the second son of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve, I have a feeling that he might be the tallest person in his family. It’s hard to say, because the boys still have some growing to do, but at this point, Zack is most definitely in the lead.

Zack is such a loving, sweet natured young man, and he is never afraid to show people that he loves them. Many teenagers…especially boys are worried about the hit their “image” might take, if they are seen hugging their mom, dad, or aunts and uncles in public, but Zack doesn’t care about all that. Zack’s sweet nature doesn’t make him a wimp, just the opposite in fact. Zack is great in sports, and a great protector of those he cares about. Zack knows how to shoot a gun, and after passing hunter safety a year or so ago, he is also a great hunter. Zack and his brothers, Xander and Isaac, love to do the same things their dad is doing. From guns to snowmobiles to swimming to hiking, they are all in!!

Of course, these boys aren’t too proud to play with their little sister, Aleesia, and help he with anything she needs. They treat her like a princess, and she loves each and every one of them. Zack is also a perfect gentleman at school, and his teachers all think the world of him. He is never on to get into trouble, and rather is the first one to offer assistance whenever it is needed. He makes his parents, and the rest of the family, very proud of him, and I know that he will continue to turn into a wonderful young man. Today is Zack’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is a great kid, but he is quickly growing up and is hardly a kid anymore. Today he became a teenager, and is just about to finish his first year of middle school. That put him back at the same school and his brother and good friend, Xander. The share many activities, likes and dislikes, and their similar personalities. Football is the sport above all sports for them. They love to watch and play. It is a family tradition. The three Spethman brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac rising up through the ranks of school football. It keeps their parents busy with all the games.

Of course, football isn’t everything in their lives. Zack loves to climb mountains, play pool, and shoot guns…everything from air guns, to paintball guns, to real guns. He is a good shot and goes to practice with his family often, but he also knows about gun safety, and has passed the hunter safety course, so he can go hunting. Still, while hunting is a great adventure, the boys love combat competitions. They love to strategize the ways to dominate and “take out” the other team. Zack and Xander tend to pool their strategic resources to obtain the victory.

Zack’s dad, Steve Spethman decided to remodel the family kitchen earlier this year, and the boys got to learn about construction by helping their dad do the work. They were very attentive and meticulous about the work, and they learned a lot about the construction business. Their dad is a great carpenter, and a great teacher, so they learned from the best. They often work with their dad, and he is teaching them the value of hard work. Their parents have also taught the kids to be responsible for each other and for their little sister, and this is a job Zack takes seriously. He can often be seen encouraging his siblings and assisting his little sister, Aleesia. They are all very close.

Zack is such a sweet, kind young man, and we are all proud of him. He is loyal and loving to his family, and helpful to all in need. He is always there to give a hug or a word of encouragement. He is a good student, and is responsible. When he says he will be somewhere, he is. That was never more clear that when he was given an award for the best attendance in football last year. With his winning attitude and awesome personality, I know Zach will go far. He is a blessing to those who know him. Today is Zack’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Jake Collett is an electrician for H.I. Power. He really loves his work and that is a big plus, but of course his work is not his life. Like most of us, Jake’s career is a means to a better life. Jake is married to my grand niece, Katy, and they are very well suited to each other. They like the same activities, so they are going the same direction in their lives. That makes for great compatability in life.

Like many Wyoming boys, Jake’s free time is spent doing all the boy stuff. He loves to target practice with his guns, and from what I hear, he’s pretty accurate. That’s what you want. Guns are not too much good if you can’t hit anything, and these days you never know when you will need to protect yourself and your family. And of course, living in Wyoming usually means that you like to hunt, and you can’t bag your game if you can’t hit it.

Jake also loves dirt bikes and 4-wheelers and loves to go riding with his wife Katy, and his dogs Bubba and Sheiba. The dogs are somewhat like kids, in that they are what to go riding with daddy whenever he will take them…which is most of the time. Jake and Katy bought a piece of land in the country where they and their dogs can roam free. They don’t have to take a long drive to get to a place where they can ride their 4-wheelers. They just go outside, and they are set to go. Of course, they also love riding and hiking in the many beautiful places that Wyoming has to offer, because it gives them a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery we have here. Katy and Jake are building a beautiful life for themselves, and I know that there are many good things to come. They are totally happy together. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Duels weren’t always fought with guns, in fact most fights in the Old West weren’t really fought by duel or shootout. Most were actually drunken brawls that ended in a gunfire, but some fights, duels or brawls were fought with knives, and among the most famous knife fighters was a man named Jim Bowie. Many people think that he invented the Bowie knife, but in reality, the Bowie knife was invented by Jim’s equally belligerent brother Rezin Bowie. Resin came up with the design after nearly being killed in a vicious knife fight. Nevertheless, on September 19, 1827, it was Jim Bowie who made the knife famous when he killed a banker in Alexandria, Louisiana, using an early version of the Bowie knife. The Bowie brothers engaged in more fights than the typical frontiersman of the day, but such violent duels were not uncommon events on the untamed margins of American civilization. I guess some people just liked the bloody challenge more than other people. Personally, I don’t think that I would have the stomach for taking a life in such a manner, but then most of us really don’t want to kill someone at all. The Bowie brothers seemed to thrive on killing and fighting.

As time went on, most frontiersmen preferred knives to guns for fighting. I suppose they decided that they had a better chance against a knife than a gun. The Bowie knife quickly became one of the favorites, probably because it was scary all by itself. Often, when the Bowie knife was pulled out, the opponent had to quickly consider whether or not the fight was really worth the risk. The Bowie knife often discouraged many a would-be robber or attacker. The designs varied somewhat, but the typical Bowie knife sported a 9 to 15 inch blade sharpened only on one side for much of its length, though the curved tip was sharpened to a point on both sides. The double-edged tip made the knife an effective stabbing weapon, while the dull-edge combined with a brass hand guard allowed the user to slide a hand down over the blade as needed. It was the perfect knife for close-quarter fighting, and quickly became the weapon of choice for many westerners before the reliable rapid-fire revolver took its place in the post-Civil War era.

One would think that the Bowie brothers were outlaws, but in reality, they weren’t. They were landowners, and like many people in the Old West, sometimes they had to defend themselves. I suppose that as their fame grew, the need to defend themselves became a more common occurrence. While Rezin Bowie invented the Bowie knife, it was Jim Bowie who ultimately brought the knife its fame. After his first fight, men started going to a blacksmith to ask them to make a knife like Jim Bowie’s knife.

My nephew, Steve Spethman is a great husband and dad. I have known Steve since he was twelve, and like most kids, he was carefree and a little mischievous. Nevertheless, he has grown into such a great man. Steve’s top priority is his family. He is very active in the activities of his three boys and his daughter. Steve loves guns. He wants his kids and his wife, Jenny to know how to defend themselves, and he also loves to hunt, so he wants the kids to be able to hunt too, as they come of age, so he has trained them on every aspect of gun use and safety. Of course, they have to take the hunter safety classes too, but the two older boys have passed with ease. I know that his younger two children will do so too. Steve is an excellent marksman and is willing to help anyone with their shooting ability. I have been blessed to have him show me some things to help me shoot better, so I know that he is patient, and qualified. Now, I just need to go with him again to practice, hahaha!!

Steve is a hard working man, and even takes on extra work to help out family and friends, and to earn a little extra money. He does excellent carpentry work, and has helped .y sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike to build the home they have been working on at their ranchette near Casper. The work Steve has done there is beautiful, and I know that Mike has been grateful for his help. He is currently working on so renovations at the family home, and while Jenny is dreading the mess, she is really looking forward to the nice new kitchen she will have when all the renovations are done. I can’t wait to see the results. I know their kitchen will be just beautiful!!

Steve is very active. He loves to ride his motorcycle with his wife, Jenny. They really enjoy the summer months. If they aren’t riding the motorcycle, the might be taking their kids to the lake to swim, or on the mountain for a picnic. Winter finds them on the mountain on their 4 wheelers, but summer is their favorite season. Jenny and Steve love to be outside playing with their kids and enjoying the great weather. This year they had such a great summer, that they all hate to see it end, but fall brings football, and that’s ok too. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

isaac-leeisaac-footballMy grand nephew, Isaac Spethman is the youngest boy in his family, and the youngest big brother to his little sister, Aleesia. Sometimes that is a good thing, but sometimes, they fight like cats and dogs. Nevertheless, they are close, and the little tiffs are few. For the most part, Isaac and his siblings, Xander, Zack, and Aleesia get along great. Isaac and his brothers are doing a great job of turning serious girly girl, Aleesia into a bit of a tomboy too.

The Spethman family is a sporting family. The boys all play football, and they even have their own little cheerleader. The boys may be very rough and tumble football players, but when it comes to their sister…well don’t mess with her. Isaac and his brothers love to run scrimmages out in the front yard. Of course, they love to play lots of games in the front yard, like war games, wrestling matches, or snowball fights. Isaac and his brothers are definitely boys.

Isaac loves guns too, as do his brothers and his parents, Steve and Jenny. Of course, the kids all are learning about guns, and gun safety, but whenever he has the chance, Isaac likes to play gun slinger. He likes to be the robber who holds up his little sister, of have gun fights with his brothers. Isaac is a busy kid with many interests, most of them the same a his brothers. I suppose that comes from being the youngest boy in the bunch. Most younger siblings look up to their older siblings, whether they like to admit it or not.

Isaac is often a quiet kid, but maybe that is just when he is around people he doesn’t know well. Or maybe it is just when he is around adults. He certainly isn’t quiet on Thursday nights when he gets together with his and-a-cheerleaderfootball-boyscousins, Matthew and Anna. His cousin Raelynn doesn’t play very much, but when Matt, Anna, Xander, Zack, Isaac, and Aleesia get together, things are going to get rowdy. Now their parents and grandma, really don’t always appreciate that, and there is the invariable injury somewhere in the mix, but the kids are usually having a pretty great time…they just don’t do it as quietly as their parents would prefer. Such is life. Today Isaac turn ten years old. Happy 10th birthday Isaac!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

reno-gangThere are people these days who think we should get rid of the police officers, but they are obviously not thinking about the Old West. In the early days of the Old West, there were no law men. People had to take care of themselves. And contrary to what you might think, many people didn’t just carry a gun everywhere then either. That basically left them defenseless in many situations. On this day October 6, 1866, the Reno Gang carried out the first robbery of a moving train in United States history. Prior to that day, trains had been robbed while they were at the stations or in the freight yards, but that was proving to be a little dangerous, as the lawmen that were in the west were mostly in the towns. The Reno Gang changed the way criminals thought about things.

I’m not sure if their plan would have been considered innovative exactly, but as crime goes, I suppose it was. reno-brothersTheir idea was that if they robbed the train in some remote area of the track, the crew of the train, and the people on it would be at their mercy, and they could take what they chose to. That first moving train robbery was on an Ohio and Mississippi train in Jackson County, Indiana, and netted the gang a profit of $10,000. It was a piece of cake, because there was no one to save the people on board. While I don’t believe anyone died, they were all very scared.

The news of this new type of robbery traveled fast, and before long, trains became a moving target. There were gangs, like Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch who found train robbery so easy and profitable, that for a time, it became their specialty. The large stashes of cash and precious minerals on the trains and the sparsely populated landscape, gave the gangs just what they needed for success. Nevertheless, like all crime, eventually first-train-robberyprecautions were taken to prevent continued loss. By the late 1800s, robbing trains became increasingly dangerous. Railroad owners started protecting their trains’ valuables with large safes, armed guards, and fortified boxcars.

The Reno Gang was finally captured in 1868 after a series of robberies. That December saw another type of problem that develops when there is a lack of lawmen…vigilante justice. A mob of the citizens of the town, stormed the jail and hanged the brothers, Frank, Simeon, and William Reno and fellow gang member, Charlie Anderson. Their brother John Reno had been caught earlier and was serving time in a different prison.

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