Tag Archives: Frontierado holiday

CANYON DIABLO: THE MOST LAWLESS TOWN OF THE OLD WEST

It is now less than a week to go until the Frontierado Holiday coming up this Friday August 6th. Balladeer’s Blog will be making a few more seasonal posts between now and then.

railroad over canyon diabloCANYON DIABLO: THE MOST LAWLESS TOWN OF THE OLD WEST – In 1880 construction crews for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad reached the wide chasm called Canyon Diablo in what is now Coconino County, Arizona. Construction had to pause for several months when the crews discovered that the wrong size bridge had been manufactured and would not reach all the way across Canyon Diablo.

canyon diabloWhile waiting for new bridge materials to be manufactured and shipped to the site, workers stayed in the area doing stonemasonry, surveying, cutting and preparing railroad ties and preparing the grade & bed. A quick Hell On Wheels town sprouted called Canyon Diablo, named after the canyon. Unlike most such towns this one lasted for decades, from 1880 into the 20th Century but was at its peak for a few years in the 1880s.

This wasn’t just another of the many Hell On Wheels towns that sprang up along all railroads under construction in the 1800s west. Canyon Diablo earned a reputation as the deadliest and most lawless town in the old west. Law enforcement officers of any kind were not welcome in the place and so, many drifters, criminals and fugitives paraded in and out of the town, sometimes even taking up residence there. The nearest officers of the law were located 100 miles away.

canyon diablo bridge 1882Canyon Diablo is not a household name like Dodge City, Tombstone, Deadwood, Silver City or others because not only law enforcement, but anything resembling newspapers, churches or schools or any other of the usual fixtures of civilization failed to survive there.

For that same reason, few details survive about the gunfights, knife fights and ambushes which filled the graves in the town’s nearby Boot Hill Cemetery. There was simply no one on hand to chronicle events in the town. And that’s exactly how the violent and larcenous denizens liked it. 

Boozing, gambling, prostitution and shelter for fugitives from the law were the figurative economic base of Canyon Diablo. According to one historian “Murder on the street was common. Holdups were nearly hourly occurrences, newcomers being slugged on mere suspicion that they carried valuables.” Continue reading

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FRONTIERADO PARTY ESSENTIALS

crossed pistolsHere at Frontierado international headquarters things are as hectic as you would imagine with the Frontierado holiday coming up on Friday, August 6th. As always, Frontierado celebrates the myth of the old west, not the grinding reality. Here are some party essentials that help make your family’s Frontierado get-togethers special.

buffalogalBUFFALO GAL – Balladeer’s Blog gets its Buffalo Steaks, Buffalo Burgers, Buffalo Chili and Buffalo Jerky from Buffalo Gal, which will ship to you wherever you are in the U.S. and abroad.

You can also buy Elk Meat, Wild Boar, Yak Meat and Swabian Hall Pork. There’s even Scottish Highlander Beef for those with more traditional appetites.

devils river bourbon picDEVILS RIVER BOURBON – Here’s one of the brands of whiskey that I like to drink either straight or mixed in my Cactus Jacks: Devils River (1840).

This Texas Bourbon is created with water drawn from Devils River (Devils is plural, so no apostrophe) and is 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley.

As usual I prefer Barrel Strength – I’m slamming down a 117 Proof bottle as I type – but naturally you’re free to make your own selections. Continue reading

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DALLAS STOUDENMIRE: GUNSLINGER

The annual Frontierado Holiday is coming up on Friday, August 6th. As always, Frontierado is about the myths of the old west, not the grinding reality. Here is another often-overlooked gunslinger. 

dallas stoudenmireDALLAS STOUDENMIRE – Dallas was this figure’s real first name, and it was ideal for an old west legend, just like Sam Sixkiller had an ideal surname and John X Beidler had an ideal nickname in “X”, from his middle initial. His life was filled with whiskey, cigars, women and opium, all garnished with the smell of gunpowder. 

Stoudenmire was born on December 11th, 1845 in Aberfoil, AL.   

With the Civil War raging, 1862 and 1863 saw Dallas repeatedly trying to enlist by lying about his age only to be found out within months and discharged. Finally, on March 8th, 1864 Stoudenmire enlisted at legal age and served until the end of the war.

Immediately after war’s end, Dallas moved to Texas with his brother Abednego and his sister-in-law. While Abednego and his spouse settled in Colorado County, Dallas traveled to Mexico like many other former Confederate soldiers and served in the army fighting to keep the country’s Emperor Maximilian on his throne. Among the other southerners putting their military experience to use in Mexico was future gunslinger Ben Thompson aka Texas Ben aka Texas Thompson.

dallas stoudenmire 2After Maximilian fell and was executed in June of 1867 Stoudenmire returned to Texas and farmed with his brother in Columbus in Colorado County.

Between 1870 and 1874 Dallas wandered, working as a wheelwright and other odd jobs when on the Texas side of the border, but engaging in still-mysterious activities during periodic trips to Mexico. Some legends claim Stoudenmire was part of a rustling gang during those outings, while others have him contending with rival fortune hunters in searching for Emperor Maximilian’s lost gold

On January 17th, 1874 this figure enlisted as a Sergeant in the Texas Rangers – Company A under Captain J.R. Waller. That company’s jurisdiction ranged from western Erath County north to Stevens County and southwest to Brown County. Continue reading

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BON JOVI: SANTA FE – FRONTIERADO SONG

With a loved one in the hospital it’s been a subdued Frontierado here today. Still, wherever you are and whatever your Frontierado Saga, I hope you and yours are having a terrific time! In the past Bon Jovi has given us holiday songs like Wanted: Dead or Alive, Blaze of Glory and Billy Get Your Guns. This time it’s Santa Fe or as some call it Judgment Day in Santa Fe

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HAPPY FRONTIERADO! TIMELINE OF THE WICKED BURG: SIDNEY NE

Wild West TownFrontierado is here at last! Time for buffalo steaks, cactus salads, Tumbleweed Pizzas, Cactus Jacks, Deuces Wilds, Western Spaghetti and lots of games of Frontierado Poker. Naturally the day ends with Silverado plus a few other westerns of your choice. I usually add Posse or Once Upon A Time In The West.

And since it’s a three-day weekend you’ve got both Saturday and Sunday to recover.  

When it comes to Wild West towns places like Tombstone, Dodge City and Deadwood get the lion’s share of the attention. In keeping with Balladeer’s Blog’s overall theme here’s a look at some of the action in the neglected town of Sidney, NE. Figures like Wild Bill Hickok, Luke Short, Susan B Anthony, Whispering Smith and Dom Pedro II of Brazil passed through Sidney in its heyday. Here’s a timeline of just some of the events in the town infamous as “The Wicked Burg”:  

April 29th, 1868 – Daniel Richardson, Thomas Cahoon and William Edmondson became the first recorded dead men buried in Sidney’s Boot Hill Cemetery. All three men were killed in a clash with Native Americans.

May ?, 1875 – Susan B Anthony delivered a lecture in Sidney advocating women’s suffrage.

October 24th, 1875 – At the Capitol Saloon the livery stable owner Robert W Porter and Charles Patterson got into an argument (the subject is not known) that resulted in Patterson shooting Porter to death with 3 shots. Patterson was placed under arrest. Continue reading

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RUSSIAN BILL: NEGLECTED GUNSLINGER

Frontierado is this Friday, August 2nd, so just a few days left for seasonal posts this calendar year! As ever, this holiday is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality. 

Wolf Kahler Russian Bill

Wolf Kahler would have made a good Russian Bill

RUSSIAN BILL – William Tatenbaum aka Waldemar Tethenborn aka Feador Telfrin was born in Russia as the son of Countess Telfrin. Russian Bill’s noble birthright was confirmed by the American Consul in Saint Petersburg, Russia after Bill’s death by lynching in 1881.

That’s important to note because during William Tatenbaum’s travels in the American West many people thought the smooth-talking Russian gunslinger was lying about being a nobleman. Apparently they assumed he was a forerunner of the 20th Century’s Mike Romanoff, who became a celebrity based on his brassy – but failed – attempt to pass himself off as a member of the fallen Romanoff dynasty.

The 19th Century’s William Tatenbaum might have lived a longer life if he had pursued a similar con-man’s career instead of falling into the life of a guns-blazing outlaw.

Wolf Kahler Russian Bill 3While serving in the Tsar’s Imperial White Hussars (cavalry) and after seeing action in the Khivan Campaign, the future Russian Bill had a violent falling out with a superior officer. The exact nature of the conflict is not known and years later the Countess Telfrin would refer to it only as “a political affair.”   

Bill left Russia under a cloud and at some point wound up in the American West. The wandering rogue made references to having gambled on Mississippi Riverboats and in assorted Texas towns while participating in periodic “duels” (gunfights) over ladies or related matters of “honor.” Given how true Russian Bill’s claims to nobility turned out to be, all the other claims he made about his mysterious past need to be taken with some seriousness.

Wolf Kahler Russian Bill 2Tatenbaum certainly looked and otherwise fit the part of the Old West Gambler better than the rougher outlaw he later became. He was described as a dandified dresser and sported expensive pistols. In addition he was well-spoken, well-educated and fluent in at least four languages, all of which would have accounted for his popularity with the ladies. His supposedly handsome face, curly blonde hair and moustache would have helped.  

By the late 1870s Russian Bill was in the Animas Valley in Southwestern New Mexico Territory where he fell in with the Clanton Crime Faction, whose control extended from there to parts of Arizona Territory. Some accounts claim Bill first took to committing crimes with them to pay off a gambling debt to one of the gang. Continue reading

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FRONTIERADO FLASHMAN: FLASHMAN AND THE REDSKINS (1982)

Frontierado is fast approaching! Friday, August 2nd is the big day! Here’s my January review of Flashman and the Redskins again since it’s appropriate to the holiday. 

Alan Bates -better Flashman than MalcolmFor Balladeer’s Blog’s Number One Harry Flashman Novel click HERE  . 

For background info on George MacDonald Fraser’s infamous anti-hero Harry Paget Flashman you can also click that link.

 

flashman and the redskins 27. FLASHMAN AND THE REDSKINS (1982)

Time Period: Part One – 1849-1850, Part Two – 1875-1876

The Flashman novels jump around to different periods of the fictional Harry Flashman’s life. This book covers his adventures with the Forty-Niners on the way to the California gold fields as well as his much later involvement in the Sioux Uprising.

Favorite Book Blurb: “The West is just wild about Harry!” (It came long before “See what I did there?” was a thing, but the sentiment still applies.) 

NOTE: Once again Fraser used the structure of a swashbuckling, guns-blazing adventure story to cast his critical eye on some of the Great Names and Great Events of the 19th Century. Get ready for another generous helping of “History Noir” as only George could write it: by blending fact, fiction and satirical subtext in a way which scandalizes BOTH the political right AND the left.

And as always when viewed against the backdrop of history’s major atrocities the amoral carnal and monetary pursuits of that British blackguard Harry Paget Flashman look almost harmless by comparison.  

flashman and the redskinsSynopsis: The plot of Flashman and the Redskins picks up immediately after the end of Flash For Freedom (1971). Still stranded without funds in 1849 America our antihero returns to the welcoming arms – and bed – of brothel madam Susie Willink. That voluptuous MILF has been bitten by the Gold Bug and invites Harry to join her and her stable of prostitutes as part of a wagon train headed to California.

Soon the expatriate British Cavalry Officer is traipsing across the continent alongside the young Kit Carson himself. Harry, Kit, Susie and their wagon train wind up negotiating with and/or fighting Pawnee, Arapaho and other assorted tribes of Native Americans as well as combating cholera, thirst and hunger along the way.

Since Fraser can never resist slipping Flashman into tantalizingly unresolved historical footnotes we get Harry’s account of the mysterious final days at the original Bent’s Fort. Tossed in for good measure we learn that our favorite British scoundrel was the man who supposedly taught the young Crazy Horse how to wink, which was reportedly a very UN-Oglala-like thing to do.  Continue reading

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PRETTY PIERRE: GAMBLER-GUNSLINGER OF CANADA

The Frontierado Holiday coming up on Friday August 2nd is all about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.

Gilbert ParkerPRETTY PIERRE – Created by Canadian author Gilbert Parker, Pretty Pierre was a Canadian version of fictional American Western Pulp Heroes like Deadwood Dick and many others. Pierre was a smuggler and gambler/gunslinger whose adventures took place in Canada and Alaska in the late 1800s. 

The very first Pretty Pierre story, The Patrol of the Cypress Hills, was published in The Independent in 1890. Many stories followed and were published in two collections: Pierre and His People (1892) and Pierre, A Romany of the Snows (1896).

That second collection was published in England under the title An Adventurer of the North in 1898, often leading to the mistaken belief that there are actually three separate collections of Pierre short stories but this is not the case.  

Pierre was the son of a Canadian woman and a Native American of no specific designation. The Pretty One was raised by his father’s people for a time then began moving in white Canadian circles. His good looks and elegant clothing earned him his nickname but he made his living as a gambler/gunslinger and as a smuggler (Think of the real-life Montana Kid, covered previously here at Balladeer’s Blog). Continue reading

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KID RUSSELL: EPISODE FOUR

For Episode One plus background information click HERE  For a look at the Kid Russell legend click HERE 

William Smith Kid Russell 2

William Smith would have made a good Kid Russell in the 60s.

KID RUSSELL

EPISODE FOUR

Title: Vigilante Justice

The Year: 1884

Synopsis: By April of 1884 the cattle ranchers of Montana are so plagued by rustlers that they are willing to form vigilante groups for the first time since the Montana Gold Rush days of the 1860s. Granville Stuart gathers at least 14 men around himself to take the law into their own hands against the rampant rustling. Continue reading

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FARO DEALING AND CHUCK-A-LUCK SUPPLIES FOR FRONTIERADO

FaroThe Frontierado Holiday, coming up Friday, August 2nd is about celebrating the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.

For reasonably authentic and affordable Faro and Chuck-A-Luck supplies for Frontierado get-togethers I often use River Junction Trade Company and others.

Chuck a LuckSites like theirs will also sell plenty of other supplies that will suit your needs for making your deck or party room look like a Wild West saloon or casino. Clothing, saloon chairs, era-appropriate whiskey glasses, you name it. Continue reading

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