IT’S THE FIRST FRIDAY OF AUGUST, MEANING IT’S FRONTIERADO! NOW CELEBRATED ON SIX CONTINENTS!
The joyous day is here at last so let’s enjoy our meals of buffalo meat, Tumbleweed Pizzas, Southwest Fried Rice, corn on the cob, Cactus Salad, mashed potatoes and Western Spaghetti ! Later we can wash down some Deuces Wilds (Red or Black) and Cactus Jacks while playing Frontierado Poker or watching Silverado.
BOOT HILL: The name has survived in much western lore as THE name for graveyards filled with gunslingers, outlaws and other stock figures of the Wild West. Today it serves as a blog post in which I focus on the causes of death for many of the men and women who have shown up in my Frontierado items over the years.
TEXAS BEN THOMPSON – Shot to death by multiple gunmen at Jack Harris’ Vaudeville Theater in San Antonio, TX on March 11th, 1884. It was a revenge killing that also claimed Thompson’s friend and fellow gunslinger John “King” Fisher.
DOC HOLLIDAY – Died of natural causes on November 8th, 1887 in Glenwood Springs, CO.
SAM SIXKILLER – Shot to death while unarmed on Christmas Eve of 1886 in Muskogee, OK (still called Indian Territory at the time).
“QUEEN” KITTY LEROY – Shot to death by her own husband in Deadwood, SD’s Lone Star Saloon on December 6th, 1877. Her husband then took his own life. Continue reading
Frontierado is coming up this Friday, August 3rd. The holiday celebrates the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. With just a few days remaining until the big day I’ll be squeezing in some last seasonal posts.
Part of the appeal of old west gunslingers lies in their catchy nicknames. I’ve covered all of the big names over the years, so here are a few more who don’t get the attention they deserve.
CASH HOLLISTER – Cassius M “Cash” Hollister was born in Cleveland, OH on December 7th of 1845. Cash was a two-fisted and fiery man who felt too constrained living in the citified East. In 1877 he traveled to Kansas, where he did hotel work in Wichita before moving on to Caldwell.
Hollister married Sadia Rhodes in 1878 and in late October of 1879 was elected Mayor of Caldwell following the violent death of the town’s previous Mayor. High office did nothing to diminish Cash’s high spirits and he continued to participate in frequent barroom brawls and street fights.
Choosing not to stand for reelection in 1880, Hollister held no further official position until very early 1883, when he was appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal by Marshal B.S. Simpson. Within months Cash was involved in a series of gunfights against horse thieves and cattle rustlers in the sprawling criminal organization headed by Jay Wilkinson. Continue reading
The Frontierado holiday is this Friday, August 1st! As we all count down to it like little kids excitedly awaiting Santa Claus here’s another look at the legends centered around even more neglected figures of the American west. Check out this Three of a Kind.
1. QUEEN KITTY – Kitty LeRoy was also known as Kitty the Schemer, Dancing Kitty, the Female Arsenal and much later as Deadwood Kitty. Queen Kitty is the most appropriate nickname in part because of her last name but mostly because she was variously known as “the Queen of the Hoofers”, “the Dancing Queen”, “the Queen of the Barbary Coast” and “the Queen of the Faro Tables”.
Kitty was born in 1850 and by the age of 10 was earning money for her family as a professional dancer and novelty act in her home state of Michigan. By 14 she was performing exclusively at adult venues and had added trick shooting to her repertoire. Her most famous shooting trick at this time was shooting apples off the heads of volunteers. At age 15 Queen Kitty was performing in New Orleans and married her first husband – the only man in the city brave enough to let Kitty shoot apples off his head while she was riding around him at a full gallop.
LeRoy loved flirting and sleeping around, however, and this led to the breakup of her first marriage within a year. By 1870 Queen Kitty had married a second time, to a man named Donnaly, with whom she had a daughter. The Queen had gravitated more and more to the Faro tables, making a killing as a celebrity dealer. With Dallas as a home base Kitty and her husband would travel throughout Texas with LeRoy earning money dancing and dealing Faro. Kitty also earned a name for being able to handle any violence that came her way from sore losers and was involved in multiple gunfights and knife fights in dangerous saloons. Continue reading
Balladeer’s Blog presents another look at the legendary tales of two more underappreciated Wild West gunslingers since the Frontierado holiday is fast approaching! Friday August 1st will mark the event, the yearly celebration of the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality. And tonight the American Heroes Channel debuts their series Gunslingers to tie in with the Frontierado holiday!
1. MADAME DUMONT – Decades before Poker Alice and Lottie Deno Eleanore “Madame” Dumont made a name for herself as a blackjack-dealing gambler and gunslinger. Much of the Madame’s early life is unknown but she supposedly was born in France around 1830. In 1854, when the record of her activities becomes more concrete, she arrived in Nevada City, CA as the Gold Rush was still at its peak.
The charming and aristocratic Madame Dumont had already acquired a small fortune in gambling winnings after playing cards and slinging lead in mining camps throughout northern California. Eleanore’s cash and her nascent reputation for being able to maintain order with her own guns if necessary made it easy for her to immediately open her casino named Vingt- et-Un (“21”) right on legendary Broad Street itself. Continue reading
The Frontierado Holiday is coming up this Friday August 2nd! Here’s another seasonal post examining forgotten gunslingers of the American West who deserve a lot more attention than they generally receive. Remember, Frontierado celebrates the myth of the West, not the grinding reality.
4. KLONDIKE KATE – Kate Rockwell eventually became one of the Continue reading
Bear River Tom Smith
The Frontierado holiday is coming up on Friday, August 2nd and Balladeer’s Blog continues presenting holiday- themed articles. I know that in reality the gunfighters of the old west were thugs and worse but Frontierado is about the myth of the American west, not the grinding reality.
As the glorious day approaches and we are all making our holiday preparations enjoy a sampling of this group of colorful characters who don’t get the attention – or movies – they deserve.
1. BEAR RIVER TOM – That’s our top-ranked figure in the photo to your left. One of the few actual gunmen to wear a fancy two-gun holster, Bear River Tom Smith’s myth begins with his birth in 1838 in New York City. He either did or did not serve in the Union Army in 1861 (accounts vary) but was definitely part of the NYC police force by 1862. In 1867 he headed west, working as a laborer laying track for the Union Pacific Railroad in Nebraska.
By 1868 the crew he was with had reached Wyoming, where the Hell On Wheels town of Bear River sprang up around their work camp. Bear River was to wild, lawless railroad towns what Dodge City, Kansas was to wild, lawless cattletowns. Bear River Tom put his guns, fists and law enforcement experience to Continue reading
The exaggerated stories that surround the figures of the American West appeal to me as a classic example of the human tendency toward embellishment. In my non-believer’s heart I genuinely feel this tendency lies at the core of nearly all the superstitious nonsense in each of the world’s “holy” books and in all of ancient mythology.
After all, these figures of the Wild West were in action less than 200 years ago, yet look at all the superhuman deeds that are ascribed to them and the outrageous drama that we’re told their lives were filled with. These real-life characters who were often just thugs and criminals have been posthumously transformed into icons whose sagas now bear little resemblance to their actual lives.
I feel that serves as a blueprint for how all mythic belief systems operate. When you magnify the distortions of just 200 years by 10 times or more you can see what tiny little kernels of truth may actually lie buried in the accounts of gods and demigods who are said to have roamed the world ages ago.
All of which Continue reading