J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Colorado”

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 6)

Loreta Janeta Valazquez

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Loreta Janeta Velazquez (Harry T. Buford)  

Library of Congress 

 

Loreta Janeta Velazquez – Fact or Fiction? 

A spy … 

A civilian pretending to be a soldier … 

A widow four times 

All of these phrases describe one of the most fascinating, thrill-seeking characters of the Civil War. Because she was a woman, Loreta Janeta Valezquez was able to fool her contemporaries while supporting the Confederate cause she so adamantly believed in. 

 Born to a wealthy Cuban family on June 26, 1842, her mother was French-American, and her father, a Spanish government official, owned plantations in Mexico and Cuba, but developed a strong hatred for the U.S. government when he lost an inherited ranch in the Mexican War. In 1849, Loreta was sent to stay with an aunt in New Orleans, where she was taught English and French in addition to her native Spanish at Catholic schools. Her idol was Joan of Arc, and she wished to become just like her. When she was only fourteen, Loreta met a handsome Texas army officer named William, but because her parents opposed their union, they eloped in 1856. The newlyweds traveled around to various army posts until, four years later, when Loreta was eighteen, they were in St. Louis mourning the deaths of their three children. When the Civil War broke out, she insisted that her husband join the Confederacy, and begged to join with him, but he disallowed it, so she simply waited for him to leave. She disguised herself in one of two uniforms she had tailored in Memphis, donned a wig and fake moustache, bound her breasts, and padded the sleeves of her uniform, transforming into Harry T. Buford. Self-appointing herself as a lieutenant, she fooled fellow officers and soldiers by walking with a masculine gait, perfecting the art of spitting, and smoking cigars. She immediately went to Arkansas, and in four days raised a battalion, the Arkansas Grays, consisting of 236 men. She then sent them to her husband in Pensacola, Florida, where she turned them over to his command. William’s astonishment was short-lived, however, because a few days later, he was accidentally killed while showing his troops how to use their weapons. 

The bereaved Loreta turned his battalion over to a friend, and soon after, searched for military adventure on the front, finding it at the First Battle of Manassas, where she observed her comrades. “The supreme moment of my life had arrived, and all the glorious aspirations of my romantic girlhood were on the point of realization. I was elated beyond measure, although cool-headed enough … Fear was a word I did not know the meaning of; and as I noted the ashy faces, and the trembling limbs of some of the men about me, I almost wished that I could feel a little fear, if only for the sake of sympathizing with the poor devils.” 

Soon, Loreta grew weary of camp life, so she borrowed a dress from a local farmer’s wife and made her way to Washington, D.C., where she was recruited as a Confederate spy. She claimed to have met Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton. When she returned to the South, she was rewarded for her services by being assigned to detective duty. Apparently, espionage didn’t offer enough excitement for her either, so she put on her disguise and traveled to Tennessee, where she fought in the siege of Fort Donelson until its surrender. Wounded in the foot, she escaped detection by fleeing to New Orleans, but was arrested while in uniform for suspicion of being a Union spy and impersonating a man. Once she was released, she enlisted again to escape the city, and immediately went back up to Tennessee. There, she found the battalion she had raised in Arkansas, so she joined them in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. After the battle, she was wounded by a stray shell while she was on burial duty. Unfortunately, a doctor discovered her. Fleeing back down to New Orleans, she was there when Union General Benjamin F. Butler took control of the city in May 1862. Because she thought too many people were now aware of her true identity, she put away her uniform and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. 

Upon her arrival, she was recruited as a Confederate spy, and traveled all over the country, crossing enemy lines while she wore both male and female disguises to traffic information, drugs, and counterfeit bills to the South. She married Confederate Captain Thomas DeCaulp, but he soon died at a Chattanooga hospital. Traveling back up north, she was hired by Union officials to search for “the woman … traveling and figuring as a Confederate agent,” or in other words, to search for herself. During that time, she attempted to organize a rebellion of Confederate prisoners in Ohio and Indiana, and helped to win the war of Costintin in 1864. 

After the Civil War ended, she traveled around Europe and the South. Loreta married a third time. She and her husband, known only as Major Wasson, went to Venezuela as United States immigrants. He died in Caracus, so Loreta returned to America, this time going out west. She stopped in Salt Lake City long enough to give birth to a boy, and met Brigham Young. Nearly penniless, she traveled to Omaha, and charmed General W. S. Harney into giving her blankets and a revolver. Two days after she arrived to a mining town in Nevada, a sixty-year-old man proposed to her, but she refused. Supposedly, she married a fourth time, but the name of this younger man is unknown.  

It wasn’t long before she was off again. “With my baby boy in my arms, I started on a long journey through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, hoping, perhaps, but scarcely expecting, to find opportunities which I had failed to find in Utah, Nevada, and California.” Her money was dwindling, so in 1876, she wrote a memoir to support her child. Most of what is known about Loreta was written in her 600-page book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Valazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army. Upon its publication, General Jubal Early denounced it as pure fiction, but modern scholars have found some parts to be accurate. In 2007, the History Channel ran a special entitled Full Metal Corset, and verified some of the incidents described in the book, but there are still many facts in question. 

Loreta is last documented as living in Nevada. She never took any of her four husband’s names. After 1880, there is no further record of her life, including where or how she died, presumably in 1897. 

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Loving Falltime

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I’m a big fan of autumn, especially since I moved back to Colorado. The golden aspens shimmering against the blue, snowcapped mountains is a sight nothing less than astounding. Fall brings sweater weather, football, and cozy settings. The food is great, too! I love cooking soups and stews in the crock pot, as well as apple cider. Living in the southwest, one of my favorites is green chile. One of the old recipes of the south is Hopping John.

Here is a sample from my upcoming novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, which is due out next month.

A week before David planned to leave, he decided to break the news to his family. He had waited as long as he could, since he was apprehensive about the event and knew they would try to talk him out of it.

His mother set steaming bowls of Hopping John in front of each of her children, who had gathered around the table. Josie grabbed a spoon and went to take a bite.

“Josephine Summers, you wait till we say grace,” her mother firmly scolded her.

“Sorry, Ma.” Josie set the spoon down.

Carolyn seated herself. She folded her hands, rested her elbows firmly on the table, and glanced around, waiting until her brood had all closed their eyes. “Lord, thank you for this food which we are about to receive. Bless this family, and give us a prosperous year. We pray in your name, Amen.”

“Amen,” her children echoed.

Carolyn passed a plate of fried cornbread to Rena.

“I don’t see how we can prosper this year, Ma, what with the Yankees breathin’ down our necks, and now a tax-in-kind bein’ imposed on us,” David remarked, swirling his spoon around in the bowl of bacon, rice, and sarsaparilla stew. He scooped up a purple-hulled pea, an onion, and some red peppers, but let them fall back into the thickness.

“The army is entitled to whatever we can provide them,” said Carolyn. “If they want us to tithe a tenth of everything we grow, then that’s what we’ll give them.”

“But what if we have a bad crop this year?” asked Rena. She looked across the table at her brother.

“The Good Lord will provide for us, dear,” Carolyn said confidently.

Rena watched her brother swirl his spoon around without taking a bite. “David, ain’t you hungry?” she asked.

Josie snickered. “That would be a first.” She grinned at her brother before shoveling another spoonful into her mouth.

David hesitated. “There’s somethin’ I want to say to y’all.” He let go of the spoon and looked directly at his mother. “I’m fixin’ to jine the army.”

Carolyn immediately stopped eating. He felt like he had put a knife into her heart by the way she glared at him.

“David, I need you here,” she said softly.

“I have to go, Ma.” His voice grew defiantly stronger. “You know I do.”

“No, you don’t, David,” Josie said in a high pitch. She reached across the table, grabbing hold of his wrist. “You don’t have to go.”

“Well, I want to, then. I’m fixin’ to go and that’s final.” He took a deep breath. What had been building up inside of him for weeks had finally been released. The whole episode made him irritated. His mother was about to protest, he knew she would, but he had to make her understand.

“When?” She stared at him with her big hazel eyes.

Feeling his anger subside, his lower lip quivered slightly. “April third,” he said, his voice softening under his mother’s gaze. “The day after my birthday.”

“That’s next week!” Josie exclaimed.

“What about your plans to go to Auburn?” asked Rena.

David snorted. “I can’t go to college now. Not with all that’s happened.” He looked down at his bowl and shrugged. “We don’t have the money, anyways.”

An awkward silence engulfed them.

“I ain’t hungry anymore,” Rena sobbed. She hurried out of the room.

David watched her leave. Guilt swept over him, but he couldn’t waver. He had a duty to fulfill. “Jake’s comin’ with me,” he mumbled.

“Oh, he is, is he?” his mother asked.

“Yes’m.”

“Do his folks know about that?”

“I reckon so.” He glanced over at Josie, who was still eating, but staring at him blankly.

“What about the crops? Have you considered that?” His mother set her spoon down on the table. “It’s more than we can manage, David. You know we have over a hundred acres out yonder.”

“I know, Ma,” he said, his voice softening even more. “Jake’s folks will help out, or their slaves will.”

“Did you speak to them about it?” Carolyn frowned.

He stared at his bowl. “No, but I’m fixin’ to…tomorrow.”

His mother sighed, picked up her spoon, and took a bite. He reluctantly did the same. The mantle clock ticked repetitiously, accentuating the quiet.

“I’m done, Ma,” Josie announced. “May I be excused?”

Carolyn nodded, so Josie rose from her place at the table and departed to the adjoining cabin.

“I’m done, too, Ma.” David said. “May I be excused?”

“You can help me with clearin’ the table. I ain’t done with you yet.”

David clenched his teeth. Under normal circumstances, he usually evaded clearing the table, since he considered it to be women’s work. This was his mother’s way of showing her disapproval, he knew.

Avoiding eye contact, he stood, gathered the dishes, and followed her out the back door. His two coonhounds, who had been waiting patiently, sprang to their feet, their tails wagging furiously.

“Caleb, you ole mutt. Si, you scoundrel,” he greeted them affectionately. He scooped the leftovers into their dish and patted his hounds in an effort to postpone the confrontation with his mother, but finally forced himself to face the inevitable. Leaving the dogs to eagerly devour their food, he entered the small wooden kitchen building. Heat from the cook stove engulfed him; the smell of fried bacon still lingered. He set the empty bowls down next to the wash basin near a burning kerosene lamp. As he turned to leave, Carolyn grabbed hold of his forearm, compelling him to look at her.

“I know I can’t talk you out of this, because you think it’s your duty and you want to do it for your pa.” She stared deeply into his eyes.

He slowly nodded, and bowed his head. It became apparent to him that his sagacious mother had known his intentions all along, for she could always read his thoughts and feelings.

“David, look at me when I’m speakin’ to you,” she instructed.

He timidly obeyed.

“That horse of yours will die of a broken heart if you don’t take him along. And besides that, he knows how to git out of his stall, and he’ll jist go chasin’ after you.”

She gave him a sad smile. He faintly smiled in response.

“Jist promise me one thing.” She held tightly onto his arm. The flame flickered, punctuating the uncomfortable, sudden stillness.

“What’s that, Ma?” he asked quietly.

“That you and Jake will git in with the cavalry. I’d feel a whole lot better if you did.”

“But, Ma, how will we kill any Yankees if we’re in the cavalry?”

She frowned. “I reckon you’ll find a way.”

David chuckled, but seeing his mother’s hardened gaze, quickly let the smile fade from his lips. “I don’t know if ole Stella can make the journey,” he said.

“Ole Stella will do jist fine. Now, you promise me.” She grasped tighter onto his forearm to the point where it was starting to hurt.

“All right, Ma. I promise.”

She released her grasp. “And you make sure Jake promises his folks. I know ya’ll think it’s one big romp, but I can’t lose you.” She turned away, stirred the cinders in the wood-burning stove, and started heating up water for the dishes.

“Ma, I’ll be all right.”

He gave her a quick peck on the cheek. His mother didn’t react. He turned, exited out of the kitchen, and glanced back. She was still facing away from him. Sauntering across the yard, he passed the well and the two outhouses and went into the house. Respectfully, he tidied up the table for her before retreating to his room. He could hear his sisters’ muffled voices seep through the wall as he plopped onto his bed and positioned a down pillow under his head. The entire episode had left him exhausted and emotionally drained. Tomorrow will be another day, he reasoned to himself and closed his eyes. Lying across the bed with his feet hanging over the edge, he drifted off.

Life Gets in the Way

 

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It seems my life as an author has been dealt more challenges than most. The latest episode was having to move the week after my new novel, A Rebel Among Us, was published. It wasn’t a simple move, either. My husband and I left South Dakota to return to our beloved Colorado, and we are so happy we did.

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This move has postponed my marketing efforts to a degree, but still, good things keep happening. Just last week, I received a five-star review, and today, I got my first royalty check!

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To me, persistence is the key. Although this big transition has slowed me down temporarily, I am still writing and formulating decisive efforts in order to get my book out there. Please feel free to contact me about my move, my novel, or just writing in general. I’m looking for reviews, so if you’re interested, let me know! Thanks again for your continued support.

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https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Among-Us-J-D-R-Hawkins/dp/1537167871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476224050&sr=8-1&keywords=a+rebel+among+us

Cover Reveal in One Week!

I am so excited to announce my new novel, A Rebel Among Us, is near completion. The book is due to launch in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I would like to tell you about the book, as well as the process I went through to get it published.

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Originally, I wrote A Beckoning Hellfire after visiting the Gettysburg battlefield. Coming from Colorado, I had never seen an actual Civil War battlefield before, so as you can imagine how astounded I was. Silly me, I thought it would be the size of a football field. Far from it! Needless to say, after I experienced this event, I was inspired to write a novel about it, but not a typical Civil War novel about officers and presidents, or even Union soldiers, such as The Red Badge of Courage. No, my novel would be about a typical Southern soldier. So I chose to write about a Confederate cavalryman who originated from North Alabama near Huntsville (Ryan Crossroads, to be exact).

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art

I wrote my heart out, and by the time I was finished, I realized I had enough material for two novels, so I split the book in two. The second book became A Rebel Among Us. From there, I wrote a sequel, which has yet to be published. And then I went back and wrote a prequel to the story, which is titled A Beautiful Glittering Lie. So what started out as a single book became a series, which I call the Renegade Series. I intend to write a fifth novel in the series later on.

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The first two books in the Renegade Series were self-published. I also self-published A Rebel Among Us, but then I found a new hybrid publisher called Booktrope. This publisher provided me with an excellent team of talented people. We were just about to publish the book when the company folded. ARGH! So I had to start all over. Luckily, I had a contact through NaNoWriMo ( which stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place every November). Because I had entered A Rebel Among Us in this contest, I learned of a new startup small publisher located in Mississippi. Enter Foundations, LLC, who loved my book and agreed to publish it. Finally, my book will see the light of day! Thank you Foundations!

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All of the books in the Renegade Series center on a family from North Alabama and how the war impacts them. For each novel, I spent about six months researching and six months writing. I traveled to the battlefields I wrote about, as well as the Pennsylvania countryside, where A Rebel Among Us primarily takes place. This book is a little different than the first two in the Renegade Series, because it involves more romance and less battle. I learned a lot along the way, received amazing help from many people, and had a blast writing the story. I can’t wait for it to come out and for you to get a chance to read it. Please tune in next Thursday for the big cover reveal. It is nothing less than awesome!

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An Eerie Sighting

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Social media websites have been abuzz with posts about a photograph that was taken by a man from Houston. The photo was shot at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The photographer claims that when he took the picture of the hotel’s entryway and grand staircase, no one else was in that area with him. However, the photo revealed otherwise. On the landing is what looks like a woman dressed in period, turn of the century (circa 1900) clothing.

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I find this fascinating, since I have been to the Stanley many times. Colorado is home for me, and Longmont is only a few miles from Estes Park, so my family and I have been up there frequently. The Stanley Hotel wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar if it wasn’t for author Stephen King. He stayed at the Stanley, which inspired him to write his famous novel, The Shining. The original movie was not shot at the hotel, but a subsequent miniseries was later on.

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My husband and I have stayed at the Stanley, but alas, we didn’t see any ghosts. However, I definitely felt a presence when I performed at the Concert Hall, which is a stone’s throw away from the hotel. The Stanley has a reputation of being haunted, and this newly released photograph seems to be the latest proof.

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It’s amazing how many places around the world are reportedly haunted. My husband is a skeptic, but I believe, because I’ve had some weird, unexplained experiences happen to me. Many historic buildings, landmarks, forests, and battlefields are haunted. Gettysburg is one of the most haunted places in the world. Not only is the battlefield haunted by Civil War soldiers, but by medical personnel and citizens who lived there as well. The scent of peppermint often wafts through the air. (Peppermint was used to mask the odor of death after the battle.) I can attest to the fact that Gettysburg is haunted, which makes it all the more intriguing to me. Sightings and eye witness accounts only prove that the inexplicable exists.

http://www.today.com/money/ghostly-image-captured-stanley-hotel-inspiration-shining-t86986

http://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2013/06/gettysburg_150_12.html

Why I Write About the Civil War

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Frequently, when I’m at book signings and speaking engagements, I am asked why I chose to write about the Civil War. To me, this is one of the most captivating times in U.S. history. I was never into history when I was in school, but over the years, I have developed an interest in certain aspects of world and American history, as well as genealogy. Perhaps this is part of becoming more mature, but curiosity has compelled me to search out my ancestors and find out just where, exactly, I came from.

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The same goes for writing about the War Between the States. I have always been interested in the Victorian era, especially after living in Colorado for 25 years and seeing the old mountain and mining towns that still exist. Some even have residents who live like people did in the late 1800’s. Of course, there’s Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, Central City, and Glenwood Springs, where Doc Holliday is buried. These places have always fascinated me, and they still do.

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While living in Colorado, I had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg. I had never seen a Civil War battlefield before, so when I did, you can imagine how awestruck I was. It impressed me so much that I was inspired to write my first novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. From there, the book expanded to a series. After I wrote three books in the Renegade Series, I went back and wrote the prequel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie.

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Now I am in the process of editing the third book in the series. I have also written a nonfiction book about Confederate warhorses. Unfortunately, the publisher for that book had to close up shop and file for bankruptcy during the same month that the book was supposed to be published. So needless to say, I am looking for a new publisher. (If you know of any, please send them my way!)

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While researching my first novel, I came upon some information about my husband’s family. After a genealogy search, we learned that his great-great grandfather was a Cherokee interpreter who fought under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. It just goes to show what you can discover when you start digging!

Colorado Desperadoes (Part 4) – Kid Curry, The Wildest of the Wild Bunch

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Harvey Alexander Logan (1867 – June 17, 1904) had a rough beginning, and things never really improved for him. He was born in Tama County, Iowa, and his mother died in 1876. Logan’s three brothers went to Missouri, but he ended up in Texas breaking horses. He met George “Flat Nose” Curry there, and took his last name, as did his brothers. All of the Curry boys were heavy drinkers, and Kid loved to spend his paychecks on booze and prostitutes. After Kid became famous, prostitutes claimed that their babies were his, and these children came to be known as “Curry Kids.” Rumor has it that he fathered 85 kids, but in reality, he probably fathered less than five.

In 1883, Kid rode on a cattle drive to Pueblo, Colorado, got involved in a saloon brawl, and fled to Wyoming. His brothers went to Montana and established a ranch there. Kid got in a fight with a neighbor, Landusky, and ended up killing the man. He hooked up with outlaw and train robber “Black Jack” Ketchum, and started riding with his gang. In 1896, Landusky’s brother came after him to claim the bounty, but Kid and two of his brothers confronted him. One of his brothers was killed in the shootout.

Kid and his brothers went to work on a ranch near Sand Gulch, Colorado. While there, they established their own gang. They robbed a bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, but a posse chased after them, and Kid was captured, along with his brother and another member of their gang. The men were held in the Deadwood, South Dakota jail briefly before they attacked the jailer and escaped. They went back to Montana and held up two post offices.

Kid started riding with the Wild Bunch gang under Butch Cassidy. He acquired the nickname, “the fastest gun in the West.” (The Sundance Kid, as portrayed in the movies, was not a gunman, and that character was actually based on Kid Curry.) On June 2, 1899, the gang held up the Union Pacific Railroad near Wilcox, Wyoming and escaped. The Pinkerton agents were on their trail, but the gang escaped to their hideout, the Hole-in-the-Wall. Curry went to Utah, and then Alma, New Mexico. After robbing another train, members of the gang were captured and killed. Kid, Butch Cassidy, and other members escaped and went to San Antonio.

In February 1900, Kid’s only surviving brother was killed. Kid went on a vendetta shooting spree through Arizona and Utah before returning to Montana to reconnect with the Wild Bunch gang. They robbed a Great Northern train in Wyoming. In 1901, many members were captured in Tennessee. Kid returned to Montana, and killed a rancher who he held responsible for one of his brothers’ deaths. In 1902, Kid went to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was captured. He was convicted of robbery and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor, but on June 27, 1903, he escaped prison. A year later, on Jun 7, 1904, Kid was tracked down by a posse to Parachute, Colorado. A member of the posse shot him, and to avoid capture, Kid shot himself in the head.

Rumors spread that Kid Curry was not actually killed in Parachute, and that it was another gang member. Supposedly, Kid escaped to South America with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Charlie Siringo, one of the Pinkerton’s, resigned after believing that they had killed the wrong man. Curry is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. (Doc Holliday is also buried there.) Kid Curry’s sad life never had a happy ending. If the rumors are false, he died as violently as he lived.

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Colorado Desperadoes (Part 3) – “Buffalo Bill” Cody

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One of the most colorful characters to come out of the Old West was Buffalo Bill. He acquired his nickname after the Civil War, when he was hired to provide meat for the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers. Reportedly, Cody shot 4,280 bison in 18 months.

William Frederick Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was born near La Claire, Iowa, but his family soon migrated to Canada. In 1853, they moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory. When Cody’s father stood up at Rively’s store to give an anti-slavery speech, he was stabbed twice, and would have died had it not been for Rively, who jumped in and saved his life. Pro-slavers continuously threatened to kill Cody’s father, and in 1857, he died of complications acquired from his wounds.

Cody, now 11, took odd jobs to help support his family. He worked as a wagon train courier, and claimed to have been a “Fifty’Niner” in Colorado. When the Civil War broke out, he joined Johnston’s Army as an unofficial scout in Utah Territory to quash a rumored rebellion by the Mormons in Salt Lake City. According to Cody’s memoirs, this was where he first started his career as an Indian fighter. At age 14, he became a rider for the Pony Express. In 1863, he enlisted with the 7th Kansas Cavalry as a teamster, and served as a Private in Company H until his discharge in 1865.

In 1866, Cody married. The couple had four children, but three of them died in Rochester, New York. Cody began working as an Indian scout for the U.S. Army, and served as a scout for the highly publicized Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia’s royal hunt. Cody was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1872 for serving as a civilian scout, but in 1917, the rules were changed, and his award was revoked. (It was reinstated in 1989).

In December, 1872, Cody and his friend, Texas Jack Oromoundo, traveled to Chicago to perform their debut, The Scouts of the Prairie. “Wild Bill” Hickok appeared with them the following year. The troupe toured for ten years. Cody claimed that he had once scalped a Cheyenne warrior, which was part of his act. He also claimed that he had been a trapper, a bullwhacker, a stagecoach driver, and a wagon master, but no documentation exists, and historians believe he might have fabricated these claims to gain publicity. Regardless, Cody’s colorful reputation grew. In 1883, he founded “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” near North Platte, Nebraska. The circus-like show toured annually, and Cody met many dignitaries and heads of state. In 1893, he changed the name of his show to “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.” Sitting Bull, Calamity Jane, and Annie Oakley appeared in the touring show, as did many diplomats from foreign countries. His show performed in such places as Madison Square Garden in New York City and the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy.

In 1887, Cody performed a show for Queen Victoria, and in 1889, he met Pope Leo XIII. He wasn’t allowed into the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, so he set up outside the fairgrounds and made a killing anyway. Between 1887 and 1906, Cody’s Wild West show toured Europe eight times. His shows gave Europe an authentic American experience, and insight into the fading American Western frontier.

Cody was instrumental in founding a town named after him, and in 1895, Cody, Wyoming, near the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, was founded. He established a ranch and hotel, and used his influence to persuade Congress to build a dam on the Shoshone River. Upon its completion in 1910, it was the largest dam in the world.

In 1917, Cody died in Denver at his sister’s home. He was eulogized by George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and President Woodrow Wilson. Cody is buried on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado.  At one point, Buffalo Bill was the most famous man in the world. He supported Native American Indian rights and women’s rights, and pushed for the end of hide-hunting and the start of hunting seasons. He was an activist, a conservationist, a humanitarian, and a remarkable performer. He saw his Wild West change drastically over the course of his lifetime, but left a significant historical impact on the world, and changed their perception of the Wild West forever.

Colorado Desperados (Part 2) – The Two Texas Jacks

As a matter of coincidence, two interesting characters of the Old West were nicknamed “Texas Jack.” They might have even crossed paths during the Civil War. Both were from Virginia, and both fought under General J.E.B. Stuart.

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Texas Jack Vermillion

When John Wilson Vermillion (1842–1911) was asked why he was called “Texas Jack,” he said, “Because I’m from Virginia.” Jack was born in Russell County. He served in the Civil War, and fought for the Confederacy under J.E.B. Stuart. In 1865, he married an Indiana girl. They moved to Missouri, where he accepted a position as a territorial marshal. His wife, young son, and daughter all died in a diphtheria epidemic while Jack was away.

Jack floated around the country, first to Dodge City, Kansas in the late 1870’s, and then to Tombstone, Arizona. He became friends with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. On March 21, 1882, he participated in the Vendetta Posse that chased after members of the Cowboys following the death of Frank Stilwell.

In 1882, he was back in Dodge City, where he killed a card cheat. Between 1883 and 1889, he acquired the nickname “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out Jack” Vermillion. In 1888, he joined the Soapy Smith gang in Denver, Colorado. He was involved in a train depot shootout in Pocatello, Idaho in August, 1889. Around 1890, Jack returned to Virginia, remarried, and had another son and daughter.

There is confusion as to how Jack died. One source says he drowned in a lake near Chicago, but another says he died peacefully in his sleep. Family history records indicate that he killed a man in a shootout in 1890, and that he lived until 1911.

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Texas Jack Omohoudro                                                                                                   

John Baker Omohoudro (July 26, 1846 – June 28, 1880) had a completely different, but just as fascinating, story. He was also born in Virginia (near Palmyra). In his early teens, he traveled to Texas and became a cowboy. When the Civil War broke out, he was unable to join the Confederate Army because he was too young, so he enlisted as a courier and scout. Ironically, in 1864, he also enlisted under J.E.B. Stuart, and served as a courier and scout.

After the war, Jack returned to Texas and resumed his life as a cowboy. He participated in the Chisholm Trail cattle drive, among others. It was during one of these drives that he acquired the nickname “Texas Jack.” He adopted a five-year-old boy whose parents had been killed by Indians, and named him Texas Jack Jr.

In 1869, Jack moved to Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska. It was there that he met William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The two participated in buffalo hunts and Indian skirmishes. They also acted as guides, and in 1872, Jack led a highly publicized royal hunt for the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia. In December, 1872, Cody and Jack went to Chicago, where they premiered their show The Scouts of the Prairie. This was the very first Wild West show, and Jack was the first person to demonstrate roping techniques on the American Stage. During the 1873-74 season, Jack and Cody invited their friend, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, to join them in a stage presentation titled The Scouts of the Plains.

When he wasn’t performing, Jack spent his time hunting on the Great Plains, and guided hunting parties for political figures and European nobility. In August, 1873, he married one of his co-stars, Giuseppina Morlacchi, from Italy. In 1877, he headed his own acting troupe in St. Louis. He also wrote articles for eastern newspapers and popular magazines, describing his adventures as a hunter and scout. His legend grew and was popularized in dime novels. In 1900, Jack was featured in a fictional series about the Confederacy, which was published in the Saturday Evening Post. Jack died of pneumonia in 1880. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville, Colorado.

His son, Texas Jack Jr., carried on his father’s legacy by appearing in Wild West shows around the world. In 1980, the Texas Jack Association was established to promote and preserve his memory, and in 1994, he was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in the Hall of Great Western Performers.

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(Ned Buntline, Buffalo Bill Cody, Giuseppina Morlacchi, Texas Jack Omohundro)

Colorado Desperadoes (Part 1) – The Infamous Doc Holliday

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Although he never fought in the Civil War, John Henry “Doc” Holliday was a product of that war. His father fought for the Confederacy. His cousin by marriage was Margaret Mitchell, who wrote “Gone with the Wind.”

Doc was born on August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia. The family moved to Valdosta, Georgia in 1864. In 1866, when Doc was 15, his mother died of tuberculosis. He became fluent in Latin, Greek, and French, and obtained a degree in dentistry in Philadelphia. He didn’t practice dentistry for long, though.  He was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and only given a few months to live.

Thinking that a dryer climate would slow his deteriorating condition, Doc moved to Dallas in 1873 and took up gambling because it was more profitable. From there, he moved to Denver. Hearing about the discovery of gold, he traveled to Cheyenne, and then to Deadwood. By 1877, Doc had become accomplished with a gun. He met Wyatt Earp in Texas, along with “Big Nose” Kate, who became his lifelong companion. In 1878, he defended Earp in a saloon fight, which took place in Dodge City, Kansas.

In 1880, Doc travelled to Tombstone, Arizona to meet up with the Earp’s. It wasn’t long before trouble found him. Wyatt had been dealing with problems caused by the “Cowboys,” and the situation escalated. In October 1881, the conflict exploded in what became known as the Gunfight at the OK Corral. The situation in Tombstone grew worse. Virgil Earp was seriously wounded, and Morgan Earp was killed. The Earp’s left town, but later, the body of Frank Stilwell, who was one of the Cowboys, was discovered near the railroad tracks, riddled with buckshot. The Earp’s returned to Tombstone to meet up with Texas Jack Vermillion. From there, the posse rode out on what became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride, and killed other members of the Cowboys, including “Indian Charlie” Cruz and “Curly Bill” Brocius. Because there was a warrant out for Doc in the killing of Stilwell, he decided to return to Colorado.

Doc was arrested for murder in Denver on May 15, 1882 under an Arizona warrant. Wyatt asked his friend, Bat Masterson, who was Chief of Police in Trinidad, Colorado, to get Doc released. Masterson convinced Colorado’s Governor Pitkin to refuse Arizona’s extradition. Doc was released in Pueblo two weeks later. He and Wyatt briefly met up in June 1882 in Gunnison. On July 14, one of the notorious Cowboys, Johnny Ringo, was found dead. His death appeared to be a suicide, but controversy surrounds it. Speculation arose that Wyatt and Doc returned to Arizona to do Johnny Ringo in, but it has never been proven.

After traveling to Salida, Doc went to Leadville for a short time. His health was rapidly deteriorating, worsened by severe alcohol and laudanum use. Told that the hot springs would improve his condition, he went to Glenwood Springs. The sulfuric fumes did just the opposite, however, and it wasn’t long before his health failed. He spent his last few days in the Hotel Glenwood. His final words reflected the irony of his situation, because he always thought he would be the victim of an assassin’s bullet. Looking down at his bootless feet, he said, “Damn, this is funny.” He died on November 8, 1887. He was 36 years old.

Doc was buried in Linwood Cemetery, on a mountaintop overlooking Glenwood Springs. Speculation exists as to whether he is actually buried there, since the ground might have been frozen. He was either buried in an unmarked grave to prevent grave robbers from desecrating the corpse, or in Potter’s Field, which was a section of the cemetery set aside for blacks and paupers. He was penniless at the time of his death, so this is a possibility. The records showing exactly where his body was located within the cemetery were lost.

According to research, he only killed three people in his lifetime. However, it is possible that he never actually killed anyone. He was involved in several altercations, and let his reputation grow as a murderer. Virgil Earp told a reporter from the Arizona Daily Star in March 1882, that “There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man, and yet outside of us boys I don’t think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit that it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced up to Doc’s account.” The violence experienced during the Civil War was carried on through the settling of the Wild West, and Doc Holliday was one result of that time.

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