Josefa (Chipita) Rodriquez… Today in History

images“No soy culpable”     I am not guilty”    These were the only words spoken by Josefa Rodriquez during her 1863 trial for the murder of John Savage

Josefa , an orphan from an early age, ran an inn in her tumble-down home in San Patricio County, Texas.

John Savage, a trader who had stayed overnight in her establishment, was found bludgeoned by an ax at the side of a river near her home.

Josefa and her son are arrested for his murder and held for a trial overseen by Judge Benjamin Neal. Judge Neal had a diversified history as a newspaper editor, teacher, politician and boarder raider.

The head of the grand jury was the sheriff who arrested her. Jury members included men who were facing trial for their own crimes.

Josefa  did not testify at her trial, only stating she was not guilty.  It was thought that she may have been protecting her son, who possibly did the deed. Evidence was weak, and circumstantial.  Another theory was floated about that perhaps she was gathering information on reasons to enter the civil war for Texan legislatures, and her death was a political measure.

The jury found her guilty and suggested clemency.  She was 63 years old.  Judge Neal sentenced her to hang from a tree on November 13, 1863.  Some say she is the first woman executed in Texas.  She was pardoned inn 1985 by  Texas Governor White.

It is also said, that Josefa wanders the river bottoms of  Texas when a woman is sentenced to die…  Josefa  mourning her false conviction and death.chipita

The Salt Creek Crossing Raid


warrenwagonContractor Henry Warren was hired to haul supplies to the forts in West Texas. On May 18, 1871 Warren’s wagon train, heavily laden with corn, was traveling the Jackson Belknap Road towards Salt Creek Crossing. Along the trail they briefly encountered the famous General William Tecumseh Sherman. Within an hour of this brief encounter a large group of riders was spotted in the distance ahead, appearing to be Kiowa warriors. Warren quickly placed the wagons in a circle, mules in the center.
The Warriors efficiently attacked the circled wagons, killing then mutilating seven of the wagoners. The leaders of the Kiowa warriors were Satana, Satank, and Eagle Heart. They had watched the Sherman party pass by from their hidden post, but had not attacked. The previous evening a Shaman predicted that the relatively small party would be shortly followed by a larger party with more reward.
The raiders lost 3 men but in the end of the raid captured 41 mules’ carrying many supplies as the Shaman had prophesied.
Only five men escaped, including one Thomas Brazeale who managed to reach Fort Richardson, 20 long walking miles away where he told the story of the brutal attack to Colonel Ronald Mackenzie. Sherman was informed and the two army officers took a party out to search for the raiders. The 3 chiefs were captured and sent by train to Fort Richardson. Satank was killed on the train while trying to escape, and the other two were tried and convicted of murder in Jack County, Texas on July 6 in the first Native American trial in history,

No More Hurdy Gurdy

Today in history…
Today in 1885; Montana Territory- the legislature banned “pernicious hurdy-gurdy” houses.  Well then…

despair of the dovesFor all the romance, for all the movie representations about Spoiled Doves. we can name more stories of the pain of prostitution.  Often a needed way to make money for women of the old west, prostitution was a dangerous and life sapping activity.  Women were subject to beatings, disease, overwork and early death.  Many women imported from other countries, were held as slaves dependent on their “owners”  to survive.  Their lives were sad and rough, Women from an early age entered into this system, starting in youth as a featured member of the house and often ending; older and worn out, in back alley cribs.

Widows, daughters, poor destitute women were  soilded doveforced due to circumstances to turn to prostitution to survive.  There were few ways for a woman to make money, teaching, store keeping, millinery and prostitution were primary income sources, and the “good” jobs where few.

Upon the shoulders of these outcast ladies; great parts of our country were built.

Our hats are off to honor them!



Today in History…

v0_masterToday in History…  Today, March 10, 1881 A telephone company is established in Tucson, Arizona Territory…  Which leads me here.

Tomorrow evening the Old West Society will be at Twin Cities Public Television in St Paul, answering phones.

Remember to call in and pledge you all.  TPT is a wonderful organization, dedicated to bringing culture, history and honest entertainment to Minnesota!  Old West History

Tomorrow night is Old West History…We will fit right in.  Hope to hear you on the other end of the phone!!!oldwestamerican experience

Deer Hunting

Our JT has an annual hunting expedition down to Windom with his old buddy Wally. Every year he gears up, sorts through his blaze orange clothing, prepares his weapon, oils his boots, and sets off.

He always gets a deer, usually early Saturday morning. I think for him, the hunting is a combination of putting food on the table and being with like minds. Men who can get down and grubby, take naps, drink beer, talk about manly things. They have a week of fried potatoes and bacon, steaks, smoked meats, and bad movies on Wally’s ancient VCR. A week of bonding and becoming hunters, ancient providers.

This is a week that must always be!


Lost Creek Chuckwagons


Painting at Fort Sissaton Cook Off
Painting at Fort Sissaton Cook Off

Our Lost Creek wagon was originally built in the 1900’s; about the time Webber was being recreated as International Harvester. It spent many years as a hearty farm wagon in Iowa, hauling grain, and proving it’s sturdy worth until it was purchased by a collector and relegated to sitting quietly in a barn, collecting dust and a minimum amount of dry rot, until that day that John “JT” Hallson sighted it at an auction in Waverly Iowa. At that time, he went into partnership with Robert “Boomer” Beck, a gentleman who had previously cooked with John on the original Lost Creek Mandt wagon. The two of them immediately set to work, tearing the new wagon down to its basic framing. Over the winter and summer they worked, hammering, sawing, measuring, analyzing and painstakingly rebuilding it to the wonderful work of wagon art sitting in front of you today. Boomer has recreated much of the iron work in his Robbinsdale blacksmith shop; JT has done much of the woodworking. They completed this massive and exacting job at John’s barn in rural Minnesota. The work on the Webber continues to this day, always tweaking, always improving. The Webber, (Mountain Man) has given our team the opportunity to garner a number ofready to cook first places on the wagon trail.

JT hails out of Dassel Minnesota, and has competed in chuck wagon events around the countrytd for many years. Our new Webber Wagon, “Mountain Man “is JT’s second wagon, Our first is a Mandt, (Pretty Little Lady) rebuilt by JT with the same dedication given to the Webber. JT, a member of long standing in the Old West Society of Minnesota, spends time when not on the chuck wagon cook off trail working in his leather workshop creating pristine cowboy leather, ( serving as technical advisor and supplying period correct Old West clothing and accouterments to various independent films, working with his partner, Tilly with the Mountain Man teaching school children at educational events about the history of trail drives, and totally enjoying his country life in Dassel, Minnesota.
Boomer is from Robbinsdale, Minnesota and has worked with JT for many years. He is also an old timer in the Old Westboomer Society of Minnesota. When not creating fabulous apple pies at the cook-offs, Boomer hammers out works of art in his blacksmithing shop, builds musical instruments, and enjoys his summer months zooming about the country on his Harley. Boomer is a true Renaissance man, always creating, always learning.

Tpunktillyhe crew is rounded out with JT’s partner, Tilly Evan Jones, who wishes in her heart they would always cook onpretty lady her favorite wagon the Pretty Little Lady, but still loves the Mountain Man. When not cooking Tilly indulges in her love of nature and growing things, working in not only her gardens, but as a professional gardener for others, indulging her hippy side with palm readings at expo’s private parties, and business events, performing happy marriage ceremonies, and writing for her on- line journal (
057The team is completed by Hanna Rose, who has brought her particular kindness and gentle spirit to the rascally group. Rose, along with her husband, Just Dave, fire monkey and raconteur extraordinaire;rosejustdave have traveled with Lost Creek for a good while. Rose is a fantastic cook; helping herself to a number of first places since she began, a seamstress of divine clothing and quilted wonders, and just plain nice. We love having her on our team!!

Enjoy your visit, coffees on!!


Back-story…of my dime novel; the Woman… Installment # 5

Maddie stands at the end of the long narrow street stretched. Along either side, tumble down shanties stand shoulder to shoulder, ravaged soldiers at attention in this dreary coal town, other buildings perch precariously along the wide hills of the valley this mine camp is built into.  Thick dust coats all, homes, clothing hung wearily on clotheslines, yards, and the grimy, barefoot children scattered along the street.  Children, some sit listlessly on battered front stoops, others play stickball, run in the street, their voices echo under the dark ceiling of dirt and clouds that cover her town.

Maddie is born to this town, daughter, fourth child to George, a Virginia coal miner and Louisa, of little import to anyone, but bearer of children; 4 boys, 2 girls.  Perhaps, Louisa has some bit of merit after all, but the weariness and aching of her body and mind, create for her a thick cloud of her own, one that is only thickened by her daily infusions of laudamen.

Maddie’s life is work, laundry, cooking, caring for the younger sister, and running noses, scabs, lice, dirt.  Dreariness is its own reward in her life.  No rewards other than patched clothing, shoes with paper stuffed into the holes, socks in the winter, sores, and lungs that are starting to cough up black soot.

So it follows natural, that as a child of 14 she agrees to marry Tom Ligget, and go away with him west to farm a homestead in the wide clean space of her future.

She leaves with him, her few items packed onto his wagon, takes along with her, her youngest sister,  with hopes for a life better than the one they are leaving.   She leaves behind her older brothers, already on their way to fulfilling their fathers destiny, and her mother, who barely rouses to say well by. Her mother shows no emotion, but her hand takes Maddie’s, and slips into it a small golden locket, the locket with the picture of her finely clothed English grandmother.  A woman Maddie has never met, who still lives somewhere in England, mourning the fate of her own daughter, Maddie’s mother, disappeared into the wildness of America.

No shed tears, no promises to write.

They travel solo, the three of them, and, goat, and 2 hens in a cage.

The wagon is sturdy, a hoop frame over the top to hold up a canvas covering, giving them a place to sleep in the rain, and rest from the heat of the day.  The wheels are sturdy, maneuvering through the rutted roads they travel, with persevering strength.

She revels in this new rough and tumble life, the dirt she encounters is different, road dirt: dirt that still sticks under her nails and in the creases of her skin, but seems somehow cleaner than that soot they have left behind.

Her sister enjoys the trip as well, moves from her listless state in mining camp, to a more active, vibrant one, eyes begin to sparkle, mouth occasionally smiles.  They stop at rivers, creeks, and for the first time enjoy the life altering aspect of immersing their entire bodies in abundant, clean water, going under the cool surface with some trepidation, and then all three sputter back up, laughing at the pure joy of cleanliness.

They learn to know one another Tom and Maddie, in a way that would not have been possible under the miasma of the mining town.  Under the bright skies, while the youngest sleeps safe in the wagon, they lay, cradled to one another, talking of the home they would build, the crops, the children, the future holding nothing but bounty in the west. They travel this way for one month, learn to laugh, and to hope.

They occasionally join with other wagons during the trip, but most often travel on their own.  It was while on their own, they meet up with four dangerous cowboys, who begin to ride along beside them causing some great consternation in Maddie, for the men look at her and her sister with a shabby regard.  She keeps her sister and herself inside the wagon, away from their eyes and jeers.  Tom keeps driving, his jaw set, having no way to truly protect them.  While on the edge of a desert slope, they strike; hollering, chasing the wagon.  Tom drives off at top speed, the men begin to use fire power, shouting and yelling with disregard of the oxen, chasing behind and along the wagon. The noise and commotion cause the oxen to veer off the edge, and tumble with the wagon down the side of the arroyo,

The Eternal Cowboy ♣

What are our views of a cowboy?  Me, I am not a purist. I loved Roy Rogers as a child.  I watched him faithfully every Saturday morning; the adventures of Dale, Trigger, Gabby, and  the wonderful jeep, Nelly Bell held me enthralled, giving me a glimpse of other realities, making mine, for the moment, exotic and romantic.  My reality was out on that ranch, chasing rustlers, hearing the serenade of coyotes, smelling the scent of juniper on the air, the soft smell of leather.   I rode, with my heroes, into the setting sun, dust at my heels.

There is also a less than prosaic view of the west; the ruggedness of trail drives, the harsh mornings of waking to no food, and the need to make way in a hostile environment.  Rough frontier towns, lawless, dirty, built by new settlers, gunmen, farmers, merchants, cowmen, horse wranglers, bankers,gamblers,soiled doves, teachers,ministers, villains, heroes; strong men and women with a need and drive to move forward into a future created by them, for them, and for their children.  They all shared a rough and tumble existence springing from imagination and hard work.

We continue to honor the old west, with our movies, books, reenactments.  Some of you are real western hero’s today, others, like me, live on the fringe of romance, making my own way while straddling both worlds of modern and old.

The cowboy is eternal, and judging by the reactions we receive from children during our old west reenactment, will always exist.

Have you thought of your image of the eternal cowboy?  Do words like honor, pain, perseverance, skill come to mind?  Do you understand where in your soul the cowboy walks?

Gunleather of the Old West

We have images in our minds of long, lean cowboys, walking slowly down a dusty street, hand hovering near his holster, eyes steely, determined, ready to draw on his nemesis.  For us, here at Lost Creek, this image is one we revere, we love the westerns, old and new, and we love the romance of the history of the gunslinger.

JT loves it so much that he builds holsters, some for friends, some for himself, some for sale.  He loves crafting the leather, fitting the gun.  It is art, well created art.

So where did these holsters come from?  Me, I have to research for information that comes naturally to JT and others, I have to read, dig in and learn.

This is what I have learned so far.

One of the first known holsters created was the Pommel Holster. This type of holster was used by the military in the early American colonies.  During the California Gold Rush holster was modified into the Pommel Bag Holster by Wells Fargo riders.  This holster held long bore single shot handguns, (horse pistols).  The pommel bag was valued because it was easily used to carry more than one gun at a time and hold ready ammunition.  Having handy firepower was important, for law enforcement, riders, and outlaws.  No one wanted to be caught out in a battle under gunned!

An issue with holsters of the early years was the expense involved. Mostly produced in the east for a hefty cost, any type of holster was a prized possession, and not readily available.  To solve this dilemma, western saddle makers soon learned the art of creating holsters of their own, some rustic, some polished and full of specifications for the buyers.

As guns evolved so did the holster.   Holsters became more portable, minimal, and able to be carried on a belt, or attached to a pommel with a more precise pattern for shotguns and rifles.  These first affairs were made with just a slip in carrier, the gun slipping in, but also easily slipping out at an untoward moment, so tie downs and fasteners were incorporated into the patterns, early holsters were made open at the tip, and this caused difficulties with dirt, and debris entering into the barrels of guns, so again a modification was created and holsters became closed at the bottoms.  Most of these belt holsters were created with a back flap that a belt could be slipped through for wearing.

Holsters are made right handed, left handed, to be carried on a belt, suspenders, hips, and even in a boot.  What ever the gunslinger needed was created.  Soon cowboys craved a bit of spit and polish for the holsters they used to carry their prized side arms, and leather smiths found their skills leaned to creating artistic carvings in the leather, perhaps adding a bit of color or shiny accouterments.

Like any bit of old west history holsters come with evocative names, the Slim Jim or California, the Mexican Loop, the Cheyenne, and the one we know most, the Buscadero, the holster that was made popular by Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger, with special engraving, silver plating and the exciting look we associate with child hood Saturday afternoons in theater balconies.

And in this vein even more developments have come into being, with the walk and draw style, utilizing a forward muzzle action for fast draw competitors.  This holster has also become the standard for today’s Spaghetti Westerns.  Clint Eastwood wore this holster forcefully.

With civilization came hip and pocket holsters, designed so that gentleman need not show their fire power in public, and could avoid offending the gentler sensibilities of modern America.  And from this we have evolved into the less than genteel mobster style of holster, holding arms that are hidden from the prying eyes of the law.

For what ever reason we use a holster, if it be for function, style, or pure whimsy, we can look back through the part they have played in the long history of America with great respect and honor.