Today in Old West History
1861-Fort Fillmore, New Mexico Territory- after defeating Union troops Captain John Baylor claims all territory south of the 34th parallel as the Confederate Territory of Arizona.
1866- the War Department orders the Army to train Indian scouts who will be used “in the territories and Indian country.” These scouts will receive the pay and allowances of cavalry soldiers. Within a year the number of Indian scouts reaches 474.
1867- Fort C.F. Smith, Montana Territory -“The Hayfield Fight”, on the morning a minor engagement occurred in a hayfield within sight of Fort C.F. Smith. 2nd Lt. Sternberg and 8 troopers, accompanied by 9 civilians were attacked by a large party of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. The white men were able to reach the shelter of a makeshift corral. By the late afternoon the Indians withdrew leaving many dead. Of the white men, Sternberg, 2 of his men and 1 civilian died. The skirmish could be seen and heard from the fort yet no relief party was ever ordered out to help.
1876- Deadwood, Dakota Territory- Jack McCall AKA Bill Sutherland, lost $110, all the money he possessed, to Wild Bill Hickok in a card game. Even though Hickok had loaned McCall money to have breakfast, McCall swore revenge.
1876 - Colorado, the 38th state, entered the United States of America this day.
1895- Sheridan, Oklahoma Territory - outlaws Ike Black and Zip Wyatt, and others rode into a posse trap near Skeleton Creek, outside of Sheridan. The posse, headed by U.S. Marshal W.D. Fossett and Sheriff Bill Banks, opened fire when the outlaws refused to surrender and shot Black dead from his saddle. Wyatt was wounded but managed to escape; he was later captured. One of the members of the posse, the son of lawman Fossett, had gone to grade school with Black and he spent considerable time worrying about whether or not his bullets were the ones who killed his boyhood friend. Black's corpse was taken to Canton, Okla., where it was put on display; the curious paid a dime each to see the dead outlaw stretched out on a wooden plank.
1906- Emet, Oklahoma Territory- Marshal Collins was ambushed near his home by "Killin'" Jim Miller, who shot him in the stomach while Collins' wife looked on. Ben Collins represented law and order in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma during the 1890s. In 1905, in Emet, Oklahoma, Collins was ordered to arrest Port Pruitt, one of the town's leading citizens. Pruitt brandished a gun, but Collins dropped him with a single shot. As it turned out, the shot permanently crippled Pruitt, who swore revenge.
1903- (near) Deadwood, South Dakota- Mary Jane Canary, AKA Calamity Jane, died of pneumonia at age 51 and was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood South Dakota.
1860- New Mexico Territory- twenty mounted riflemen battle Navajos near Albuquerque. Two Indians are reported killed and two wounded.
1861- Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory- Union forces abandon the fort.
1862- Boise Basin, Idaho Territory- gold is discovered.
1866- Presidential proclamation declares the Confederate insurrection officially ended in Texas.
1867- Kansas- the 10th Cavalry under Captain Armes engage Indians on the Saline River. Armes is wounded and one soldier is killed.
1867- Wyoming Territory- Wagon Box Fight- a detail of the 9th U.S. Infantry under the command of Major J.W. Powell was attacked by Red Cloud and Crazy Horse and a thousand Sioux as nearly 3,000 Sioux women and children watched from a ridge. The detail was escorting a party of woodcutters. The woodcutters and detail made a corral of 15 wagon-boxes that had had the wheels removed. Major Powell, whose men had newly issued breech-loading Springfields instead of the muzzle-loaders Red Cloud was expecting, lost seven men while Red Cloud lost around two hundred.
1874- Dakota Territory- two civilian prospectors with the Custer expedition to the Black Hills discover gold on the French Creek. Custer sends scout Lonesome Charley Reynolds back to Fort Laramie with the news.
1876- Deadwood, Dakota Territory- Wild Bill (James Butler) Hickok was killed from behind while playing cards in Saloon # 10 by Jack McCall, a desperado from Texas. Legend has it that the poker hand Hickok was holding when he died consisted of a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights. This combination became known as the dead man's hand. Hickok was a Union army spy, a scout for General Custer, and a marshal for Abilene, Kansas, as well as a flamboyant gambler.
1882- Langtry, Texas- armed with a copy of the Revised Statutes of Texas, 1879 edition, Roy Bean got himself appointed justice of the peace by Texas Rangers Captain T.L. Oglesby, occupying a twenty-by-fourteen-foot shack adorned with signs that read: "Judge Roy Bean, Notary Public," "Justice of the Peace," "Law West of the Pecos," and "Ice Beer." The place was entitled with another prominent sign, reading: "The Jersey Lilly," named after Bean's heart-throb, Lily Langtry. The sign was misspelled by a illiterate sign-painter who worked off one of Bean's notorious fines by painting the signs while drunk.
1859- Texas- the Comanches are “officially” expelled from the state. Many are relocated in Indian Territory, in present day Oklahoma.
1861- Tubac, Arizona Territory- the residents of the town, unprotected now that Union forces have been recalled for Civil War duty, hold off a band of Indian and Mexican looters for three days before making a daring nighttime escape.
1863- Cairo, Illinois- future lawman, Ira Aten, is born.
1867- Wyoming Territory- Colonel Carrington sends two infantry companies, 150 men, from Fort Phil Kearny to establish Fort C.F. Smith in present day Montana to protect traffic along the Bozeman Trail.
1876- Deadwood, Dakota Territory- Wild Bill Hickok was buried with great ceremony. Doc Pierce, who prepared Wild Bill for burial was quoted as saying, "Wild Bill was the prettiest corpse I have ever seen." Wild Bill 's assassin, Jack McCall, was tried on this day before Judge W.L. Kuykendall. McCall lied and insisted that he was blinded with rage since Hickok had killed his brother years earlier in Kansas. McCall was acquitted. Later it was ruled that the Deadwood trial was illegal and McCall was again tried on Dec. 4-6, 1876, in Yankton, Dakota Territory. He was found guilty of murdering Wild Bill and went to the gallows on Mar. 1, 1877. He stood quaking on the scaffold, trembling and begging for someone to save him. The rope was placed around his neck and just before he fell through the trap to his death, McCall cried out: "Oh, God!"
1877- California- Black Bart appearing in his duster and flour sack, stopped the Arena stagecoach, en route to Duncan's Mill on the Russian River. He took the strongbox and its contents of $300 in cash and a check for a similar amount. Some days later a posse found the empty box, and inside of it was a note reading: " I've labored long and hard for bread, For honor and for riches, But on my corns too long you've tred, You fine-haired sons-of-bitches." The stage robber had signed the note with a name that would go down in Western history: "Black Bart, PO-8."
1882- Wyoming- the Cheyenne Electric Light Company is incorporated.
1859- Arizona Territory- Sylvester Mowry buys the Weekly Arizonian and begins publishing from Tucson, after having failed in his attempt to kill the editor in a duel the previous month.
1873- Llano County, Texas- PACKSADDLE MOUNTAIN FIGHT- A band of more than twenty-one Indians, reputedly Apaches, had come down the South Llano River raiding and stealing horses along Beaver Creek and Legion Valley. James R. Moss collected his two brothers (Stephen B. and W. B. Moss), as well as E. D. Harrington, Eli Lloyd, Arch Martin, Pink Ayres, and Robert Brown and followed the Indians for twenty-five miles. The group overtook them on top of the mountain, where they had 300 or 400 pounds of beef laid out on the rocks. The fight occurred on 5 August. In the fight three Indians were killed and four whites were wounded. After the Indians retreated, the whites rode to the John B. Duncan ranch, where Dr. C. C. Smith from Llano gave them medical attention. This was the last Indian fight in the county, which had been the scene of Indian raids for at least a decade. Two markers commemorate the fight: a granite plaque placed at the battle site on August 5, 1938, by descendants of the participants, and a roadside marker ten miles from Llano, placed by the Llano County Historical Committee during the Texas Centennial activities of 1936.
1882- Fort Larned, Kansas- established in 1859 to protect traders along the Santa Fe Trail, the fort is officially abandoned.
1886- Denver, Colorado- despite a good income from gambling and living in a nice hotel Doc Holliday was arrested for vagrancy because he had no legal means of support. Others were arrested on similar charges in the city's effort to clean itself up, at least for the newspapers.
1859- New Mexico Territory- Major L.A. Armistead of the 6th Infantry leads two officers and 50 enlisted against 200 Mojave warriors near Fort Mojave. Three soldiers are reported wounded and estimates 23 Mojaves killed, with many wounded and taken captive. Lew Armistead would live only four more years. He would die just inside the Federal lines on Cemetary Ridge as he lead his Confederate troops as part of Pickett's Charge. His last words were to inquire about his old friend Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. Hancock had also been wounded and was unable to come to Armistead. Hancock would servive.
1863- Massacre Canyon, Nebraska Territory- a tribe of Sioux kill fifty-nine Pawnee.
1850- Fort Bridger, present day Wyoming- Louis Vasquez was made the first Postmaster.
1860- Kansas- Major Sedgwick and six companies of the 1st Cavalry battle a combined force of Kiowa's and Comanches on Cottonwood Creek.
1873- Tucson, Arizona Territory- vigilantes lynch four suspected murderers in the Court Plaza.
1874- Lamar County, Texas- James Reed, first husband of the infamous Belle Starr, was shot dead by Deputy Sheriff J.T. Morris near Paris.
1880- Arizona Territory- Buckskin Frank Leslie married Mary Killeen (who he had made a widow in June) in the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Tombstone.
1895- San Antonio, Texas- Missouri-born gunfighter Jim Clark was shot outside the Colombo Saloon while in the company of a man known only as Mexican Sam. An errant bullet pierced Clark's heart, and he died within the hour.
1896- Nogales, Arizona Territory- lawmen fought a gun battle with the Black Jack Ketchum gang when it attempted to rob a bank in Nogales, driving off the outlaws. One of the lawmen was Frank King, a dedicated lawman who served as a deputy sheriff in Phoenix, Arizona Territory, during the 1880s, and in Texas, New Mexico, and California in the following decade. While serving a brief term as a guard at the Yuma Prison in 1889, a massive prison break was attempted in which five prisoners were shot to death, most of them by sharpshooter King the only man in the main tower at the time. King lived into the 1920s and was considered one of the toughest lawmen of his era.
1902- Creston, Washington - outlaw Harry Tracy had been terrorizing the citizenry of Oregon with a series of robberies and holdups. On this date a posse surprised him on a ranch near Cresto. Tracy managed to dash into an adjoining wheat field. The posse fired volleys of shots into the field but heard Tracy fire only one shot in return. The following morning, Sheriff Gardner of Lincoln County and his posse searched the field, where they found Tracy dead, a suicide. One of his legs had been shattered by two of the rifle balls fired by the posse. He had attempted to stop the flow of blood with a bandage, but when it became obvious he could not escape, Tracy apparently decided to make good on his promise that he would never be caught alive, and shot himself in the head. His body was returned to Salem prison for identification and was displayed to the inmates as an object lesson in the rewards of a life of crime.
1870- Arizona Territory-during the last eleven days ten settlers are reported killed in Indian raids.
1880- Texas- Battle of Rattlesnake Springs- black soldiers of the Tenth United States Cavalry and a detachment of the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry fought Victorio in the climactic engagement of the Apache leader's incursion into West Texas. Since leaving the Mescalero Reservation near Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory. In late July Victorio and 125 to 150 of his followers crossed the Rio Grande, intending either to return to the vicinity of their former reservation or to find refuge in the rugged Guadalupe Mountains on the Texas-New Mexico Territory border. Col. Benjamin H. Grierson, commanding the Tenth Cavalry and the District of the Pecos, decided not to pursue Victorio, but rather stationed troops at strategic waterholes and crossings, knowing that the Indians could not pass through the dry Trans-Pecos without water. On July 30 he repulsed the band at the battle of Tinaja de las Palmas, south of the site of present Sierra Blanca. Victorio withdrew into Mexico to regroup, but soon reappeared north of the river. The fight on August 6 unfolded haphazardly. While Capt. Nicholas Nolan's Company A scouted the passes through the mountains, Capt. Charles Viele positioned companies C and G in Rattlesnake Canyon guarding the approaches to the spring. At two o'clock in the afternoon, his men opened fire at a distance and halted the cautious advance of Victorio's warriors. The Indians reorganized and were working their way around the soldiers, when Capt. Louis H. Carpenter appeared on the scene with companies H and B and drove them back into the hills and arroyos. About 4 P.M. Captain Gilmore and the supply train rounded a point of mountains to the southeast. A small party of Indians attacked the wagons, but quickly withdrew under fire from the infantry and cavalry escort. An attempt to scatter the soldiers' pack mules near the springs likewise failed, and Victorio retreated into the mountains. Pvt. Wesley Hardy of Company H, Tenth Cavalry, was reported missing in the engagement, and some sources reported that possibly three other troops were killed. Reports on Indian losses varied from four killed to up to thirty casualties for the combined fight at Tinaja and Rattlesnake Springs.
Although scarcely more than a skirmish, the fight at Rattlesnake Springs was important in convincing Victorio to abandon the Trans-Pecos. On August 7 Capt. Thomas C. Lebo reported to Grierson that four days earlier his Company K had located and destroyed the Indians' supply camp in the Sierra Diablo. Twice defeated, hungry, and denied access to waterholes, Victorio abandoned his effort to return to New Mexico Territory and fled back across the Rio Grande. On October 15 Mexican forces killed him in the Tres Castillos Mountains. Victorio's death ended the Indian threat to West Texas.
1881- Missouri- near Blue Cut, outside Glendale Jesse and Frank James, Charles Ford, Wood and Clarence Hite, and Dick Liddell, stopped the train by piling large timbers across the track. Jesse James' last robbery only took in $1,500.
1885- Sonora, Mexico Captain Wirt Davis reports five Apaches slain and fifteen captured by soldiers in the Sierra Madres.
1850-Fort Atkinson was established (in what is now Kansas) by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner, 1st U. S. Dragoons. It was located about two miles west of the present Dodge City, on the left side of the Arkansas River near the site of old Fort Mann. Fort Atkinson was intended to control the Indians and protect the Santa Fe Trail. This small army post was made entirely of sod buildings.
1863- Nebraska Territory- several wagon trains are attacked by Indians east of Fort Kearny. Fourteen men are killed and many women and children are taken captive.
1865- Alexandria, Louisiana- George A. Custer and his troops depart for Texas, to enforce the federal government's reconstruction policies for one year.
1867- Fort Stevenson, Dakota Territory- General Alfred Terry reports one citizen is wounded in a 31st Infantry engagement with Indians near the fort.
1874- Mohave County, Arizona Territory- Jackson, McCracken discovers silver deposits that will yield $800,000 over the next 30 years.
1889- Jocko Valley, Montana- Flathead chief Arlee died.
1878- Bennett Creek, Idaho- one enlisted man is wounded in fight with Bannock Indians.
1887- Sundance, Wyoming- Harry Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid, was convicted of grand larceny.
1944- Actor Sam Elliot was born at Sacramento, CA. You Know My Name (1998), The Hi-Lo Country, Rough Riders (1997), The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky, Buffalo Girls (1995), The Desperate Trail, The (1994), Gettysburg (1993), Tombstone (1993), Conagher (1991), The Quick and the Dead (1987), Houston: The Legend of Texas (1986) Shadow Riders, The (1982), The Sacketts (1979), I Will Fight No More Forever (1975), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) (Card Player #2)
1862- Texas- HooDoo Wars- Germans citizens, who were not slave owners, were regarded as such a threat that the entire town of Fredericksburg was placed under martial law and garrisoned by Confederate militiamen. In August of 1862 a band of young men from the Fredericksburg and Comfort area attempted to make their way to Mexico to avoid conscription into Confederate service. They were pursued by a group of Confederate partisans called the Texas Rifles. On this date the fleeing German's camp near the Nueces River was surrounded and attacked. The d "Battle of Nueces" ended with 32 Germans killed, including 9 wounded who were summarily executed on the spot. Two days later 8 more Germans were shot as they attempted to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico.
1868- Spillman Creek, Kansas- Cheyenne depredations reported.
1869- Fort Buford, Dakota Territory- four settlers are killed by Indians near the fort.
1883- Arizona outlaw Jack Almer, leader of the Red Jack gang that held up the Globe stage on this date, near Riverside. When the Wells Fargo guard insisted that the stage was not carrying any gold, and showed signs of resisting the robbers, a female passenger jumped from the stage, lifting her skirts high and bellowing in a decidedly bass voice that he was a liar. It was Almer, disguised as a female passenger, dark veil and all. In that impossible impersonation Almer had witnessed the gold being placed under a seat on the stage and thus signaled his men to move in when the stagecoach passed a spot where the gang was waiting. The guard went for his gun and Almer reached inside his skirt and pulled his own six-gun, shooting the Wells Fargo man dead. The gang took $2,800 in gold and bills and fled. Sheriff Bob Paul organized a strong posse and hunted the Red Jack gang down one by one. Paul and his men unearthed Almer hiding near Wilcox, Ariz., on Oct. 4, 1883, and shot him to pieces when he tried to battle his way to freedom.
1887- Arizona Territory- Jim Tewksbury was a violent member of the Tewksbury family, who began raising sheep in Pleasant Valley, Ariz., angering the Hash Knife cowboys and the Grahams, a ranching family. Graham offered a $500 reward for the death of one of the sheepherders and $1,000 for the clan leader John Tewksbury, Sr. Outnumbered, the Tewksburys were forced to move their herds from camp to camp. Jim, alerted by his brother, Edwin, killed one of the Hash Knife cowboys when they attempted to ambush the sheepherders. The other cowboys were afraid to move, and their injured companion bled to death. On this date eight cowboys led by Tom Tucker rode to Jim's cabin, hoping to fight. A shootout ensued in which Jim and his friends killed Hampton Blevins and John Paine, and wounded Tucker, Bob Gillespie, and Bob Carrington. Two weeks after John, Sr., and Bill Jacobs were killed in ambush, the Tewksburys were attacked at dawn by several cowboys. Jim Tewksbury and Jim Roberts, firing from their blankets, killed Harry Middleton and wounded Joe Underwood before driving off the others. Jim Tewksbury died in his cabin in 1888 of consumption.
1935- After a century of continuous service, the Texas Rangers of the frontier years were merged with the State Highway Patrol of Texas.
1860- Virginia City, Nevada Territory- the nation's first successful silver mill began operation.
1860- Fagan Canyon, Utah Territory- twenty-seven members of the 4th Artillery battle 200 “Gashote and Parran” Indians. One Indian is killed and many wounded.
1865- Nevada Territory- Paiute chief Black Rock Tom is captured and shot by soldiers. Colonel McDermit was killed a few days earlier during a skirmish with chief Black Rock Tom.
1871- Newton, Kansas- lawmen Mike McCluskie and William Wilson, who were assigned to keep order during an election, shoot it out in the streets after arguing who will buy the drinks at the Red Front Saloon. Wilson is gun downed and McCluskie leaves town to avoid Wilson's pals.
1883-Calgary Alberta- for the first few years after the North-West Mounted Police built Fort Calgary, the settlement was little more than a way station along the stagecoach trail that connected Edmonton with Fort Benton, Montana. In 1882 the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to build its line following the southern route across the Rocky Mountains through the Kicking Horse Pass. Fort Calgary was the only existing settlement along the way, and it was anticipated that it would become the center of the supply industry. Entrepreneurs and speculators pitched their tents around the Fort as the railway slowly crept west across the prairies. Finally, on August 11, 1883, the crowds cheered as the construction train puffed its way into the tiny settlement.
1900- Hugo, Colorado- outlaws John and Jim Jones robbed a Union Pacific train, taking a small amount of money from the baggage car. A large posse pursued the Jones Brothers for hundreds of miles and finally cornered them in a small ranch house. The lawmen and outlaws exchanged fire for several days until officers set fire to the building. Jim Jones, rather than surrender, shot himself inside the burning building. John leaped through the front door, two six-guns blazing. He was riddled by rifle fire and fell dead.
1860- Austin, Texas- Temple Lea Houston (1860-1905), the son of Texas President and governor Sam Houston, was born. He was the first child born in the Governor's Mansion at Austin. In 1873, at the age of thirteen, he joined a cattle drive to Great Bend, Kansas. Later he worked his way east and was employed as a night clerk on a riverboat. Later he enrolled at Baylor University, where he studied law and philosophy and graduated with honors in 1880. Houston became the youngest practicing lawyer in Texas. Houston won a great reputation as a trial lawyer and as a speaker. He carried a pearl-handled pistol, wore shoulder-length hair, a white sombrero, and rattlesnake ties. Houston moved on to Oklahoma after the territory opened up to settlers. Once, while he was in Enid on business, an unknown assailant fired on him, but a copy of the Oklahoma Territorial Statutes that he was carrying stopped the bullet. Houston incorporated the firing of a six-shooter loaded with blanks into his courtroom theatrics on one occasion. After the jury scattered Houston declared them no longer sequestered. On August 15, 1905, Houston died from a brain hemorrhage at his home in Woodward. Among the several fictional characters inspired by Houston's life was that of Yancey Cravat in Edna Ferber's novel Cimarron.
1861- Texas- Apaches attack a band of Confederates, killing 15.
1864- in one of the largest campaigns against the Plains Indians so far, General Alfred Sulley's party reaches the Yellowstone River about 30 miles from its mouth.
1868- Solomon River, Kansas- Captain Fredrick Benteen of the 7th Cavalry reports that Indians have killed seventeen civilians.
1878- Arizona Territory- John W. Swilling, a suspect in a stage coach robbery and double murder, died in a Yuma jail at age 48 before he could come to trial. Swilling was a rather successful miner in the 1860's. In 1867 he established a small settlement on the north bank of the Salt River called Stonewall and later renamed Phoenix.
1896- Gold is discovered near Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. After word reaches the United States in June of 1897, thousands of Americans head to the Klondike to seek their fortunes.
1936- Seymour, Texas- the warmest temperature ever recorded in Texas hits 120 degrees.
1859- Utah- the 2nd Dragoons under Lieutenant Ebenezer Gay fight Indians at Devils Gate Canyon, near Box Elder.
1860- Phoebe Annie Oakley Moses, AKA Annie Oakley, was born. She was a sharp shooter who eventually toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. She was named "Little Miss Sure Shot" by Chief Sitting Bull.
1866- Skull Valley, Arizona Territory- Federal and Arizona troops battle and kill thirty-three Indians and wounded forty. One enlisted man is reported killed.
1868- Saline River, Kansas- Captain Fredrick Benteen of the 7th Cavalry reports three Indians killed and ten wounded.
1878- New Mexico Territory- Billy the Kid appears at one of John Chisum's ranches and within a month demands $500 in back wages for his Regulators.
1885- Regina Saskatchewan- Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow) tried on a charge of treason and felony; sentenced to three years in jail.
1889- Denver, Colorado- Jennie Rogers, Queen of the Tenderloins, marries Jack Wood. Her “House of Mirrors” is so successful that the Rocky Mountain News reported earlier in the year that a city council meeting had to be canceled for lack of a quorum “because most of the members were attending the opening of a new and more fashionable den of prostitution.”
1896- Montpelier, Idaho Butch Cassidy led Bob Meeks and Elzy Lay to the Montpelier Bank, which they successfully robbed of $7,165. Butch had scouted this bank some weeks ahead of the robbery, learning that money would be transferred to this bank a few days before he raided it.
1849 - Oregon Territory- the U.S. Congress created the territory made up today's states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
1831- John Xavier Beidler was born. He later became the most zealous vigilante of the West, especially in Montana.
1851- Griffin, Georgia- Doc Holliday is born.
1860- Nevada Territory- Pony Express rider Robert Haslam, AKA Pony Bob, the last in a chain of riders, got honorable mention when he rode his pony into Fort Churchill with the news of Lincoln's election. Many years later he served as advance agent for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
1864- Fort Collins, Colorado Territory- the fort is established to guard the Overland trail. It is abandoned in 1867.
1868- Kansas- Indian raids along the Republican and Saline Rivers kill ten settlers.
1877- North-West Territory, Canada- the North-West Territorial Council passed an ordinance "For the Protection of the Buffalo" in an attempt to slow the wanton destruction of the herds. The legislation made it unlawful to drive the buffalo into ravines or pits where they could be easily killed, or to hunt or kill buffalo for amusement, or solely to secure their tongues and pelts. It also provided for a closed season on female buffalo, extending from November 15 until August 14 each year. Unfortunately, the legislation proved ineffective and the slaughter continued.
1880- Tombstone, Arizona Territory- the Tombstone Epitaph reports that's Virgil and Morgan Earp helped a Fort Grant sheriff locate a rustler, and that the thief surrendered “when a six-shooter was run under his nose by Morgan Earp.”
1890- Prescott, Arizona Territory- a horse thief is dragged into town and killed for helping himself to the local cattle.
1865- Kansas- the United States signs a treaty with Comanches, Kiowas, Arapahos, and Kiowa Apaches at the mouth of the Little Arkansas River.
1873- Ellsworth, Kansas- Both Ben & Billy Thompson were drunk and argued with two gamblers, John Sterling and Jack Morco. Sterling and Morco charged into a saloon, guns blazing at the Thompson's. Ben Thompson fired several shots and drove them off, but Billy Thompson inexplicably turned his gun on Sheriff Whitney, a friend of the Thompson's who had been drinking with them at the bar. Billy let loose both barrels from his shotgun, killing Whitney. Ben Thompson shouted at his brother: "My God, Billy! You've shot your best friend." Ben Thompson then ushered his brother outside, put him on a horse, and sent him out of town.
1873- Fort Smith, Arkansas- John Childers became the first man to hang at the new territorial court. Childers was led to the gallows by Marshal Sarber and Deputy Messler. The lawmen offered his life in exchange for information about the other gang members. Childers, however, was no squealer. "Didn't you say you were going to hang me?" he asked. "Yes," Sarber replied. "Then, why in hell don't you!" snapped Childers. Messler released the bolt, dropping Childers through the trap. At that precise moment, a powerful bolt of lightning crashed down on the frame of the gibbet. The rain poured down on the hushed crowd, who truly believed that they had witnessed a supernatural event. An examination of Childers' body confirmed that he was quite dead, and that spiritual intervention had not saved him as some townspeople had claimed.
1874- Arizona Territory- Chief Desaline reports his Indian scouts killed nine Indians and captured 119 near the San Carlos Agency.
1888- Holbrook, Arizona Territory- after the Pleasant Valley War three people are lynched.
1912- Lawton, Oklahoma- Heck Thomas died from natural causes. Heck was one of three deputies known as the “Three Guardsmen”. At the age of twelve he served as a dispatch rider for the Confederacy. When the Texas Rangers were reactivated in the 1870s he served as a private. In 1880 he was appoint Deputy U.S. Marshal by Marshal Valentine Dell of the Western District of Arkansas. One day in 1881 Heck brought in 32 outlaws from Indian Territory to Judge Parker. Heck served in a variety of law enforcement positions over the years, mostly in Oklahoma. He was one of the deputies who helped shut down the Doolin, Dalton, and Buck gangs. He teamed up with Bill Tilghman to bring Bill Raidley's career to an end. Heck brought in Ned Christie and closed the file on Bill Doolin.
1935- Point Barrow, Alaska- "Cowboy philosopher" Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post were killed when their airplane crashed.
1878- New Mexico Territory- lawman John Beckwith was involved with a number of shoot-outs, one, on this date, in the home of his hard case father, Henry, who killed his son-in-law, William Johnson, during a wild argument in the ranch house, a fight where John tried to intervene and was almost shot to death by his own father. Earlier in the year John and Robert Beckwith were with a group of deputies who killed rancher John Tunstall and setting off the infamous Lincoln County war.
1899- Arizona Territory- Black Jack Ketchum stopped a Colorado & Southern train near Folsom. After taking a few hundred dollars in cash from the baggage car safe he then leaped from the car and began to run toward his horse when conductor Frank Harrington jumped down from a passenger car, firing at him with a shotgun. Ketchum turned and faced Harrington and both men advanced upon each other, blazing away. Ketchum shot Harrington as the conductor unloaded a blast of buckshot into Ketchum who escaped under the cover of darkness.
He was found the next day propped against a tree, picking the buckshot out of his chest. Taken to Santa Fe, Ketchum was tried and convicted of train robbery and was sentenced to death as train robbery was a capitol offense in western states.
1924- Missouri- former Doolin-Dalton gang member Roy Daugherty, AKA Arkansas Tom, is killed in a shootout with lawmen.
1929- Fort Worth, Texas- Fess parker is born. He later played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on television.
1939- Los Angeles, California- William Stiles died at the age of 89. William let it be know that he was the Bill Stiles who rode with Jesse James gang from 1877 until 1882. There is no evidence that he wasn't.
1862- Minnesota- a Santee Sioux uprising begins, lead by Chief Little Crow because promised government supplies have not arrived at the Lower Sioux Agency near Fort Ridgely.
1867- Nebraska- Pawnee Indian scouts kill 15 Indians and capture two near Plum Creek.
1875- California- a lone gunman stops the Quincy Stagecoach 17 miles outside of Oroville and demands the treasury box.
1877- Camp Grant, Arizona Territory- Billy the Kid first earned his name "the Kid", and his first notch, when he got into an argument with Irish blacksmith Frank P. on this date. The blacksmith who was in a saloon owned by George Adkins, called Billy a pimp, slapped the Kid's face, and threw him to the floor. The Kid realized he was no match for the burly Cahill and he immediately drew his six-gun as the blacksmith came toward him, firing a single shot that mortally wounded Cahill who died the following day. Billy was locked up in the post guardhouse but he escaped and began running.
1896- Rabbit Creek, Yukon Territory- George Washington Carmack and two aboriginal companions, Skookum Jim and Tagish Charlie, discovered gold at a tributary of the Klondike River. According to Carmack, the gold veins were "thick between the flaky slabs, like cheese sandwiches." He ripped some bark off a tree, and wrote on it: "I name this creek Bonanza. George Carmack." Carmack staked his claim the next day and the discovery marked the beginning of what is often considered the world's largest gold rush as thousands of miners poured into the territory. Word of the discovery did not reach the outside world until mid-July of the following year, when the steamer Portland docked in Seattle with two tons of gold in her cargo hold. At the time North America was experiencing a severe economic depression and unemployment was high. As the tales of sudden, and almost unbelievable, wealth spread, thousands of men, and a few women, started off on the long and arduous journey to the gold fields of the Klondike.
1846- U.S. forces led by General Stephen W. Kearney captured what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1862- Minnesota- Chief Little Crow leads an attack on the Lower Sioux Agency near Fort Ridgely killing twenty men and taking twelve women captive. Other raids will kill as many as 400 settlers.
1862- Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas- Union troops reoccupy the fort, controlling the Rio Grande's Middle Valley for the remainder of the war.
1872- Wyoming Territory- the Hayden Expedition camped at a geyser basin in Yellowstone.
1873- Ellsworth, Kansas- the Thompson brothers operated a gambling operation in the back of Brennan's Saloon. On this day Bill Thompson killed Sheriff C.B. Whitney and high-tailed it out of town as his brother, Ben Thompson, held off a mob of would be pursuers with a shotgun. Ben was later fined $25 for aiding and abetting his brother.
1854- Near Ft. Laramie, present day Wyoming- the Grattan Massacre, the first armed confrontation between the U.S. Army and the Sioux takes place as Lieutenant John Grattan, an interpreter, and 29 infantrymen from Company G of the 6th Infantry arrive in the camp of the Brule Sioux. Chief Conquering Bear tries to make peace but the lieutenant answers with howitzer fire, killing Conquering Bear. The Ogalas and Brules under Little Thunder attack the troops, killing Grattan and all but one of his men, who escaped to the fort. One of the observers of the fight was a 13-year old named Crazy Horse.
1864- Colorado Territory- in the middle of the night a Crow Creek rancher, Elbridge Gerry, rides to Denver to warn of an impending Cheyenne attack on settlements on the South Platte River. Resulting troops disrupts the Indians plans but scatter Gerry's livestock in retaliation.
1871- Newton, Kansas- lawman Mike McCluskie returns to town and gets drunk at Tuttle's Saloon. He had left town on the 11th after killing his partner, William Wilson, after an argument over who would buy the drinks after an election.
1882- Trinidad, Colorado- a feud between Las Animas County undersheriff M.B. McGraw and Trinidad police officer George Goodell erupts into gunfire shortly after McGraw asserts in a letter to the editor of the local paper that Goodell and his wife are pimp and prostitute. The fight takes place in front of Jaffa's Opera House, where Goodell puts six bullets into McGraw. McGraw dies two days later.
1887- Rangely, Colorado- the last Indian battle in Colorado occurs as state troopers clash with Utes.
1895- El Paso, Texas - gunman John Wesley Hardin was killed by John Selman, another noted gunman, in the Acme Saloon. Hardin is said to have killed 44 men.
1896- Laredo, Texas- western lawman Alfred Allee who seldom took prisoners alive was stabbed in a barroom brawl, dying almost instantly. Much was said of Allee's ability to shoot down prisoners already cowed and victims unprepared for his lightning temper and fast draw, but the lawman proved his mettle in September 1888, when he was assigned to track down the wild, vicious train and bank-robber Brack Cornett. The outlaw had evaded a posse of Texas Rangers and was heading for Arizona when he was intercepted by Allee, who had trailed him across the prairie. In a pitched gun battle, both men raced their horses toward each other. Using two guns, they blazed away at each other as they rode forward. Allee's aim was good and Cornett was shot dead from the saddle. Sounds like he had "True Grit"…
1862- Minnesota- Chief Little Crow and his Sioux warriors storm Fort Ridgely. The Sioux withdraw after Little Crow is wounded.
1868- Fort Buford, Dakota Territory- three members of the 31st Infantry are killed in an Indian attack.
1868- Kansas- two settlers are killed at Comstock's Ranch in an Indian raid.
1869- Winnipeg Manitoba - anticipating the transfer of lands from the Hudson's Bay Company to Canada in 1869, the federal government sent a crew to the Red River settlement to begin a survey of the area. The Indians and Metis of the colony were already resentful because they had not been included in any of the discussions of the transfer. When the survey crew arrived in Fort Garry on this date, and began a resurvey of the settlement that ignored existing agreements, the situation quickly became inflamed and eventually developed into the uprising that became known as the Red River Rebellion.
1871- Newton, Kansas- Gunfight at Hide Park, AKA Newton's General Massacre, cowboy Hugh Anderson avenged the August 11th death of his friend William Wilson, aka Billy Bailey. Anderson with a group of Texas cowboys entered Tuttle's Saloon and opened fire on a drunken McCluskie, killing him. One of McCluskie friends T. Riley, who had consumption, picked up McCluskie's revolver and managed to kill three of the Texans and wounding three more, including Hugh Anderson.
1873- Linn County, Kansas- citizens near Twin Springs hang a man for killing his own wife and her two children and setting the house with the bodies inside on fire.
1873- Ellsworth, Kansas- Ed Crawford was discharged from the Ellsworth police department along with the rest of the officers on the day Sheriff C.B. Whitney was killed in a card game by a group of carousing Texans. Crawford was soon reappointed to the force, and while lounging in front of a local store on Aug. 20, 1873, saw the same Texans appear, led by Cad Pierce and Neil Cain. "Hello Hogue!" Pierce called to city marshal Ed Hogue. "I understand you have a white affidavit for me. Is that so?" The marshal tried to calm Pierce down, but there were angry words and then shots. Crawford, who was sitting with Hogue, wounded Pierce in the arm and then beat him to death with the butt of a rifle. Crawford was suspended from the police force for his action, and the Texans warned him to leave town, which he did, only to return early in November. Crawford burst in on Pierce's brother-in-law, Putnam, who was with a prostitute. The drunken ex-lawman fired at Putnam, who drew his six-shooter and killed Crawford. Putnam's friends from Texas burst into the room and fired thirteen slugs into the dead man.
1887- Atchison, Kansas- hailstones 10 inches in diameter are reported.
1862- Minnesota- Chief Little Crow's warriors lead by Mankato battle 250 settlers on the outskirts of New Ulm, Minnesota. A part of the town is burned.
1862- Williams Creek, British Columbia - Billy Barker discovers gold in creeks running into the Quesnel River; town of Barkerville, BC, grows up around the mine; the find sparks a massive gold rush into the Cariboo.
Note: "Free gold" was first discovered (i.e. by panning) in British Columbia in the 1850's, which sparked the "Fraser River Gold Rush" of 1858 (on and along the lower Fraser River.) Needless to say, the prospectors fanned further out, and free gold was found in the Horsefly River in 1860, which prompted a "mini-rush" of prospectors into the area, resulting in tracing the free gold back to "source" with Barker's find in 1862, immediately followed by discovery of "lode" gold in bedrock in that area, . So you'll find both dates (1860 and 1862) given for the "start" of the Cariboo gold rush.
1863- Lawrence Kansas- William Clark Quantrill lead a force of some 450 mounted confederate guerrillas in the famous raid the town of 2,000. Around 150-200 inhabitants were killed, 182 buildings burned and 2 banks looted and about $1.5 million worth of property was destroyed. Frank James and Cole Younger may have participated in the raid.
1877- Kansas- gunfighter George Hoyt dies of a gunshot wounds he received on July 26 in Dodge City. Wyatt Earp was one of the men firing on Hoyt and is credited with killing his first man.
1911- President Taft approves the entry of Arizona and New Mexico into the Union as states.
1846- the United States annexed New Mexico Territory.
1869- Hays City, Kansas- Sheriff Wild Bill Hickok shot a local tough, Bill Mulvey (or Melvin or Mulrey) started to shoot up the town. Hickok confronted the drunken ex-cavalryman, ordering him to surrender his guns and submit to arrest. Mulvey, who was with a number of equally drunken friends, shouted that he would never be arrested. He fumbled for his six-gun and Hickok shot him once. Mulvey was taken to a doctor's office where he died the next morning.
1878- New Mexico Territory- John Chisum's daughter, Sallie, records in her diary “Two candi hearts given me by William Bonney…”
1879- Phoenix, Arizona Territory- vigilantes pull two convicted murders from jail and lynch them in the main plaza.
1842- present day Wyoming- explorer John C. Fremont carves his name in Independence Rock.
1868- Fort Totten, Dakota Territory- three members of the 31st Infantry are killed by Indians.
1868- Kansas- eight settlers are killed by Indians between Pond Creek, Kansas and Lake Station, Colorado Territory.
1873- California- outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez was involved in the “Tres Pinos Massacre”. He is believed to have killed as many as 42 men. On March 19th 1875 Vasquez was hanged for the murders committed during the “Tres Pinos Massacre” at San Jose.
1877- Pensacola, Florida- John Wesley Hardin was arrested on a train for the murder in 1874 of Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb by Texas Ranger John Barclay Armstrong. Armstrong killed Jim Mann and pistol-whipped Hardin until he was unconscious. Armstrong used the $4000 reward to purchase more than 50,000 acres of cattle land in Wallace County, Tex., calling his spread the XIT ranch, one of the largest at that time. He maintained a large crew of cowhands and rigidly bossed their work, much as he had when operating as a Texas Ranger. One cowboy, a truculent sort, refused to take Armstrong's harsh order on Nov. 18, 1908, and shot his boss out of his saddle. (The cowboy was later sent to prison for attempted murder.) Armstrong survived this attack as he had so many others and died peacefully in his bed on his ranch, May 1, 1913.
1882- Globe, Arizona Territory- two murders are lynched from a tree.
1945- Albuquerque, New Mexico- lawman Elfego Baca dies at age 80.
1866- Arizona Territory- Arizona infantrymen capture two Indians in the San Francisco Mountains.
1868- Kansas- General Philip Sheridan reports that Indians have killed 20 citizens and wounded many more. He advocates the Indians' forcible removal to reservations.
1874- Meade County, Kansas- in the “Lone Tree Massacre” a band of Cheyennes kill six government surveyors.
1876- Canada- Cree Indians from central Alberta and central Saskatchewan agreed to live on reserves.
1912- Alaska becomes a U.S. territory. The U.S. bought the land from Russia in 1867.
1877- Denver, Colorado- the first recorded duel between two women, over a man. Madam Mattie Silks and Kate Fulton chose pistols and miss each other after squaring off. They then commenced to fist fighting. Kate received a broken nose and leaves by stage the next day.
1877- Montana Territory- the Sun River Rangers are organized to protect settlers from cattle thieves, Indians, and prairie fires.
1896- Oklahoma- Bill Doolin was approaching his father-in-law's farmhouse, where his wife and child were staying. Lawmen led by Heck Thomas, however, had learned of Doolin's presence in the area and were waiting in ambush. Doolin appeared on foot, leading his horse, carrying a rifle, whistling as he walked in the bright moonlit night. Suddenly Thomas shouted from behind some bushes, calling to the outlaw to surrender. Doolin raised his rifle which was shot out of his hand by several shots fired by posse. Doolin then drew his six-gun and fired twice before a blast from a shotgun fired by Deputy Bill Dunn and rifle bullets fired by Thomas cut him to pieces. The outlaw's body was later displayed, naked from the waist up, to show the many holes made by shotgun pellets.
1872- Fort McKeen, Dakota Territory- Indian scouts report six of their own were killed in an attack near the fort.
1879- Deputy John Beckwith encountered rustler John Jones stealing some of the Beckwith herd, and both men went for their guns. Beckwith was shot dead from the saddle. Beckwith sided with Dolin-Murphey faction of the Lincoln County War.
1866- Texas- Elizabeth Ann Clifton (1825-1882) when she was sixteen, she married Alexander Joseph Carter, a free black. The couple had two children and lived with Carter's parents, Edmund J. and Susanna Carter, in Red River and Navarro counties before moving west to Fort Belknap in Young County, where they began raising stock and farming. Elizabeth Carter managed the ranch, soon as a full partner, while her husband and father-in-law ran a cargo transportation business. Though she was illiterate and epileptic, she also ran a boarding house, the Carter Trading House. In 1857 her husband and father-in-law were both mysteriously murdered. In 1858 Elizabeth Carter was briefly married to Lt. Owen A. Sprague, but Sprague disappeared eight months later. Elizabeth continued to be one of the most successful women on the frontier. The Trading House prospered after the Butterfield Overland Mail began stopping in Fort Belknap in 1858, and she still managed the ranch. When she was thirty-six years old, she married Thomas FitzPatrick, one of three Carter ranch cowhands, on August 26, 1862. FitzPatrick was murdered eighteen months later. Elizabeth endured further calamity when her Young County ranch was attacked in the Elm Creek Raid of October 13, 1864, and she was taken captive by Plains Indians led by Comanche chief Little Buffalo. Elizabeth's daughter Mildred Susanna Durkin and Mrs. Durkin's infant son were murdered. The Indians took captive Elizabeth FitzPatrick, her thirteen-year-old son, and Elizabeth's two surviving granddaughters, Charlotte Durkin (Lottie), age 5 years, and Mildred Durkin (Milly), age 2 years. Mrs. FitzPatrick was held twelve months and twenty days in Kiowa chief Sun Boy's camp on the Arkansas River in northwestern Kansas. Her granddaughter Milly and several other children held in Comanche chief Iron Mountain's camp apparently froze to death early in 1864, though Elizabeth believed that Milly remained alive in captivity. The other grandchild, Lottie, spent nine months as captive of Comanches who tattooed her arms and forehead before releasing her. Elizabeth was rescued on November 2, 1865, by Gen. J. H. Leavenworth and subsequently held at the Kaw Mission at Council Grove, Kansas. On August 27, 1866, almost two years after her capture, she and several others began the six-week trip home. Elizabeth FitzPatrick was reunited with her previously released granddaughter in Parker County. In 1869 Elizabeth married a Parker County farmer and widower, Isaiah Clifton. They moved to Fort Griffin with Lottie and Clifton's youngest four children.
1872- Montana Territory- the Flathead Indians cede their lands in Montana to the United States.
1883- Wyoming- President Chester A. Arthur began a visit to Yellowstone.
1993- TV show Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., starring Bruce Campbell as Brisco County, Jr. and Julius Carry as Lord Bowler, premiered on Fox network.
1865- Wyoming Territory- Fort Reno (also known as Fort Connor) was established.
1868- Kiowa Station, Kansas- three settlers are killed by Indians.
1872- Niagara Falls, New York/Canada- James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok starred in the Grand Buffalo Hunt at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Although there were only three buffalo to be "hunted", the Native American and Mexican cowboys presented a thrilling display of roping and riding in Canada's first Wild West show. The show was a financial failure, unable to draw enough to even pay Wild Bill's salary.
1858- New Mexico Territory- twelve soldiers under Captain G. McLane, joined by 22 Mexicans, battle 300 Navajo warriors near Bear Springs. Ten Indians are reported killed, four wounded, and four captured.
1865- Wyoming Territory-an Arapaho village was tragically destroyed in the Battle of Tongue River.
1879-Fort Smith, Arkansas- William Elliott, AKA Colorado Bill, was hanged on this date. He was a much-feared gunman who was wanted for murder in four states. In commenting on the charges brought against Elliott, the local newspaper Elevator dryly noted that: "He will hardly be wanted by any other state after they get through with him here."
1900- Tipton, Wyoming- the Wild Bunch robed the Union Pacific's Train Number 3. The bandits blew open the safe and took more than $50,000, the largest haul taken by the gang up to that time.
1861- Union General John C. Fremont instituted martial law in Missouri and declared slaves there to be free. However, President Lincoln countermanded Fremont's order a few days later.
1862- Dakota Territory- Sioux warriors drive federal horses and cattle from Fort Abercrombie, near present day Wahpeton, North Dakota.
1864- Emigrant Gulch, Montana Territory- gold is discovered near Livingston.
1873- Winnipeg Manitoba - George Arthur French (1841-1921) forms first detachment of North-West Mounted Police with 150 recruits.
1874- Waverly - Lexington, Missouri- two robberies attributed to the James gang occurred with twenty five miles apart on the same day. Many reports stated that the robbers were recognized. Later the witnesses recanted after visiting with Zerelda James-Samuel.
1865- Lincoln Gulch, Montana Territory- mining operations begin.
1881- California- Black Bart robs the Roseburg, Oregon-Yreka, California stage nine miles out of Yreka.
1881- Fort Apache, Arizona Territory- three soldiers and five civilians are killed in an Apache attack near the fort.
Return to main Today in Old West History Menu.
Return to main Lonesome Dove .
If you don't see a menu on the left click here for my main web page.
For western movies, books and music click here.