Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…

Since October is National Roller Skating Month (yes, it’s really a thing), and today’s the anniversary of a somewhat well-known gunfight:

A roller rink walking distance from the O.K. Corral in the 1880s? Yep. Imagine if the Earps and the Clanton/McLaury bunch had settled their disagreements with a skating competition instead of a gun duel. Everyone knows about the gunfight near the O.K. Corral. Who’d remember—or want to—the Skate-off at Bauer & Baron’s?

Anyway, if you’d like to know what cowboys – some cowboys, anyway – did for fun when they weren’t drinking, gambling, and consorting with nymphs du pavé, here’s a link to my article “Hell on Wheels: When Roller Skating Took Western Towns by Storm” from the October, 2014 issue of Wild West Magazine

July 4th, Dodge City Style

In 1884, the city fathers of Dodge City came up with what they felt sure was a bang-up (and lucrative) way to celebrate Independence Day – stage a genuine Mexican bullfight. The resulting hullabaloo, including a deadly post-celebration gunfight in a Front Street saloon, is detailed in a couple of articles I did for Wild West magazine a few years back.

Follow the links below to find them, and have a safe and happy Fourth!

Dodge City’s Grand Bullfight

Fireworks in the Old House Saloon

NEW RELEASE: Dead-Bang Fall

Dead-Bang Fall, the second novel in the Nate Ross series, has been released by Level Best Books/Historia.

Try as he might, private eye Nate Ross can’t seem to stay clear of Hollywood. His latest case, a penny-ante theft caper, turns deadly serious when one of the miscreants is murdered and Nate’s the prime witness. No sooner does L.A.P.D.’s number one suspect – a former friend and disgraced ex-colleague – turn up asking for Nate’s help than he goes on the run again, from both the police and Nate.

Nate’s forced to come to terms with more than one ghost from his past as his struggle to prove his on-the-lam client’s innocence brings him up against hostile cops, a pair of rolling assassins, film pirates, mobsters, and a girl who may need his help or may be playing him for a chump.

Order here, or find it wherever books are sold.

Henry’s Western Roundup

(Apologies for the earlier haywire message. Gremlins are buy today)

I recently had a great time talking with Henry Parke – screenwriter, blogger, and Western Films Editor for True West magazine. Our interview and Henry’s terrific review of Stardust Trail are in the latest installment of Henry’s Western Round-Up, right here.

Henry’s blog is one of the coolest thigs on the entire interwebs, chock full of information on everything in Western entertainment – events, movies, t.v., radio, and print. If you’re a Western fan and not reading Henry’s Round-Up, you’re definitely missing out. So if you haven’t yet, be sure and sign up to follow the blog. Right now – I’ll wait here. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Billy the Kid, Kansas-style

The June 3, 1881 Sedan, Kansas Times-Star carried this brief item of local interest. Had the snake known what kind of fellow ten-year-old Willie would grow up to be, it might have held back out of professional courtesy. For unless he was stealing the strawberries, this may have been the only newspaper account ever mentioning him without connecting him to some act of deviltry.

A dozen years later Will Chadburn made plenty of headlines as he went on the owlhoot trail for good, seeking to justify his adopted nickname of “Billy the Kid,” After committing a rapid-fire string of crimes around his home town, including several robberies and a stolen horse, he lit out east toward Coffeyville and connected with a pair of Arkansas fugitives. Their train robbery scheme ended in murder and landed all three in the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing (where the below photo of Chadburn was taken).

His prison stretch (which included one bold but short-lived escape) taught him nothing. Shortly after his release a post office burglary sent him to the federal prison at Leavenworth. And shortly after leaving Leavenworth in 1905 he’d pull another robbery, kill a Santa Fe railroad detective in a shootout, and end up gunned down by a citizens’ posse less than twenty miles from his home town.

My April 2020 Wild West magazine article about Chadburn, “Billy the Kid of Kansas,” can be found online here: (subscription required). From the same issue, “The ‘Most Daring’ Train Robbery at Mound Valley,” about the caper that sent Chadburn to the Kansas pen, can be found here: (no subscription required). A fuller account of Chadburn’s murder of railroad detective Frank Calhoun, and the bloody end of his outlaw career, can be found in Chapter 9 of Some Gave All:

In Case You Missed It (Them)…

Wild West Magazine has placed a few of my previous articles online at their HistoryNet site. Read about roller skating in the old West (yes, it was a thing), the day the Katy railroad staged a head-on train wreck, the birth of the buffalo-hunting trade, and its sister trade: bone-picking, the train robbery case of Billy the Kid (no, not THAT Billy), the fatal gunfight that started wild and wicked Dodge City on the road to respectability, and more.

For quick access to any or all, just follow the links on my new LinkTree page:

Thanks for reading!

Of Wolves and Sheepdog

“He is like a sheep dog, feared by the flock and hated by the wolves.”

I’m not much in the habit of quoting Wyatt Earp, but that’s one thing he said that I completely agree with and find worth repeating. In an August, 1896 interview with the San Francisco Examiner Earp discussed the perils of riding a treasure-laden stagecoach across outlaw country. Although he was referring to the coach’s shotgun guard, he could as easily have been describing the lot of lawmen in general. Anyone who works in law enforcement today is likely familiar with the sheepdog/sheep/wolf analogy. It’s interesting to see the same idea expressed a century-and-a-quarter ago.

Just further proof that truth is timeless, I guess.