Saturday, September 29, 2012

Champagne at the Cemetery

It's that time of year when a young man's thoughts turn to the long, dark nights ahead and cemeteries.

Yes, friends, time once again for Champagne at the Cemetery, October 26, 4-6 p.m., Topeka Cemetery, 10th & California. Cost is $25 if you pay in advance, $30 at the door and proceeds will go to Topeka Cemetery's programs and upkeep. Beth Cooper Meyer (below, right) and I did this last year with a great response was wonderful! I will also be doing tours on Saturday and Sunday, October 27 & 28 at 2 p.m., and the cost is $10 per person for a 2-hour walking tour. Wear comfortable shoes and come prepared to be blown away by the incredible history!!!

I will have copies of my book, Stories in Stone, for sale then or you may order one for $10 plus $4 s&h, from right here on this site.

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First Friday Artwalk in Topeka is coming up on October 5. We will be celebrating at Constitution Hall in Topeka, 4th & Kansas, where the Woner/Glenn law office is celebrating their anniversary as well as the preservation of this important building in Topeka, Kansas, and national history. Take this opportunity to see where history was made!!!
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The 33rd annual Apple Festival will be held at Old Prairie Town on Sunday, October 7. This is one of the best events all year long. Gary and his buds in Borderline will be performing, as is our friend and neighbor, Kyler Carpenter. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door, and, of course, Dixie Lee Jackson is the emcee!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today is the birthday of one Jesse Woodson James.

Poor Jesse. The son of a Baptist preacher who comes of age in the midst of war and terrorism. He is shaped by both. A boy who does not swear but whose blood runs cold with thoughts of those who have wronged his family. He is one of the most famous people of the 19th century and beyond. So much has been written of Jesse's short life; he is the subject of books, films, numerous television plots. His fame is so enduring that we forget what a sad life he had.

When a young boy, Jesse's dad went off to California...perhaps to seek fortune and more probably to escape Jesse's mother, Zerelda. (She had more balls than Frank & Jesse put together.) As war came closer and closer to the Missouri border, the Jameses were drawn in. Frank joined the army leaving Jesse to help run the farm with his step-dad and a younger disabled brother. In one of those pivotal moments where the decisions of a few men may have altered history forever, Yankees visited the farm and horsewhipped Jesse and hanged his step-father over and over until he was senseless. As the irregular warfare escalated, Jesse became a guerrilla. He rode with Bill, as in Bloody Bill, Anderson. He learned terrorism from the expert.

When the Civil War ended, it did not end for the Jameses or a lot of other families. Frank James, in an 1894, explained why they kept fighting:

They wouldn't let us quit! It was after the war was over that the Pinkertons threw a hand grenade in my mother's house one night, killing my 7-year-old brother and tearing my mother's right arm from her shoulder. There is two sides to this quitting question.

Indeed, Jesse had planned to surrender and as he was riding into town to do so, he was shot.

Jesse's life was one chain of violent events after another, some his doing, some not. He was not able to live the life of the simple farmer he was raised to be, and probably would have been, at any other time in history. He had no normal time with his wife or children, no time, no place where he was safe. The war had warped his time and it had warped him.

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Action Before Westport

John Monnett reports that his father's excellent book,  Action Before Westport 1864 was re-published with a new foreword by the University of Colorado Press. Howard Monnett's book is still considered the definitive discussion of this battle for control of Missouri.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wynkoop's Wolf








Wynkoop's Wolf

My good friend, Louis Kraft, has written Ned Wynkoop (below) and the Lonely Road From Sand Creek (University of Oklahoma: 2011). I will have a review soon. Louis has the habit of finding people worth knowing and sharing them compassionately and eloquently. Ned Wynkoop is one such individual. This article appeared in the Osage Chronicle (Burlingame, KS) on August, 15, 1868:

(Special correspondent of the Times)
Fort Larned, Kan., Aug. 5, 1868

A most fearful and appaling curcumstance transpired at the Fort last evening, the very recolection of which chills my blood with horror.
While a party of ladies and gentlemen were sitting in front of the beautiful quarters of Col. Ed. Wynkoop, as brave, gallant and courteous a gentleman as the West can boast, and who is now Indian Superintendent or Agent of several war like tribes, the entire party almost involuntarily commenced a beautiful song.
While the melody was ringing in the night air, a monstrous' shaggy and rabid wolf dashed madly into the midst of the party, first attacking Lieut. Thompson, 3rd U. S. Infantry, tearing and lacerating his limbs in a most frightful manner.
The monster then broke away, pursued by Col. Wynkoop and his chief scout, James Morrison, who had lost no time in procuring proper arms. Before either of these fearless gentlemen, however, could overtake him, the wolf had attacked the sentry at the guard0house, whom he also bit savagely, the sentinel having fired, but most unfortunately, missed his aim.
From the guard house the wolf next dashed over to the hospital and made an assault upon one of the men there stationed, almost tearing his right arm from his body, after first taking of a finger entire. He then attacked and mutilated a colored soldier of the Tenth Cavalry and subsequently entered the quarters of a laundress, while she was in bed; but owing to the thickness of the bed clothes, fortunately failed to inflict any serious injury on the poor woman.
The maddened creature next caughe sight of the sentinel at the haystacks, who almost providentially, shot him dead.
Besides Lieutenant Thompson there are three persons badly bitten and mutilated by this ferocious monster. What the result will be, God only knows!

I left the errors in tact. I think they reflect the excitement of the writer more than his ability. I was reminded of this incident because of a Facebook post from Fort Hays (KS) historic site:

In the fall of 1872, a soldier at Fort Hays died as a result of being bitten by a rabid wolf and so pet dogs were required to be kept penned up lest they get bitten by a rabid animal too. The fort still had a problem with the disease the following year and after a rabid dog played a visit to the fort on September 2, 1873, further restrictions were instituted. Officers dogs were to be kept tied up but enlisted men, civilian employees and laundresses were not even permitted to own a pet. The obvious implication here was that officers could responsibly control the actions of their dogs while enlisted men, civilians and laundresses were incapable of doing so. Such was the military prejudice at the time.

The actual wolf pictured is not at Fort Larned or Fort Hays, but at Chernobyl. I figure if you've seen one rabid wolf, you've seen them all.


Cody, Custer, Hickok: Legendary Kansans

. . . . is now up at the Great Overland Station, North Topeka, Kansas. The highlight of this exhibit is the life-size (6'2') James Butler Hickok by artist Melissa Rau. This is worth the price of admission!

The Westerners

Gary and I had the great fun of being guests at the Corral meeting at the Golden Ox, legendary steakhouse, a couple of weeks ago. Lots of old friends present and made a few new ones. This was my first trip to this eatery -- the decor suited me well! Below, with painting of Buffalo Bill Cody, and toasting the cattle drive! Thanks, Honey, for driving and taking pictures!



Oregon/California Trail Association

Too much fun! (top photo) At their annual meeting in Lawrence, I was invited to sell books. Again, lots of old friends showed up like Joe Houts and Bryce Benedict and Terry Hobbs. Made lots of new friends, too, like the undertaker in Lincoln, KS. Some days are just too good to be true. Wine and undertakers.