It’s no secret that Balladeer’s Blog is a Lifestyle Brand. (I’m KIDDING!) At any rate the Frontierado Holiday will be here Friday August 2nd so before you know it, it will all be over for another year. Here’s another brand of booze 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.
Remember, to be a Frontierado Whiskey it’s got to have incomparable taste PLUS be strong enough to let you blow flies out of the air right after you take a drink. 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
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
JUST ONE WEEK UNTIL FRONTIERADO! As always Frontierado is about celebrating the myth of the Wild West and not the grinding reality. Part of the fun each year is an examination of neglected gunslingers from the 1800s.
The likes of Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Calamity Jane and Jesse James have been the subject of a variety of movies and folk tales. Unfortunately some figures from the Wild West led lives at least as interesting as the big names did but have not gotten nearly as much attention. Here is a look at ten such men and women. Continue reading