Saturday, April 23, 2011

Physical Terrorists And Riding The Short Bus

Linda Lou has started outside physical therapy. And the Doc has her on "water therapy" which means she has to go a lot further than she otherwise would, the nearest PT place with one of those small pools is all the way to the county seat in Greenville. That's the bad news, if we just had to go to the little town of Quinlan it would be no problem, but we're out of gas, nor is the van at it's best these days.

So we're riding the little bus that the county has, actually several little buses. The county has this service (that I thought we'd never need) where they send a bus around for anyone below a certain income, and take them anywhere in the county. So, the good news is a trip to the physical terrorist (or, for that matter, the supermarket) is free to the rider. I am afraid to think of what it costs to the taxpayer.

The good news is that we get there, the bad news is that we have yet to get there on time. The bus has yet to find it's way there when they said it would, then it takes forever and a day to get the wheelchair up the lift and secured according to the rules, then they ride all around Lake Tawakonie and Robin's bard looking for other passengers who may or may actually be there, or ready when the bus gets there.

Then, of course, we must wait for the bus when we're ready to leave. The fun part, though, is between our finally arriving and when it's time to go. First Linda Lou puts on her shorts and T shirt, gets on the lift chair and they put her in the pool, she gets out of the chair and starts walking in (not on!) the water. After X number of walking laps they make her do some other exercises, they call me back in and we get her out of the water, in to the little bath and she gets dry and into fresh clothes. From there we're done, except for waiting for the bus for the ride home.

Eventually we'll be doing some dry land work, also, just not yet. Probably this week or the next. The goal is walking by summer, either with the walker or a cane. We all are pretty well reconciled that she will always need a little support. Oh well, with the cane she'll be able to wave it and holler stuff like "Get off the lawn!" real loud once in a while. If it's the walker, well she's got this fancy four wheeled walker with both a basket and a seat. I'm not quite sure how she's supposed to wave it and holler, though.

I haven't tried to take the laptop with me yet, maybe in a couple more weeks. Anyhow, between riding the short bus to school and then everything else, I'll be scarce 'round here. I'm thinking that in another month or so, all I'll have to do is help her on and off the bus here, and up and down the ramp.

I'll be working on the end of the story of The Three Guardsmen, when I finish that I'll think of someone else to discuss. There are a lot of really interesting men and women littering our history in this part of the country, on both sides of the law. Many who worked both sides their own selves. Between the public library and the Internet, research is a lot easier than when I was a kid.

This is not really how I intended to spend my retirement, we didn't really plan on having what was, a decade ago, a decent income become poverty. It's what we have, though. The travel we planned is gone. If only those idiots in Washington don't kill the Internet.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Three Guardsmen

It was January the ninth, 1944 in Guthrie, Oklahoma when Chris Madsen, the fighting Dane died at 93. Madsen was the last of the horseback Marshals to shuffle off this vale of tears. One of The Three Guardsmen who virtually ended the reign of the outlaw gangs of Oklahoma he had a very checkered past.

Although he claimed service in the Danish Army and even the French Foreign Legion before he came to the US in 1876 the reality is that he served time in Danish prisons for begging, vagrancy, fraud and forgery. The Danish government paid his fare to the US, a common thing back then. Madsen was one of the few who made the best of this new chance. Joining the Army he served fifteen years in the Quartermaster Corps, rising quickly to Quartermaster Sergeant of the Fifth Cavalry Regiment during the fights after Custer's Big Mistake. He was courtmartialed and acquitted once and was awarded the Silver Star during the Indian Wars. He was discharged (because he wanted out, not thrown out) and left the Army in Oklahoma where he joined the US. Marshall's Service.

Henry Andrew "Heck" Thomas was a Georgia boy, born in 1850 his family were Confederates during the big bloodletting of 1861-1865 and Heck was a courier for his Uncle , the Colonel of the Thomas Regiment. Unhurt during the Civil War he joined the Atlanta Police at age 17, a feat perhaps made easier by the fact that his daddy was the Town Marshall. Wounded during one of the periodic race riots of the early post slavery era he eventually got married and moved to Galveston., Texas becoming a guard for the Texas Express Company, taking charge of the money shipments on the railroads. He managed to save one big shipment from a robbery by the then-infamous Sam Bass Gang by hiding it in an unlit stove and packing dummy packages in the safe. By the time the robbers realized the packages were fake, the train was gone. Wounded during this robbery and shootout Thomas left the railroad and ran for Chief of Police in Fort Worth. Losing, by a very narrow margin he became a detective for the Fort Worth Detective Association, a collection of private eyes and stock detectives. Stock detectives drew a fairly small salary, though better than the normal $30.00 a month and found of the cowboy, plus a bounty for every cattle rustler and horse thief killed or jailed.

Thomas got his big break when he killed the Lee brothers, James and Pink, rustlers that had plagued The Chickasaw Nation up in Indian Territory as well as north Texas. He then went to work for The Hanging Judge, Issac Parker in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This was the court that had jurisdiction over the Indian Nation.

Bill Tilghman was a Kansas farm boy who became a buffalo hunter and then a lawman. Starting as a Deputy Sheriff in Ford County, Kansas under William Barclay "Bat" Masterson. Later appointed City Marshall he left after a short time because he couldn't stand the politics. There was a constant tension between the two factions, one that wanted Dodge City to remain a cowtown and the other that preferred the slower and more staid future as a farming community.

Tilghman thought he was leaving law enforcement when he got involved with the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889. Instead his career was only begun. Settling on a ranch in Guthrie, OK he started raising fine horseflesh. Then duty called. Serving as a Deputy (city) Marshall in Guthrie He again was an exemplary officer. Tilghman accepted a position as a Deputy US Marshal and served in that position until 1910 when he retired as was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate.

Something that is mostly forgotten these days is how the Indian Territory and, later, Oklahoma Territory was governed. It started with The Five Civilized Tribes. The Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes each had their own Nation, complete with legislature, laws and police. These police, or light horse, however, could not arrest a white man, for anything. Only the US Marshals could. And the nearest base of the US Marshal Service was Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The local tribes had no real use for the white man's laws. With the memory of the Trail of Tears still fresh, the Indians just couldn't find too much sympathy for the poor, beleaguered whites. As long as a bad guy left the Indians alone no one went out of their way to assist the white eyes. As too the outlaws, well let's just say that quite a few, who were too ugly to the Indians, disappeared. The frontier, of course, was a dangerous place with snakes and bears and suchlike. No redskin would ever hurt a white outlaw! So, the outlaws left the Indians alone and used Indian Territory as a base, raiding farms and ranches for livestock, and towns for banks, stores and, of course, trains.

It did not help that the Indian Territory kept shrinking and more and more tribes kept being put in to the shrinking Territory. Kansas and Nebraska were the first to be carved out. Then they Cheyenne and the Kiowa, as well as the dread Comanche of Texas were shoved into the western part of the ever shrinking Indian Territory.

This was the world of Heck Thomas. Working under Judge Issac Parker, "the hanging judge" he joined a group of very hard men. I seriously doubt that any group of LEOs in American history have been in a more hazardous job that the Deputy Marshals of that judicial district. The law was severe back then and prisons were bleak. The gallows waited for many more crimes than the softer laws of today. Some wonder, perhaps, of the victims of today, wondering where their justice is but, alas, that is another story.

Thomas had already been wounded twice, in the line of duty, and he became a pretty serious customer. A bad guy got one chance to surrender with him, and Heck Thomas was very quick to ventilate a criminal trying to resist. Thomas was a fair lawman but he had a couple of rules, the most important was that if a man was worth shooting he was worth killing. The other two, Madsen and Tilghman were somewhat gentler.

Eventually a US District Court opened in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory. This was toward the end of the horseback gangs. The Deputy US Marshal was chasing the Dalton Gang through the Territory. There were other lawmen on the trail but the bulldog was Heck Thomas. It was a long chase and Thomas never really caught up. He was so persistent that the Daltons tried for that one big score in Coffeyville, Kansas. Recognized while trying to rob two banks at once the robbers were in for a nasty surprise. The townspeople grabbed their shootin' irons and gave the Dalton Gang some of that Minnesota Nice that the James Gang got almost twenty years earlier in Northfield. Thomas got to Coffeyville in time to identify the bodies.

There were a couple of survivors of this gang, beside the Dalton brother that survived the shooting, Emmett who later claimed the "last big score" was so they could get far away from Thomas. Those survivors, led by "Wild Bill" Doolin became the Wild Bunch, one of the last big gangs. George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, aka Slaughter Kid, Charley Pierce, Oliver "Ol" Yantis, Wm. Marion "Bill" Dalton, who wasn't involved in the Dalton Gang in Oklahoma but joined Doolin. There was also Wm. "Tulsa Jack" Blake, Dan "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, Roy Daugherty, aka Arkansas Tom Jones, George "Red Buck" Waighman, Richard "Little Dick" West, Wm. F. "Little Bill" Raidler. Eleven members of the gang that formed in 1892. All died by the gun.

The first robbery for the Wild Bunch was in Ford County, Kansas. The Stillwater town Marshal recognized Ol Yantis from the descriptions and the posse tracked him down and killed him in a shootout. Perhaps not the best beginning for a criminal gang.

By this time, Thomas, Tilghman and Madsen had worked together long enough to both gain trust in each other, and friendship. All three had the raw courage to stand up in a fight and all three had complimentary skills. Bill, because of his time as a buffalo hunter Army Scout was an excellent tracker. Chris, probably because of his years as a Quartermaster Sergeant, was good at the constant reports that, even then, hounded lawmen. Heck, well he was the best shot and was just the man needed when there was killing to be done. (Not that the others were shrinking violets)

The Marshals got a line on the gang in the late summer of '93. They were holed up in a sort of owtlaw town called Ingalls. Thomas, Tilghman and Madsen wanted to slip in and try their luck but the new US Marshal for the District, E. D. Nix just knew the situation required a bigger posse. In what became known as The Battle of Ingalls three Deputies were killed, along with two civilians. One outlaw was wounded and captured.

After that debacle the Three Guardsmen (although nobody knew them by that name yet) were taken off other duties and assigned to the Wild Bunch full time.

The game was pretty much over by the time Bill Tilghman tracked Wild Bill Doolin to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where he had gone to take the waters for the arthritis in his foot caused by a bullet wound. Tilghman dressed up with the black coat and reversed collar of a preacher, sholved his gun under his jacket and walked right up to Doolin, placing him under arrest. Then he just marched him to the train station and off they went, back to Guthrie. without worrying about minor details like extradition papers, no less.

The story continues.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Government? We Have A Government?

Not that I make enough money to care but folks are talking about the impending government shutdown. Right at tax season. So, if the government is shut down, why should anybody pay taxes?

Seems that the left is busy stealing the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin. So, if the judges and their supporters do not care about the law, why should anyone else? The only reason laws work is because most everyone is willing to obey the law, even the laws they do not agree with. We have a history of idiots making laws without public support. See the laws about slavery and then, later, Jim Crow. See Prohibition. See the failure of The War On Drugs.

I am not real sure the left has thought Wisconsin through. Lawless governments breed lawless people. It's not just that more people break the laws, although they do, it's that no one trusts the law. So, people do not talk the the guys and gals investigating crimes. Instead of trusting that the law will deal with someone that has harmed you, you go hunting. And then they hunt you. So great granddaddy Hatfield shot great grand-uncle McCoy and the feud lasts for generations. Thirteen dead, officially. There were probably others. That was the most famous feud, there were many others in the sparsely populated areas, more in the cities. The bloodbaths in the cocaine wars made the Gunfight ant the vacant lot between Fry's boarding house and the OK Corral along with the Vendetta Ride look like a spat between preschoolers.

Again, this when the vast majority of Americans trust the courts and police. What happens when we don't? The people in Wisconsin who are trying to negate the rule of law, from the fleebaggers to the police unions to the courthouse types to the peole threatening Republican lawmakers to the insects infesting the Statehouse, do they want an entire state of OJ juries?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Monster Pot O' Chili, Beef and Beans.

There is not a whole lot going on here at the Poor Farm, I filled the crockpot with two pounds of beef, browned and drained, two pounds of Pinto Beans ad tomatoes, onions and spices, went to bed and woke up to a humongus pot' o' Chili and beans, plus a mess from fillin' the crockpot too full. Again. Oh well, if it weren't for that I'd never clean anything.

So, anyhow, I'm fed for a few days. Half a dozen corn tortillas, heated directly on the burnere gas stove and a big ol' bowl of chili and beans. Yum. I keep seeing the "Cili Purists" swearing that Chili has neither beans nor tomato. They are all white, though. The Mexicans I grew up with would put durned near anything into a pot of chili and beans. Leftover bacon or sausage from breakfast? Into the pot. Pot roast, chicken or cabrito? Into the pot. The folks I grew up with couldn't afford to be Chili Purists.

Tuesday is when we find our if Linda Lou can start putting a little weight on her foot. Cross yer fingers or something.

I am looking into a long post about the Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma Territory and then Oklahoma when it became a State. The Indian nations were "the last frontier" and there were several reasons that Oklahoma was pretty much the last place in the "lower 48" that had law and order. Anyhow, much of the reason that the wild gangs of the late 1880s to the roaring 20s left the robbing, raping and killing business was a group of lawmen who became known as The Three Guardsmen, Heck Thomas, Chris Madsen and Bill Tilghman. I'm almost done collecting information, about all that is left is trying to separate fact from fiction. And then trying to make it interesting.