The latest Saga custom written for Frontierado, which is coming up Friday, August 2nd!
TOMAHAWK TAM – Tamara “Tomahawk Tam” Wise-Brosnan aka “The Houston Hellcat” led one of the most eventful and action-packed lives in the Old West.
Born in 1863 the ever-willful and rambunctious child ran away in a pouting huff from the westward-bound wagon train her family was traveling with in 1873. Elders from the Nevada Paiute Tribe which adopted her forever maintained that when they encountered the young lady in the desert she fearlessly walked up to them and told them she was hungry and inquired if they had any food to share with her.
Charmed by all this, the Paiute raised her as one of their own. By her teen years Tamara was a close follower of the outspoken Paiute woman Sarah Winnemucca aka Thocmentony aka Shell Flower. It was Sarah who introduced the young Tamara to Eleanor Dumont, the famous gambler/ gunslinger. Eleanor’s free spirit forever after served as an inspiration for the future legend.
When she was 15 in 1878 Tamara’s tribe left the reservation and found themselves in a conflict with the United States Army, the Bannock War (June-August).
The Paiute tribe under Chief Buffalo Horn could only muster around 500 warriors at the time and during one of the battles Tamara, wielding a rifle and a tomahawk, fought back against the attacking soldiers. From that day forward the newly rechristened “Tomahawk Tam” insisted on fighting alongside the men of her tribe. With her body-count increasing in every clash no one dared say her nay. Continue reading
Frontierado is on August 2nd, so two weeks from now blog posts related to that major holiday will wrap up for the year.
A neglected aspect of Wild West lore is the Alaskan Gold Rush. Klondike Kate was the only figure I’ve covered from the Yukon so it’s long past time for more. Think of dogsleds instead of stage coaches and instead of hot deserts, snow and temperatures so cold that whiskey freezes in the bottle. Think of winter storms of such magnitude that the entire city of Nome, AK was literally wiped out late in the Gold Rush. Boomtowns, gunslingers and gamblers are common to Gold Rushes in the frozen north AND in the continental U.S.
THE MONTANA KID – Dan Egan, before his Yukon fame, was a boxer during the dangerous years when the sport was illegal in many areas and boxing matches were subject to being raided by the police. He had only limited success and his career as a pugilist is distinguished mostly by his losses to THE Billy Hennesy.
Already called the Montana Kid, Egan lost to Hennesy in boxing matches from Leavenworth, KS to San Francisco, CA between 1888 and 1892. Beginning around 1896 the Kid was in Alaska and made a name for himself smuggling whiskey from Juneau and Skagway to Dawson via his notoriously fast dogsled team.
Egan became a legend from his escapades eluding Canadian Mounties and American authorities with his ever-expanding inventory of smuggled goods. The Montana Kid would spend his down time between smuggling runs drinking and gambling in the many saloons in the Gold Rush boomtowns.
When he was on a winning streak Egan would reward his sled-dogs with prime steaks from the best available restaurants.
This amiable but deadly man was a frequent participant in the marathon, multiple-day card games held at the Bank Saloon, along with equally colorful Klondike figures like Silent Sam Bonnifield, One-Eyed Riley, and the gambler known only as the Oregon Jew. Continue reading
The Frontierado Holiday is coming up on August 2nd. As always, the holiday is about the myth of the Old West, not the grinding reality.
FARMER PEEL – Gunslinger Langford Peel got the nickname “Farmer” Peel through the same sense of irony that earns some tall people the nickname Shorty and some fat people the nickname Slim. Peel was always well-dressed and smooth-tongued and the furthest thing away from the image of a Farmer that you could get among the high-stakes gambler/ gunslingers of his era.
Peel was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1829 but his family moved to America during his childhood. In 1841, at the age of 12, Peel was accepted into the U.S. Army as a bugler. Buglers and drummers could indeed be enlisted into the service as company musicians with their parents’ consent. Education in their intended musical instruments was part of the bargain.
David Robb would have made a great Farmer Peel
The young Langford Peel was shipped off to Governor’s Island, New York and then Carlisle Barracks, PA for his military and musical training. After 13 months he was discharged at Carlisle on October 24th, 1842 but chose to reenlist. Come 1845 the 16 year old blonde was with Company B of the First Regiment of U.S. Dragoons at Fort Atkinson, IA. (Yes, this would indeed have made him the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B when he was first posted there. I’m kidding!)
By the spring of 1846 Peel got his first action against Native Americans, bugling and fighting for his unit in what is now Pawnee County, Coon Creek and along the Arkansas River. Already skilled at gunplay, Langford notched 3 kills in his first battle and became even deadlier in the future, seeing a great deal of action against the Great Plains and Mojave Desert Tribes. Continue reading
Diamondfield Jack Davis
FRONTIERADO IS COMING UP ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 2nd.
DIAMONDFIELD JACK – Born Jackson Lee Davis this neglected gunslinger is a colorful example of the old west’s gunmen for hire. He’s also a poster child for the confusion and conflicting information that surrounds those figures. Various sources place his year of birth anywhere from 1864 to the mid 1870s and in several different states. Even the story behind his nickname is disputed as I’ll deal with in detail as we go along.
Diamondfield Jack is noted for the shotgun he carried in a holster on his back, like a quiver of arrows carried by an archer. He also sported three 45 caliber pistols in holsters and coatpockets and had a Bowie knife strapped to his leg.
By the late 1880s Jack was in Colorado during the Silver Boom. In return for various killings and acts of violent intimidation he performed for the railroad tycoons and the silver mine owners he was partially paid with several uncut diamonds. Later Jack’s own boasting and the usual embellishments that accompany men like him exaggerated the story to the point where he supposedly owned a hidden diamond mine near the Idaho/Nevada border. Jack cultivated the story by forever after carrying around a pocketful of uncut diamonds.
In 1892 Diamondfield Jack was in Silver City, Idaho, working for the Black Jack Mine’s owners to try to shoot down chances of the miners organizing a union. After a time he was wanted for questioning in some killings in the area and laid low in the mountains for several months. Continue reading
Forget Mysterious Dave Mather, most of whose real-life escapades are well-chronicled. THESE gunslingers are little more than names which popped up in occasional newspaper accounts or journal entries. So tantalizingly little is known about them that they’d make great RPG material for those so inclined.
ARKANSAS BILL – A gunfighter who made Dodge City, KS his home base in the late 1870s. Arkansas Bill was sometimes referred to in indignant articles about Western violence written in Washington DC’s Evening Star and other Eastern newspapers. The gunman claimed to be a Bounty Hunter who had slain twenty-two men thus far in his career.
Bill, who said he was nicknamed after the Arkansas RIVER, not the state, avoided having his picture taken, claiming that success at Bounty Hunting was reliant upon a certain degree of anonymity. Like many other gunslingers, Arkansas Bill was said to have served in the U.S. Civil War but on which side is not known. By the early 1880s this mysterious hombre disappeared from written accounts.
Potential Happy Ending: One could assume he eventually collected enough bounties to retire or to set up a legitimate business for himself under his real name, whatever that may have been.
Potential Unhappy Ending: Blown away by one or more of the desperadoes he was trying to bring in.
LONG-HAIRED SAM – Easily the most well-known of the neglected figures on this list, Long-Haired Sam Brown had a beard and long red hair, and was an outlaw active during the California and Nevada Gold Rushes. Long-Haired Sam and his boys robbed gold and payrolls in both locations.
In 1855, at a cabin in Calaveras County, California, Brown and one of his gang members were gambling at cards with some gold prospectors from Chile. The Chileans supposedly tried claiming a pot that wasn’t theirs and Long-Haired Sam shot three of them to death in the following gunfight. Continue reading
Frontierado is Friday, August 2nd! In honor of that upcoming 3-day holiday here is a look at female gunslingers who don’t get as much attention as the big names like Calamity Jane, Belle Starr and Annie Oakley.
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
BOONE 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