old west

The job of marking out the boundaries of a property, much less an entire nation, while maybe not a complicated job, a big job, nevertheless. The 19th century surveyors were charged with the job of mapping out the entire United States, and to me, that is a huge undertaking. These men were more than just surveyors. These men were the unheralded vanguards of the Old West. They established original geographical boundaries and retraced and identified existing borders in accordance with legal descriptions. It is said that they were part-astronomers, part-geologists, part-engineers, and these mapmakers were also arbitrators when land lines were in dispute. Several wars, and many smaller feuds have been fought and people killed over boundary disputes, and sometimes the surveyor had to be called in to settle the matter.

Some famous men that we all know started out as surveyors. Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Daniel Boone When these men were surveyors, actually risked their lives in the line of duty to map what ultimately became the passes, railroads, towns, dams and other structures that helped form the backbone of the West.

Surveyors were the ones who shaped Western history. Their endurance, sense of adventure, and knowledge of precision tools and mathematical principles became the tools of their trade. In fact, they really became Jocks of all trades. While surveying the many miles of the United States, the had to actually blaze trails, so they had to become woodsman, so they could get through some areas to even begin surveying the borders. They became experts in the science of soil management and crop production. As agronomists they worried that hot weather, combined with dry conditions, can hamper pollination. They had to understand the soil and botany. They had to find their food in the wild, because there weren’t any stores in the rugged, wilderness they were mapping.

It was a hard job, and there were many risks, but these men were strong-willed, and determined…and sometimes their lives were on the line. In 1838, came one of the first incidence of a surveyor being killed. It happened just two years after the Battle of San Jacinto…a battle in which the Texians defeated Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna. While surveying on the Guadalupe River north of San Antonio, Indians attacked a survey party and killed nine of the crew, including one surveyor who managed to carve his name, “Beatty,” on a tree before he died. At least seven more survey parties were attacked that spring and summer, from the Rio Frio to the Red Sometimes River.

The surveyors were essential when the railroad was being built. The surveyors were the ones who marked out that track lines. They had to make sure they were not overtaking the landowners’ boundaries. The Indians were the main people to fight the surveyors, because they could see more and more of their land being confiscated. What would eventually be good, even for them, was seen as theft to them, and maybe it was, but when we look to the future, it’s easy to see that the land was going be essential to the people of the United States down the road. Nevertheless, the surveyors faced many dangers and really also had to be soldiers, because they were often in a fight for their lives, as they did their work. Surveyors were, and still are, essential to the ever-changing boundry lines in our nation, but that doesn’t make their job an easy one.

These days, we know that washing our hands and our bodies is important to good health. Of course, washing of hands cleans away dirt, germs, and bacteria, as well as many viruses that cause disease, but in the Old West, there were actually people who thought that bathing could actually make you sick, therefore bathing did not occur on a daily basis in the wild west. I’m sure you can imagine just how stinky things got. I suppose that if two people got very near each other, it would be a competition to see who smelled the worst. The reality is that we have all encountered someone who really needed a bath. Most of us would never tell that person that they stunk, but we might really hope that this wasn’t going to be the norm, or we might have to rethink the friendship.

Women in the old west “bathed” a little more often than the men, if you could exactly call it that. Mostly any daily bathing would consist of a pitcher of water and a washcloth, with the ritual performed in the bedroom of the home. Men on the cattle trail might take a plunge into a watering hole to get “cleaned up”, and quite often the bathing and the laundry would happen at the same time, meaning that a good portion of the body didn’t really get scrubbed up. Nevertheless, it was a good way to rid yourself of that nasty trail dust accumulated on the trail that day…or maybe the prior several days. This type of bathing might also involve armed guards to keep the Indians away.

To make matters worse, when people did bathe, it might be done in the kitchen in a large tub of water, used by the husband first, the mother second, and the children by ages on down the line. As you can imagine, the water got pretty black by the time the youngest child was bathed. Then the water was finally dumped. That is actually where the term, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water came from.” Sometimes being the youngest had its perks, and other times not so much. Some people would go to public bathhouses, where they might actually have to pay extra for “clean” water, and the guy after them might end up using their water, if he didn’t want to pay the extra fee.

The fact that bathing was inconvenient, and for some, scary, made people sometimes resort to other methods to rid themselves of the stinky odor. After all, lemon verbena wasn’t just a type of perfume. It helped to mask the odor that would come quickly with infrequent bathing. To make matters worse, people lived in primitive surroundings with lice, fleas and bedbugs, and the smell of their own dirty bodies drew flies and mosquitoes. Hopefully, the lemon verbena would help to keep the pests away…but I wouldn’t count on it really. I don’t think it masked the smell that well.

These days, we not only know that bathing is important to keep the stinky smells away, but it’s important to keep sickness away too. Most of us wouldn’t think of going long without bathing, after all, warding off sickness is important, but warding off that smell is vital!!

Pearl Hart was born Pearl Taylor in 1871, in the Canadian village of Lindsay, Ontario. Her parents were both religious and affluent, which allowed them to provide their daughter with the best available education. At the age of 16 and a bit of a rebel, she was enrolled in a boarding school where she fell in love with a young man named Hart, who has been variously described as “a rake, drunkard, and/or gambler.” That reputation didn’t deter Pearl and before long, the couple eloped, but Pearl soon discovered that her new husband was abusive and left him to return to her mother.

One would have thought that she would have learned her lesson and changed her ways before her future life of crime got started, but she chose to become an American Old West outlaw. Pearl Hart gained notoriety just before the turn of the 20th century as a female stagecoach robber. She cut her hair short, dressed in men’s clothing. She actually committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies in the United States, and her crime gained notoriety primarily because of her gender. To find out that a woman of that era was brave enough to pull off a stagecoach robbery was very unusual indeed.

Many details of Hart’s life are uncertain, with available reports being varied and often contradictory. It is thoughts that Hart reconciled with and left her husband several times. During their time together they had two children, a boy and a girl, whom Hart sent to her mother who was then living in Ohio. At least her children had a stable home. In 1893, the couple attended the Chicago World’s Fair, where he worked for a time as a midway barker. She in turn developed a fascination with the cowboy lifestyle while watching Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. At the end of the World’s Fair, Hart left her husband again on a train bound for Trinidad, Colorado, possibly in the company of a piano player named Dan Bandman.

By early 1898, Hart was in the town of Mammoth, Arizona. Some reports indicate she was working as a cook in a boardinghouse, while others indicate she was operating a tent brothel near the local mine. While doing well for a time, her financial outlook took a downturn after the mine closed. About this time Hart attested to receiving a message asking her to return home to her seriously ill mother. Looking to raise money, Hart and a friend known only as “Joe Boot” worked an old mining claim he owned, but they found no gold in the claim.

It was then that they decided to rob the stagecoach traveling between Globe and Florence, Arizona. On May 30, 1899, at a watering point near Cane Springs Canyon, about 30 miles southeast of Globe, they began their robbery run. Hart had cut her hair short and dressed in men’s clothing. Hart was armed with a .38 revolver while Boot had a Colt .45 revolver. The stagecoach run had not been robbed in several years, so the coach did not have a shotgun messenger. The pair stopped the coach and Boot held a gun on the robbery victims while Hart took $431.20, which would be about $13,500 today, and two firearms from the passengers. After returning $1 to each passenger, she then took the driver’s revolver. It was such an odd gesture. After the robbers made their getaway, the driver unhitched one of the horses, headed to town to alert the sheriff.

Accounts of the next few days vary. According to Hart, the pair took a circuitous route designed to lose anyone who followed while they made their future plans. Others claim the pair became lost and wandered in circles. Regardless, a posse led by Sheriff Truman of Pinal County caught up with the pair on June 5, 1899. Finding both of them asleep, Sheriff Truman reported that Boot surrendered quietly while Hart fought to avoid capture. Hart was eventually caught and after being found guilty, sentenced to five years in prison. She was pardoned after three years. Some accounts have her returning to Tucson 25 years after her imprisonment to visit the jail cell that once held her. A census taker in 1940 claimed to have discovered Hart living in Arizona under a different name, as she had married again. Pearl Bywater was living a private life with her husband of 50 years, George Calvin “Cal” Bywater. She is acknowledged as the only known female stagecoach robber in Arizona’s history, earning her the nicknames of “Bandit Queen” or “Lady Bandit.”

My uncle, Bill Beadle was a unique kind of man. He loved all things cowboy, western, and especially the Old West. I suppose it’s possible that he was rather living in the wrong era. It’s not that God made a mistake and put him in the wrong time, but sometimes our own preferences make us feel like we might have been better suited to a different era. I’m quite sure that his family would have argued that point with him anyway, if he were to suggest that he should have lived in the Old West. Really though, for Uncle Bill, it wasn’t about living in the Old West, it was about loving Wyoming…and he really did.

He loved all the outdoor activities that were favorites of his. He loved to hunt and fish. He loved spending time with his family in the great outdoors. His sons were his favorite companions…other than my Aunt Virginia, of course. He was born in Worland, Wyoming, and he always loved Wyoming. This would be the place he wanted most to be.

Uncle Bill was always funny and humorous, and I liked visiting with him. When his memory started to go, Uncle Bill could no longer come to the family parties, and so, many of us lost track of him. He struggled to communicate with family, and it simply became easier to just stay home and not try to carry on those conversations. I really miss those times with Uncle Bill. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

We don’t often think of the United States having castles, but some do exist. Most are not considered true castles, but are rather country houses, follies, or other types of buildings built to give the appearance of a castle. In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but suggesting through its appearance some other purpose, or of such extravagant appearance that it transcends the range of usual garden buildings. Castles seem like almost ancient history items to most of us, and when it came to the United States, many people thought of the Old West and homestead type dwellings. Nevertheless, there are a few real castles here in the United States, even if we don’t have royalty here.

One such castle is Bannerman Castle in New York. The castle is located on Pollepel Island, about 50 miles north of New York City, on the Hudson River. The castle is in serious disrepair, but the Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc is trying to shore up the buildings so they don’t deteriorate further. The analysis that has been done indicates that 5 out of the 7 buildings on the island could be shored up. The others are too far gone. The castle has a strange history, and I suppose some would debate it’s claim as a true castle. The castle was built by Frank Bannerman VI over a period of 17 years. The island’s buildings were personally designed by Bannerman without professional help from architects, engineers, or contractors. The island has buildings, docks, turrets, garden walls, and a moat in the style of old Scottish castles. That was his passion. He loved Scottish castles and built his castle with a Scottish flare. All of the buildings are elaborately decorated, from biblical quotations cast into all fireplace mantles, to a shield between the towers with a coat of arms, and a wreath of thistle leaves and flowers.

Bannerman’s family immigrated to America in 1854, when he was three. They settled in Brooklyn, New York, where his father established a business selling flags, rope, and other articles acquired at Navy auctions. He was a patriotic man, who joined the union army during the Civil War. At that time young Frank began running the business. He was 13 years old. When the Civil War ended, the US government auctioned off military goods by the ton, mostly to be scrapped for their metal. It was young Frank who saw the importance of these materials, and it was his wise purchases that earned him the moniker “Father of the Army-Navy Store.” He could see that much of what was being sold had a market value higher than scrap. Under the guidance of the younger Bannerman, the Bannerman family became the world’s largest buyer of surplus military equipment. By this time, their storeroom and showroom took up a full block at 501 Broadway. Bannerman made his store into a type of museum/store. It opened to the public in 1905. Of it, the New York Herald said, “No museum in the world exceeds it in the number of exhibits.”

Frank was very prosperous, and it was during a business trip to Ireland that he met his future wife, Helen Boyce. They had three children. At the close of the Spanish American War, Frank Bannerman purchased 90 percent of all captured goods in a sealed bid. After that, it became necessary to find a secure place to store their large quantity of very volatile black powder. His son, David saw Pollepel Island, in the Hudson, and Frank Bannerman purchased it in 1900. Following the purchase, the building of the castle began. Today, the island is owned by the state of New York, and at this time visits are prohibited until the buildings can be made safer.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandmother, Nettie Knox was not born during the pioneer era, but she did live a life that mirrored that era to a degree. While she was born in the West, in Clydes Park, Montana, she was nevertheless, a kind of pioneer woman. Grandma was born on June 30, 1909 to Orin and Eva (Landis) Noyes, and married Robert Knox on June 14, 1928. She was not born before cars were invented, but sometimes she lived like she was in the Old West. Grandpa was worked on a sheep ranch, and for a time when my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg was a little girl of about 3 years, they lived in a sheep wagon. The shepherd needed to be near the sheep, and Grandma was a homemaker, so she went with him. Plus, the sheep wagon was provided to them free of charge, and you don’t turn down a rent free place to live. Of course, that wasn’t where they lived for very long, because even with just the three of them for the first 15 years of her life, living in a sheep wagon would not really be roomy enough.

Grandma loved tradition, Christmas, birthdays, and celebrations in general, but when my daughter, Corrie Petersen was born on her birthday, and she was her first great grandchild, Grandma was ecstatic!! She considered that to be the greatest git ever, and they always had a strong bond. They always celebrated that birthday together, and new pictures were taken every year to see how much they had both changed. Of course, to me it seemed that it was Corrie did the changing. She was the one that was growing up, and Grandma seemed to have a timelessness about her. In fact, it seemed like she had an innocence about her. Maybe it was her love of tradition and celebration, or maybe she was just blessed with good genes. Whatever it was, Grandma just never seemed to get old…to me at least. Maybe that was why Grandma and Corrie could have such a great relationship too. They could both get excited about the same kinds of things.

When I think of what Corrie is working on becoming, and has already become, I know that Grandma Knox would have been so proud of her. Grandma suffered with arthritis and always whiced that the medical community could find a cure for it. While there is no cure yet, maybe there will be someday. Nevertheless, Corrie tries to comfort people, no matter what the disease is that they have. Her job is is give comfort to her patients, and I know that Grandma would have seen that as a great contribution to the world. Today is the 113 anniversary of Grandma’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

In the days of the Old West, women were considered the “weaker sex” and they were supposed to be cared for and protected by their male counterparts. Most women were fine with that idea, but there were a few, like Annie Oakley and Susan Anderson, who broke the mold. Annie Oakley was an amazing markswoman and Susan Anderson was a doctor. These women weren’t alone in their desire to leave their mark on the world.

The world of law enforcement, especially in those days was clearly a man’s world, but in 1891, a woman named F M Miller was commissioned out of the federal court at Paris, Texas as the only female deputy that worked the Indian Territory. Miller was known as a fearless and efficient officer, who had locked up more than a few offenders. She was a “young woman of prepossessing appearance, wears a cowboy hat and is always adorned with a pistol belt full of cartridges and a dangerous looking Colt pistol which she knows how to use.” Apparently, hiring a female deputy wasn’t all that unusual, but the women deputies were known as office deputies, basically a secretary.

Oklahoma has set the pace for something more. United States Marshal C H Thompson, of Guthrie appointed two women as deputies for field work. It was almost unheard of. If a woman choose the vocation of professional thief taker in the most civilized portion of the land would be strange enough, but how strange is it when she chooses field duty on the worst territory in the Union. Criminals in Oklahoma and in Indian Territory, the district where these two girls, S M Burche and Mamie Fossett spent their days, were among the most dangerous anywhere. They were accused of murder, rape, robbery, arson, adultery, bribery, and numerous other crimes. These outlaws initially hid out in Indian Territory, because it was without law enforcement, with the exception of the Indian Nations’ police forces, who had no jurisdiction over the many criminals who had taken flight from other states. The outlaws were ruthless and willing to kill to avoid jailtime. More lives were lost among Federal officers in a year than in all the rest of the nation together. So it would seem that these girls possessed exceptional guts and spunk to willingly undertake such duties.

Burche and Fossett were truly spunky and adventurous women. They had no qualms about invading the newly opened Oklahoma territory. They were young, fairly good-looking, well-educated, fearless, and independent…and they were definitely not Marshal Thompson’s secretaries. When they took the oath of office and assumed their duties it was with distinct understanding that they would serve the Government just as would any other deputy marshal. They were to take the field, serve writs and warrants, and make arrests just as any male deputy might be called on to do. And they did it with great success.

The wildness of the Oklahoma and Indian Territory would soon come to an end when Judge Isaac Parker was appointed to the Western Judicial District of Arkansas, which included Indian Territory. Parker would go on to command about 200 deputy marshals to “clean up” the lawless territory, but that would take years as the deputies struggled to cover the more than 74,000 square miles in their search for hundreds of wanted fugitives. It was not going to be a speedy process. Into this dangerous midst, a number of men made names for themselves. Men such as Heck Thomas, Bass Reeves, Bill Tilghman, Chris Madsen, and dozens of others. More quietly, a few other deputies also made names for themselves. Quietly, because they were women.

Most people know what the paddy wagon is, and nobody wants to end up in one. An old term for arresting vehicle, the term gets it’s roots from the Irish. Apparently, many of the police officers in early America were of Irish descent. According to Dictionary.com, “Irishman,” 1780, slang, from the pet form of the common Irish proper name Patrick (Irish Padraig). It was in use in black slang by 1946 for any “white person.” Paddy wagon is 1930, perhaps so called because many police officers were Irish. Paddywhack (1881) originally meant “an Irishman.” I suppose that many would look at this slang name for police officer as disrespectful, and they might be right, but no more disrespectful that pig or even cop. Nevertheless, the Paddy Wagon was just a vehicle used to transport prisoners to jail. These days, unless it is a big group being arrested at one time, paddy wagons aren’t used much, but they used to be much more common. I’m sure there were many outlaws who knew the inside of a paddy wagon well…at least the ones who were’t very good at their skill. Those who were good at it usually avoided the paddy wagons.

Back in the Old West, paddy wagons really were wagons, but then so was every other mode of personal transportation, and many forms of business transportation. With the invention of the motorized vehicle, came a different type of Paddy Wagon too. And with the invention of the motorcycle, came an even more unusual type of Paddy Wagon. I can’t really imagine being taken to jail in a cage attached to a motorcycle, but there were those who were taken that way. This seemed to be common in Los Angeles, which makes sense, because many other places would be too cold for that. Still, imagine being hauled to jail in a cage for all the locals to see. No privacy there. I suppose that would be a special type of punishment for sure, the crime and the embarrassment. Or maybe criminals don’t get embarrassed. I can’t really say. All I know is that if I ever had to be hauled to jail in a Paddy Wagon, I would prefer the type we have today, with no windows.

When we think of the Old West, the Pioneer movement, the Gold Rush, and generally, the settling of the United States, our minds immediately go to the brave men who fought the Indians, ran the wagon trains, weathered the harsh winters looking for their fortunes, and fought in the wars to make this a free nation, but seldom do we think of the anonymous heroes of that time…the women. There is a saying, “Behind every great man there’s a great woman.” that saying is one reference to the many women who have set aside their own comforts to support their man in the goals and dreams he has. In many ways that saying is the picture of the Pioneer woman, but it actually leaves something out. Just because her man did not become famous, doesn’t mean that the woman was any less behind him, supporting him in all he did.

Pioneer women were there, on the home front, working hard all day trying to keep their house clean in a rugged windswept frontier. Her floors were often made of dirt, and yet she swept them. The water came from a well, or a nearby creek, and she had to haul it into the house, because her man was off hunting to bring in food for the family. The house was crudely constructed with logs and often had a sod roof, and she was right there working like a man beside her husband to get that house built. She watched over the children, and kept them safe from the many perils that were a daily encounter. From snakes, to bears, to mountain lions, to Indians, she did what she needed to, even to the point of handling a gun as well as her husband did. And yet, history looked at her as the weaker part of the partnership, the one who needed to be sheltered and protected. History looked at her as if she could not even bear to hear about certain things, because they might be too upsetting to her. In reality, they had vastly underestimated their women.

When the men got hurt, and the garden needed to be cared for, the women would till the ground…fighting with the tiller behind a horse, and winning the battle. These women took care of the house, the children, the sick or injured husband, and the garden or other crops, all without batting an eye. These women knew all about the hardships of frontier living, and when the going got tough, they didn’t turn and run back east. When the Indians attacked, they stayed and fought with their men. They could not afford to hide in a cellar, their hands were needed to hold a gun. They even faced the Indians alone, when their men were away, becoming excellent negotiators, who were able to make a trade of their wares that, in the end saved their own lives and the lives of their families. They were determined to make this new frontier work, and for the most part, they did it all without making a name for themselves. Sometimes, when we look up ancestors in historic archives, these women are either listed only as Mrs, acknowledging only the husband’s name, or they were listed only as the wife of their husband. Their true identity sometimes remains forever a mystery, and yet, they were heroes…but, they were anonymous heroes. The great men they stood behind, thereby making these men successful, may have been heroes of the frontier, and their name may have been one that every history book told us all about, but their wives, who worked quietly beside them, remained unknown. We knew about the exploits of the men, the towns they founded, the travels they made exploring ever westward, but the women who were there with them, cooking the meals while the men talked, cleaning up afterward alone, delivering their babies often with only the help of their husband, carrying a baby, while weeding a garden, and feeding their family before themselves, going hungry, if necessary, to make sure the family was taken care of…these women rarely made the history books. Their job must have seemed to mundane to be considered adventurous, but without their contribution, this nation would not have become the great Republic that it is.

When we think of the outlaws of the old west, the term “gunfighter” or “gunslinger” were not the terms used to describe those men, or even the lawmen that some of them became upon changing their ways. They were actually originally called pistoleers, shootists, bad men, or one we do know…gunmen. That being said, Bat Masterson, who was a noted gunfighter himself, who later became a writer for the New York Morning Telegraph, sometimes referred to them as “gunfighters,” but, more often as “man killers.”

I suppose that Bat Masterson was probably the one who coined the term “gunfighter” in the first place, but many people from that era must have thought it an odd term to use. Still, if you heard an outlaw called a pistoleers, wouldn’t you have wondered what that was supposed to be? I would have, but then I would have looked it up and found that a pistoleers was “a soldier armed with a pistol.” That would have made no sense to me either, but in reality, some of the outlaws were soldiers who didn’t want to fight for a cause they didn’t believe in, so their deserted and headed west, so I guess they could have been pistoleers.

Another “movie mix-up” that happened is that in the old west, pistoleers or shootists didn’t squarely face off with each other from a distance in a dusty street, like they would like us to believe. In reality, the “real” gunfights of the Old West were rarely that “civilized.” Many fought in the many range wars and feuds of the Old West, which were far more common that the “stand-off” gunfight. Most of these were fought over land or water rights, some were political, and others were simply “old Hatfield-McCoy” style differences between families or in lifestyles. These people fought from the protection of anything available like a watering trough, a wall, building, or even a horse. Of those that more easily fit the perception of the “gunfighter,” you would find that they didn’t kill anywhere near the number of men they are credited with on television. In many instances their reputations stemmed from one particular fight, and the rumors grew from there, making people think they were that good. In other cases, self-promotion led people to believe they were lethal shootists, such was the case with Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok.

There were other, lesser known shootists, who actually saw just as much, if not more action than their well-known counterparts. Men like Ben Thompson, Tom Horn, Kid Curry, Timothy Courtright, King Fisher, Scott Cooley, Clay Allison, and Dallas Stoudenmire, just to name a few, were often not credited for nearly the shooting ability of the well known shooters. Often these gunfighters, whose occupations ranged from lawmen, to cowboys, ranchers, gamblers, farmers, teamsters, bounty hunters, and outlaws, were violent men who could move quickly from fighting one side of the law to the other, depending on what suited them best at the time. Though many of these gunman died of “natural causes,” many died violently in gunfights, lynchings, or legal executions. The average age of death was about 35. However, of those gunman who used their skills on the side of the law, they would persistently live longer lives than those that lived a life of crime.

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