Sunday, 11 November 2007

Pats Texas rangers

A lovely pic of Pat Smiths gorgeous looking Texas rangers posse. Not in the campaign, yet.......

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Issue No. 6
STINKY PETE HAS LAST LAUGH!Ol’ Stinky Pete Bogg had been shootin’ his mouth off yet again. Half a bottle of Red Eye Whisky was all it took to loosen his tongue and get him to spill the beanz ©™-WindyValdez about the apple-sized nugget of gold he’d found last week at the Black Hills mining camp. The old mine head and its deep shafts were abandoned three years ago when the rich gold seam was thought to have finally paid out its last speck. Only Stinky Pete has remained at the mine, subsisting on a diet of skunk meat broiled in urine garnished with cow chip sprinkles, and stubbornly clinging to the hope that there is still some more gold to be had in them thar hills.
Nobody usually pays much attention to ol’ Stinky, except to keep upwind of him when he stumbles into town. The drunks and n’er-do-well patrons of Grim Jim’s Booze Shack are apt to turn a deaf ear when he starts into ramblin’ about hitting pay dirt up at the old mining camp. But this time it was a different story. Ol’ Stinky got nervous as soon as he let slip about his gold find, and scurried out of the bar leaving his whisky half-finished. As far as the other drinkers were concerned, this was all the proof they needed that Stinky had been telling the truth. He’d never before been known to leave a drink un-drunk!
Word spread like wildfire of Stinky Petes find.
At daybreak next morning, a couple of gold-hungry posses were already making their way into the hills to go a visitin’ Stinkers. Jake Fargo and his brother Wells had been hiring cowpokes and were now in need of funds to kit them out good and proper. Windy Valdez was feeling the pinch as well, though this was soon sorted out by a traveling proctologist who hails from Gaseous City, Arizona. Still, his treatment had punished his purse and a quick cashflow fix was duly in order.
Stinky Pete’s nugget would plug the gap nicely (… behave!).

The word had traveled all the way to Fort Brannigan as well, and the US Army was mighty interested to hear it. The Black Hills mining camp was now federal property, and if any gold had been prised out of its tired old seams then it rightly belonged to Uncle Sam and no-one else. Lt Norman House and a troop of troopers were detailed to go and investigate at first light.
Dawn broke grey and wet over the mining settlement. It was the height of summer yet the sky was blanketed by heavy thunder clouds. The posse leaders were all forming the same conclusion as they approached the derelict mine head. Had they taken a wrong turn and some how ended up in Manchester, England? No. The reason for the heavy rain was more logical and more credible than that – Apache leader Shami’s Medicine Man must be doing the rain forest foxtrot, yet again.

Black Hills Mining Camp – twinned with Manchester

Stinky Pete was doubly smellier than usual. Paranoia had that effect on him. He knew he’d put his foot in it down at the booze shack the previous evening, and in the resultant panic he’d been up all night trying to find somewhere safe to hide his precious nugget. He’d dug several holes around the mine head with the intention of burying it, but when, at last, the dawn broke, he was still too boozed-up to remember what he’d done with his booty. Aside from his intoxication, his digging had been further hampered by the moonless night and a rhumba of rattlesnakes that had come slithering down out of the surrounding hills, looking for someplace dry to nest.
Ol’ Stinkers first caught sight of Windy Valdez’s posse skulking in the damp foliage to the south east of the settlement. The fug of drunkenness had worn off and he was now determined to defend his hard-won fortune. He was, after all, the proud owner of a newly acquired Wibbly & Clunk scoped buffalo gun, and woe betide any man who got caught in its crosshairs.
Barely minutes after Stinky sighted Valdez, three other gold-greedy varmint posses were seen approaching the derelict settlement. Jake’s boys were making a bee-line for the mine from the South West, Shami’s rain-lovin’ injuns from the North West, and Lt House’s Fed from the North East. Stinky was surrounded. Determined to defend his nugget, Pete loaded up his rifle and stood his ground defiantly. He knew he needed to scare them away so that he could go search for it himself.
Shami and his Medicine man were wreathed in peace pipe smoke as they led their fellow braves down towards the settlement’s abandoned livery stables. The Apache leader was confident of victory; the pipe smoke was working its charm and Shami knew he’d get another roll of the dice on his first ‘head for the hills’ test. Jake was not quite so confident. He was mighty sick of all the unseasonable rain and feared that his pants would be forever damp whenever he confronted his old Indian adversary. Nevertheless, the plucky trail boss and his eagle-eyed sister, Foxy, had spotted something that gave them hope - two freshly dug and covered holes on either side of the settlement’s south road. They were resolved to get in quick and check them out.
Stinky made his way along the alley that runs beside the livery stable, aiming to keep out of sight of Lt House’s Feds who were now swarming around the mine head. As he peered around the corner at the distant troopers, he was unaware that Shami and his Apache posse were coming down the narrow road behind him. Then Shami caught a glimpse of Stinky’s buffalo gun and had second thoughts about rushing the malevolent miner from behind. Stinky thought he heard something and, as he turned his head, Shami’s braves scattered. The heavy rain, and his even heavier hangover, clouded his vision and he failed to see that the alley was alive with would-be Apache assassins.
The Feds investigate the mine head

Meanwhile, Jake and his posse had entered the town and taken up a defensive position among the abandoned stock of an old hardware emporium. Jake sent Sam Sturgis forward to take a closer look at the recently dug and covered pit on this side of the road. Obediently, Sam ran forward and started to scoop the wet soil from the top of the pit with his bare hands. He soon discovered that it had been heaped onto an old washboard that was covering the base of the pit, and when he lifted the board away, he got a very nasty surprise. Rattlesnake! The feisty critter took a lunge at the startled cowpoke and grazed the back of his left hand with its venomous fangs. Sam snatched his hand away and instinctively sucked the poison from his grazed knuckles. Luckily for him, this did the trick. He survived the bite and from now on he would be known as Sam ‘Snakebite’ Sturgis.
Windy Valdez and his chihuahua chumkins had been making steady progress through the back alleys to the South East of the camp. Sam’s digging hadn’t gone unobserved, and Windy soon realized the significance of the freshly dug pits. He’d spotted the two that Jake has seen, and he’d noticed two more nearer the centre of the camp. He ordered a few of his banditos to go and take on Jake’s posse, but he hadn’t reckoned on getting such a fiery reception from the trail boss and his men. Jake and sister Foxy legged it to the cover of a corral fence on the Mexican side of the road and opened up on Valdez’s man – Lobo – with their Winchesters. Despite the rain, they drew their beads on the swarthy Mexican and took him down with two well-aimed shots. It would have been first blood to the cowboys, but technically that honour had already gone to the rattlesnake.
Snakebite Sturgis drew his six-gun and blew the feisty rattler clean out of the pit. No saving throw for that one. Jake signaled to his men behind the boxes and bales, and they responded by slinging lead a-mucho in the Valdez posse’s direction. Big Jim Douglas criticalled Concho who had, up until then, been making a good recovery from his intermittent bouts of madness. The downing of half-sane Concho panicked his compadres and sent them flying for cover in all directions. Angry at seeing Concho floored by Big Jim’s .45, Vasquez returned fire and put a hole in Big Jim’s bowler. It was close, but he didn’t win any prize for that one.

Jake’s boys open up on the Banditos

Having almost been spotted by the buffalo-toting bacterial bio-hazard, otherwise known as Stinky Pete, Shami had now changed his plan of attack. Instead of heading for the centre of town, he and his braves were haring it towards Jake’s posse from the rear, taking advantage of the fact that the cowboys were busy gunning it out with El Flatuloso and his banditos. Like a trio of face-painted and fluffy feathered bats out of Injun hell, Shami, Taklishin, and Dakaya came galloping straight into the middle of Jake’s posse. Dakaya felled the new cowpoke recruit, Eddy Barnes, with a well-aimed tomahawk blow to the forehead. Shami and Taklishin hurled their toms just prior to closing for the melee, but their injun axes went sailing over their targets’ heads… as is so often the case. From his place by the corral fence on the far side of the south road, Jake could see that things were going seriously wrong for his men positioned among the bales and boxes. He turned to shout a command to Big Jim, but in doing so he exposed the top of his head to bandito Rico. With a sneering grin, the ruthless tortilla-chomper loosed off a shot that clipped Jake’s skull. The posse leader was down. Fearing Jake had been killed, Foxy broke cover and ran bravely to her brother’s side. But before she could cradle him in her arms, she too was felled by a Mexican’s slug. Estavez winged her head with his pistol bullet and knocked her down, just as Rico’s round had previously dropped Jake.
Still seething from seeing Concho go down, Vasquez blazed at Big Jim and criticalled both him and his friend, Bushrod Wilkes. The tables were turning. Jake’s posse were now getting shot up pretty bad by the Mexicans, and mauled mercilessly from behind by Shami’s Apaches. As Big Jim was falling to the ground, Gonzales, Pancho, and Mexanche all discharged their pieces in his direction. Lead peppered the ground around where he lay but none of this metal left its deadly mark on the unconscious cowboy.
Mexicans happy to see the injuns arrive… for now!
Inside the circle of bales and boxes, Shami’s lads were getting stuck in to the last of the luckless cowboys. Taklishin fought a vicious hand-to-hand combat with Jake’s brother, Wells, and knifed him repeatedly until he fell limply to the ground. Bravely, cowpoke Curley Spinks stepped over Well’s prone and bloodied body and managed to push back Dakaya as he was closing in for the kill. Taklishin and Shami pulled away, confident that the fight with the cowboys had now been won, and turned their unwanted attentions to the Mexicans on the opposite side of the street. The injuns were feeling pretty good. They had some reinforcements on the way: four braves led by the bow-toting Hoo.

Valdez & Co. bump into Stinky Pete
Hoo loosed off an arrow at Vasquez as his band of braves made their approach, and this missile passed close enough to send the Mexican diving for cover. Stinky Pete, who had up until this point been wandering the back alleys of the mining settlement with nothing but murder on his mind, finally got a clear view of Pancho through the teeming rain. He aimed. He fired. The boom of his mighty weapon shook fillings loose from teeth for fifty yards around. But this was the only damage inflicted by the fearsome rifle. Its heavy slug tore through the rotten planks of the overturned wagon behind which Pancho was taking cover. The leery Mexican gave the miner a toothy grin and indicated with a flamboyant gesture of his hand that Pete was a bit of a monkey-spanker on the quiet.
With five men down, including himself, Jake knew it was high time he and his boys headed for the hills. Curley Spinks did the honours, rallying the few cowboy survivors and seeing to the wounded while the injuns and the Mexcianos got stuck into each other on no uncertain terms. Neither side was in any mood to give quarter.
Gonzalez took a pot shot at Shami with his shotgun as the Apache leader charged his pony towards the startled banditos. The blast missed and Shami, with nerves of steel, closed in for the kill. Meanwhile, Valdez himself had carefully avoided getting personally involved in the bloodbath that was taking place around the south road corral. With his ubiquitous peon shields in position before him, he made his way towards the middle of town while keeping a wary eye open for Stinky Pete and the Feds. With the entire action taking place in and around the south road approach, Lt House had had free reign over the centre and northern parts of the settlement. Curiously, he decided not to search all of the freshly-dug pits that he came across while conducting his slow and meticulous sweep of the mining camp.

Valdez and his human shields turned a corner to approach the middle of town when unexpectedly they were met by Stinky Pete. He was striding towards them with his scoped rifle at the ready. However, the gun was now empty and so Pete decided to lay into Emiliano - one of Valdez’s protective peons - with its sturdy walnut stock. Valdez, true to form, began firing into the melee without any concern for the health and safety of his employees. His reckless shot hit his second peon, known as Peon-tu, in the back. Fortunately, the man has two wounds and could afford to lose one of these to his errant boss. But this was not the first time that this had happened to him, and he was beginning to think it was time for a career change. Wrestling alligators in Louisiana was now looking to be the safer option. Stinky was riled by the thought of these thieving Mexicans getting their hands on his nugget, and he began hitting out every whichway with his empty rifle butt. He slugged Emiliano and knocked him back, then promptly he tripped over his own feet and landed on the helpless peon. Deprived now of his human shields, Windy got very windy and slipped one out. He wafted it discretely towards the entangled duo with the butt of his rifle. Even though its throat-searing pungency brought a tear to Stinky’s eye, the malodorous miner recognized class when he sniffed it.
"Mighty fine vintage you’ve bin a-brewin’ thar, Mister" he said. "Reminds me of a skunk stew I had made back in ’73. Dang thing smelled jus’ the same when I got ‘round to heatin’ it up and eatin’ it… last month."
Over at the south road corral, Shami’s braves were taking the fight to Valdez’s hard-pressed burrito-burpers. Taklishin had closed with Estavez and was in full fury mode, getting in two attacks for every one the Mexican could muster. The plucky bandito did well to survive the encounter and get pushed back. Dakaya attacked Vasquez who has been having a fine time of things so far. The injun brave pushed him back, but Vasquez then turned the tables on him and took him down. It was his third kill of the game and it secured for him a well deserved ‘Man of the Match’ award. The injun, having been dropped unconscious, was captured by the Mexicans. This was later to have serious consequences for Shami and his posse.
Back in the middle of town, Valdez had by now legged it away from Stinky Pete before the manic miner could reload his rifle and take a shot. Gunslinger Keith, the Fed’s hired hand, got a clean line of fire at Stinky and opened up on him, but surprisingly to no effect. John Thorn did likewise and made Stinky dive for cover when his heavy pistol bullet drilled a hole in the pocket of his buffalo skin overcoat. Cursing the Feds, Stinky scrambled to his feet and high-tailed it away from Norman’s blue-bellied boys before they could close in and surround him.
The bloody battle was continuing unabated at the south road corral, mostly around the overturned wagon to the east side of the street. Crow tomahawked Vasquez and missed, but he quickly closed on him, so eager was he to get the upper hand. Rico fanned his six-gun into the combat, missing his comrade Vasquez by a gnat’s whisker and forcing the injun to retreat. Shami dived headlong into a fierce hand-to-hand melee against Pancho and Mexanche. In a bloody flurry of knife blows, he scored wounds on both and killed them. Shami strikes! Shami scores!
Fierce fighting to the south of the encampment

Estavez managed to wound Taklishin but the fearsome Apache was saved from an early bath by a point of fortune. Rico was outsmarted by the Medicine Man when he called a ‘yee haw!’ so as to get the drop on his adversary. While this fight ensued, Vasquez and Gonzalez found themselves surrounded by no less than five bloodthirsty savages. The Mexicans got the drop but were unable to shoot at the injuns as they were now surrounded and entangled in a fierce melee.
Bill Bascom took a shot at Stinky Pete as the rancid ore-scratcher peered out from cover. His rifle bullet splintered wood close by Pete’s face, but it didn’t stop the stinky one from returning the compliment with his now-loaded buffalo gun.
Meanwhile, back at the ‘far-from-OK Corral’, the carnage continued unabated. Vasquez now found himself up against Crow and the Medicine Man. Crow got in two attacks but failed to hit both times. Vasquez was beginning to see a glimmer of hope that he might be able to extract himself from this desperate situation, but the glimmer turned out to be the reflection of grim grey daylight on the blade of the Medicine man’s hatchet. With a harsh war-cry, he slammed it down on the bad bandito’s bonce. Vasquez, the man of the match, had been taken down in last few minutes. This just left Gonzalez to face the screaming Apaches. Defiantly, he whirled his empty shotgun around his head and tried to scythe down the injuns as they closed on him from all directions, but he was only delaying an inevitable outcome. Mahklo ducked below the whirring shotgun butt, then he took down the screaming bandit with his sharp Apache blade.

Rico and Estavez under pressure from Team Apache

It was now all over for the Mexicans bar the shouting. Shami and Taklishin put the cherry on this cake of carnage when the Apache leader took down Rico, and Taklishin made Estavez retreat from melee. Rico was the last straw for Valdez and the peon-persecuting posse leader was forced to concede that it was ‘head for he hills’ time. As Valdez high-tailed it back towards the cover of the rain-soaked timberland, Stinky Pete grabbed the chance to escape while the coast, at least on the South East side of the encampment, was clear.
With the Mexicans and the Cowboys now longer around, Shami and his braves were able to search the pits in the south part of the mining camp while Lt House and his boys investigated those to the north, which mostly were dotted around the mine head. The Medicine Man discovered another pit with nothing but a riled rattler in it, as did David East when he dug up one by the entrance to the mine. The others were all found to be empty of snakes… and empty of gold as well.
It had been a very unlucky twenty-four hours for Stinky Pete. Not only had he lost a good night’s sleep, but he’d come darned close to losing his life as well when those greedy bandits and busy-body Yankees had invaded his camp. And then, to top it all, he couldn’t remember where the heck he’d buried his nugget last night. It was no good - he’d just have to hide out in the hills and wait until the posses left the camp. Then he could go back and start searching for it.
In the meantime he decided to find a dry spot to sit it out. He knew a shallow cave about a mile from the camp where he could at least get some shelter. As he trekked his way through the sodden timberland towards the distance cave, he noticed the hole in his coat pocket where John Thorn’s pistol bullet had entered. He’d been very lucky not to have been wounded by that slug. He was looking for the exit hole when he suddenly realized that there wasn’t one. Digging deep into his pocket, he found the bullet. And he also found something else; a large nugget of gold into which the bullet was deeply embedded. Stinky began to laugh. These past twenty four hours hadn’t turned out so unlucky for him after all.
Post mortem

Dakaya was abandoned by the Mexicans and captured by the Feds. He was accused of the murder of Eddie Barnes, the young cowpoke who had only recently joined the Fargo posse, and he was sentenced to be hanged in Imelda in one week’s time.
It turned out that Eddie was the youngest son of William Fitzgerald Barnes, the Senator of Arizona. The Senator was not going to stand for any "damned heathen redskin" killing his boy, no matter how fair the fight may have been. At first, the finger of blame had been pointed at Wells Fargo for having recruited young Eddie into the posse and, by so doing, placed him directly in harm’s way. But this charge was quickly dropped by Senator Barnes when he learned that his son’s killer – Dakaya – was being held in custody in Imelda jail. Besides, Wells’s pappy, M.Bargho Fargo, has been a lifelong friend and hunting buddy of the Senator’s. They’d fought side-by-side with Davy Crockett at the Alamo back in ’36. There was no way Wells was going down for the death of young Eddie, not so long as there was a heathen neck available to fit the noose.
Mahklo advanced and gained a new preferred skill – Dirty Fighter.
Taklishin advanced and gained +1 Fortune.
Naiche gained +1 Pluck
Shami added 4 experience points (3 for kills and 1 for surviving), as well as gaining +1 Fighting and +1 Pluck.
Smaha and Crow got experience, and Hoo advanced to ‘hero’ status.
Diyin gained +1 Fighting
Medicine Man gained +1 Pluck.
The money dice brought in $28 for Shami’s boys, of which $15 went to pay for the Medicine Man.
Infamy Rating (TBA)

Lt Norman House advanced and gained +1 Fame. He is now 3 Fame.
John Thorn added +1 Pluck
David East got +1 Shooting and acquired the nickname "Snake Charmer" after successfully surviving the snake bite he received when searching one of Stinky’s pits.
The money dice yielded $38 for the Feds, of which $10 went to meet the Gunslinger’s costs.
Infamy Rating 119

Gonzalez was killed. May he RIP.
Vasquez and Lobo made a full recovery.
Mexanche died before the day was out.
Pancho and Rico recovered fully.
Estavez suffered a deep wound and will be forced to miss 1 game while he recovers.
Valdez advanced and added +1 Pluck
Estavez gained +1 Fighting
Vasquez, the man of the match, gained 4 experience and 2 advances. He added +1 Shooting and +1 Wound. A well-deserved result for this gritty fighter.
Concho added +1 Shooting
Pancho added +1 Fighting
Lobo and Peon-tu each gained +1 Fighting.
The money dice brought in $10 which, when added to the Mexicano stash, gives Valdez just enough to buy himself a buffalo gun.
Infamy Rating (TBA)

Jake Fargo
Jake himself made a full recovery.
Eddie Barnes died (see the Apaches’ post mortem for the full story on the consequences of this outcome).
Bushrod Wilkes made a full recovery, as did Big Jim Douglas and Foxy Fargo – after she bought herself some genuine snake oil that is. Result!
Wells had a pretty tough time of it, sustaining multiple injuries, not only to his person but also, albeit temporarily, to his good reputation. A deep wound to his right thigh leaves him with -1 to movement, even though it healed up quick and permits him to take part in the next game. He became Fearless as a result of his wound, but he lost all of his equipment in the melee.
Foxy, Wells, Big Jim Douglas, Curley Spinks, Sam Sturgis, and Chuck Kershaw all enrolled in the Annie Oakley Shooting School and emerged one week later, each with +1 Shooting. Bushrod Wilkes failed to qualify in the finals, but said he was pleased and satisfied to have gained +1 Wound for his advance.
Money dice yielded $8 – just enough to buy Wells a new six-gun and a fighting knife in time for next weeks hangin’.
Infamy Rating 73
Three bandits who robbed the Adams Express car in a passenger train near Bannack, Montana were rounded up by vigilantes and promptly hanged, a fate that became all too familiar in the lawless West when citizens, angered over vacillating courts, meted out their own brand of swift justice and self-satisfying justice.
From 1778 until 1871, the U.S. Government ratified 370 treaties with the Native American Tribes. After 1871, acts of Congress, executive orders and executive agreements replaced the rarely enforced treaties.
California bandit Black Bart robbed alone and wore socks over his boots so he could not be tracked. His real name was Charles E. Boles and was known as a gentleman outlaw who enjoyed writing bits of poetry which he left in empty strongboxes to confuse pursuing possemen.

By the 1600's beaver was extinct in Britain and extremely scarce in other parts of Europe, giving rise to a great demand for American beaver skins and thus the many trappers that would roam the vast west.
One practice that is credited to the old west is that of taking the scalp of an enemy. However, that actually started in the French and Indian War when General Edward Braddock offered £5 sterling to his soldiers and their Indian allies for each French soldier's scalp. The Indians actually picked up this nasty habit from the British. e
Isam Dart one of the few black gunslingers of the Old West was killed near Brown's Hole by the feared stock detective and bounter hunter Tom Horn.

On the vast prairies where firewood was often scarce, cowchips were regularly used for fires. Camp cooks relied on them, as when they were dry, they made a hot fire. Of course the burning chips gave off an unsavory smell, but, thankfully, it did not affect the food. One old range cook who used his hat for a bellows claimed that in one season he "wore out three good hats trying to get the dammed things to burn."

With the great Chinese migration to the West Coast following the Civil War rose intense racist hatred which burst forth in riots against these hapless Orientals. In one such case in Denver, Colorado thugs attacked many of them in Chinatown, beating them ferociously and cutting off their pigtails. In Missoula, Montana, cowboys were known to chase the Chinese through the streets and when they caught them, they would tie them up, cut their pigtails, strip them naked and often, shoot off their toes and fingers.

part three

Dakota territory

The first newspaper in the Dakotas was printed at Sioux Falls City on July 2, l859. That paper was The Dakota Democrat. It must be distinguished that this paper technically wasn't a "territorial" however. The Dakotas didnt officialy become a territory until March 2, 1861.
This paper was printed on an irregular basis and before long the name was changed to the "independent". It was still in business in 1862 when the Santee Sioux Indians raided the village.
They dumped the press in the river and made off with the type metal. They melted the type down to use to make their inlaid designs in their peace pipes.
The Homestead Law in l863 provides an interesting aspect to the content of the newspapers in the area. (I once read that the Homestead Law was a great gamble in that "the government bets you 160 acres of land against your $18 that you will starve to death before you live on it for five years!') At least in the beginning, not all newspapers in the Dakotas were established because of any great editorial desires of the editors to bring news to the area.
Homestead Laws was the advertising of "proving up" notices. During the height of land development many newspaper editions carried as many as 2000 of these legal notices -- at the rate of about $5 each! This meant plenty of profit for the publisher! (Other territories had much the same "journalistic phenomenon" but not to the extent that the Dakota Territory did.) Yet another ingenious solution to publishing a newspaper in the less than normal conditions that the Old West provided was solved by one editor. W. A. Laughlin became too ill to continue publishing his Black Hills Pioneer in 1866, but this didn't stop him. Saturday nights at Deadwood is where most of the printers from the surrounding areas came to celebrate the end of the week. Since typesetters were abundant in the town on Saturday nights, he came upon a unique idea. His paper was published weekly, so each Saturday night he sponsored a contestfor typesetters. The prize was a bottle of good whiskey. By the end of the contest he had his entire next edition all typeset and ready for the press! There is a final interesting story to relate about a newspaper and the Dakota territory. Then President Benjamin Harrison, was about to sign the proclamations which would admit the 39th and 4Oth states to the Union. He had his secretary place each document inside an identical edition of a newspaper. He then shuffled them back and forth until no one present could tell which document was which state. Just enough of the proclamation was left exposed for the President to sign. He signed them and then shuffled the papers again before the documents were removed. Because of this "shell game", no one will ever know which of the Dakotas was actually the 39th or 4Oth state! When President Harrison signed the documents on November 2,1889, South Dakota had 275 newspapers and North Dakota had 125.

Pioneers traveled across the Oregon Trail, one of the main overland migration routes on the North American continent, in wagons in order to settle new parts of the United States of America during the 19th century. The Oregon Trail helped the United States implement its cultural
m the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Theregon Trail spanned over half the continent as
kilometers) west through territories and land later to become six U.S. states (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon). Between 1841 and 1869, the Oregon Trail was used by settlers migrating to the Pacific Northwest of what is now the United States. Once the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the use of this trail by long distance travelers diminished as the railroad slowly replaced it.


The first land route across what is now called the United states that was well-mapped was that taken by Lewis and Clark from 1804 to 1805. They believed they had found a practical route to the west coast. However, the pass through the Rocky Mountains they took, Lolo Pass, turned out to be too difficult for wagons to pass. In 1810, John Jacob Astor outfitted an expedition (known popularly as the Astor Expedition or Astorians) to find an overland supply route for establishing a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River at Fort Astoria. Most of Astor's partners and all of his staff were former employees of the Northwest Company, known as Nor'Westers. Fearing attack by Blackfeet, the expedition veered south of the Lewis and Clark route in what is now known as South Dakota and passed through what is now Wyoming and then down the Snake River to the Columbia River. Members of the party, including Robert Stuart, one of the Nor'wester partners, returned back east after the American Fur Company staff there sold the fort to British Northwest Company staff, who took over the outpost in the War of 1812 via the Snake River. The party stumbled upon South Pass: a wide, low pass through the Rockies in Wyoming. The party continued via the Platte River. This turned out to be a practical wagon route, and Stuart's journals were a meticulous account of it. Fort Astoria was returned to United States control at the end of the war. However british Hudson bay company came to control the fur trade in the region, especially after its merger with the North West Company in 1821.
Great American Desert
Westward expansion did not begin immediately, however. Reports from expeditions in 1806 by Lieutenant Zebulon Pike and in 1819 by Major Stephen Long described the Great Plains as "unfit for human habitation" and "The Great American Desert". These descriptions were mainly based on the relative lack of timber and surface water. The images of sandy wastelands conjured up by terms like "desert" were tempered by the many reports of vast herds of bison. It was not until later that the Ogallala Aquifer would be discovered and used for irrigation, and railroads would allow farm products to be transported to distant markets and lumber imported. In the meantime, the Great Plains remained unattractive for general settlement, especially when compared to the fertile lands, big rivers, and seaports of Oregon. The route of the Oregon Trail began to be scouted out as early as 1823 by fur traders and explorers. The trail began to be regularly used by fur traders, missionaries, and military expeditions during the 1830s. At the same time, small groups of individuals and the occasional family attempted to follow the trail, and some succeeded in arriving at Fort Vancouver in washington.

Elm Grove Expedition

On May 16, 1842 the first organized wagon train on the Oregon Trail set out from Elm Grove, Missouri, with more than 100 pioneers (members of the party later disagreed over the size of the party, one stating 160 adults and children were in the party, while another counted only 105). The party was led by Elijah White, appointed Indian Sub-Agent to Oregon, the first U.S. official in the region (never confirmed by Congress). Despite company policy to discourage U.S. emigration, John McLoughlin, Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, offered the American settlers food and farming equipment on credit, being unable to watch able-bodied people starve.

Free land
The biggest driving force for settlement was the offer of free land. In 1843 the settlers of the Willamette Valley by a vote of 52 to 50 drafted a constitution that organized the land claim process in the state. Married couples were allowed to claim up to 640 acres ( a "section"
which is a square mile, or 260 hectares) at no cost and singles could claim 320 acres (130 ha). In 1848, the United States formally declared what was left of the Oregon Country a U.S. territory, after it effectively partitioned it in 1846. The Donation Land Act of 1850 superseded the earlier laws, but it did recognize the earlier claims. Settlers after 1850 could be granted half a section (320 acres) if married and a quarter section if single. A four year residence and cultivation was required . in 1854 the land was no longer free, (although still cheap
£1.25/acre, or $0.51/ha).

Opening of the trail
In what was dubbed "The Great Migration of 1843" or the "Wagon Train of 1843", an estimated 800 immigrants, led by Marcus Whitman, arrived in the Willamette Valley. Hundreds of thousands more followed, especially after gold was discovered in California in 1848. The trail was still in use during the Civil War, but traffic declined after 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed. The trail continued to be used into the 1890s, the modern highways eventually paralled large portions of the trail.

Other migration paths for early settlers prior to the establishment of the transcontinental railroads involved taking passage on a ship rounding the Cape Horn of South America or to the Isthmus (now Panama) between North and South America. There, an arduous mule trek through hazardous swamps and rain forests awaited the traveller. A ship was then typically taken to San Fransisco, California.


The trail is marked by numerous cutoffs and shortcuts from Missouri to Oregon. The basic route follows river valleys. Starting initially in Independence/Kansas City, the trail followed the Santa Fe Trail south of the Wakarusa River. After crossing The Hill at Lawrence, Kansas, it crossed the Kansas River near Topeka, Kansas, and angled to Nebraska paralleling the Little Blue River until reaching the south side of the Platte River. It followed the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater Rivers to South Pass in the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. From South Pass the trail approximately parallels the Snake River to the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon. From there, several branches and route variations over time led to the Willamette Valley, including boats down the Columbia river, the Santiam Wagon Road, the Applegate Trail and—the most popular route—the Barlow road.

U.S. Highway 26 follows the Oregon Trail for much of its length.

While the first few parties organized and departed from Elm Grove, the Oregon Trail's generally designated starting point was Independence or Westport on the Missouri River. Several towns along the Missouri River had feeder trails and make claim to being the starting point including Weston, Missouri; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Atchison, Kansas; and St. Joseph, Missouri. The Oregon Trail's termination point was Oregon City, at the time the proposed capital of the Oregon Territory. However, many settlers branched off or stopped short of this goal and settled at convenient or promising locations along the trail. Commerce with pioneers going further west greatly assisted these early settlements into getting established and launched local micro-economies critical to these settlements' prosperity. At many places along the trail, alternate routes called "cutoffs" were established either to shorten the trail or to get around difficult terrain. The Lander and Sublette cutoffs provided shorter routes through the mountains than the main route, bypassing Fort Bridger. In later years, the Salt Lake cutoff provided a route to Salt Lake City. Numerous other trails followed the Oregon trail for parts of its length. These include the Mormon trail from Illunois to Utah, and the california trail to the gold fields of California. Remnants of the trail in Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming. Have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Many rock formations became famous landmarks that the Oregon Trail pioneers used to navigate as well as leave messages for pioneers following behind them. The first landmarks that the pioneers encountered were in western Nebraska, such as Courthouse and Jail Rocks, Chimney Rock, and Scotts Bluff. In Wyoming, names of pioneers can be seen carved into a landmark bluff called Register cliff, and in Independence rock. One Wyoming landmark along the trail, Ayres natural bridge, is now a state park of the same name.

Ayres Natural Bridge

Travel equipment
The Oregon Trail was too long and arduous for the standard Conestoga wagons used in the Eastern United States at that time for most freight transport. These big wagons had a reputation for killing their oxen teams approximately two thirds along the trail and leaving their unfortunate owners stranded in desolate, isolated territory. The only solution was to abandon all belongings and traipse onward with the supplies and tools that could be carried or dragged. In one case in 1846 on the California Trail, the Donner Party, en route to California, was stranded in the Sierra Nevada in November and three members are suggested to have resorted to cannibalism to survive.

This led to the rapid development of the prairie schooners. The wagon was approximately half the size of the big Conestogas but was also manufactured in quantity. It was designed for the Oregon Trail's conditions and was a marvel of engineering in its time. The covers of the wagons were treated with linseed oil to keep out the rain. However, the covers eventually leaked anyway.

The recommended amount of food to take for an adult was 150 pounds (70 kg) of flour, 20 pounds (9 kg) of corn meal, 50 pounds (25 kg) of bacon, 40 pounds (20 kg) of sugar, 10 pounds (5 kg) of coffee, 15 pounds (7 kg) of dried fruit, 5 pounds (2 kg) of salt, half a pound (0.25 kg) of saleratus (baking soda), 2 pounds (1 kg) of tea, 5 pounds (2 kg) of rice, and 15 pounds (7 kg) of beans.

Immigration to Oregon Territory increased vastly between 1840 and 1852, the year of greatest migration. According to Oregon Trail Statistics by William E. Hill, the figures rocketed from 13 in 1840 to 1,475 four years later, nearly doubled the following year, and hit 4,000 in 1847. Emigration declined considerably prior to 1850, when 6,000 people trekked to Oregon. In 1851 the number dropped again (3,600) but sustained a huge comeback with 10,000 in 1852. (That same year some 60,000 people emigrated to Utah and California, a stand-alone record.) Another 13,500 people moved to Oregon in 1853-54, with 5,000 more making the trip as of 1859, the year of statehood.

In the 20 years from 1840-1859 some 52,000 emigrants moved to Oregon, but nearly five times that number opted for California or Utah.
Though the numbers appear significant—and they were, especially in context of the times—vastly more people chose to remain at home in the 31 states. Part of the explanation is attributed to scout Kit Carson who reputedly said, "The cowards never started and the weak died on the way." According to some sources, one tenth of the emigrants perished on the way west.

LegacyThe western expansion and the Oregon Trail in particular inspired many songs that told of the settlers' experiences. "Uncle Sam's Farm," encouraged east-coast dwellers to "Come right away. Our lands they are broad enough, so don't
be alarmed. Uncle Sam is rich enough to give us all a farm." In "Western Country," the singer exhorts that "if I had no horse at all, I'd still be a hauling, far across those Rocky Mountains, goin' away to Oregon."

When purchasing a new vehicle from 1995-1998, Oregonians could purchase special commemorative Oregon Trail license plates for their cars for an added fee.

Computer Game
The story of the Oregon Trail inspired a popular educational computer game of the same name, “The Oregon Trail”.

Glossary of American Mountain Men Terms,
Words & Expressions
Part Five

Left side
To stop for the mid-day meal and rest.
Buffalo gnat.
Although actually the common name of the myocaster coypusv many mountain men used it to mean "beaver".

Right side.
A friendly nickname used between mountain men.
Grizzly bear.
See "Ol' Coon".
A free trapper.


A very effective Indian weapon made by attaching a 2- foot long leather-covered handle to a 3-pound stone. Used as a club.
See "Kyack".
An Indian word used by many frontiersmen and mountain men to mean any Indian child.
Rawhide made from buffalo hide. It is exceedingly tough. In fact, its name (French) comes from the fact that it could not be pierced by arrows or spears. The word also refers to a carrying case or envelope made of dried buffalo hide and widely used by both Indians and mountain men in place of a trunk.
A passage through a range of mountains.
Indian food made by mixing powdered jerky with dried berries and hot tallow, then packed and stored in skin or gut bags. Used by Indians and mountain men. This is a high energy survival food.

Flour made from parched corn.
Usually immigrants, people moving west. The term was also sometimes used by the mountain men to mean any man new to the fur trade.
The pointed bow and stern of a canoe. (voyageur)
The jornada of the voyageur. The distance between rest stops, which were the only times his pipe could be lit up and enjoyed.
Beaver pelt (skin).
Trade tobacco.
A destructive, frigid west wind. (Crow Indian word)
To know good times from bad. Either term could also be used alone, such as: "Them days war Poor Bull and that be a sure fact", meaning, "those days food and plews were hard to get and that is a fact".
A trip between waterways or around a waterway obstruction, carrying everything along with you.
The trail used to carry a canoe and supplies between waterways or around a waterway obstruction.
The personal property of the mountain man, Such items as a bullet mold, an awl, knives, a tin cup, his buffalo robe or a blanket capote, his pipe and tobacco, flint and steel, sometimes a small sheet-metal fry-pan, and other accouterments he considered necessary. Firearms were considered "pieces" or guns" and not possibles.
The leather bag in which the mountain man carried his possibles. everything from his pipe and tobacco to his patches and balls. What could not be carried in the bag were hung on the bags shoulder strap. Shooting needs were given first priority, kept where they could be found with ease and speed.
Dry snow driven through the air by a violent wind.
An Indian word meaning a meeting followed by dancing and feasting. The mountain man's term for any discussion between two men, or for a planned meeting.
The motto of the Hudson's Bay Company, meaning "for a pelt, a skin".
A very religious person.
To turn tail and run

new sheriff in town

a couple of pics of a Foundry gunslinger Imeldas new jailhouse

Thursday, 1 November 2007

armed townies

A few more of Colins posse he used at warhammer world LOTOW campaign weekend.