“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.
Today in history…
Today in 1885; Montana Territory- the legislature banned “pernicious hurdy-gurdy” houses. Well then…
For 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 forced 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.
In Texas, prior to the civil war, cattle ran free range. During the war many of the ranchers headed out to fight, and then returned, after the war, to discover millions of wild longhorn cattle roaming the prairies, and desserts of Texas.
Needing a way to get these cattle to a rail head in Kansas, where they could be sold for a decent profit, ranchers with names like Goodnight, Loving,Ackly, and Chisum rounded up thousands of these wild beef at a time, branded them, and headed them north in a 900 mile drive. The cattle trails stretched for a over 2 miles, and were managed by a crew of about 20 cowboys, a trail boss, a wrangler or two and the inevitable, cranky, and multi-talented cookie with the chuck wagon.
An estimated 25,000 to 35,000 men trailed six to ten million head of cattle and a million horses northward from Texas to Kansas during these years,
This amazing era of cowboy-dom, lasted about a meager 20 years, ending with the advent of fenced prairies and homesteaders, yet the legends and history of the trail drive years launched thousands of stories that capture our attention for all time
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 of first places on the wagon trail.
JT hails out of Dassel Minnesota, and has competed in chuck wagon events around the country 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, (www.lostcreekbags.com) 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 West 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.
The crew is rounded out with JT’s partner, Tilly Evan Jones, who wishes in her heart they would always cook on 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 (www.tillyevanjones.com). The 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; 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!!
A few years ago this wonderful artist,Harry Moshier, painted a picture of our own Chuck Wagon Cookies! J. T. and Boomer. The original idea was from pictures taken at the Fort Sissaton Cook Off with wonderful elaborations of what the historical old site may once appeared.
We will be there again this spring, a great event, complete with a full rendezvous and cowboy camp, vendors, and just plain family fun! Come on out and say hey!