Tuesday, October 26, 2021


 Ever heard of the Great Roundup? Buffalo round up, that is...

The year was1884. A man named Michel Pablo, whose mother was a Blackfoot, envisioned a way to save an endangered species and eventually make some money. He decided to "ranch" bison.

Image from World Wildlife Fund

Buffalo? Where did these wild animals come from, disappeared from the Great Plains like ther were? Why was he able to purchase them? It had to do with a second marriage, a little bigamy actually. A Flathead named Sam Walking Coyote had a wife from his own tribe. Away from home, he took a wife from the Blackfoot. When he had to go home, he captured some wild bison to use as a way to pacify the tribal council. He knew they would not approve of his taking another wife, not with the Jesuit influences over the council. It didn't work. They beat Walking Coyote and exiled him.

Fast forward some years. Those four animals had multiplied to 13. Pablo bought 13 animals from Walking Coyote.He turned them loose on the reservation and protected them. The land was considered free grazing area by the government, after all.

Michel Pablo, already in his seventies at the time of the "Great Roundup".

Later, he  bought another 25-30 animals from a different source. Pablo decided that the bison would populate on the grassy land of the reservation as long as they were protected, and by 1899 he had almost 300 buffalo. That became a problem when, in 1904, the US government decided to open the reservation land for settlement. Officials took away Pablo's right to free grazing.

Interesting, but why am I writing about this? It's the roundup that happened in 1907. Michel Pablo's herd totalled 800 and he had to sell. The story goes the US government. refused to buy them. Instead, Pablo accepted Canada's $130,000. That meant he had to get hundreds of head over a long and dusty trail to Ravalli, Montana. There, the buffalo would be loaded onto a train and shipped to Manitoba.

Watercolor on paper done by Charles Russell, 1909,
titled Pablo's Buffalo Hunt

His first try didn't go well. Buffalo could climb cliffs and escape from makeshift corrals. In the end, only 30 animals made it Ravalli. After that, Pablo made two decisions, First, he would only round up the calves and cows rather than the bulls. Also, he would hire the best of the best cowboys. That meant paying out the best money in the area.

Bison Trail 1908 by Charles Russell
The Great Roundup was born. Pablo paid $5 each day to each cowboy. Ranches in the area operated on a skeleton staff as hands lined up to work with the buffalo. The activity attracted the attention of a cowboy who was also a photographer and artist--Charles Russell. It's because of Russell's personal writings that we have a lot of details about the drive from the reservation to Ravalli. 

Even with all of the help he could want, Pablo spent five years capturing enough buffalo to fill his contract with Canada.

And where did the bison end up? This was the start of the herd at Elk Island National Park in Canada. the heritage of their buffalo was once free ranging across the Great Plains. If only the US Congress had been willing to take Pablo's offer of $15 per animal, that herd would not have needed to leave their native country to survive. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Colorado Cowboy?

Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Comanche Grassland - La Junta, CO.
Photo property of the author

The Colorado Cowboy could easily have been the Colorado Sheepherder. Research shows that sheep were the first 'commercial' animal in Colorado.

In the book "Historic Ranching Complexes on the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site" the authors state that ranching, specifically sheep ranching was brought to the southwest with the settlers from Mexico in the 1500s. It was sheep that formed the basis of ranching as the early settlers knew it. Other livestock were for personal use. It was the Churro Sheep that became the breed of choice due to its hardiness, meat, and wool. 

These ranchers would move the sheep across the open range seasonally, usually penning the livestock at night for protection. In winter they would settle them near the rivers and/or close to the settlements. Where the high country range was used on a more permanent basis, rock walls and shelters were built to create wind rain blocks.

Even as late as 1879, sheep and its wool, which is a twice a year crop, were still popular. In Colorado Springs, one of the principal money earners was wool growing. The city directory shows a list of twenty-five stock growers vs thirty-five wool growers. What is most interesting about this list is the number of people who were doing both.

So where does the Cowboy fit into this picture? Columbus and other early explorers may have introduced cattle to the new world, but Colorado really didn’t see them until people started their journey on the Santa Fe Trail, which passed through the southeast section of Colorado. The Bent brothers, of Bent’s Fort fame, would trade one oxen for two worn-out ones. Thus they built a herd of ‘beeves’. In the 1840s the Army ordered 500 ‘beeves’ from the Bents to supply Kearney and his Army of the West on their trip from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Interior of Bent's Fort 
Photo property of the author

In the central Colorado plains, there is a mention of one man who had cattle as early as the 1830s, but not much more is known about him and his herd.

It was during the cattle drives from Texas through Colorado that the cowboy took his place in this state’s history.  The 1866 Goodnight/Loving Trail went through Pueblo, along the Front Range to Denver, Colorado. This trail was one of the earliest to enter the state. In 1867 Goodnight established a ranch near Pueblo, Colorado. The barn his ‘cowboys’ built in 1869-70 in the Pueblo region, still stands today. 

A second trail, called the Potter/Blocker (Bacon) trail came through the eastern part of Colorado on their trip to Montana sometime around 1883. Not as well known and harsher than most, it traversed a drier and more unforgiving area for such drives. 

Eastern Plains of Colorado
Photo property of the author 

Today, Colorado still has cowboys and cattle grazing on the land. This legacy is traced back to the early settlers who braved this new country and left their mark. I will leave you with this quote from the book Century in the Saddle: The 100 Year Story of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, 1867-1967:

The cattlemen who built the Colorado range industry in the later 1860’s and 1870’s were not all heroes, nor were they all villains. However, there were both heroes and villains among them. Essentially they were pioneers, with the foresight to see a future in the cattle business...”

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Post (c) by Doris McCraw All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 16, 2021

An Adventure for A Dime by Jo-Ann Roberts

Initially published around the time of the Civil War, the first dime novels were immensely popular. These sensational stories were full of romance and adventure and became wildly popular in both the United States and in England, where they were dubbed "penny dreadfuls". 

Dime novels typically told the dramatic adventure stories of a single hero or heroine who often found himself or herself in the midst of a moral dilemma. They were ethically sound, endorsing good character, and strong moral values, with the hero/heroine choosing virtue over vice.

The storylines were simple and told in in language that brought to mind concrete pictures and people for the readers. The books were simple in appearance, bound in inexpensive paper with brightly illustrated covers, easy to carry, and easy to pass around. Though the subject matter of the novels included detectives, the military, chaste romance, and even early science fiction, it was the Western dime novel that dominated the market.

In the beginning, these stories were about the American Indians, but when the Indians were forced onto reservations, the public's fascination with them began to fade. Consequently, the novels focused on cowboys in the Wild West, outlaws and bandits, and train robbers. 

In Victorian England, "penny dreadfuls" were written in the macabre Gothic tradition to frighten and thrill readers.


Dime novel stories would often feature a recurring hero such as Buffalo Bill, Deadwood Dick, Buckskin Sam, or Roving Joe. The printing house could then establish a series and garner a following for these heroes. These heroes were, of course, packaged in a fast-paced adventure story often described as
"blood and thunder". 

First issued by the New York printing firm of Irwin and Erasmus Beadle and Robert Adams, the dime novels were an immediate success.  Between 1860 and 1865 alone, Beadle and Adams published more than five million dime novels. During this time, the Civil War made soldiers a prime audience for the publishers who produced books that catered to the men needing a light diversion during the boredom that often came with camp life.
Writing these stories was a lucrative business for many late 19th century authors. A well-established author could earn up to $1,000 per story; a lesser established author could expect close to $50 per story. One such author, Prentiss Ingraham achieved success and fame as an author of the "Buffalo Bill" series. By his own account he penned 600 novels by 1900.

Another major publishing house, Street and Smith, viewed fiction as a commodity, and editors had strict authority over the authors' works. Each author was allowed limited room for creativity and was required to follow a specific formula in the plot lines and writing style. No wonder authors like Horatio Alger, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London wrote for Street and Smith under pen names!


However, not all authors wrote under pen names to save their reputations. Many authors were writers who were often journalists, teachers, or clerks simply looking to make a bit more money to supplement their current occupations. With the invention of the typewriter, authors were able to churn out stories at an unbelievable rate. One author, Frederic Marmaduke Van Rensselaer Dey, the creator of street-savvy detective Nick Carter, was rumored to put out 25,000 words every week for almost twenty years!
Although not as numerous as their male counterparts, female authors also found success in the dime novel market. The most notable among these was Ann S. Stephens. In 1860, she authored the very first Beadle's Dime Novel, "Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter".

Bertha Clay, Geraldine Fleming, and Laura Libbey were among the most prominent female authors who penned stories about the pioneers, sensational murder mysteries, and society romances aimed at a young, working, middle-class audience. All for Love of a Fair Face, The Story of a Wedding Ring, A Charity Girl, The Unseen Bridegroom, and Only a Mechanic's Daughter were among the most popular romance novels enjoyed by girls and women, and surprisingly by many men.

The dime novel craze heavily influenced pulp fiction magazines introduced in the 1890s. Rising postal rates may have caused a decline in the publication of the dime novels, but the content material and sentiment behind the works continue to influence publications even today. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Omaha Laflesch: “You’re a Half-Breed” by Cora Leland


 Dr. Susan Laflesche

  Tonight, while I waited to check into a motel outside of Lincoln, the man waiting in front of me was listening to a beautiful Native American ceremony on his radio. Suddenly he ducked to the front of the motel, made a phone call, then returned to the line.

He resumed his place (without asking).  I said, “that was beautiful chanting.  What was it?”

He said, “That’s what we call the half-breed song.  Like you.”

 I was so amused that I didn’t flinch. 

He continued.  “The Omaha Nation’s dedicating a statue of my great-grandmother, Susan Laflesch, tomorrow morning at the capitol rotunda.  She was a half-breed like you.”

Did you ever feel that a person was egging you on? 

But I was terribly interested in what would come next.  Also, I was glad that Dr. Laflesch was being honored at the Nebraska State Capitol and I’d gladly overlook her great- grandson’s peculiar outlook.

The term ‘half-breed’ originated among American Indians when land was being divided by the federal government for various tribal uses.  Tribes in one region demanded a reservation set apart for the ‘half-breeds’ but the reservations themselves were to be open only to ‘pure-bloods’ or ‘bloods.’

I got checked in and went to my room, leaving the famous Dr. Susan Laflesch’s great- grandson making preparations in his.  Through the open door, I noticed a woman dividing up food as I walked by. 

I started thinking catty thoughts, wondering if he considered all Native American women like the braves of old supposedly did: women were property, fit for skinning hides and gathering berries, but nothing much beyond that.  The braves of old, though, supplied the tribe, including single females, with fresh meat.

The warriors also protected the women of their band.  All women would be safe from raids and attacks, when women could be stolen and enslaved.  (Stealing and enslaving, then selling, women from other tribes was common, especially among the Plains Indians.  European American -- non-tribal American -- slave dealers held auctions at local and larger markets, selling captive women as slaves.

Among the tribes, women were ranked, like every other member, with the young married women ranking ‘most,’ and the older, widowed or unwed women ranking ‘least.’   The women whom they’d captured, even those taken as captive wives, had no rank. I admitted to myself that the warriors of old might have felt insulted when any woman spoke to them as their equal.

Of course, the entire American Indian social structure was disrupted, first by the reservation system, then the attempts at ‘allotment’ (written into law by the Dawes Act).  Small parcels of land were given to individual Indians for their personal use only. 

Farming was encouraged, though tribal land was not uniformly suitable for growing crops and tools, like plows, and seed, were hard to come by, even by homesteaders and other settlers.  For example, the ancient inhabitants of the great southwestern deserts, like the Pueblo and Hopi Indians, lived where farming was impossible for anyone. 

In other regions, Indians were able to grow potatoes with success.  (Potatoes were considered by settlers and Indians alike as filled with nutrients, and were valued for keeping away scurvy.)  Other individual Indians worked hard and had good luck against the clouds of insects, the droughts, and the harsh weather that sent many homesteaders away. 

Some Indians were discouraged by life on reservations, then economically stopped by the decision that individuals must be farmers.  They’d grown up to expect nothing different from generations of their kinsmen.  From boyhood they’d learned skills for hunting large mammals like buffalo, which was – when you consider it – dangerous and life-threatening.  They learned how to ride their ponies and swing in front of charging buffaloes, or movements for confusing large animals while filling them with arrows or spears while riding. 

As children, they’d learned how to make bows, string them from the same materials as their ancestors, to carve arrows from rocks; certain types of arrows would kill small game; they made others suitable for hunting buffalo or other large game. 

The young warriors used certain wood for making the bows, and they learned to substitute other wood when their choice became too scarce.  (I do not offer these facts as excuses, but as tidbits of Western history.   I am unfit to judge anyone.)

The Dawes Act sought to enhance the federal government’s new project.  Allotments of small tracts of land to individual Indians were to replace the reservations, which they’d given to tribes. This was to reduce/remove tribal life and to create individual farmers.  It was written up as a charitable, humanitarian effort.  Hundreds of hard-working organizations endorsed this effort to help the native population.

The land that wasn’t used as allotments to Indians was sold to people settling the land; the federal government received the profits.  The effort toward creating individual allotments of land for Indians was discarded as a failure in the 20th century.

Then I remembered how truly great Dr. Susan Laflesch was.  As I’ve mentioned before in Sweethearts of the West, Susan Laflesch was the first Native American medical doctor.  She went to the University of Pennsylvania medical college during the post-civil war era. 

Doctors in America could – and did -- practice openly with no medical training.  Doctors abounded, opening clinics with no medical training whatsoever and no licensing. The University of Pennsylvania had one of the few accredited medical colleges.

Dr. Laflesch worked not only as a licensed medical doctor for the Omaha tribe.  She worked constantly for simple people.  For example, normal Indians who needed complicated paperwork filled out and sent through the government maze.  Like others in her family, she felt that she should take advantage of her many blessings – like being educated -- for helping others. Her medical practice consisted of high payment to no payment. 


It’s three o’clock in the morning. I’m glad that my experience this evening led to my sharing these ideas with you.  I’ll snap some photos of Dr. Laflesch’s statue and post them next month.  She was a strong-willed, admirable and very pretty woman.

I suspect that she’d been called a half-breed, too.  Only twice in my life have I been called a ‘half-breed.’  The first time, I was teaching at a university in Thailand.  One of the Thai teachers said innocently, ‘Oh! You must be a half-breed!”  I don’t remember what I said, but certainly nothing to hurt her. She spoke very little English, and I was sure she hadn’t meant this as a slur.

My encounter this evening?  The Oto tribe has never been one of the flashier, publicized tribes. The Oto is much smaller than the Omaha tribe, and has been since diseases and famines swept across the nation. The Otoes resisted attempts to unite with other tribes, but finally joined with the Missouria.  It had also been a larger, more powerful tribe, but numbers had simply decreased over the years.

My grandmother married an Irish merchant in Oklahoma.  Her son, my father, was a handsome wild Oto.  Like the strong hero in my last book – Thunder Hawk in Rescuing the Indian’s Bride -- it’s difficult to imagine a person ever calling him anything insulting.  

American Indian women, though, were slandered to their faces by being sneered at as ‘squaws.’  Like most racist slurs, the word stood for many other things.  Why should I feel slandered at being called ‘half-breed’ when I share the title with the great Dr. Susan Laflesch!

 First women Native American medial college graduates

I hope you’ve forgiven me for my very late Sweethearts of the West blog post.  I’d counted on internet in airports to send you my latest article; but as I learned, since the pandemic, airports simply don’t have that service. I spent hours waiting in airports, but without internet (or food or water).

 I’m finally in my new apartment, but there's no phone or internet, so sending you this from the city library!  I enjoyed looking at Dr. LaFlesch Picotte's statue.  It's very popular, with many people stopping and looking carefully.  Gardeners have planted sturdy Plains flowers and greenery as part of the arrangement.

Here's an article you might enjoy:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_La_Flesche_Picotte

I’ll be on time in the future! Thank you again for your loyalty to me and to our great blog, Sweethearts of the West. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Haunted Fort Worth Stockyards by Bea Tifton

 Sorry for the repost, but this week is moving week. Bad movers, lots of car trips with loose stuff, and no sleep! 'Tis the season to be scary, so enjoy. 

A few years ago, I took the Cowtown Winery's Haunted Stockyards Tour. We had complimentary Wine a Ritas in our hands and a great tour guide in our midst. The event at the end really happened. It was the perfect ending to a fascinating glimpse into local history. In the time of Covid, I'd like to visit that wonderful evening again, so forgive the repost. 

The Stockyards actually have a branch of the Trinity River flowing under Exchange, the main street. Many people believe that water holds spiritual activity and heightens paranormal activity.

The Stockyards Hotel was built in 1910 and was a crown jewel of a hotel, attracting rich oil tycoons. Bonnie and Clyde reportedly stayed in room 305. That room now overlooks Merrick Fine Western Wear, which was then a jewelry store, and the nearby bank.  Two stories are told about their stay. One is
that they rented the room to stake out the two businesses, but they liked Fort Worth so much they decided not to rob either place. The other tale is that they told the owners of the bank and the jewelry store that they weren’t there to rob them or cause any trouble because, as  Bonnie and Clyde said, they were just hiding out from the law until things cooled down a bit.
The Stockyards Hotel has a full-bodied apparition named Jesse. He’s a cowboy who couldn’t have afforded to stay in the hotel at the time. People speculate that he just wanted to stay there in the afterlife.  Visitors hear his spurs jingling as he walks through the hall or see him. Jesse never interacts with anyone.
Many have felt the presence of a former employee, Jake. He was a messenger from the 1900’s and he loved his job of 30-40 years. Visitors feel hot and cold spots and some of his physical duties are still taken care of. If guests leave their room unlocked, it will be locked when they return. For the last 30 years, the phone rings after hours. No one is there and the call cannot be traced, put on hold, or transferred. 

The Rodeo Arena  has had an indoor  rodeo since 1908. This arena is a hotbed of paranormal activity. There is a phantom black horse that runs around the arena.
Apparitions are of deceased cowboys in old-time clothing.  The rodeo was very dangerous and many lost their lives during their performance.  EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon; conversation not heard by the human ear) record hearing a voice saying, “Cow, cow, cow.” And “Pig, pig, pig.”
People have also reported seeing the spirit of Quanah Parker, who was the first Native American to ride in a rodeo.

The Exchange Building had two stories. One of the stories is that a man’s small child followed him to work in the early 1900’s. He wasn’t sure what to do with her, so he let her wander around. She went to play in the vault and an employee inadvertently locked her in. She wasn’t discovered in the airtight building until the next morning, and she had suffocated. Employees say they get an eerie feeling upstairs. They see a little girl running around playing and trying to get their attention. She looks out
windows at dawn. One early morning, the paranormal team from the Stockyards found two handprints on the inside of the door. 
The body of a prostitute was found inside years ago when prostitution was a licensed profession. She was probably murdered offsite and then dumped there. Her rose-scented perfume, for which she was known, can still be smelled on tours. 

The Armour Swift Corporate Building is quite an attractive building outside. Arson destroyed the building in the 1970s and, with all the residual animal fat, it took 1 month to put  the fire out completely. The Spaghetti Warehouse was there after the building was rebuilt, but they couldn’t keep staff. Silverware would fly, things would be moved, staff would hear strange noises and experience uneasy feelings.  The building currently houses business offices.

Riscky's Steakhouse
 is a popular restaurant in the Stockyards. A brothel was above this popular restaurant. This was a high class brothel that was more expensive than usual. The last member of the
Riscky family is very embarrassed about the brothel and won’t let people go up there. She threw everything away--but a red rocker once owned by the madame mysteriously reappeared in the building.The bells that signaled the men that their time was up are still there and working. The windows where the women would stand to attract customers have been covered up because people kept seeing apparitions of working women standing and posing in them.
Saunders Park
 is a lovely part of the  Stockyards.When the nearby area of Fort Worth was known as part of  Hell’s Half Acre, however, people would take care of disputes by shooting at each other. The dead or dying were dumped into the river by the park. Historic reports from the time say that sometimes the water was red with blood. Divers report that there are too many human bones to count remaining on the bottom of that part of the Trinity River. The city decided not to dredge, leaving them out of respect.   
Miss Molly's B and B is a popular place to stay in the Stockyards. Molly is actually the name of the lead cow in the simulated cattle drive and the mascot of Fort Worth.
The actual Madame was Miss Josie. It was a speakeasy until the 1930’s, and then the site became a low end brothel. The girls were actually 11-15 years old. Most of the girls were orphans or runaways.  Miss Josie was abusive. She didn’t take any guff from the male customers and was known to throw them out on the street. She was morbidly obese and ill-tempered. The girls had huge quotas and, if they didn’t meet them or they talked back, Josie would lock them in the closet without food, water, or facilities as long as she felt the the discipline was required. 
Girls were very competitive and would poison each other’s food and lotion, resulting in some violent illnesses and deaths.  Miss Josie had a daughter, father unknown, who she abused terribly. When the little girl was 8 years old, she disappeared.  Everyone thought Josie had killed her, but it was never investigated.  One time a little girl on the ghost tour had her hair pulled and told her mother that “Mary was messing with her.” No one had told the little girl that Josie’s daughter was named Mary. The owner keeps toys for Mary that no one else is allowed to play with and the playthings move around.
Josie’s room and the Cowboy’s room are the most haunted. Men have their shoulders rubbed or their heads patted, but women report feeling very unwelcome and watched.
Miss Josie's Room

Cowboy's Room
The Longhorn Saloon 
is a popular watering hole.  Three cowboys stopped to drink, just boys between 15 and 17. They got drunk and got back on what they thought were their horses. The men whose horses they stole confronted them and the boys were hanged in the saloon.  Now women in the ladies bathroom report having their legs tugged and feeling like they are being watched. 

We ended up back at the Cowtown Winery. The paranormal team that works the Stockyards swept the building and found just as much activity as Miss Molly’s.  It used to be a Chinese Laundry with the family living above.  People feel the presence of a young boy. A medium said he was killed by an abusive parent, who kept him in a cupboard behind the bar. There is an old-fashioned sock monkey doll no one admits to having brought in.  It will disappear for days, then reappear in odd places.

Another presence is also felt. Wine is spilled during the night, crackers are spilled, and cases topple over. The motion detector is never tripped.  People hear glass break and rush in, but nothing is broken.

Photo: Jess Vide

While the guide was talking about the little boy, the street light in the alley was flickering. When she got to the story of the other presence, the light went out with a “Pop!” Everyone jumped, looked at the light, and then laughed at themselves. As the tour dispersed and the guide went back in, one of the remaining tourists said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the light came back on?”

And it did!


If you're ever in Fort Worth, Texas, you should really take the Haunted Stockyards Tour with the Cowtown Winery. I enjoyed it tremendously and the local history was fascinating. 

Do you believe in ghosts? Leave a comment below.