February 21, 1885…
Kindness is an admirable trait in a lawman, but it must be tempered with a healthy dose of suspicion. It was a lesson U.S. Marshal Hal Gosling learned too late. His good nature led to his death, setting events in motion that would break up of one of the worst outlaw gangs to plague south Texas in the 1880s.
You can read about Marshal Gosling’s sad demise, and the end of the Helotes Gang, in my article from the December 2013 issue of Wild West Magazine, now online at HistoryNet.
For a fuller account, see Chapter 3 of Some Gave All.
Time flies. Here’s a link to an interview I did with Old West writer, historian and blogger Tom Rizzo just about five years ago. We talked about Some Gave All, the Newton General Massacre, the real vs. the “reel” West, and more:
Wild West Magazine recently placed one of my past articles online – the story of the 1884 gunfight between drover Bing Choate and gambler Dave St.Clair in Dodge City. Spoiler alert: Bing lost.
Read it here.
In time for a little Halloween ghoulishness, the December issue of Wild West magazine (available in October) has my story “Grave Business.” Read about the 19th-century “resurrection men” who robbed graves and sold bodies for profit, and the inventors who developed wild – sometimes deadly – ways to thwart them.
And be sure not to miss Kellen Cutsforth’s excellent piece, in the same issue, on the cremation rites of the Mojave Indians.
Wild West Magazine
A none-too-flattering contemporary review of the 1938 Three Mesquiteers film, “Santa Fe Stampede,” published in the April 26, 1939 issue of the New York Times:
“Don’t go expecting to see a lot of cattle in ‘Santa Fe Stampede,’ at the Rialto, because there aren’t any cattle: not one scrawny maverick, not a single unbranded heifer, not a sign of a little dogie. Aside from this curious fact, and the unaccountable absence of guitars, it seems to be a Western picture, all right; there are three fellows dressed up in cowboy suits, and drawls, and a villainous claim jumper who nearly gets John Wayne lynched in a typical Republic mob scene—that is, a mob scene filmed in close-up, for economy’s sake. And oh, yes—in case you don’t remember—Mr. Wayne seems to be the D’Artagnan of a curious trio known as the Three Mesquiteers, whose success up to now is probably due to the fact that nobody has thought of ambushing them with a Flit gun.”
The most curious thing about the review is who wrote it – Frank Nugent, the journalist/film reviewer who in his second career as a screenwriter would script some of Duke Wayne’s best films, including Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers, and The Quiet Man.
Buffalo hide hunting was big business in the 1870s. Even after the great slaughter of the herds, folks found a cash crop in the sun-bleached bones. Want to know more? Check out my February 2009 Wild West Magazine article about the dual trades of buffalo hunting and bone picking, now online here.
I’ll be signing books and meeting folks on April 21 and 22 at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival’s Buckaroo Book Shop, along with fellow Western writers Johnny D. Boggs, Bob Brill, Al Bringas, Jim Christina, Eric Heisner, Dale Jackson, Richard Paolinelli, Katie Ryan, and Peter Sherayko.
In honor of the Festival’s 25th year, general admission this year is free, so come on out and pay a visit!
You can’t improve on perfection, I guess. After 120+ years, the humble paper clip shown in this 1894 ad hasn’t really changed much. In our increasingly paperless world, I wonder if future generations will regard paper clips as we regard buggy whips.