Tag Archives: Frontierado Sagas

KID RUSSELL: EPISODE THREE

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

William Smith good Kid Russell 4

William Smith would have made a good Kid Russell long ago.

KID RUSSELL

EPISODE THREE

Title: The Judith Basin Cattle Roundup

The Year: 1883

Synopsis: This episode will open up with Kid Russell (Charles Marion Russell) among the five or six players in a poker game at one of the saloons in Helena, MT. His regular saloon gal Dutch Leina is hovering nearby. Accusations of cheating eventually erupt and, while the Kid’s friend Charlie Bowlegs gets shot down, Russell himself manages to blow away the attacker. (The Kid’s real-life friend Charlie Bowlegs really did get shot to death in saloon card-game violence.)

William Smith good Kid Russell 5After a few days in jail, Kid Russell’s case comes up and he is found not guilty on self-defense grounds and released. While cooling his heels in stir the Kid got to talking to some cowhands getting ready for the upcoming Judith Basin Cattle Roundup, an annual event which was, even then, achieving legendary status.

Russell, always a romantic, can’t shake a desire to once again try the cowboy lifestyle he once aspired to. After his initial run at a sheep ranch getting leaned on by the Cattlemen (Episode One) and his two years guiding tycoons and European Blue-Bloods on big-game hunts with Lucky Boy Hoover (Episode Two), Charley finds himself itching for a change. Continue reading

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KID RUSSELL: THE TELEVISION SERIES – EPISODE ONE

Kid Russell

Self-portrait by Kid Russell

With the Frontierado Holiday coming up in just over a month and a half, Balladeer’s Blog decided to whet readers’ appetites with this look at a gritty cable western series based on the real-life gunslinger turned artist Kid Russell (Charles Marion Russell).

As always, Frontierado is about the myth of the American West, not the grinding reality. This ties it in with Balladeer’s Blog’s examinations of myth and folklore and the ways in which the human tendency toward embellishment crafts everything from religious lore to heroic legends.

Even in the 1800s the exploits of real-life gunslingers were being exaggerated in Dime Novels or overblown newspaper accounts to the degree that the surviving tales of Western figures often bear little resemblance to their actual lives. Television added another layer of distortion as the need for weekly stories saw Western shows presenting the likes of Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson and many others in adventures that dropped all pretense of being based on anything “real.”

Even a figure like Annie Oakley, who actually saw no action against outlaws, was depicted fighting crime out west in a weekly series. In that same spirit here’s my presentation of how the framework of fictional adventures can be used to familiarize modern audiences with occasional facts about the adventurers themselves.

William Smith good Kid RussellKID RUSSELL (Cable Series) – “Before he made the art, he LIVED it!” would be the kind of eye-rolling advertising tagline that one could picture being used for a show like this. I’m not implying any disrespect to Kid Russell or his artistic legacy. Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my regard for the man. (FOR MY LOOK AT THE KID RUSSELL LEGEND CLICK HERE )

I can’t help but speculate that the Kid’s fondness for “windies” would make him smile at the kind of concentrated embellishment I’m about to bring to his real-life adventures. Russell’s famously coy line about how he “… never said how law-abiding I was or wasn’t” made many of the wildest legends about the man seem like there might be more than a kernel or two of truth to them.     Continue reading

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BOONE MAY: NEGLECTED GUNSLINGER

Boone MayBOONE MAY – We ring down the curtain on another Frontierado holiday with this look at neglected gunslinger Daniel Boone May, better known as just Boone May.

Daniel Boone May was born in Missouri in 1852 and raised on the family farm in Kansas following a move around 1860. In the early 1870s Boone headed west with his brothers Jim and Bill. By some accounts Boone drifted into bounty hunting as a way of making a living while his brothers were into more sedate and settled livelihoods.

With the Black Hills Gold Rush raging in 1876 the three May Brothers headed to Deadwood, SD to seek their fortunes. Bill tried his hand at prospecting while Boone and Jim invested some of Boone’s bounty money in a series of horse-team changing stations between the gold fields and the railroad in Cheyenne, WY.  

Boone earned a solid reputation for being able to use his guns to keep the changing stations safe from bandits AND from bands of Sioux warriors. Before long he had made enough money to buy a home and land near the Platte River outside Deadwood.   Continue reading

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GUNPLAY MAXWELL – NEGLECTED GUNSLINGER

MASCOT COWBOY 2The Frontierado holiday is Friday, August 3rd!

GUNPLAY MAXWELL – This neglected gunslinger was born in Boston, MA as James Otis Bliss circa 1860. When he was 15 years old he got into a fight with a friend at a Boston tavern and shot him to death. Fleeing authorities the young man headed west and began a life of using various false names, including Charles L Maxwell or “Gunplay” Maxwell as he is best remembered.  

Life on the run was bringing out both the dark violence AND the shrewd manipulative streak that would characterize the young man for the rest of his life. By late 1876 he was in Texas staying alive through assorted robberies, con games and increasingly frequent gunplay. Texas eventually became too hot for Gunplay Maxwell and by the late 1870s or early 1880s he moved north to Montana.     Continue reading

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3 GUNSLINGERS: HAVE NICKNAME, WILL TRAVEL

Hunnewell, KSFrontierado 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 hollisterCASH 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

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BOOT HILL: A MINOR VALHALLA

JUST SIXTEEN DAYS UNTIL FRONTIERADO! THE FIRST FRIDAY OF AUGUST HAS ARRIVED, 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 HillBOOT 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.

Jack Harris Vaudeville TheatreTEXAS 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.

KID CURRY – Either took his own life or was killed by lawmen on June 17th, 1904, at Parachute, CO, supposedly after robbing a train. 

LONG-HAIRED JIM COURTRIGHT – Shot to death in a rare Legend on Legend gunfight with Luke Short in Fort Worth, TX on February 8th, 1887.   Continue reading

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LINCOLN COUNTY WAR: THE GANGS

New Mexico map

Frontierado is Friday, August 4th!

The various range wars of the Old West were not truly “wars,” of course but were more like modern-day gangster conflicts with very rare examples of outright good guys or outright bad guys. Frontierado is about the myth of the American West, not the reality, though, so think in terms of Renaissance Festivals. 

THE LINCOLN COUNTY WAR – Billy the Kid’s involvement in this range war has made this the most internationally famous of them all, so I chose it for this premier look at gangs fighting on both sides of the conflict. For fans of the original Young Guns movie I’ll lead off with the Regulators.   

THE REGULATORS

Side: Tunstall-McSween Faction 

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Comment: Like many of the units fighting in the Lincoln County War the Regulators were “deputized” by law enforcement personnel in the pocket of their faction’s leaders. This provided an arguable veneer of legality to the group’s actions. Dick Brewer led the Regulators until he was killed by Buckshot Roberts, then Frank McNabb led them and, after his death Josiah Scurlock took over.   

Prominent Members: Billy the Kid, Tommy O’Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, Jim “Frenchy” French, Dirty Steve Stephens, Tiger Sam Smith and the Coe Brothers. 

SEVEN RIVERS WARRIORS

Side: Dolan-Murphy Faction Continue reading

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