A HISTORY OF AMERICAN FIREARMS AND THE AMERICAN WEST

Leon Henry Nichols (1888-1958)

Browning Winchester Model 1895

Now I will give you a history of hunting rifle, pistols and shotguns as I did from the time I was about 6 years old. My grandfathers, fathers and uncles were all hunters, also my great grandfather, and most likely back to the beginning of time. Of course, at that time we got a lot of our living with the gun, and when we moved north into Western Canada about all the fresh meat we had was what I used to get with the shotgun and rifle. If you like to handle guns, the thing to do is to make a systematic study of handling them.

The handling of guns is just as important and probably more so than it ever was, considering the world wars that we have had to go thru, and the nation that is the quickest on the draw will be the nation that will live the longest.

So go right at it, make yourself an expert shot, join your local gun clubs, and maybe someday you can win Bisley or the Grand American Handicap, which is open to everybody. A few years ago a man took his father along with him to the Grand American Handicap, his father was noted as being a good rabbit and bird shot, they succeeded in getting him to enter the big shooting match as he stated he believed he could hit “them there clay pigeons.” So he paid his entrance fee and with his old $20.00 rabbit gun won the Grand American Handicap shooting match and the $10,000.00 that goes with it, breaking 98 birds out of 100. According to the records of hunting licenses issued in Canada and the U.S.A. there are between 15 and 20,000,000, that means that we have a reserve army of that many shooters, that is the main reason why we can raise a large army in so short a time in an emergency, as we have in the last two world wars.

The way I learned to shoot was hunting with so many of the old time[r]s who were all good hunters and good shots. Of course like all kids I had a bow and arrow to start with, and they still are with the bow gun to practice with as they are a lot of fun. The main thing shooting with the bow is to check your arrow, and this is the best way of aiming. You will find on page 6 in the book you have by W. W. Greener that he states that the old time British expert archers could shoot an arrow 600 yards. After I had a bow and arrow for a while, my father made me a bow gun, all the arrows were made out of hickory and larger at one end than the other, the heavy end always traveled in the lead, we put a 2 inch nail in the big end and then filed it to a sharp point, so I could do quite a bit of shooting with this bow gun.

The next gun that I used was an old Kentucky muzzle loader of about 38 calibre. My father used to load it for me, and I would take it out and shoot a gopher or rabbit and bring it back to get it loaded up again. Of course, in shooting this gun I had to lay down on the ground, as it was too long and heavy. During all this time they were teaching me how to shoot. One of the ways was to put a rifle in a solid rest, you can do this at home, then take a piece of cardboard and place it solid at the other side of the room, make a black bulls eye, one inch in diameter, put it on a handle about a foot long, punch a hole with a pin in the dead center, now lay down behind the rifle, look thru your sights and have somebody move the bull's eye until you get it in the dead center of your sights, call your shot and have the marker put the pin thru the hole in the bulls eye and into the target, now get up on your feet, walk around a few steps and try it again, see how close together you can get 10 shots.

For rest shooting use the prone position, and with sling strap, you can shoot distances from 25 yards to 200 with a 22 rifle, as that bolt action rifle should do good work at 200 yards as it has a 27 inch barrel. Also practice in sitting position, elbows on your knees. Now be sure to do lots of practicing off hand standing with and without sling, as in practical hunting it is very seldom you have time enough to get yourself into a sling, also practice off hand with the sling. You can have lots of fun in dry practice right at home, throwing you[r] gun to your shoulder. As you know, I have pictures of all kinds of game from all over the world hanging on the walls on the third floor and every day I can take a hunting trip around the whole world. You can mark the vital places on the big game just where to place your shots.

Every shooter should practice shooting both right and left handed, just as the old time pistol men did when they carried a pistol on each hip, five minutes a day for six months practice with the shoulder you are not used to using, and you will be able to use it well.

In target practice with a rifle, call your own shots. The instructor may ask you to do this. It may seem queer at first, after you have fired your shot at the target if you are asked to call your shot, it probably would be natural for you to say that you had fired for the center of the bull's eye, but after you have called a few shots you commence to take notice of just where your sights were when you pulled the trigger, this will help you a lot in knowing just where every shot is going at the time you shoot it.

Do lots of practice from the knee rest, as this can be used to considerable advantage in open country. I remember Homer Kendall and I were camped on the island in little Vermillion Lake, 1918, the next morning I took a walk up the island to see if there was anything on it. The bush was very thick, and I did not go very far before I jumped to moose. I could not see them, but I knew they would go to the end of the island and swim over to the mainland which was about 200 yards, so I followed them on the run about 500 yards to the end of the island and sure enough the first one was just going into the bush on the mainland and the second one was just getting on the beach out of the water. I dropped down on the knee, rest style, and with one shot from the 280 got him in the back of the neck. I had been running for some 500 yards and the knee rest was just enough to steady me and was fast to use. In practical hunting the prone position cannot always be used on account of placing you to[o] low, and you cannot see your game, this is where the knee rest can be used to advantage.

Going back to shooting both right and left handed the old time pistol men used what was known as the border shift, you will see it sometimes on Western television shows, when they lost the use of one hand and would change their pistol over to the other hand, practice this same thing with both rifle and shotgun. Practice rifle shooting on moving targets, have somebody throw up cans and bottles. The greatest record ever made or probably ever will be made on moving targets was made by Adolph Topperw[e]in [(October 16, 1869 – March 4, 1962)], in 1907, he was a professional shooter for the Winchester Arms Co. He shot at 72, 500 wooden blocks 2-1/2 inches square thrown up in the air and only missed 9, using Winchester 22 rifles. He used 10 rifles in this shooting ordeal, and it lasted a whole week. There were several men looking after rifles, keeping them clean and in good shooting condition. All of the practicing I have been telling you about can be done in dry practice right at home, or you can use air rifles and pistols, it does not cost much for ammunition for the air guns. In practical shooting with a shot gun, it costs a lot of money for shells, but you can also do the dry practicing with shotgun. If you keep up all this dry practicing you will eventually get so that when you throw your rifle, shot gun or pistol up they will be dead on whatever you want to shoot on.

From about 1894, whenever any of my folks were out hunting, I was always along, watching or driving the team of horses behind, the most of the hunting was done along the boundary between Minnesota and Iowa, sometimes we got as far away as where Davenport now is. At that time there were hundreds of thousands of prairie chickens and ducks throughout that country. Each shooter would get between 40 and 50 chicken and ducks each day. They were drawn each night and shipped to Minneapolis and Chicago, that was the way they paid the expenses of their hunting trips.

But by 1898 when I commenced to hunt by myself there were very few prairie chickens left, in fact I would get about a half dozen chickens in the whole fall hunting. Duck shooting was better, as we would get the flight from the north every fall. There was lots of rabbit shooting. We used to have to shoot the black birds out of the corn fields, as there were millions of them. The west end of the farm ran into a lake and a big marsh, and I used to trap muskrats and mink, we used to get from 10 to 15 cents apiece for muskrats and from $1.50 to $7.00 for mink. I used to get up in the morning and go over the trap line before school and then again at night. In regard to the guns that the hunters used at that time, they were mostly Parkers, W.W. Greeners and Remingtons, some Wesley Richards, and I well remember that everybody considered that the Parker shotgun was the best. These guns were nearly all 10 gauge and weighed from 9 to 10 pounds, they would handle the larger size shot 2-3-4 and make good patterns, and the larger size shot gives a longer killing range, and they would outshoot any 12 gauge gun.

Everybody loaded their own shells and used brass shells, which could be loaded many times. From the earliest time that I can remember, there were many gun clubs throughout the country, trap shooting, rifle shooting, turkey shoots. Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Years were always big days for shooting matches, and I was always there, and I would be getting 50 cents or a dollar for handling traps or doing something. So you see I went thru chicken and duck shooting and the gun clubs when they were at their best in the south in my time.

The shooting matches were open to everybody, and there were many different kinds of guns used, but the shotguns were nearly all 10 gauge and heavy. The shooters who used them were nearly all expert shots and could kill ducks and prairie chickens up to 80 yards. I remember seeing a slide action repeating shotgun about the year 1896, it belonged to one of my uncles and was a Spenser 12 gauge. I have a picture of one of them in an old catalogue. In 1897 the first Winchester repeating shotgun came out, about the same time the Winchester lever action 10 gauge repeating shotgun came out, I still think that the Winchester 1897 repeating shotgun is still the best repeating shot gun, and they are still making them. The Winchester Co. still make this model of gun, I have had two different ones. I have a Winchester model 25 repeating shotgun, it is a very nice gun, but I think that a double barrel not the over and under shot gun is better than a repeating gun when you can only have two shells in the magazine.

The American manufacturers are doing high powered advertising for their repeating and automatic shotguns, but if you look up the high grade American side by side and the European double guns you will find that they are really a long way the finest guns. Always use a 12 gauge shotgun, or do not use smaller than a 12 gauge gun, if you want a load not so heavy then use the lighter 12 gauge loads, do not use a 16 or 20 gauge gun, if you do you will soon find that you will be using the heaviest loaded shells that you can buy and that will cause a light weight gun to kick, it is dead certain that you cannot stretch a 20 gauge gun to a 16 — a 16 to a 12, a 12 to a 10, or a 10 to an 8 gauge, and when I was a kid there was an occasional shooter who used an 8 gauge.

In the last few years many of the world’s greatest hunters are going back to the 10 gauge, and there are several European gun makers making 10 gauge guns built especially for the heavy 10 gauge loads, these guns weigh 11 to 12 pounds, but of course they will get the long range birds if you are a good shot. In the U.S. hunters are paying $300.00 and more for even the old time 10 gauge guns.

When you use a 12 gauge gun with the 3 inch high powered magnum shells the recoil is to[o] great, and this will cause you to flinch. It is better to use a 10 gauge heavy gun, and then you know you have something that is built for heavy shooting, of course the 10 gauge guns will make as good patterns with the larger size shot as a 12 gauge will with the smaller size shot, and of course this means a longer range for the 10 gauge. In using your 12 gauge guns use the standard 12 gauge loads, and if a bird is to[o] far away then just let him keep going, maybe he will come back a little closer.

In Minnesota where we lived there were quite a number of quail, they are small erratic fliers, you have to be a good shot to get them. In 1903 we came north into southern Saskatchewan, we were now once more in a part of the country where hunting was in its primitive state, lots of ducks, prairie chickens, geese, sandhill cranes, wolves, curlew. The curlew was a bird something like a plover, only about twice the size. I haven’t seen one of them for a good many years, in the early days there were lots of them. We were right in the line of the migrating flight of all this game where ducks, geese, cranes and other game went south in the fall and north in the spring. I always kept the 12 gauge and 10 gauge shotguns loaded behind the back door in the shed, the 10 gauge loaded with No. 9 buckshot, this was for shooting into flocks of geese and cranes a long way off, as I said before all the meat we had other than salt pork was what I got with the guns, so I always kept the guns loaded and handy. When we first went into southern Saskatchewan there were many prairie chickens (sharp tail grouse). They differed from the southern prairie chicken or pinnated grouse, the sharp tails have pointed tail feathers and feathers on their legs right down to their toes, little v-shaped dots on their breasts, and are lighter in color, the pinnated grouse are darker in color, have bars across their breasts, broad tail feathers and no feathers on their legs. The roosters have booming sacks on the sides of their heads and it is a wonderful sight to see them dancing in a circle and booming, which can be heard for long distances.

But with the plowing up of the prairie both species are going to have a hard time to exist, as they are a species of bird that are adapted for the prairies only. The Hungarian partridge and the different kinds of pheasants do not require the open range for any kind of dancing habits. The Sand Hill cranes hold dances like Indian powwow, it is a wonderful sight to see a big flock of them on a ridge and a mirage, they look to be about 500 feet high, I was lucky enough to see this dancing sight on two different occasions. Where we lived in southern Saskatchewan we sometimes had to shoot the Sand Hill cranes out of the wheat fields.

So you see again I passed thru a time when there was lots of game. In the fall of 1906 Court Rowley from East Chain and another young fellow, my father and myself went from Carnduff to the Moose Mountains. We had a double seated democrat buggy. We were some 10 days on this trip, it was a drive of 60 miles to the Moose Mountains. We shot prairie chickens, ducks, and some geese. We made Manor the first day, this town is on the Arsolo line of the C.P.R. southeast of Regina. North of Manor a few miles is the famous manor, a track of land bought by Belgian royalty and built in a manor on the principle of the European manors. However, this place was abandoned, probably cost too much money.

About 4 p.m. of the second day we started driving up a wood trail into the mountains, every once in a while we would find a flock of the blue mountain partridge and lots of rabbits, some 4 or 5, miles into the mountains we came to the north end of a long narrow lake and a big marsh to the north, after cooking supply Court Rowley and I took our guns and walked up the trail a way, we passed down into a small ravine between the marsh and the lake. It was dark by this time, while standing there a great many ducks passed between the marsh and the lake. We fired a couple of shots, and a wolf started to howl over on a hill, another one on another hill and so on until there were 7 or 8 of them, this certainly produced an uncanny effect. The next morning we stationed ourselves along the marsh, the lake and the road, I stood in the road with trees on each side, the ducks started coming over at daylight and they sure were coming, I got a lot of experience in pass shooting that morning.

In speaking of the old timers being good shot, I did not see my father miss a shot on that trip with the old 10 gauge. He was always telling me that [I] shot too quick and was not deliberate enough. In a case of pass shooting like the above is where your dry practice with a shot gun at home will come in handy. Practice in all positions and both right and left handed, then you are ready for anything that comes along. I practice with the heaviest gun I have and then an ordinary weight gun feels very comfortable in your hands. While living in southern Saskatchewan I hunted a good many trips in the river valleys, the Antler and Souris River valley, also wolves and foxes on horseback. I had a saddle sheath for my rifle, which is a hand[y] way to carry a rifle on horseback.

My first rifle larger than a 22 was a 38-40, 1873 model Winchester, the gun that won the west, probably you saw the moving picture The Winchester 73. I have two of these rifles in my collection at the present time. This first 1873 Winchester I had had at least one story behind it, as it was owned by a man in the Turtle Mountains near Deloraine. One day, this was in the 1880s, he saw a herd of 11 elk pass into the mountains, he followed them and finally found them all laying down in the timber, he succeeded in getting very close, the 38-40 Winchester holds 16 cartridges in the magazine, and killed the entire herd of 11 as the surprised attack excited the elk so much that they did not know what was happening. So the Homesteaders had fresh meat for quite a while.

My next rifle was a 303 Savage. I had a saddle sheath for this rifle and carried it while hunting on horseback for wolves and foxes. I also used this rifle for shooting geese and sand hill cranes at long distances. After I started working at Watsons in 1909 I had one good hunting trip after ducks at the Manitou Mineral Lake, this lake does not freeze over till after the other lakes and sloughs are frozen, there are many ducks on this lake until late in the fall. The old time duck and goose famous shooting places were Devils Lake [in] North Dakota, White Water Lake near Deloraine in southern Manitoba, this lake was at one time considered the greatest duck and goose resort in the world. Also Last Mountain Lake, north of Regina, Yonkers Lake, east of Wainright. The marshes on Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg will be good shooting places for a long time to come. The river valleys in western Canada all make good hunting places for all the different kinds of game in the west, antelope are only found in the western part of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

There are a few things I should say in connection with trying your gun for proper fit before going farther. A shotgun should shoot 6 to 8 inches high, a shooter can see his bird above the line of sight and still center the bird in the pattern, try the student for length of gun stock by putting the gun to his shoulder and if your trigger finger falls just right in its place on the trigger, or by putting the stock in the bended elbow, if it is in the right length your trigger finger will be at the right place on the trigger. In shooting shotgun, shoot with both eyes open if your eyes are good. If you shoot right handed and your left eye happens to be your master eye you will shoot to the left, so close your left eye, your gun will then line up to your right eye. A right handed shooter cannot shoot with both eyes open if his left eye is his master eye. Have the student stand in front of the instructor, throw up his gun and aim directly at the instructor, the instructor can then see whether the shooter has proper line of eyes.

More than 50 years ago John Phillip Sousa, the famous bandmaster, stated that every kid in the country wanted to become either a bandmaster or a locomotive engineer, but I succeeded in becoming both. Sousa was a great shotgun shooter and bird hunter. When the band came in off a long tour, they always took a month or more holidays. Sousa would take his horse and buggy and shotgun and tour the gun clubs, taking in the big tournaments. Sousa shot many clay pigeon matches with Annie Oakley, and with some of the world's best shooters.

The last of October 1910 I was working at Watsons, there were lots of ducks, chickens, geese, and sandhill cranes, and I remember that several times just west of Watsons we saw antelope. The railroad was starting to haul wheat east to Fort Williams. They called a lot of us engineers and firemen into Rivers, as at that time Rivers was the headquarters for the Grand Trunk Pacific, but we laid for nine days before business really started to move, so we did a lot of hunting. The river valleys contained thousands of prairies, and the sloughs were full of ducks. On the 9th of October 1910 we were called for 10:30 Sunday morning and coupled onto a trainload of wheat and took it right through to Fort Williams.

I had always lived on the prairie before, alkali water, especially in Western Canada, heavy wind and drifting soil. I will never forget after we got east of Winnipeg from about Vivian on of seeing the timbered country, lakes, rivers and fresh spring waters running everywhere here and lots of game. Moose, deer, not so many deer at that time, ruffed grouse, and bear. When we arrived at Redditt it was a wonderful sight to see the entire terminal supplied with the very best spring water by gravity coming from Armstrong Lake up on the hill just south of Redditt. All through this country east of Winnipeg we used to see lots of big game, especially moose, and after the lakes froze over in the fall the caribou came south, they used to walk around the shoreline single file picking off moss and ends of the trees. Sometimes we would see as many as 45 caribou in a herd. They would go north again in the late winter before the ice got soft. The caribou ranged at one time right through to Fort Williams, and the main line east to the province of Québec.

A good bear country was from Alcoma and Superior Junction right through to Fort William, being at its best around Duorn and Ascar, which are between mileage 80 and 110. All through this country east of Winnipeg that we have just been talking about there was the best of lake trout, muskellunge, walleyes, and the northern pike fishing.

Around Armstrong all the small and large streams were filled with brook trout. At Armstrong there was a small creek went around the south side of the yard and just past the rear door of the Round House. You could take a pail and a pitchfork and get your pail full of brook trout anytime. We used to go another 160 miles east of Armstrong to the Kenogami River, there were larger brook trout there, up to four and five pounds.

During the next 15 years I hunted, fished this country. In 1910 when we first started hunting through this country there were not very many deer, except around Fort William where there were more people lived, as it seems deer like the protection from wolves that civilization gives them. The first rifle that I used for big game was a 32 Winchester Special. I found I needed a heavier rifle for moose, the next rifle was a 303 British 1895 model Winchester. The next rifle was the 280 Ross, which is probably the finest sporting rifle ever made.

The different places around Sioux Lookout that we hunted and fished was the English River country, the Rice River country, we used to go to the old camp at the west end of the Abrams Lake and over the portage to the Little Vermilion lakes, lots of big game and lake trout and muskellunge. We used to go up the Muskinonge River at the west end of the Little Vermilion Lake and on into Muskinonge Lake. We also used to go northwest from Sioux Lookout and into the Vermilion River and on into Big Vermilion Lake. One of the favorite places we hunted was the Rice River country for ducks in fall.

We used to go up the Rice River some six miles from Lake Winnitaki and there was an island in the river, a good place for camping. I used to set out on the point on this island, and the ducks used to fly up the river from the north and swing around the point and back into the small rice lakes. I killed a lot of duck sitting right in camp. This island was called Pike Stone Island. While we shot many moose throughout these different hunting places, there were a few of them that I will tell you in the next number.

In the Sioux Lookout country game was plentiful, so we did not have to do any tracking. But one fall about 1922 I left camp with the motorboat about 10:00 AM. It snowed 3 or 4 inches that night. I landed on the mainland about 3 miles to the east, there was a river, the Tapassipi, which flowed into Lake Minnitaki. Along this river there was a long point which burned over some three years before and grown over to young poplar, making good feed for moose. I got out of the motorboat and only walked 100 yards or so when I found where I had started two moose, they had likely heard the motorboat when I came to land, and just that I would take this track for a short time at least. I only went about 200 yards when I jumped them the second time, but the brush was so thick I could not see them, however, I noticed an opening in the bush a ways ahead. I lifted up the 280 on this opening, then along came a 2 year old bull. I got him right in the neck, the distance being about 125 yards. As to good eating moose meat the two-year olds are probably the best of all.

About the fall of 1920 Homer Kendall and myself left the camp on the main island and camped on a small island near the mouth of the English Run River. There were many islands, points of the mainland and bays that we were watching with field glasses as we were on this small [island] from early morning, we made a fire and were nice and comfortable. This was nearly always our way of hunting instead of walking for miles through the bush and over the mountains. We always shot our big game near the water where it was easy to get it with a canoe. The English River flowed into the big lake over a falls and a succession of rapids, the silt had formed a delta out into the lake, the bottom was hard, there were lots of bulrushes and muskrat houses as the water was not deep, we had our shotguns as well as rifles, as ducks came into this place at night. Toward evening we loaded everything into the canoe as we had no success during the day on big game and started to the bulrushes to get ready for the ducks to come in.

I left Kendall on a muskrat house and started to move away with the canoe to find a location for myself when all at once a big bull moose walked out of the bush into the water, followed by a two-year-old bull, a calf and a cow. I started to edge the canoe back to the muskrat house where Kendall was as he had left his rifle with me in the canoe. However, before I got his rifle to him the moose all went back into the bush, they may have winded us, however they all came out again about 200 yards farther along, so we started slowly toward them, however, we did not go far until they must have winded us again and they started for the bush, we always wore lightweight thigh length rubber boots for this kind of hunting, being in the front of the canoe I jumped out as there was only about 2 feet of water and stepped to one side to give the shooter in the back of the canoe a chance to shoot. We both shot at the two year old, Kendall shot a 35, 1895 model Winchester, which is a very powerful rifle, both the 35 and the 280. Ross hit this moose right behind the shoulder, when he came up out of the water on the sand beach he stopped, swinging his head from side to side as moose often do when hard hit. We both fired again, both bullets hitting him in nearly the same place, he ran into the bush and I right after him. He only went some 25 yards and laid down, when I came up to him, he got up and started away, as he was running straight away, I shot him under the hump that is on the moose’s back. This finished him.

In the fall of 1916, I was fishing the local between Sioux Lookout and Redditt, we laid over Sunday at Redditt. We arrived in Redditt at noon on Saturday and were due out again on Monday, so we always hunted or fished Saturday afternoon and evening, north of Redditt there [are] some very high hills burned over leaving a stretch of hilly country 6 miles square that we could watch with field glasses, we hunted this country some 30 days without getting either a deer or moose, but at last one day I was sitting on a high ledge of rock and I heard a noise away down below me in the valley and here came three deer, they stopped on a ridge some 400 yards away and I tried one of them with the 280 but I missed, they then ran down into the valley, one of them about 350 yards away. I held low and fired, but I overshot, the deer did not move, as it as I was about 300 feet above the deer, he probably was bewildered as to where the noise was coming from, I held still lower and overshot the second time, he did not move, I then held right at the bottom of his front feet and I hit him in the shoulder, this shows that when you are shooting downhill be careful and do not overshoot.

The other two went right on up the valley and Kendall got one of them as they went by him, the third one went into a bunch of red willows in a swamp. When I got up there Kendall was waiting for me, so he said, “You get up where you can see and I will drive the deer out,” I climbed up on a high rock and was watching an opening in the willows, all at once I heard the deer coming, when he jumped into the opening I let him have it and the 280 hit him broadside in the hips, he let a bellow out of him that you could hear for a mile, the bullet knocked him right around end for end. We cut the three deer up and took some of the meat out each time we were up there hunting.

One day I was coming in with a quarter of deer in a pack sack on my back. As I had about 3 miles to carry this load, I naturally was trying to figure out the best way to make it easier. There was a lake about a mile wide, and it had become frozen over so I thought I would walk down to the lake and drag the load on the smooth ice, the bank was about 300 feet high and on quite a slant, there was about 3 inches of fresh snow, this bank was smooth rock, there had been water running out of a little spring near the top of the bank and had frozen, about 3 inches of snow covered the whole thing, when my feet hit this I went down and started to slide, the 280 Ross flew out of my hands, lodged against a tree about halfway down, but I kept sliding right to the lake. We had many funny experiences hunting in this part of the country. One day we were up there watching with the glasses and saw five bears walking around the side of a hill single file, they were about a mile away and it was too late in the afternoon to go after them. However, we did not see them again, as it was getting late in the fall and I suppose they denned up for the winter.

A couple of days later Homer Kendall got a moose up near the place we got the deer, we had several people out from Redditt to help bring in the moose as we now had more meat than we could use. In the old days there were many places around Reddit that made both hunting and fishing good. The railroad is very full of curves east of Reddit, always winding around lakes and rivers, this extends east to McIntosh 45 miles east of Reddit, it is a beautiful sight off a locomotive. And every trip we would see much game along this route, much one time we were drifting down the hill into Reddit and we came around a curve and there was a bull moose and a  cow on the track, the cow got off in a hurry, but the bull came down the track straight for the locomotive. That was one battle he did not win. I have often thought that probably we had as much sport watching game while travelling across the country on a locomotive as we did in actual hunting, especially at night. I have been thinking that it was too bad I did not write up each trip as I made them, as I cannot draw back to mind all the things that happened, some 40 years later.

I remember when I used to do committee work for the railway brotherhoods and used to be traveling back and forth from Sioux Lookout to Winnipeg, the train used to travel this 45 miles east of Reddit, I used to go back to the tail end of the train and the tail end brake man and I would put out the light in the observation car and shove a couple of the big easy chairs around facing the rear and if it was a moonlight night it was a beautiful sight to watch. Another beautiful sight [was] the 12 miles from Hudson into Sioux Lookout. In the fall of 1916 we made a trip from Favel on the railway north over the Hudson's Bay Grassy Narrows route. (I notice that this route is advertised by the airplane companies as a sportsman's paradise, also many of the other routes we used to hunt and fish, the Canyon Lake country that I mentioned, from Reddit to 45 east is also handled by tourist companies today, mostly from branch roads going in north from #1 highway.) The Grassy Narrows old Hudson Bay route leaves the railroad about 25 miles east of Reddit, in the summertime they used the big two-ton seven-man canoe, six men paddling and one man steering. In the winter, the dog teams.

We unloaded off the train and left about 3:00 PM about the last of September 1916.

We used an outboard board motor on a light cedar boat that is towing the canoe behind the motorboat. We passed over three portages the first afternoon and evening and camped on the third. The Indian caught up with us and camped on the same portage. We left at 6:00 AM the next morning and made several portages that day. The Indians [were] stopping at the Grassy Narrows Hudson Bay post when we passed there. That afternoon we came to the junction of the Wabigoon and English rivers. The English River was about a mile wide at this point after the Wabigoon flowed into it, and fast water. North of this point the small rivers had much wild rice in them, and there were many duck in this part of the country. We were 10 days on this trip, hunting ducks. We also had some good lLake trout and walleye fishing. The fall of 1917 we were camped on the island of Little Vermilion Lake, we had hunted a couple of days not having any success so we decided we would take the motorboat blankets and grub and go up to Muskellunge Lake.

We intended to stay there three days. The first day was a very bright sunshine day. I came back to camp about 5:00 PM. For a camp we had rolled up some old fallen logs together for a backstop in the bush not far from the water, and a lot of fallen branches for a fire. The other two fellows soon came in. We had supper and were talking around the campfire, when about 9:00 PM a slight wind started to blow, and I heard a crinkle of ice on the water, this was the 5th of November, 1917, you see the wind was not blowing during the day, of course the weather was cool, and the water being quiet had started to freeze. I told the fellows we would have to pack up and get out of there as soon as possible down into the Big Lake.

When we started the engine, it would not drive the boat against the ice, so we had to cut some poplar poles about 10 feet long. Two of us stood in the bow of the boat and smashed the ice and we had to do this the three miles across Muskellunge Lake. When we got into the river running into Little Vermilion Lake the water was running and did not freeze. However, the Big Lake was frozen out for about 1/2 mile, these three arms of Little Vermilion, and when we got into the narrows, we had another half mile of ice to break. However, we landed back at the main camp at 4:00 AM. So when you are out late in the fall hunting on lakes, be sure and do not get frozen in. We went back to take Abrams Lake and found the big lake frozen out a half mile, so we had some more icebreaking before we could get open water and into Sioux Lookout. We came back to Gregory’s camp on the 17th as the ice had opened everywhere on the big lakes, there was Gregory with his 26 foot boat and Scrogie with a 14 foot boat. This morning of the 17th of November we left Gregory's camp with the small boat and went up to our old camp, we hunted west into the high pine ridge country, we were hunting on the lumber camp logging roads, these roads were about 100 yards apart, the other two fellows were on one road and I on another. I heard them shoot a couple of times and stopped to listen, all at once a great big deer jumped out of the bush and stopped face to face with me not more than 40 feet away. I shot him just under the chin, this was the largest deer I ever got.

We cut up and carried this deer back to the lake, this took all day and in the meantime or around noon an awful heavy southwest wind had started blowing. We finally got everything ready about 9:00 PM that night to go the three miles back up the lake to Gregory's camp. We had a canoe with us, but I told the fellows we had better put everything into the motorboat, as by the time we got a mile out on the lake the waves would be rolling pretty high. The sky was cloudy and the night was certainly dark and the farther we got out on the lake the higher the waves. Now you will read a lot of accidents happening with short boats, this 14 foot boat in that heavy sea the bow just seemed to go straight up on one wave and straight down on the next. I became afraid of the canoe tipping as we were towing it behind, I knew if it did swamp it would take the motor boat with it, so I cut the rope and let the canoe go, the wind was blowing just a little toward the North Shore so the canoe drifted toward that shore. When we got to Gregory's Bay his big boats had broken the ropes that tied it to the dock and the heavy waves had pounded it right up on the beach. It took us all the next day to shovel a channel in the sand so that we could get it back into the lake again.

Then we took a walk down the North Shore looking for the canoe, the north shore was a rocky shore, but after we had travelled about a mile we saw the canoe sitting right side up about 10 feet above the water on the rocks, as the wind had gone down by this time. The canoe was very little damaged. However, the small boat towed us all back into the town, as the big boat was not in running order. About a small motorboat — I would not use one shorter than 18 feet. The last year that we were at Sioux Lookout, I was on lands between Sioux Lookout and Armstrong. We used to leave Sioux Lookout at 6 PM just when all game is coming out to feed along lakes and rivers. Every trip we used to kill from one to four and five deer every night with the locomotive. Last spring, I was talking with the engineer on 5 and 6 between Winnipeg and Brandon. He said that during the past winter they had killed over 40 deer.

The fall of 1912 we were hunting in the Rice River country and camped on Pipe Stone island, there were six of us, and not being able to get away when the other fellows first went out, I left some three days later and paddled the 20 miles by canoe. I arrived at camp about 1:00 PM. Everybody was out, so I cooked up some dinner and went out myself, some 3 miles from where we camped on the island there was an Indian trader and camp. Their husky dogs tramped the bush during the summer when not in use, this afternoon when the first one of our hunting party arrived back at camp he found 11 husky dogs in the camp, they had destroyed all food, even to chewing the canned goods full of holes, so we had to go back to town for another supply of grub. Another time we camped on the same island on a fishing trip and noticing an Indian in a canoe out in the wild rice beds hammering around with a pole we went over to see what he was doing and found he was killing young ducks as they were small and not able to fly. The Indian invited us over to his camp to have dinner and as we could not refuse very well, we went.

When we had dinner, we found it consisted mostly of the young ducks thrown into a pot and boiled up, head, feet, insides and all.

While I am thinking about it, the fall of 1914 Roy Fisher, Vince Turnbull and myself spent a week’s moose hunting in the Rice River country. In the Sioux Lookout country you had to be sure and not forget anything or part of your equipment, as soon as you left town you were out of touch with all stores, so I made out a list of all things we used in hunting trips so that I would be sure and not forget anything. This particular trip the other fellows brought their equipment over, as we lived on a bay of the lake and I had a boathouse with a dock on the outside and a walk on the inside, when I got all the stuff down on the dock it was covered and I still had the tent to look after, so I threw it on the wall inside the boathouse. The other fellows came along and told them that everything was there, as I had checked it over from the list. So we loaded up the motorboat and left. Seven miles up the lake we had to portage all equipment around a rapids and pull the boat up the same.

When we come to loading the boat after all this portage and polling, I suddenly realized that we did not have the tent, the tent was still back on the walk inside the boathouse. So I says<, I says, "We are not going to go through a lot of this work again just to get that tent, so we went on to Pipe Stone Island. We were staying for [a] week and to make a camp we cut poplar trees and small spruce about 10 to 15 feet high and formed two circles, closing them in smaller at the top in the form of a pyramid. This made a very good camp. When we arrived about 6 miles from Pipe Stone Island, we came to the rice beds in the river and always left the motorboat there and paddled the rest of the way in the canoe. When leaving the motorboat, we always took the ignition battery box with us in case of bad rain and so that nobody could use the boat. We placed this battery box inside our spruce camp out of sight. When leaving on our way back we forgot the battery box and could not start the engine. So\ we had to paddle back the six miles and still back another 6 miles to the motorboat.

In studying the history of hunting and adventure we find many outstanding examples of great men and lesser men, for they were all hunters. These men like to record their deeds of hunting. In the desert near the pyramids, stands a monument where a pharaoh has inscribed it, “I hunted lions in this district,” dated some 3000 years BC. In Kentucky stands a tree, and it has been marked, “Near this tree Daniel Boone killed a bear 1770.” These places are some 3000 miles apart and a good many centuries between, but the same idea about hunting prevails.

To make an interesting study of hunting and adventure I am going to start from the earliest records I can get of our own North American continent and the men who were the hunters and explorers from the time of Columbus. Just short notes will be used, so that a general idea can be gained without many years of study and to be interesting for anybody to read and discuss. After discussing this from Columbus to Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill, Wyatt Earp, and right up to date, I intend to start back some 50,000 years ago as I have many records that are very interesting from the beginning of time.

The ancients and Norsemen probably some 500 years before Columbus, were over some considerable part of the north and eastern part of North America. We have not many records so as to know just what they knew about this continent. Columbus had information from some sources about the Vikings, and it is well known that he made trips to the Scandinavian countries to gain information. After many years of effort and waiting to get a patron he finally gains consent through the court favorite, Beatriz Peraga. Believing in the vision of Columbus, Queen Isabella sacrifices the royal jewels to outfit the three ships that Columbus will use. Aboard the Santa Maria, Columbus puts his trust in two friends, Da Arno and Francisco, as he fears much trouble with superstitious crews. Seventy days after leaving Spain at 2:00 AM in the morning the three ships —Santa Maria, Nina, and the Pinta —site land October 12, 1492.

A landing is made, and Columbus takes possession of the island in the name of Spain. He names the island San Salvador (meaning Saint Saviour).

Shortly after Columbus discovered the western continent other explorers began their trips westward. In the north were John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and others.

In the Gulf of Mexico were Cordova 1517, Grizolva 1518 and others. Cabeza de Vaca, Castillo Maldonado, and a slave Estevan, between 1527 and 1536, made the long journey into what is now Texas and northern Mexico, Francesco Vasquez de Coronado 1540, 1542 into what is now New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska. Between the years 1650 and 1700 Rene Robert De La Salle, Louis Joliet, and Jacques Marquette explored the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1540 the Spanish explorer Cardenas explored the Grand Canyon.

Daniel Boone

   

Born October 22, 1734, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Hunter and scout, explorer. Probably working for the US government and other organizations. He had spent a year west of the Cumberland Mountains exploring the hostile Indian country, suddenly there was a quick swishing sound as an Indian arrow brushed his shoulder. Boone threw up his hands and fell to the ground facing the direction the arrow came from, of course, this was one of the tricks of the old Indian days. He lay perfectly still until finally he saw a movement of the Indian, then very slowly raising his Kentucky rifle, he killed the Cherokee Indian. Several days later he delivered his reports of the territory he had been exploring. To put in a year and sometimes more in such exploration work took a cast iron constitution and willpower and there are some of the reasons why some of the early oldtimers became more famous than others.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Never in all American history was as weighty and important a mission accomplished as the Lewis and Clark expedition from the fur trading post of Saint Louis after the purchase known as the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. All of the territory lying west of the Mississippi River from Mexico to Canada and west to the Pacific Ocean. This purchase was made during the time of President Thomas Jefferson. Captain Merriweather Lewis and Captain William Clark were in charge of this expedition. There were 45 men in the expedition, consisting of hunters, scouts, soldiers and skilled workmen. They were to follow the Missouri River to its source and over the Rockies to the Pacific.  A flat bottom barge was used to travel up the Missouri River.

At this time, I might say that my great grandfather was with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The expedition carried a supply of guns of different kinds, as most of their living was gained by hunting. They carried 175 pounds of gunpowder, 52 lead cans for this powder, 500 rifle flints, 125 musket flints, 50 pounds of the best rifle powder, 420 pounds of sheet lead. Black powder was made of 75% saltpeter, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur. Differences in grade had to do with size of the grain. Rifle powder was finer than musket powder.

In midsummer Lewis and Clark decided to seek information from the Indians. A height of land was selected, which later was called Council Bluffs. In their supplies Lewis and Clark carried many presents for the Indians and in all this trip had very little with them. The chiefs of the Kites, Otoes and Pawnees and their warriors extended the hand of friendship to Lewis and Clark.

As fall weather draws near and the river fills with ice they land and meet friendly Indians. Here they build a block house and call it Fort Mandan. Fort Mandan is near Bismarck, ND. The spring of the year 1805, and the Missouri is once more clear of ice. At Fort Mandan is an Indian woman, her name is Sacagawea, who knows the route to the Pacific. They next come to the Great Falls, which they have to portage 16 miles around. Finally reaching the shores of the Pacific they spent the winter of 1805 and 1806 there building Fort Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River.

On the return trip on the eastern side of the mountains the party divided, Captain Lewis going north to explore Maria’s River, Captain Clark going south to explore the Yellowstone River, Sergeant to descend the Missouri. Later the whole expedition united on the Missouri and arrived on September 27, 1806 at Saint Louis. The Indian woman who acted as guide was purchased from the Shawnee Indians in the Rockies, that was the reason she wanted to act as guide, so that she might get back to her old home again. The man who purchased her was Toussaint Charbonneau.

Davy Crockett

The Tennessee born hunter, marksman, politician and soldier is the hero of numerous folk tales, Hollywood movies and a popular song (The Ballad of Davy Crockett) which made a great hit. Most of the Crockett legends, including those in the Walt Disney television series, have some basis in fact, but many are just fantasy. No doubt he was another scout for the government and especially Andrew Jackson, the president. He was an expert shot with the famous Kentucky rifle which he called Old Betsy. He was elected to the legislature on the platform of serving the people in an honest form of politics. The rifle most likely was a presentation to him by the people of Philadelphia for his opposition to the overbearing measures of government. In his native district of Tennessee, the Crockett family held a high reputation as hunters and expert rifleman.

Davy was trained in all the secrets of rifle shooting. In the War of 1812 he fought under Andrew Jackson, became a colonel. After the war Andrew Jackson became a candidate for president, Crockett backed Jackson by running for Congress, he was elected for three terms. In 1836 Crockett went west, no doubt in the capacity of and with Jim Bowie and Sam Houston to gain Texas in the Union as a state of the United States. Davy Crockett was at the battle of the Alamo and was killed there 1836. His rifle was not recovered, but another rifle evidently made by Jacob Dickert of Lancaster, PA has been preserved in the Alamo museum in San Antonio as a relic from that battle. “Remember the Alamo” was the battle cry of the Texas revolution. One hundred and eighty Texans died at the Alamo. They were besieged by 1500 Mexicans under General Santa Anna. A short time later Santa Anna and his entire army was captured by General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Jim Bowie and the Bowie knife

In December 1830 James Bowie came riding up from Texas into the little town of Washington, Arkansas, on the old Chihuahua Trail. He brought with him a model of a knife that he had whittled out [of] hickory. Washington was a trail stop, where travelers could find feed for their horses and rest for themselves if they needed it. There was a blacksmith shop in this town run by James Black. This blacksmith was turning out some of the finest swords and knives that the western country possessed. The meeting of James Bowie, the greatest knife fighter of the times, with James Black, the greatest knifemaker, created considerable history. Black examined the model closely and said that he would make a knife just to the model.

One month later Jim Bowie rode back into Washington, and Black had two knives made, one the same as Bowie’s model, and the other Black’s improvement on it. Bowie took Black’s improved knife, he wet his thumb to try the blade, but Black said, “Do not do that, because it will take your thumb right off. Here's how we test this knife.” With his finger Black snapped the blade. It twanged with a ringing bell-like tone. Then he threw it across the road. “If it isn't still ringing when you pick it up, it's no good.” But the blade was still ringing when Bowie picked up the knife. “This is the most perfect knife ever made,” Bowie said.

Several days later at a tent on the Chihuahua Trail in Texas, three killers hired by a Mississippi gambler named Sturdivant, whom Bowie had trimmed in a duel, ambushed him. The first grabbed for Bowie’s reins. As he did, Bowie unsheathed his new knife, leaned over his horse’s head and with one blow took the man's head completely off his body. The second man stabbed Bowie in the leg. As he tumbled off his horse, he managed to rip the man from his stomach right up to his neck. The third killer ran, but Bowie caught him, and his knife split his head right down to his shoulders.

News of Bowie and his fantastic knife traveled fast all over the Texas trails. Jim Black received many orders for the same kind of knife. Thousands of these knives were shipped from the famous Sheffield Steel Works in England. Jim Bowie, who first made the model of the Bowie knife, was well qualified to do so. Long before the knife’s fame, Bowie had already established a reputation as the best knife fighter on the frontier. Born in 1796 in Kentucky he belonged to a roaming Scotch American family of merchants and real estate dealers. He was a large, powerful man, and by the time he was 20 years of age [he] had started in business for himself, he built up a considerable fortune. In his ramblings over the west, he was mixed up in many fights, Davy Crockett once said the very sight of that knife was enough to settle most men.

Colonel Jim Bowie was in command at the Alamo, at the time of its capture by the Mexicans, but was in bed sick with pneumonia. The blade of the Bowie knife was two inches wide and 14 inches long. Two and a half inches from the point the blade curved upward suddenly and both edges of the curve were sharpened. At the hilt was a four-inch parrying guard made of soft brass to catch and hold an enemy’s harder steel. The handle was five inches long, of black walnut.  

Railroad Construction Companies

A few words should be mentioned here about the railroad construction companies. The headquarters towns, such as North Platte, Nebraska Plains, Julesburg, Colorado territory, Cheyenne, Laramie, Benton, Green River, these one after the other were all headquarter towns for the Union Pacific Railway Company. The railroad advanced from one to three miles per day. On payday the railway workers, gamblers, bullies and whiskey peddlers blew into town and kept things humming. Construction contractor was General Jack Casement. As headquarters of the railway was moved from one town to the next the buildings were torn down and loaded onto flatcars and built up again at the next headquarters town.

These towns were known as hell on wheels. Men lived and carried on business where they could find shelter, in dugouts, tents, shanties, or canvas and frame buildings. Some of them were fairly large, to accommodate dance halls, gambling outfits and saloons to handle the crowds who came on payday for entertainment. Because of some of the lawless gangs and Indians out along the railroad construction, all men carried guns. This was the frontier, wild, rough and independent, while it lasted it made some of the Greek legends seem tame.

The Casement Brothers construction train was practically a self-contained mobile combination of office, sleeping quarters, commissary, workshop, and arsenal. Its equipment included 1000 rifles, mostly U.S. Springfields, the men were trained and drilled in defence against Indian attacks. The railroad was completed, the line from the East and the line from the West being joined, and the last spike was driven on May 10th, 1869. Arizona contributed [spikes] of iron, silver and gold, Nevada a spike of silver, the last spike driven was the gold one from California. The Union Pacific locomotive 119 and the Central Pacific Jupiter then touched pilots.

John Adams, animal trainer

About the year 1858 Grizzly Adams had moved into San Francisco with a half dozen of his monstrous pets and had them on exhibition at the Pacific Museum along with the elk, cougars, wolves and eagles he had collected on hunting trips all the way from the coast range to the Rockies. He was in middle age but was pretty well chewed up. His back was a mass of scars where a Bengal tiger had torn into him. His shoulders were all clawed up by cougars and his arms scarred by wolf bites.

But his taming of grizzly bears was what probably gave him the name of the toughest animal trainer who ever lived. He kept them around his camps the way another man might keep a pack of dogs. Grizzly Adams himself never denied that the California grizzly were as ferocious and dangerous an animal as the world has known. He claimed they had all the courage of the African lion and were a great deal more powerful. He would whistle up one of his grizzlies and settle down for the night with his feet to the campfire and his back against the grizzly. His history seems to back up the belief that certain men actually do have supernatural power over animals.

Adams went into California with the gold miners in 1849, he was 37 at that time. He left the goldfields and went into the mountains to live, he had a yoke of oxen, a wagon, a Kentucky rifle and a Tennessee rifle, a Colt revolver, several Bowie knives. For a year he hunted and camped in the valley about 25 miles northeast of Yosemite on a branch of the Merced River. He then traded his oxen for mules and set out for Washington Territory, with a contract to ship wild animals and hides to New York. He had two Indians and a Texas half breed working for him.

The location of the Washington camp was in a great game country and also grizzly bear. He killed a grizzly who had two yearling cubs, and finally ran down and captured the cubs. The female he named Lady Washing[ton?] and after considerable training she became a very useful bear. She would pack 200 pounds on a pack saddle and also draw a sled. He was camped again at the head waters of the Merced River, this time he captured two young grizzlies only three or four days old, he had always had an idea of using a grizzly to hunt with. One of these young grizzlies he named Ben Franklin, this grizzly was valuable as a hunting animal after training.

Adams now moved into San Francisco and set up his wild animal museum. In addition [to] all his grizzlies there were black and cinnamon bears, cougars, wolves, foxes, elk, deer and eagles. Crowds poured in to watch Adams ride the grizzlies. He next packed up all his outfit and sailed on the ship Golden Fleece around the horn and joined PT Barnum’s circus.

Bull and Grizzly Fighting

Of all the sporting events held in the USA, none were more savage and brutal than the bull and bear fighting staged in California during the middle years of the 19th century. They were often held in celebration of a Spanish fiesta or the birthday of a saint. Sometimes they were put on after an especially vicious cattle killing bear had been tracked down and captured. Instead of shooting him they would drag him to town and let him die fighting. Most of these fights were put on by Spaniards who knew that the miners needed entertainment and would gladly pay their newly panned gold to see such events. The bears were captured by vaqueros in the hills nearby. The roping party usually consisted of four men called lazadores who would assemble on their finest horses, both rider and horse decorated with rich trappings of embroidery and silver. Flourishing their tough ox hide reatas, they would ride forth with all the verve and pomp of matadors heading for the Plaza de Toros. As soon as they located a grizzly, they tried to drive him into the open where their ropes could be used to best advantage. If they were lucky, one of the lazadores would get off a good throw and rope the bear by a front leg. The bear would now try to charge the horse and rider. These horses of the Spaniards were well trained and would work a bear the same way that a rodeo horse would work a steer. In this case they would back away, keep the rope tight and try to jerk the bear off his feet before he could make an attack.

When the first rope was securely tied, the other lazadores threw reatas. A grizzly with only one rope on him was dangerous and almost impossible to hold. With two ropes, even with three or four it was dangerous. If it looked as though the bear was held for the moment, one of the men would move in on the animal, get a rope around his two front legs and around his neck, as soon as this was done the hind legs were tied. His jaws were tied together, and they then lay him on a steerhide stretched over a drag and hauled him to town. Perhaps the best way to dramatize one of these bullfights is to describe it in the words of an actual eyewitness, an Englishman named J.D. Borthwick.

The fight he describes was held on April 15, 1853 in the flourishing mining camp of Mokelumne Hill, near the town of Placerville in southern California's El Dorado county. For weeks before the fight gaudy posters had been plastered on trees and rocks for miles around. This particular battle was something special, because the grizzly, named General Scott, had already killed several bulls and had gained a reputation for courage and savage fighting ability. This time, however, he was going to meet his toughest test.

In his previous [battles] the General had been given every advantage. The bullhorns had been sawed down and blunted, and he had been tied to the bear, thus preventing him from making the powerful, vicious charges which were his main offensive weapon. This time only the bear would be chained. And as the time drew near, the tension mounted in the rough wooden arena. Hundreds of excited spectators whistled and shouted as they waited impatiently in the hot California sun.

The following account is word for word as J.D. Borthwick wrote the story:

“On Sunday the 15th I found myself walking up toward the arena among the crowd of miners and other Frenchmen, Mexicans, Chinamen, Spaniards, Chileans and suchlike, to witness the performance of the redoubted General Scott. The amphitheatre was a roughly but strongly built wooden structure, uncovered, of course, and the outer enclosure, which was of boards about 10 feet high, was 100 feet in diameter and enclosed by a very strong five barred fence. From the top of this core tiers of seats, occupying the space between the arena and the outside enclosure.

The scene was gay and brilliant and was one which would have made a crowded opera house appear gloomy and dull by comparison. The shelving bank of human beings which encircled the place was like a mass of bright flowers. The most conspicuous objects were the shirts of the miners, red, white and blue being the predominant colors, among which appeared bronzed and bearded faces under hats of every hue. Revolvers and silver handled bowie knives glinted in the bright sunshine, and among the crowd were numbers of gay Mexican blankets and red and blue French bonnets. General was not yet exposed to public gaze but was yet confined in his cage, a heavy wood box lined with iron and with open iron bars on one side. From the center of the arena a chain led into the cage, and the bear was tied to the end of it.

Beneath the scaffolding on which sat the spectators were two pens, each containing a very handsome bull that showed evident signs of indignation at his confinement. There was much excitement among the crowd, as the bear had already killed several bulls, but an idea prevailed that in former fights the bulls had not had fair play, having been tied by a rope to the bear and having the tips of their horns sawed off. On this occasion the bull would have every advantage and in addition enjoy the good wishes of the spectators, although the grizzly was considered so experienced that the betting was all in his favor.

At last a final tattoo had been beaten on a gong to make the stragglers hurry up the hill. The fight was ready to begin. The bear’s cage was dragged out of the ring and as his chain only allowed him to come within a foot or two of the fence, the General was brought up short and rolled up on the ground in a heap. He floundered around the ring at the end of his chain, roaring and tearing up the earth with his forepaws. General Scott was a grizzly of large size, weighing about some 1200 pounds.

The next thing to be done was to introduce the bull. The bars between his pen in the arena were removed, but he did not immediately charge out. A red flag was waved in front of his cage and at the same time he was poked sharply from behind, and then thundered out, finding himself face to face with General Scott. The General in the meantime had scooped a hole for himself two or three inches deep and was lying in it. This, I was told by those who had seen his performance before, was his usual fighting attitude. The bull was a very beautiful animal, dark purple in colour. His horns were regular and sharp, and his coat was smooth and glossy as a racehorse. He stood for a moment looking at the bear, the ring and the crowd of people, but not liking the appearance of the ring in general he wheeled around and made a splendid dash at the bars which had already been put up between him and his pen, smashing through them with as much ease as the man in the circus leaps through a hoop of brown paper.

Again persuaded to enter the arena, the bull apparently made up his mind to fight. After looking steadily at the bear for a few minutes, as if taking aim on him, he put down his head and charged furiously across the arena. The bear received him crouching down, and though one could hear the bump of the bull’s head and horns upon his ribs, he was quick enough to seize the bull by the nose before he could retreat.

The spirited commencement of the battle was hailed with uproarious applause. In the meantime, the bear, lying on his back, held the bull’s nose firmly between his teeth and embraced him around the neck with his forepaws, while the bull stamped the bear with his hind feet. At last the General [became] exasperated at such treatment and shook the bull savagely by the nose. A ferocious scuffle ensued, which resulted in the bear throwing his antagonist to the ground with his forepaws. For this feat the General was cheered immensely, and it was thought that he would make short work of the bull, but apparently wild beasts do not tear each other to pieces as easily as is generally supposed.

The bull regained his feet and, disengaging himself, retired to the other side of the ring. The bear again crouched at his hole, awaiting another onslaught. After eyeing the General for a few minutes, the bull made another rush at him. Again poor Bruin’s ribs resounded, but again he clamped his jaws upon the bull’s nose. The bull, however, quickly disengaged himself and was making off when the General seized his hind foot between his teeth and, holding on by his paws as well, was dragged around the ring before quitting his hold. This round terminated with shouts of delight from excited spectators, and it was thought the bull might have a chance after all. He had [been] severely punished, however, his nose and lips were a mass of bloody shreds, and he lay down to recover.

But he was not allowed to rest very long, being poked up with sticks by men outside, and this made him very savage again. He made several attempts to charge them through the bars and was eventually maddened into such a state of fury that he made another charge at the General. The result was much the same as before, only that when the bull got up after being thrown, the bear still had hold of the skin of his back. In the next round both parties fought more savagely than ever, and the advantage grew in favor of the bear. The bull seemed to be quite used up and to have lost all chance of victory.

The conductor of the performance then mounted the barrier and, addressing the crowd, asked them if the bull had not had fair play. The applause showed unanimous agreement. He then stated that for $200 he would let in the other bull, and the three should fight it out until one or all were killed. This proposal was received with loud cheers, and two men going around with a hat soon collected the required amount. The people were intensely excited and delighted with the sport. A man sitting next to me, who was a connoisseur of bear fights and passionately fond of the amusement, informed me that this was the finest fight ever fit in the country.

The second bull was just as handsome as the first, and in as good condition. On entering the arena, he seemed at once to understand the state of affairs. Glancing from bear to the other bull standing at the opposite side of the arena with drooping head and bloody nose, the new bull seemed to understand at once that the bear was their common enemy and rushed at him full tilt. The bear, as usual, pinned him by the nose but this bull did not take such treatment so quietly as the other. Struggling violently, he soon freed himself, and, wheeling around, he caught the bear on the hindquarters and knocked him over.

The other bull, who had been quietly watching the proceedings, thought this a good opportunity to pitch in also. He rushed forward, giving the General a good dig in the ribs before he had time to recover himself. However, after another few rounds it became evident that even two bulls were not a match for the bear, and it was agreed to conclude the performance. The bulls were shot to put them out of pain, and the company dispersed all satisfied that it had been a splendid fight.

While the General had certainly acquitted himself nobly on this afternoon, he was killed two weeks later in his next fight. But in those days there were plenty of bears. Now they are dying out, and the public has to look elsewhere for its bloodletting. And the only General Scott who has come down in history was Winfield, who, in 1847, defeated the Mexicans in much the same manner as his namesake dispatched the bulls.

Buffalo Bill

Was ever a name more romantic than that of Buffalo Bill? Splendid in fine clothes and boots on a white horse, Buffalo Bill was a thrilling sight as he opened the exciting spectacle of his circus. Showman, impresario, trooper, what else was the real William Cody?

Born William Frederick Cody on an Iowa farm in 1846, he had his fill of Indians early. In 1860 he went to Saint Louis and into a job with the Pony Express. Service in the Seventh Kansas Cavalry gave him a taste of real fighting. In 1867 he was under contract supplying buffalo meat to the Kansas Pacific Railway. One of his ways of killing buffalo was to ride up close and shoot them in the neck with a 44 Smith and Wesson revolver.

In 1869 the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia was on a buffalo hunting trip to the west and certain railways held regular buffalo hunting excursions. They advised the Grand Duke they would introduce him to a man he should know, and that man was Buffalo Bill. He took the Grand Duke on one of his revolver buffalo killing trips, and the Duke liked the sport and the 44 revolver so well that on his return trip east he stopped In at the Smith and Wesson factory and ordered 200 of these revolvers for the Russian Army. The Duke had some changes made in these revolvers, and they are still known today as the 44 Russian.

In 1812 he [Buffalo Bill] was representative to the Nebraska legislature. Then another term in the cavalry. His next ambition was his Wild West Show. Also in late 1891, he fought against the Sioux with the Nebraska National Guard. On May 12, 1869, Elmo Judson, whose pen name was Ned Buntline, and of all the eccentric characters of the old west he was probably the strangest, in his lifetime he wrote some 200 entire volumes and was the originator of the wild west dime novella. He had gone to Fort McPherson looking for Major Frank North, known as the White Chief of the Prairies, to get permission to use him as a character in a novel, but Major North said no and suggested that he try and get Buffalo Bill.

Ned Buntline's dime novels built Buffalo Bill into a great sensation. It was in 1882 that Buffalo Bill purchased a herd of buffalo from Martin Keetin. In that same year the town of North Platte planned a rip-roaring 4th of July celebration. They asked Buffalo Bill to put it on for them. He gathered from all the ranches and that show was a great success. What caught the eye of the crowd was Buffalo Bill’s herd of buffalo, with Cody riding among them, using blank cartridges, re-enacting the old buffalo hunt. Wild buffalo had long passed from that part of the west and the crowd cheered the act wildly.

Major Burke, a newspaper reporter, said to Cody, “Bill, that's a show I could sell anywhere, and we can make a million dollars out of it.” Major Burke was a press agent supreme, his sole interest was that Buffalo Bill’s Original Wild West Show should become and remain the most gigantic, the most stupendous and the most amazing spectacle on the face of the earth. On May 17, 1883, at the fairgrounds in Omaha, Nebraska the public got their first view of Buffalo Bill's famous Wild West show. That year it was called the Wild West, Rocky Mountain and Prairie Exhibition. There were no breaks, no side shows, no clowns, no great canvas top, as a tent was impossible because it would quickly be riddled with bullets.

In 1885 Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull joined the show. The show went to England, where it set up at Earls Court in London. Lady Randolph Churchill engaged a box, Gilbert and Sullivan, Sir Charles Wynham, and presently, on a wonderful day that Major Burke never permitted the world to forget, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward the Seventh), his Princess and three daughters, together with other royalty, came for a special performance. Buffalo Bill on his white horse broke a few glass balls. The yelling Indians, the careening Deadwood coach, the bandits, all proved exciting to these princelings, whom Burke insisted on calling crowned heads. But it was little sure shot they had really come to see. Next day Buffalo Bill received a note. “Sir, will the little girl, Annie Oakley, who shoots so cleverly in your show, object to shooting a friendly match with the Grand Duke Michael of Russia? We will arrive at Earls Court at 10:30 this morning.” It was signed Edward.

Bill Cody was upset, he believed and with good reason that no matter how good a marksman the Grand Duke was, little Annie would shoot rings around him, and, when asked, Annie said that was exactly what she would do. Buffalo Bill thought it would be quite terrible to have a Grand Duke outshot by a commoner and a woman at that. Annie was not to be moved.

While the argument was going on, four whole carriage loads of assorted royalty and nobility rolled up to Earls Court and the shooting match started. The Duke was a better than good marksman, but not in Annie's class. He missed 15 out of 50 targets and Annie only 3. The incomparable Major Burke announced to reporters and cabled back to the US that the Grand Duke had really come to England to win a British princess in marriage and had even progressed to engagement stage, but that his losing the shooting match to a woman had caused him to lose the Princess.

The sporty Prince of Wales liked the Wild West show. He came again and again. Near the end of the run he presented a fine medal to Annie Oakley. At last Queen Victoria could stand it no longer. She commanded a special performance, while Major Burke's long whiskers fluttered as never before. It was all the same to Annie Oakley, she stood out there in the arena and broke ball after ball, punctured card after card, then bowed and retired gracefully in a cloud of smoke. Frank Butler, the former expert shooter for Buffalo Bill, and Annie Oakley were married. When the Buffalo Bill show returned to America, the Butlers toured Europe.

In Berlin at the special request of the young Kaiser Wilhelm she shot the ashes off a cigarette held in his mouth. She now returned to America and was a sensation at the Chicago World’s Fair, and for the next seven years did not miss a single performance with the Buffalo Bill Show. Then in 1901 as the train carrying the show was going south into winter quarters, it ran head on into another train. Four performers were killed and injured. Annie Oakley was injured and was not able to shoot for two years. The rest of her life was spent as an exhibition shooter and instructor at Pinehurst, NC. Buffalo Bill died in 1917. Annie Oakley died November 3, 1926 and Frank Butler a short time later.

No doubt the wonderful shooting of Annie Oakley did much to promote the sport of shooting in the U.S. and other parts of the world, and Buffalo Bill’s circus to establish the fabulous days of the old west in posterity. Also made into a famous moving picture.

The original deadwood stagecoach which traveled between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Deadwood, South Dakota, is now on exhibition in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, DC. Between 1876 and 1877, after gold was discovered in Deadwood, the coach carried the gold shipments from the mines. Although the coach was attacked many times, and a number of the guards were wounded or killed, it never failed to complete a run. It still carries bullet marks, but they show only on the surface because the coach was constructed of iron plate to make it bulletproof. When it was making its scheduled run between Cheyenne and Deadwood, it averaged at least one attack a trip by Indian or white outlaws. It was drawn by six horses, and a day’s run was about 20 miles. Relay stations were maintained eight miles apart along the trail, where fresh horses were supplied. When its trail days were over, the Deadwood coach was bought by Buffalo Bill Cody, as part of his Wild West show.

Annie Oakley and the guns she used

When she was nine years old little Phoebe Mosey took down the muzzleloading rifle that hung over the fireplace and went into the woods and shot the head off a quail. Annie unquestionably was a phenomenon, she stood quite alone in her celebrity, which cannot be likened to that of any other woman. A dainty merger of feminine charm and lead bullets, the whole draped in gorgeous yellow buckskins and topped with a halo of powder blue smoke, Annie Oakley, as she was known, was born in 1860 in the backwoods of Darke County, Ohio. Most people believe that Annie became the greatest woman shot who ever looked them through gun sites because she was a product of the old frontier. The fact is that she started shooting because she had to keep the family living. She also found that the Cincinnati hotel owners would buy her birds because she always shot them in the head and their guests did not have to spit out birdshot.

The Kentucky rifle belonging to her father was her constant companion and breadwinner. Annie’s guns did not remain in any collection. Towards the end she gave many of them to her friends. Some of the guns were handsome, especially made for her by gun companies. Her exhibitions did much to publicize shooting. Others were guns she had built to order for her show with Buffalo Bill. According to her niece, Mrs. Ruth Blakley of Greenville, Annie had in her gun trunk three rifles just alike. These probably were the Stevens sporting rifles of 1872-75, tip down barrel style with a wooden forestock. Plain open sites were fitted, and about the only fancy trimming was the pistol grip, which was checkered. Annie also liked Stevens pistols; she used a Gould model single shot 22 with 10 inch barrel. She also used a Smith and Wesson model number 3 in 44 calibre.

She used three types of shotguns, a Parker, an L.C. Smith, and a Spencer slide action repeating shotgun. With this gun she could break six balls thrown in the air simultaneously before the last one hit the ground. From Shooter Hill at the Fairmont Gun Club she shot a match with Frank Butler, Annie making 25 straight and Butler 24. A year later they were married. A suburb of Cincinnati, Oakley, gave Annie the Oakley part of her name. With the Buffalo Bill Circus she toured Europe.

In Germany, the Crown Prince, who later became Kaiser Wilhelm II, came over to the arena and looked over Annie's guns. He then asked her to repeat a performance he had seen her do in London. He lighted a cigarette, and she stepped back and shot the ashes off the cigarette as he held it in his mouth. For her fast work at a real target she used a Remington slide action model 12, 22 calibre. In later years Annie and Frank Butler were a part of the staff of the Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst, where they gave shooting exhibitions and were instructors in shooting. Here she met and shot matches with John Phillip Sousa, Booth Tarkington, and John D. Rockefeller. The fame of Annie Oakley was again brought back to the world in the moving picture Annie Get Your Gun, also television, a two-hour show. Annie Oakley was unquestionably a natural phenomenon which the world creates only once and then leaves for the rest of us to copy the best way we can.

Jim Bridger

Jim Bridger doesn't rate as much space in American history as legendary heroes like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone or Jim Bowie, whose deeds are still being celebrated on television, moving pictures, comic books. Unfortunately, Jim was not a very eloquent speaker at a time when a frontier hero had to be his own public relations man. When they weren't killing bear and fighting Indians, Boone and Crockett were busy campaigning for public office, promoting their own legends. But Jim Bridger stayed on the frontier for 50 years.

Born in Virginia on March 17, 1804 Jim moved with his family in 1812 to Saint Louis. His father opened a blacksmith shop, but both his parents died within a few years, leaving Jim to look after a sister and an aunt. He was only 13 when he took over these duties.

The Saint Louis of that time was pulsating with gaiety and excitement. Immigrant families, riverboat men, trappers, soldiers of fortune, all seeking adventure up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The mountain men seemed the most to the liking of Jim, he listened to their many tales of the Rockies.

When Jim was 18, he signed up with the Colonel William Ashley's Fur Company for a three-year expedition into the Rocky Mountains. He sold out his business and turned the money over to his aunt. In April 1822 two large keelboats swung out from the Saint Louis wharf. Mike Fink, King of the keel boatmen, bellowed, “Set poles for the mountains.” The days were filled with magic for Jim Bridger. Mike Finch and his rowdy boatsmen were more entertaining than any vaudeville show he had ever seen in Saint Louis theatre. What greater honor could an 18-year-old frontier boy wish than to share a jug around a night campfire with men who had traveled with Lewis and Clark.

Then just below Fort Osage, disaster crippled the expedition. An unexpected eddy swung one of the keelboats broadside to the current and it sank. All the supplies were lost, this left half the company without transportation and it was a long trail on foot back to the three forks of the Missouri. At Great Bend the river boatmen had to drag the remaining boat around the shadow 40-mile horseshoe. The trappers disembarked with their horses to lighten the load and headed across a neck of land to a spot on the opposite side of the Bend.

Enroute a band of Indians stampeded the horses and got away with the entire herd. Without horses, there was no way for the trappers to move their equipment around the Great Falls to Three Forks. "We will have to fort up at the mouth of the Yellowstone for the winter," Colonel told the men.

Before the winter snows set in, Colonel Ashley and a detail of six men headed back to Saint Louis to get more horses and supplies. By the time the first blizzard hit Great Falls, the fort was created and stocked with firewood and supplies. Jim had a preview of mountain weather. For weeks at a time the men huddled around roaring fires wrapped in buffalo robes while the temperature dropped lower and lower and the snow piled up to the top of the pickets. Fresh meat was easy to get. Deer, buffalo and smaller animals sought shelter in the lee of the stockade and were easy game for the mountain men.

For years fur trading had followed a set pattern. A company would build and maintain a permanent post in a rich fur section, then local Indians would do the trapping and bring the furs in to trade. It did not take long to clean out the beaver in the local streams, then the Indians did not like to leave their regular hunting grounds. The result was that the costly trading posts had to be abandoned after one or two seasons.

The Ashley company established a number of temporary inexpensive forts throughout the fur country and garrisoned them with professional hunters. Each summer the trappers from all the posts would gather for an annual fur fair. Ashley and Henry would then ship the yearly catch back to Saint Louis by pack train.

In August 1823 Major Henry and a party of 80 men that included Jim Bridger moved west across the overland trail up Grand’s River to Fort Henry at the mouth of the Yellowstone River in what is now the state of Wyoming. All winter Jim had listened to stories about the savage redskins, but to date the only Indians he had encountered had either been friendly ones or plain cowardly horse thieves. The next day skirting a Ree village near the Forks of the Grand River, Jim was treated to his first Indian war cry. It came from all sides at once, a yell that sounded like a chorus of wailing banshee and growling grizzly bears. It took Jim's breath away worse than any blast of wintry air ever had. Hugh Glass rose up in his saddle and roared back a grizzly challenge of his own, "Waoghhh."  

He was still not accustomed to this guttural, animal cry that the mountain men had learned from the Indians. Since there were no cuss words in the Indian language, he expressed anger, impatience and frustration by imitating the sounds wild beasts made when they were in a cantankerous mood. There was no oath stronger than the battle cry of a mad grizzly bear.

Then as suddenly as it had begun, the battle ended, as the Indians melted away into the forest again. One of their party and several Indians had been killed. When the trappers arrived at Fort Henry, they found that the Rees had stolen 22 horses. Major Henry had to change his plans once more. Moving up the Yellowstone to the Powder River, they ran into luck at a village of friendly Crows. The Crows had just returned from a successful campaign against the Blackfeet that had netted over 100 horses. They traded 47 of the horses to their old friend Major Henry.

They headed West over the continental divide and up the Green River. The hunting was so good that by December, loaded down with furs, they headed back to the Fort on the Bighorn River to rest up for the winter.

Jim Bridger learned his trade well. In 1824 his catch of beaver surpassed that of any other trapper in the outfit. But what most impressed the other mountain men was Jim’s phenomenal memory. Once he had explored a section of the country, he never forgot it. Weeks or months later, he could scratch out a map on the back of a hide in berry ink, filling in all the details down to the last hummock, stream, rock formation and dead tree.

Jim had the passionate love of nature that makes a true explorer. When he wasn't packing mules, breaking horses, hunting or trapping, he would head into the unknown just for the thrill of seeing for the first time a snow-capped mountain peak or discovering a lake, flashing like quicksilver in a green valley. He would sit for hours on the desolate prairie and watch the wind come rolling over the tops of the grass like waves across the sea. In the fall of 1823, Jim and his friend Tom Fitzpatrick discovered South Pass, a narrow defile sticking through the continental divide. South Pass opened the rich fur country of the far northwest to the fur trappers, and it provided an easy route for the thousands of settlers who later flocked to Oregon and California.

To settle an argument with another trapper on the course of the Bear River, Jim built himself a boat and navigated the river’s rapids. Once he proved his theory about the Bear, Jim decided to have a look around this strange country. From the top of the hill he spotted another small river about two miles away that ran to the west. Lugging his light boat over land, he set out to find where there this river led. After winding about 30 miles through reed marshes, it emptied into a body of water that stretched westward as far as the eye could reach.

Noticing that his boat seemed more buoyant than before, Jim reached over the side and tasted the water. The strong bite of salt water was in the water. When he reported his discovery to the men back at the camp, they were convinced he had discovered the Pacific Ocean. But Jim’s grasp of the topography of the northwest quadrant of the continent ruled that possibility out. "No," he said, "that's a lake, maybe the biggest Lake in the world." Great Salt Lake in Utah was Jim Bridger's pet discovery. He became extremely possessive about the whole Salt Lake Valley, and on his own charts he listed it as “Bridger’s Hole.”

It was about this time that Jim became ambitious. He had learned all there was to learn about the fur trade, and he was getting tired of living from season to season as Colonel Ashley's hired hand. In 1826 Ashley sold out the company to Smith, Jackson and William Sublette, three of his chief lieutenants, and retired a rich man. Jim was practical enough to realize that his only future lay in becoming a boss man.

In 1830, the new power decided that they had taken their share out of the fur trade and were anxious to return to civilization and enjoy their profits. This was the chance Jim had been waiting for. He and three close friends who shared his views acquired title to the company. Under the new ownership of Milton Sublette, Henry Froeb, John Gerbis and Jim Bridger it became known as the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. Each of the new owners became the captain of a brigade of trappers, each of the brigades covered an appointed territory. The Rocky Mountain Fur Company was one of the first organized outfits in the northwest. Bridger and his partners soon learned that the rewards of managing a business frequently were balanced by plenty of headaches. In two years the Rocky Mountain Fur Company collected $80,000 for its furs.  Against this, it cost the firm $60,000 to buy and transport trade goods from Saint Louis to the summer camp and pack the furs back to civilization.

Because they lacked the capital to pack in their own goods as Ashley and Henry had done, they had signed a contract with Bill Sublette, one of the former owners, to be their middleman. In the spring of 1831, Bridger and his partners moved their headquarters from Green River west 400 miles to Pierre’s Hole, near the forks of the Snake River. They were now near the forbidden Blackfoot country. One day as they were crossing a hill, they came face to face with a big Indian party (Blackfeet). Jim's eyes swept along the lines of Indians, at least 200 of them, and all painted up for trouble. Like well-trained soldiers the trappers were fanning out across the ridge. The Indians were scattering across the opposite hill, taking advantage of the natural defences of the rocky country. Turning to his men, Jim said, "We ain't gonna to look for trouble. Don't fire unless they rush us." Jim rode part way down the hill with his hand raised, palm to the Indians, in a gesture of peace. The Blackfeet held a quick council of war around an elaborately dressed and painted warrior who was obviously the chief.

A little later the chief detached himself from the group and rode down the hill holding a peace pipe high in the air. A retinue of eight warriors followed behind him. Jim signaled to the mountain men and prodded his horse forward. Fitzpatrick and six others fell in behind him. The two parties met on the flat, sandy floor of the valley between the two hills. Jim reined up a [few] feet from the Blackfoot chief and extended his right hand. The chief took it solemnly. Then both parties dismounted. Jim Bridger took a saddle blanket and folded it on the ground before he sat down. It was a habit that led the northwest Indians to refer to him as the Blanket Chief.

The Indian Chieftain’s eyes widened. In the Prairie dialect of the Blackfeet Chief Sun had heard much talk of the Blanket Chief. He had always wanted to smoke with him. Jim acknowledged the honor. Finally, the powwow broke up on a friendly note and they all mounted their horses again.

During this period Jim made further discoveries in the northwest part of the continent, among them Yellowstone Park, Old Faithful geyser. He was also the first man to set eyes on “Two Oceans Pass,” a narrow gorge 8,150 feet above sea level through the continental divide.

Flowing South from Canada over the summit of the divide is a stream which divides in the pass, half of it flowing toward the Atlantic Ocean via the Yellowstone River and half flowing to the Pacific by way of the Snake River. By 1840 the fur trade had run out, changing styles and times, the demand for beaver skins had dwindled to almost nothing. One day Jim Bridger and a friend Luis Vasquez [were] in the courtyard at Fort Laramie when a wagon train arrived from the East headed for Oregon Territory. Jim studied the tired, dust-streaked faces of the men and women as they passed through the gate. They and their livestock were worn out, and the worst part of the journey was still ahead of them. Jim said to his friend, "If we had a fort somewhere on the trail from here to Oregon we'd be doing these people a good turn. By the time these wagon trains get across the Plains they will be bad shape. They will need supplies, medicine, repairs on their wagons and many things. We will build a Fort at Black’s Fork on the Green River. Plenty of green grass and trees, lots of game and fish down in the valley and safe from those Prairie winds."

In 1843, Bridger and Vasquez secured a land grant from the Mexican government, which owned the Salt Lake country, and built Fort Bridger in the valley of Black’s Fork in the foothills of the Uinta Mountains. There was a blacksmith’s shop, a carpenter’s shop. There was fresh milk and vegetables. There was whiskey, gunpowder, tobacco and other necessities. “We ain't making big money,” Jim said, “as we treat everybody the same whether they have money or not to pay for what they get.”

In 1843, some 500 people passed over the Oregon Trail, the next year 1,500. In 1845 3,000 people stopped at Fort Bridger. Business was booming. They also had ferries on the Green River, which was one of the main obstacles on the trail. He also did some fur trading. Bridger did considerable guiding for government surveyors and explorers, his judgment was seldom more than a fraction off the readings of their scientific instruments. In 1859 Bridger guided Captain W.F. Reynolds of the US Army Corps of Engineers in exploring and charting the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. The map which Reynolds made of the region from details supplied by Jim Bridger became the “Army Bible” in the big Indian campaigns in later years.

In his reports Captain Reynolds gave such great praise to Jim Bridger that the government employed him on a permanent basis as an army scout. Jim Bridger made his last scout for the army. He got his discharge in July 1868 and spent a few months around Fort Laramie. He lived the last 13 years of his life on the Missouri farm with his daughter and her family. He died in 1881 at the age of 77.

Wyatt Earp

For 10 years he outgunned the worst killers in the old West and tamed the wildest cow towns on the Chisholm Trail, but he never used bullets when his fists or a bluff could do the job. By some freak of weather, the long dry spell of 1813 had skipped Ellsworth, where the grass was still growing thick and green. As a result, the town was serving as the shipping terminal of the Chisholm Trail, about 1,700 cowboys had been raising hell all summer in the 30 saloons and gambling houses that constituted one of Ellsworth's principle industries.

The stillness in the square was broken by angry shouting coming from a saloon a few doors away. Two cowboys burst through the swinging doors and stalked away with determination. That could mean only one thing: trouble. Staring at the retreating backs, Wyatt identified them as Texas men by their Mexican sombreros and tight doeskin trousers. He saw Sheriff Whitney come hurrying across the plaza from his store. The Sheriff was strapping on his gun belt, the two heavy colts dragging low on his hips. Attracted by the commotion, faces began to appear in the doorways of the stores and windows of the buildings that faced the plaza.

Whitney asked Earp, "Is it trouble?" A bystander from the saloon stated it started out as a friendly game. They all checked their guns at the hotel to make sure there would be no trouble. Then this trouble got started between Bill Thompson and John Sterling. John slapped Bill and now they have gone after their guns. Ben and Bill Thompson were the proprietors of a traveling faro game that preyed on the cow circuit. They were two of the most notorious gunslingers in the West and had killed many men. "Hey you, Whitney!" Unexpectedly Bill Thompson, ugly with drink, came charging out of Brennan’s carrying Ben’s shotgun. "That was a dirty trick you pulled, letting that man Sterling get away." He raised the shotgun. "This is what I think of double crossers." He fired both barrels into Whitney's chest and ran back into Brennan’s.

Before the echo of the shots had died out, the plaza was teeming with Texas men, their rifles and six-guns cocked for action. While his followers kept the town at bay, Bill Thompson strolled leisurely out of Brennan’s and swaggered around the square. Wyatt Earp watched in disgust as the local peace officers, who had finally put in an appearance, peeped furtively from doorways without making any attempt to stop him.

With all Ellsworth tucked neatly in his hip pocket, Ben Thompson decided to indulge himself a little. With 100 Texas men backing his play, he began to parade up and down in front of the Grand Central Hotel flourishing his shotgun, inviting the citizens of Ellsworth to make a fight of it, and in particular, reviling the ancestry and courage of the peace officers. "I'll pay 1000 to any man who kills another Marshall!," Cad Pierce, a rich cattleman, roared. Mayor Miller arrived on the scene and was trying unsuccessfully to goad his peace officers into action.

At this point, Wyatt Earp commented dryly, ”You got some brave men working for you, Mayor.” In exasperation, Miller turned and looked him up and down. “Who are you?" “Wyatt Earp.” “Mr. Earp,” the mayor grumbled, “I notice that you are not even packing a gun.” “I know,” Wyatt said, “but if it was my business, I would settle Ben Thompson.” “Alright,” Miller said, in sudden desperation, “I’ll make it your business.” He unpinned the Marshall’s badge from Brocky Jack’s vest. “You're the new Marshall of Ellsworth. Arrest Ben Thompson, you can get some guns at Beebe’s.”

A cowboy who had overheard the exchange between Wyatt and the mayor skirted the plaza to report to Thompson. The Texans were delighted. "Wyatt Earp, never heard of him before. Did you, Ben?" Thompson scratched his eyebrows. “I've seen him around, can't have any reputation as a gunfighter,” Cad Pierce said. “No,” Ben said slowly. “The only shooting I've ever seen him do was at a target. But he always took the money, he's a dead shot. It's a funny thing about this Earp,” Ben went on, “He's a shy, quiet kid. Usually steers clear of trouble. But he ain't scared. I saw him get riled just once. It was in a poker game. These two gamblers were working together and stacking the deck till Wyatt got onto them. He looks at these boys and says, just as cool as you please, 'Leave your money on the table and get out of here. This is an honest game.' And he sits there, nice and relaxed, with both hands on the table. Before you could wink an eye, them crooks was on their feet reaching for their guns, and you wouldn't believe it unless you seen it, but they didn't get them half out of their holsters when they found themselves staring down the barrel of Wyatt’s Colt. It was like magic or something. Nobody had ever even seen him draw, he’s sure fast." “You ain't scared of him, are you, Ben?” a  Texan asked him. Thompson growled, “Naw, but I kind of like the kid.”

In Beebe’s store Wyatt was making an inspection of a pile of second Colts on a display table. “We just got a a shipment of new ones from the East,” the clerk suggested. Wyatt shook his head. “New guns and holsters slow you up.” He picked up a gun that had the trigger tied back tight against the guard and grinned. “Bet the former owner of this little trick is resting peacefully. I never saw a fanner who could hit anything.” He simulated a draw, with the gun held close to his hip, fanned the hammer back five times with his left hand. He looked over several others, a few had their triggers removed entirely. He finally settled on a pair of well-worn 45 Colts with fine hair triggers.

With the cartridge belts adjusted to give just the right amount of drag, he slipped the guns into their holsters and made a few practice draws to see that they slid smoothly out of the holsters. Then he loaded five shells into each gun, leaving one chamber empty for the hammer to rest on. Experienced western gunman had far too much respect for his weapons to risk the loss of a kneecap or foot through an accidental discharge. Finally, he let the guns fall easily into their holsters and adjusted them so that they rested slightly forward on his thighs.

As Wyatt stepped through the door of Beebe’s into the street, the clamour in the plaza died as abruptly as if someone had given a signal. Without a word to anyone, he started across the square toward the Grand Central Hotel, his hands swinging easily at his sides, his hat pulled down low to shade his eyes. Every eye in the plaza followed him. In more than a few minds, there must have flashed the analogy of David and Goliath. Wyatt, his boyishness emphasized by his trousers tucked in his half boots, Thompson squat, beefy and muscled, the sense of his invincibility heightened by the 100 armed Texans at his back.

Ben was holding at an informal pot arms stance across his stomach. Ignoring the mob behind him, Wyatt kept his eye fixed on Thompson’s trigger hand gripping the shotgun at belly height, at the first twitch of a muscle or tendon in that hand he knew he had to go for his gun, but not before. He was fairly certain that unless he drew their fire, the Texans would abide by the code of the West, the privilege of making the kill would be Thompson’s.

When Wyatt was halfway across the Plaza, Cad Pierce growled, "Let him have Ben." “Shut up, Cad,” Ben said. He seemed as much fascinated by the figure advancing upon [him] as any of the bystanders. Wyatt was only about 40 yards away now. Ben spoke suddenly, “What do you want, Wyatt?” “You, Ben,” was the calm answer. Earp never broke his step. It was at this point that the audience in the plaza first became aware that bold Ben Thompson no longer looked so bold. “Wyatt,” he called unexpectedly, “let's you and I talk. I don't want to fight you.” The Texans gaped incredulously at him. “I'm taking you in, Ben, dead or alive, whichever way you want it.” With only 15 yards separating them now, Ben was becoming frantic. “Listen, wait a minute, I want to talk to you.” “Throw your shotgun down or fight." Earp’s eyes bored hard into Ben's belly. “Alright, alright, you win.” Smiling nervously, Thompson let the shotgun drop into the dust and raised his hands. Wyatt stopped, and for the first time his hand went to his holster. The cold blue eyes raked the ranks of the Texas men. “You fellows move, move fast.” There was no sound except the rustle of metal against leather as 100 six-guns slid back into their holsters.

A half hour later Ben Thompson was a free man, drinking with his cronies in Brennan’s saloon, once more in possession of his shotgun. He paid a $25 fine for disturbing the peace. As soon as the decision was handed down, Wyatt turned in his guns and badge. The mayor looked disappointed. “We figured you'd stay on as Marshall.” “Not when Ellsworth values Sheriffs at $25 a head,” Wyatt said. “I think I will be moving on to Wichita.”

Wyatt Earp was born March 19, 1848, of a Scottish family who settled in Iowa. In 1864 the Earp family moved to California. His father's advice was that outlaws and killers just talk and act bigger. Don't fight unless you have to, a bully’s a bluff, and he won't fight a man he can't buffalo.

Wyatt put this advice to good use. Born with a keen eye and remarkable reflexes, he practiced rifle and revolver considerably, and became one of the best marksmen in the West. He also became a good boxer. In 1869 he served as a buffalo hunter, until 1871 he went to Kansas City, where he learned valuable lessons in gunfighting from old timers like Wild Bill Hickock, Jack Morton, Billy Dixon and Marshall Tom Speers. The winner of a gunfight was the man who took his time, he soon learned. The tough cowboys hated him.

When rumors reached Wyatt they were planning to run him out of town, he placed two dozen shotguns behind the counters of certain stores and bar rooms along the route he patrolled. The show came down in the person of Shanghai Pierce, a millionaire Texas cattle baron, popular with his men and accustomed to be treated with deference in every cow town on the Chisholm Trail. The historic meeting between Wyatt and Shanghai occurred in front of Billy Collins's saloon on Main Street. The cattle king, a hulking brute who stood over six feet and weighed some 250 pounds, was seated in a chair in the middle of the street, roaring drunk, waving his six-gun and loudly defying one of Wyatt's deputies to take it away from him. Wyatt marched up to Pierce, disarmed him with a wrist lock, hauled him to his feet, and booted him headfirst through the swinging doors of Collins's saloon. Turning to Pierce’s friends, who were shaken to their boot tops by the spectacle, Wyatt said, "Better sober him up, next time I'll run him in."

The Texans made many attempts to get Earp, but he managed to pull through all of them. Then, convinced that the Marshall cast some kind of a spell over them, they, the Texans, decided to import a professional assassin to do their dirty work for them. Sergeant King was their man. A veteran of the civil war, he had one of the worst reputations in the West. He was fast on the draw, quick on the trigger. The only one who had any reservations about King's qualifications for the job was Ben Thompson. As the party was moving from one saloon to another Ben seized the opportunity to call King aside. “I've been trying to get you all day to warn you not to make any play for Wyatt Earp. He'll kill you for sure.”

Sergeant King stared at Ben in drunken indignation and said, “All I have got to do is to get that fellow in my sights and ‘Earp, you're dead.’” And then while 200 spectators looked, Wyatt Earp walked around the corner of Main Street. He headed down Douglas straight toward Sergeant King. All the tales of Earp’s supernatural powers which King had laughed at so long must have come back to haunt him. Wyatt came up with long swinging strides, showing no respect for the gun that covered him, he went straight to King and snatched the gun away with his left hand and slapped him across the face with his right. He then grasped the thoroughly demoralised gunman and led him away.

In the spring of 1876, Wyatt received a telegram from Dodge City's Mayor Hoover offering him the job of Chief Deputy Marshall of the toughest cow town of them all. Located in the heart of the buffalo range, and the furthest outpost of the railroad on the prairie, Dodge was a headquarters for hunters, cattlemen, muleskinners and soldiers from all the frontier outposts. Its streets teemed with wagons, horses and cattle. At the edge of town blanket camps stretched away on all sides. Saloons, hotels, and gambling houses turned away customers by the hundreds. Tempers were short and gunfights were hourly occurrences. When Wyatt Earp reached Dodge, the Boot Hill score for the year was 80. His first move was to appoint three new deputies, Jim and Bat Masterson and Joe Mason. "We get $2.50 for every arrest we make. We’ll put it into a pool and divide it at the end of the month. But remember, the bounty applies only to live prisoners. If you have to bend a six-shooter over a man's head to end an argument, alright.  If you have to [shoot], wing em. Our job is to stop the killings in Dodge, not to increase them."

The success of Earp’s campaign against outlawry in Dodge can best be judged by statistics. It was a rare month that the Marshall and his deputies averaged less than $800 apiece in bounties. As time went on, Wyatt added to his force such men as Charlie Bassett, Bill Tilghman and Neal Brown. The exploits of this coterie provided the inspiration for hundreds of frontier yarns by the famous dime novel writer Ned Buntline. In fact, as a token of his appreciation of the peace officers of Dodge City, Buntline had the Colt factory design five special 45 caliber six-guns with 12-inch barrels, which he presented to Earp, Bassett, Bat Masterson, Tilghman and Brown.

Wyatt stayed on top of the bad men of Dodge relentlessly, never missing a chance to demonstrate his superiority over them. His object was to belittle them at every opportunity. One of his favorite devices was to shoot at the daily target matches, which were a ritual with the professional gunmen. The regularity with which he bested them in six-gun practice served as a reminder to the bad men that they stood small chance against him in real gun play. Of this period, Bat Masterson wrote, "A hundred men more or less, with reputations as killers, whom I have known, have started gun plays against him only to look into the muzzle of Wyatt’s Colt before they could get their own guns half drawn. In such a call, if a gunman thought particularly well of himself, or had any record as a fighting man, Wyatt would bend the long barrel of his Buntline Colt around his head. In the old days, to buffalo a guntoter was to inflict more than physical injury. It heaped greater disgrace on him than any other form of insult. A man whom any camp had respect [for] was entitled to be shot at. When circumstances made it necessary for Wyatt to shoot, he preferred to disable them rather than to kill them. I could list at least 50 gunfights in which Wyatt put a slug through the arm or shoulder of some man who was shooting at him, when he might have certainly have shot him through the chest."

The lawless element of Dodge tried to get at Wyatt from another direction. A giant of a man who was a rough and tumble fighter back in Texas was chosen to put the plan into action. His job was to pick a fight with Earp and beat him to death. One Saturday afternoon he accosted Wyatt outside a dance hall and loudly offered the opinion that the Marshall’s courage was strictly of the gun variety. "Let him rave, Wyatt," Bat Masterson advised. "He's a bad one, I’ve seen him in action. You wouldn't have a chance."

"If I don't fight," Wyatt said, "none of us will stand a chance. If I back down, it'll be a signal for every cowboy in Dodge to make a play for me." He peeled off his cartridge belts and his Colts, threw them on the ground and turned to face the Texas champion. The two men squared off, Wyatt looking hopelessly inadequate compared with the cowboy, who topped him in height and reach by several inches and outweighed him by 50 pounds. In the opening minutes of the battle a roundhouse right clubbed Wyatt to his knees. His head cleared barely in time to roll away from a murderous kick. He tumbled to one side and bounced back on his feet. The Texan charged after him. Wyatt stopped his rush with a left to the nose, then sank his right knee into the Texan’s midsection. As the big man doubled up, Wyatt felled him with the midsection punch. Although he looked frail beside the cowboy, Wyatt was quick and fast. When the fight had passed the half hour, each had been down several times and the Texan was gasping for breath. Wyatt hooked a left and right to the head and drove one to the stomach and the giant went down for good.

Wyatt glared into the faces around him. "Who's next?," he panted, and another Texan bigger than the first stepped forward, and inside of five minutes he had the second cowboy on the ground asking for mercy. That was enough for the rest, they slunk into the saloons.

In 1876 rumors reached Dodge City that gold had been discovered around Deadwood, South Dakota. Bat Masterson went North. Wyatt invited brother Morgan to replace him. Some four months later Wyatt and Morgan handed in their resignations and went North to Deadwood.

The gold rush was over in one year. In July 1877 they headed south again. When they arrived in Dodge City, they found that in ten months law and order had suffered a serious setback. The mayor believed in enforcing the law, while the businessmen believed in getting rich from the cattle traffic. Wyatt was again installed as Marshall. Word went round that men in high places had guaranteed immunity to any gunman who could kill him and escape beyond the city limits. Wyatt cracked down harder than ever on the guntoting cowmen. As his deputies he appointed Neal Brown, Jim Masterson, Ed Masterson and Bill Tilghman.

In July 1877 there were 200,000 head of cattle grazing on the prairies [around] Dodge City and 2,000 cowboys with one idea in mind, to paint the town red. But there was no real crisis until Wyatt wrapped the foot-long barrel of the Buntline Colt around the head of Tobe Driskill, who was one of the wealthiest cattlemen in Texas and with a single sale could put a half million dollars into circulation in Dodge. He considered himself a privileged character and refused to admit that the ban on guntoting within the city limits could possibly apply to him. When he took violent exception to Wyatt’s polite suggestion that he check his guns at the hotel, the Marshall had to pistol whip him and drag him off to jail. Soon afterward Driskill offered $1000 payable to the killer of Wyatt. A few gunmen made attempts, but all failed and left town.

In the closing days of the shipping season, Wyatt rode to Texas in the capacity of U.S. Marshall to round up a notorious gang of cattle thieves for the Santa Fe Railroad. In Griffin, Texas, he got some unexpected help from the notorious Doc Holliday, the tubercular dentist who went west to die and lingered 20 years to become one of the most famous gamblers and gunmen of his era. A nervous fellow with a quick trigger finger, Holliday fought his way out of numerous scrapes and into a reputation. The strange friendship that developed between the gunman and the Marshall has been the subject of considerable speculation, for the two men had little in common except courage and a steady gun hand. But from the beginning the two men were drawn together through mutual recognition.

When Wyatt returned to Dodge in 1878, Doc Holliday followed him. In Wyatt’s absence all hell had broken loose again. On April 9, Ed Masterson had been killed in a gunfight with two outlaws, and despite the fact that Bat Masterson had promptly cut down both killers the incident had started serious trouble. Several attempts were again made to collect the $1,000 on the Marshall’s head.

In September Wyatt led a civilian posse to reinforce the U.S. cavalry units fighting an Indian uprising around Cimarron. While he was gone Toby Driscoll and Ed Morrison decided to shoot up Dodge City. Returning unexpectedly with some Indian prisoners, Wyatt walked right into the middle of the whole raid. The Texans moved into town and started shooting things up. Wyatt was at the jail feeding his prisoners. When he heard the gunfire, he headed across town at a fast trot. He reached Front Street just as the gang was passing Second Avenue, raking the street with their fire.

At this point he made a bad guess that almost cost him his life. Stored away behind the counter of the Long Branch was a shotgun he had put there for just such an emergency. Wyatt estimated that he could reach the door ahead of the rioting cowboys. Before he could [get] to the shotgun or draw his Colts, a dozen Texas men stepped out of the shadows and covered him with their guns. “I've been waiting all my life for this moment,” Ed Morrison said. “If you've got any praying to do you had better do it,” Toby Driskill said, as the Texans covered him with their guns. Then a voice hollered, “Hold it! Reach for the sky,” the voice said with a long line of cuss words. Wyatt knew that only one man could swear like that, and he would be Doc Holliday. The Texans were buffaloed for a second. In that second Wyatt whipped out his own guns, but Holliday was already a step ahead of him. “Well, do we lock them up, Wyatt?” he said.  With that Earp slashed his gun down on Ed Morrison’s head, then turned to Driskill and said, “Drop those guns or you are next." The cattle boss hastened to comply. The rest of the gang got rid of their guns. The great Driscoll-Morrison fiasco marked the end of the warfare in Dodge City.

On December 1, 1879 Wyatt Earp tackled the last and toughest assignment of his career, bringing law and order to Tombstone, Arizona. Tombstone was the Sodom of the plains, a composite of all of that was bad in the West. A drab mining camp perched on a mile-high ledge of rock in the middle of the desert, Tombstone came to life when Ed Schieffelin struck a vein of silver ore that was assayed at $20,000 a ton. Within a year and a half, the population jumped from 500 to 15,000.

In its heyday, Tombstone was a boomtown in the real sense of the word. It was common to see old men who looked like vagrants flashing $100,000 rolls in saloons and gambling houses. In the middle of the Main Street, there was a 45-foot hole, carefully fenced off like a monument, from which a cool $1,000,000 in metal had been taken. In the middle of rudely constructed frame and adobe buildings, luxurious palaces of pleasure sprang up that would have done credit to Monte Carlo. In the Oriental, the Crystal Palace and the Alhambra, hobnailed boots ground the mud and dust from unpaved streets into the finest Brussels carpet, ten-gallon hats graced elaborately carved mahogany bars, and one establishment boasted a string quartet, decked out in evening clothes, playing cowboy tunes. Silver was God in Arizona and Tombstone was the shrine where the greedy came to worship.

For every man who came to Tombstone to seek his fortune honestly, there were a half a dozen who came to take it away from him. And the officials of the Arizona Territory showed little interest in controlling the thieves, operating virtually with official sanction, smugglers, murderers, rustlers and criminals of all types.

Typical of the organized outlawry that operated out of Tombstone was the Clanton Gang, a band of 300 outlaws under the guise of ranchers who worked a protection racket on the businessmen of Tombstone and the legitimate ranchers in the surrounding districts. The officers of the Clanton Gang included such notorious gunman as Ike, Phin and Billy Clanton, Curly Bill Brocius, John Ringo, Frank and Tom McLaury, Frank Stillwell and Pete Spence. Wyatt was first appointed Sheriff of Tombstone, but in 1880 he received a federal appointment as Marshall of the district. For two years, his efforts at reform were hamstrung by the politicians, chiefly by Johnny Behan, the Sheriff of Cochise County and puppet of the Clanton crowd. As senior local peace officer in the community, Behan sabotaged cleanup plans.

In 1881, the scandalous administration of the Arizona Territory became a matter of national attention. On the recommendation of a Congressional Investigating committee President Arthur appointed John J. Gasper, a supporter of Wyatt Earp, as governor of the territory. As soon as he took office, Gasper gave the Marshall the green light to go ahead and clean up Tombstone. The Clantons were frightened. They realized that from this point on Wyatt’s position would become stronger. It was apparent to them that if they were ever to stop him it would have to be done quickly.

On October 23, Earp received an ultimatum, "You have 48 hours to get out of town." The alternative was obvious. Two days later a party that included Ike Clanton, Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, Bill Claiborne and Wes Fuller rode into Tombstone and staked out at the OK Corral. They left their horses in the stables in Allen Street, then walked back to the corral at the rear that fronted Fremont Street. Ike Clanton stopped a passerby and gave him a message to Wyatt Earp. Tell him we're waiting for him at the OK Corral.

Wyatt was in Hofford's store on Fourth Ave with his brothers Virgil and Morgan when he got the challenge. The three brothers headed for the door. Halfway down the block they passed Doc Holliday. “What's up, Wyatt,” he demanded, “Gotta date at the O.K. Corral? I'll come with you." Wyatt said to Doc, “It is going to be rough,” but Doc said, “That is just in my line.” At the corner of 4th and Fremont, Sheriff Behan hurried up to them and said, “Everything is under control, Wyatt, I got their guns.” “Did you run them in?”, Wyatt asked. The Sheriff said, “No, I'll arrest them later.” “Let's go then,” Wyatt shot back.

On the West side of the O.K. Corral was the Assay Office, on the East, Flyn photo Gallery. When the Earps came abreast of Flyn, Behan ducked into the front door. Maintaining a wide interval between them, the three brothers turned into the corral while Doc Holliday stationed himself at the entrance to forestall an ambush. The five rustlers were standing with their backs against the Assay Office. They had placed two horses on their left flank to block any fire from the corner of the building. As the distance closed between the two factions, Virgil Earp called out, “Put up your hands, you're under arrest.” Frank McLaury's hand dropped to the handle of his 45. It was a cue to the others.

Thousands of words and a dozen motion pictures have immortalized the next 30 seconds. Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton opened fire on Wyatt. Both shots went wide. Frank McLaury took a bullet from Wyatt's Buntline square in the belly. At the opening, Tom McLaury leaped behind one of the horses and fired at Morgan Earp. Morgan twisted half around, hit in the shoulder. Wyatt shot a bullet in the horse that was shielding Tom McLaury. Both horses stampeded to the street. Like so many before them, Billy Claiborne and Ike Clanton panicked at the sight of the Earps. Fanning his gun wildly at Virgil, Claiborne bolted for the side door of Flyn Gallery. Ike didn’t even go for his gun. With both hands he headed straight for Wyatt, pleading, “Don't shoot me.” Brushing him aside while he tried to sight on Tom McLaury, Wyatt snapped, “If you are not going to fight, get out of the way.” Ike followed Claiborne through the gallery door, which was held open by Johnny Behan. Meanwhile, Doc Holliday cut loose with a shotgun that Virgil Earp handed him when he first joined the party. Riddled with buckshot, Tom McLaury ran for the street. As he turned the corner Wyatt dropped him. Billy Clanton tossed his Colt from his right hand to left as Virgil winged his gun arm. A second later, Morgan Earp, firing from a prone position, drilled Clanton in the chest.

Badly wounded, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton kept coming on, their guns blazing. Suddenly two shots rang out behind them. “Lookout, boys,” Doc Holliday shouted. He fired a volley through the gallery window and the threat from that quarter was silenced. Three bullets spun Frank McLaury clear around as Doc, Morgan and Wyatt fired together. He was dead before he hit the ground. Virgil took one of Billy Clanton’s slugs high in the leg. Then Wyatt dropped Billy with one in the spine. Abruptly the O.K. Corral was quiet. Minutes later, when a posse of vigilantes arrived on the scene, the Earps were all on their feet. The wounds suffered by Morgan and Virgil weren't serious, and Doc Holliday had only an ugly scratch across his back from a ricochet. Wyatt’s luck held good. There wasn't a single mark on him anywhere.

The outlaw band hadn't fared so well. Three were dead and two were still running. Writhing under Wyatt’s heel like a dying snake, the Clanton empire struck out blindly. With the knowledge that his gun days were numbered, Sheriff Behan threatened to arrest the Earps and Doc Holliday for murder. A coroner's jury squashed the ridiculous charge in short order.

But on the night of December 28th, as Virgil Earp stepped from the Oriental Saloon, the blast of five shots sprayed across Allen St. Virgil was badly wounded. Eleven weeks later, Morgan Earp was playing billiards in Bob Hatch’s pool hall. Wyatt was sitting in a chair watching the game. At the rear of the building a door led into the alley running between 4th and 5th Streets. At about 10:30 Morgan was standing with his back to this door when suddenly a roar of gunfire shattered the panel. Morgan Earp was killed. The next morning, after he had testified at a coroner’s hearing, Wyatt made plans to put Virgil on a train for California. “I’ve got a job to do,” he said. “I can't do it and look after you. Doc and I will ride as far as Tucson with you. There's a half hour stopover there, and I don't want to take any chances. They got one Earp, maybe they will try to push their luck.”

It was a good hunch. When the train was ready to pull out of the Tucson station, Wyatt and Doc Holliday said goodbye to Virgil and separated to patrol the darkened railroad yard through which the train would have to pass now. Wyatt spotted a group of figures on a flat car.  They spotted him and two shots were fired, and they ran in all directions from the flat car. He ran after one of them. The man turned and Wyatt recognized him as Frank Stilwell. He lunged for Wyatt’s gun. Wyatt wrenched it loose, jammed it in his chest and fired both barrels.

Three days later, Wyatt cornered Indian Charlie at Pete Spencer’s ranch. The half breed admitted that Curly Bill, Frank Stilwell and Hank swilling had paid him $25 to kill Morgan Earp.  Indian Charlie lunged for his gun, but Wyatt beat him to it. Thursday afternoon, Wyatt’s posse surprised a band of outlaws led by Curly Bill near a water hole at Iron Springs. Wyatt, riding at the head of the column on a narrow, mountain trail, rounded a shoulder and came face to face with Curly Bill. Both men were armed with shotguns. Bill fired first and a double load of buckshot shredded Wyatt's coat. The shotgun in Wyatt’s hands roared twice. Curly bill pitched forward on his face. In the confusion the rest of the outlaws escaped through grove of cottonwood trees.

But the score was mounting. In less than a week, three of the men who had murdered Morgan Earp were dead. in the weeks that followed Wyatt put the heat on the rustlers. Word spread across the prairie that he was out to kill them all. Saddle bags were packed, and the boys of the Clanton Gang streamed out of their holes like rats and scattered to Mexico or the Indian Territory. A few hid in the mountains, where they launched occasional forays on hapless travelers, but organized crime in Tombstone was finished forever. With the conclusion of the Tombstone affair, Wyatt Earp hung up his guns. He had been fighting almost continuously for 10 years. All he wanted now was peace.

In later years he became investor in gold, copper and oil.

In 1929 he died in his sleep at the age of 81, and as Doc Holliday put it, “That's all right for just good gun fighters, but Wyatt Earp was the best.

The Pony Express

The history of the West is filled with thrilling stories of pioneer courage and adventure. None can equal the deeds of the daring young riders of the famous Pony Express. The Pony Express was started on April 3, 1860 and carried first class mail by horse and rider relay between Saint Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. It gave the Pacific coast its first fast postal service. With 80 young riders, 500 horses, and 190 relay stations, the Pony Express covered the dangerous 1950 miles of wild frontier country in less than 10 days. The time schedule demanded 200 miles to be covered every 24 hours, day and night, summer and winter. This meant a rider had to put in 75 miles or more between his home stations every day.

During the 16 months the service was maintained, only one mail pouch was lost, and that was when the rider was ambushed and killed during the Paiute Indian war. The Pony Express ended when the telegraph stretched across the continent. Lincoln's first inaugural address was carried to the Pacific coast in seven days and 17 hours, a new record. The 1950 miles were covered by the pony riders at an average of 10.7 mph. The pony rider was armed with a Colt revolver but was not supposed to fight with his gun unless it was absolutely necessary. He depended upon the speed of his horse to escape with the mail from any attacker. The company gave each rider a small Bible, bound in leather, when he joined the service. The Pony Express saddle was stripped to bare essentials for lightness. Some of the old-time frontiersmen were Pony Express riders, such as Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill at a very early age.

The Battle of the Little Big Horn or Custer’s Last Stand



June 25, 1876. Mitch Boyer, buckskin chief scout with the United States Seventh Cavalry, crouched in the scrub atop a rimrock and pointed down into the valley of the Little Bighorn, far below. “Look,” he said, “The biggest herd of Indian ponies anyone has ever seen.” But Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer did not take the warning. There were five troops of them, 224 fighters of the plains. The remainder of the regiment under command of Major Reno and Captain Benteen had been split into two groups and sent to other locations on the flanks several miles farther along the valley. The five troops under personal command of Custer were the spearhead. Down in the valley stretching out for miles lay half concealed the lodges of the greatest concentration of Indians ever gathered on the North American continent. But Custer underestimated or refused to acknowledge the size of it as reflected in the horse herds Boyer had pointed out. Custer had worked out a plan of surprise attack. With his courage, daring and well-nigh incredible luck through ten years of Civil War battles, he had decided to strike alone in a whirlwind assault, rather than wait for arrival of reinforcements hurrying across the Plains to join him.

That decision it would appear now was one of the most terrible blunders in military history. Hidden in gullies and ravines in the hills bordering the river were waiting an unnumbered horde of armed Indians. They were waiting grimly for the white soldiers, against whom the Indian leaders had decided to make a stand. Most of them were of warlike Sioux and Cheyenne tribes. They were bitter men and vengeful. They knew that if they failed here against the white men, they failed for all time to come. The year preceding the battle, an order had been issued by the government that by January 1, 1876, all Indians would be required to report to agencies and be assigned to reservations. The plains tribes rebelled, the Sioux and Cheyenne derided the order and sent word that if the white men's government wanted them it would have to come and get them. Rough and ready General Phil Sheridan, the old Civil War hero and long-time friend of Custer, decided that once and for all he would do just that. The battle plan was simple. One strong column of cavalry was to move westward from the Dakotas. Another would come up out of Colorado. A third was to move north out of Wyoming.

The Plains Indians would be squeezed within this three-way vise and brought into submission. The overall operation was under command of General Terry. The southern column coming up from Colorado was led by General Gibbon. The unit moving north out of Wyoming was commanded by General Crook. Custer was placed at the head of the Dakota column. Somewhere in the middle, evidently preparing to scatter into Canada, was gathering the greatest concentration of Indians ever assembled. There were many famous Chiefs among them, but in Sitting Bull reposed the overall leadership.

It was Custer's fondest hope that he could recoup his waning military glory by heading the expedition, but he was relegated to leadership of just one unit. It became quite evident that he planned to make that unit the key element of the campaign, no matter what might happen. Custer was ordered by General Terry to pick up the Yellowstone at its meeting with the Powder River and probe up the Valley down which flowed the Powder and other tributaries of the Yellowstone. The Little Bighorn was one of the elements in that maze of tributary streams. On May 17, 1876 the Dakota column moved out of their garrison at Bismarck, Dakota Territory with the regimental band of the Seventh playing Garrigowen and The Girl I Left Behind Me.

A month later, after a grueling march that averaged 15 miles a day, they found no signs of the great concentration of Indians as they closed on the junction of the Powder and the Yellowstone. Then, as they pressed on, Custer’s Crow scouts began reporting Indian signs. They urged Custer to slow down, even to go back. His reaction was in the true tradition of his career. It was his assignment to attack and kill. By moving fast, he knew he could take the growing body of Indians before they could escape into Canada. He took out in hot pursuit. By the nightfall of June 24th, the advanced scouting party had made contact. It was Custer's plan that the next day, while the troops refreshed their weary mounts and prepared for battle, the scouts would reconnoiter further, and the battle plan would be worked out.

It was the next morning that Custer, Mitch Boyer and the Crow scouts gathered on the rimrock and looked out across the valley. Even as they rejoined the five troops in the bunk, a lieutenant reported that a box of bread had been lost from a supply wagon, and when soldiers rode back to look for it, an Indian was bearing it away. It was evident that the presence of the Seventh Cavalry had been revealed. The advantage of surprise was gone.

Custer decided to attack at once, without waiting for the other advancing columns. Throwing caution to the winds he ordered his bugles to blast and the call for the officers to assemble. According to accounts related years later by warriors who participated in the fight, it is probable that Custer's first knowledge that the Cheyenne had allied with the Sioux for a last stand against came then. At any rate the four Cheyenne Indians who opened fire were unaware that it was Custer who was attacking. It was recalled many years later by the Indians that these Indians cut down the first cavalrymen emerging from the river. Though they had no idea who the leader was he was among the first to fall, according to Indian witnesses who joined the battle.

So it was then, it now appears quite certain, that Custer died. The version of Custer being one of the last to go down was due to statements made by Curly, one of his Crow scouts, but Curly wasn't there at the last, as he fled the field wrapped in a Sioux blanket. It was Curly who first reached the forces of Gibbon and Terry with the word of defeat. The argument that Custer’s men only met death when they ran out of ammunition isn't so. The detachment was overrun so quickly that few had a chance to fire more than one or two shots.

In an interview translated from the Sioux by one of the authors of this article (David Miller), an old warrior named White Bull who was present the at the fight stated: “The day the attack was made on us at the Little Bighorn, I was looking after my horses at a grazing spot between two camp circles. In the distance I saw a soldier coming, so I picked out a horse and rode to Sitting Bull's teepee in the Hunkpapa camp circle. The soldiers were attacking. We drove them back into some timber. (These undoubtedly were Reno’s forces.) Just across the river from the Cheyenne camp I saw a column of other troops. They started shooting at four Cheyenne who rode out to fight them. There were over 200 soldiers and scouts, but these four Cheyenne stopped them. After that several 100 Indian Warriors rushed in. I was in this group. Soon I was fighting the soldiers close in, jerking them from their horses and taking their guns and horses. By the middle of the afternoon it was all over.”

One Bull, a nephew of Sitting Bull, had this to tell about the battle: “It was a happy time for my people (the Hunkpapa tribe of the great Sioux nation). None of us wanted or expected trouble. We held our great sun dance shortly before the fight. My uncle, Sitting Bull, had led the dance. Fasting for three days staring at the sun as it crossed, he had a vision. He saw many soldiers riding straight into our camp. Like the sun itself they moved across the sky. But instead of looking the way they should, they and all their horses were upside down. (Clearly, the vision of Sitting Bull was a Prairie mirage). After much thought and prayer, Sitting Bull decided the vision meant that soldiers would attack our camp, but that all of them would die because the vision was upside down."

The decision that Custer made at the Little Bighorn that day was a wrong decision, compounded by pride, vanity, a belief in luck, a lust for glory and too much daring and courage. The only part of Custer's command found alive the next day by General Terry's relieving force was a horse called Comanche. Comanche became the symbol of the most famous of Indian battles. He was never ridden again. But he was led by a mounted trooper in all the Seventh Regiment’s dress parades, draped in black, with the stirrups tied around his saddle. Comanche died in 1891. His remains were mounted and may be seen at the Dyche Museum at the University of Kansas.

Johnny Ware

Johnny Ware was a negro boy born into slavery in the southern states. He saw his father and mother and other relatives sold in slavery. He had heard that all men were free in Canada, so when he was nine years old, he ran away and made good his escape. He gradually worked his way westward, and finally hired out to an outfit driving cattle and horses from Fort Benton, Montana, north into Canada. Johnny being young, they gave him any old saddle and horse. After a few days on the trail, Johnny went to the foreman and stated that he could not do his work unless he had a better horse. He said, “I do not care about the saddle, but I would like a better horse.”

So the foreman passed the word around among the men to pick out the toughest horse in the herd, and we will see some fun tonight. That night after supper, when everybody was gathered around the campfires, they brought the horse and said to Johnnie, “Here is a horse, Johnnie, if you can ride him, you can have him.” After a battle Johnny finally got the saddle on the horse, and then began one of the greatest battles ever fought on the western Plains between man and horse. But Johnnie finally succeeded in taming the horse.

Johnnie eventually became known as the best rider on the Canadian side and was equally good with the rope and gun. Johnnie married a girl and raised a family. After working on different ranches, he secured his own ranch in 1880. When he was asked by the Northwest Territories Branding Committee what brand he wished, he said Bar 9. When asked why he wished Bar 9, he said he was just nine years old when he ran away from slavery.

The story of the Northwest Mounted Police

In 1670 King Charles II granted the Hudson's Bay Company Rupert's Land, roughly the area which was drained into Hudson's Bay. In 1869, the Dominion Government purchased the vast buffalo range and hunting ground and battleground of the Indians. In 1870 Manitoba was organized as a province. The problem of policing the remaining 800 miles of prairie was not immediately undertaken. Whiskey traders plundering and murdering the Indians forced the government to act. In 1873 a party of whiskey traders came to the Cypress Hills, about 35 miles south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. They traded large quantities of liquor to some Assiniboine Indians. That night they killed some 170 of the Indians. This massacre persuaded the Dominion government to act, and on May 3, 1873, Sir John A. MacDonald introduced a parliamentary bill ordering the creation of a police force for the Northwest Territories. The act passed on May 20 specified that recruits must be able to read, write and ride. They must be of sound constitution, good character and between the ages of 18 and 40 years. Inspector Walsh was placed in charge of recruiting and three divisions were dispatched to Fort Gary in October, in order that they might be ready to move to the West in the spring.

Rigorous winter training and the breaking of broncos continued until the mercury hit 36 below. Only then was training cancelled. By spring the force was well trained. Lieutenant Colonel French was first commissioner of the force. Major J.F. MacLeod was assistant commissioner. On June 7, 1874, these three divisions started the journey to Dufferin to meet the three new divisions which had moved through the United States. At Dufferin the force was struck by a terrible thunderstorm, accompanied by wind and hail. 200 horses broke loose and stampeded. The next morning 60 men searched [for the] horses, some of them had traveled 50 miles. 25 were never found. At Dufferin several men deserted. Others were discharged for drunkenness. When the force finally continued its journey on July 8, it was composed of 300 members of the N.W.M.P., 310 horses, 142 oxen, 30 half breed drivers, 114 carts, 73 wagons, 33 beef cattle, 29 power[?] guns, and two motors, six month supply of tea, sugar, flower, biscuits, bacon, tobacco, matches, etc. Plows, arrows, feed, mowing machines, and cows helped form a cavalcade of four or five miles in length.

The westward journey was eventful. At Turtle Mountains the force was beset by a cloud of locusts, hundreds of yards [in] depth. The locusts devour the tree leaves, grass and even the paint on the wagon boxes. The horses were not used to working without coats and had difficulty facing the rigors of the trail. this journey the police were amused to see their half breed helpers catch skunks, boil them in three waters, roast and eat them in preference to dark, pemmican or prairie chicken.

At La Roche Percée, 270 miles west of Dufferin, a division was sent to Edmonton by way of Fort Carlton. Colonel French moved westward to the Sweetgrass Hills, rested the troops, visited Fort Benton with the assistant commissioner, then moved eastward to establish headquarters at Swan River. Finding the barracks unfinished, he retraced his course to Dufferin to spend the winter. Following the journey to Fort Benton, where he secured the services of Jerry Potts, Lieutenant Colonel MacLeod continued westward from the Sweetgrass Hills to establish the foothills outpost, Fort MacLeod, on the Old Man River, about three miles from the present townsite. The troops arrived at the site of Fort MacLeod in October and immediately commenced to build a fort. Cottonwood timber 12 feet long was cut and erected in vertical position, in trenches 3 feet deep, to form a palisade 200 feet square.

This outer wall of the fort also formed one side of the many buildings constructed in the enclosure. The roof was enclosed with poles and covered with a foot of earth. Windows and doors had been hauled in by bull team from Fort Benton. Openings between the logs were plastered with moistened clay. While the police were building the fort, the I. G. Baker employees built a trading post nearby. It was soon stocked with canned fruit, groceries, clothing, ammunition, guns, etc. Although prices were high, the troops were glad to see the goods. Since the men had not received pay for six months, the company sold goods on credit secured by orders on their pay.

On the way west the police had found Fort Whoop Up almost deserted, but the Indian bodies lying around were mute testimony of the need for immediate action. From the very month of their arrival they began to clear out the whiskey traders. Buffalo hides were confiscated, whiskey was poured on the ground and the guilty parties were fined and imprisoned. Even as the camp was being constructed, law and order were brought to Southwest. The police had come to the West to save the Indians. How did the Indians feel about being saved? From time to time the various Indian Chiefs arrived at Fort MacLeod. At first curiosity brought them, later respect, thankfulness, and friendship led them to police headquarters.

Within three years the mounted police had won the confidence of the Indians so completely that the Indians yielded all claims to the northwest in return for reservations, treaty money, a few cattle, etc. This Treaty #7 was signed at Blackfoot Crossing on September 22, 1877, because the Indians trusted the police. Many tasks fell to the mounted police. As Canada Yearbook says, there were prairie fires to be battled, smuggling, especially of whiskey to forestall customs duty to be collected, victims of winter blizzards to be looked after, starvation and other forms of privation to be overcome, illnesses and accidents innumerable to be treated, weddings and funerals to be arranged, mails to be carried, insane persons to be taken In, lost travelers to be found, stolen stock to be returned to rightful owners, cattle and horse thieves, gamblers, murderers, all who participated in major crimes to be run down, and as settlement spread, mining, lumber and railroad construction camps to be kept under strict observation. When the police were recruited to bring law and order to the western plains, the name was the Northwest Mounted Police. The organization carried this name until 1904 when King Edward VII bestowed his recognition by adding Royal.

The force was then known as the Royal Northwest Mounted Police until 1920, when the name was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the RCMP as we call this national police force today. At the same time the new force assumed the duties of the Old Dominion police and commenced police duty in eastern Canada.

The Story of Jerry Potts

When the Northwest Mounted Police Force, marching west, did not find Fort Whoop Up they marched south to the Sweetgrass Hills. Colonel French and Lieutenant Colonel MacLeod went down to Fort Benton, Montana, to communicate with the Government of Ottawa. While there they hired the remarkable Jerry Potts. No man can evaluate his services to these western plains. He trained the scouts for the forces. When there were no roads, not even trails over the prairies, Jerry Potts led most of the important police missions with an unerring sense of direction and honor. Jerry Potts did not follow maps or compass, yet he traveled barren water he had never seen without error. His companions knew they would go through. He had a dry, but real, sense of humor.

The police were anxious to reach Fort Whoop Up. Each morning they faced a new expanse of prairie. They were prepared for and expected a military engagement upon their arrival at the fort. Day after day the force travelled up one hill and down another, hourly expecting to reach their destination. One officer, very anxious to reach the end of the monotonous trail, called up to Jerry Potts, “What shall we see when we reach the top of this hill?” Jerry thought for a moment, then replied, “Nudder hill.”

Jerry spoke few words to his companions. In acting as interpreter of the Indian languages, he spoke briefly and quietly to the police. But when he spoke to the Indians, in quoting the police, he put his whole soul into it. His eyes flashed and he convinced the Indians of the sincerity of the police. He gave them every fine point so that they could not fail to understand.

Jerry's father from Scotland had been in charge of a post at Fort Benton. One day, when Jerry was sixteen, a servant of the post quarrelled with an Indian. The Indian, resentful, knew that at nightfall his foe would face the window to pull the shutters. The Indian fired and killed Mr. Potts, then fled north to the camp of the Sarcee Indians. Young Jerry traced his course, found him at the Sarcee camp and killed him.

For his great courage the Indians admired him, and spared his life. Jerry Potts acted as scout for the northwest mounted police for 21 years.

John Moses Browning

This man was the discoverer of the principle of gas operation of automatic arms, inventor of the automatic pistol and machine gun, and acknowledged the greatest inventor in American gun history. He was also inventor of much complicated machinery, such as differential gears on steam shovels, Browning's patent. Every man who used a Winchester since 1886 was almost certain to have used a gun invented by Browning. The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia bestowed on Browning the John Scott Legacy Medal for his invention of the automatic pistol. In 1911 the United States Ordnance Department officially adopted the Browning Colt manufactured 45 automatic pistol as the regulation arm for the Army, Navy and National Guard. Four large arms companies in the United States and the largest one in Europe were turning out production of his inventions.

We have mentioned the enormously successful Browning Winchester, of which the 1894 model lever action repeating rifle and carbine were far and away the most popular arms of their type ever sold. Hand in hand, the 94 model Winchester carbine and the Colt single action revolver were the standard firearms in the later days of the frontier West. Today the 1894 Winchester carbine is still the gun most likely to be found in western saddle scabbards. Admiral Perry carried an 1892 model carbine on his final successful expedition to the North Pole in 1909. An 1895 model Winchester 405 four magazine rifle was the favorite of Theodore Roosevelt on his African and South American big game trips. All were gun designs by John M Browning, the great gunsmith of Ogden, Utah.

By 1912 Browning's automatic pistol had broken all records for the production of small arms. One million had been made at the Fabric d’Armes de Guerre of Lièges, Belgium, where manufacture of the Browning invention had begun in 1900. The gun had been made continuously from the original design, with no change in basic parts. In honor of the occasion, King Albert conferred on Browning the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre de Léopold. Thenceforth he was entitled at least in that country to be addressed Sir John M. Browning.

There is no reason to believe he could not have originally stipulated that the name Browning be stamped on every arm of his design or invention regardless of the manufacturer. But this was never done, except for his automatic pistols made in Belgium, on each of which was stamped Browning's patent.

We must go back to 1831, five years before Samuel Colt established his first revolver factory in Paterson, New Jersey. To understand John M Browning’s heritage of gunmaking from his father, Jonathan Browning, born 1805 in Tennessee, moved to Kentucky mountain country. This was the day of the Kentucky long rifle, and the best way to acquire one was to make one yourself. While still in his teens young Jonathan had his own gun shop and was well on the way toward proficiency. He made his first rifle in 1831. Moving with the westward tide of the times, Browning established a gunsmithing business in Nauvoo, Illinois. But he soon pushed in onto Kanesville, Iowa, near Council Bluffs. There with the aid of a power lathe Jonathan produced, among other guns, two repeating rifles (this was shortly before gold was discovered in California). The first featured a five-shot magazine. The second rifle employed a six-shot revolving cylinder rotated by cocking the hammer. This was the principle involved in Samuel Colt's invention of the first successful revolver. Colt had also made revolving cylinder rifles in 1836.

After two years in Kanesville the Browning family again took the trail west, this time with Jonathan as captain of a wagon train bound for the Mormon settlement in Utah. Arriving there he set up a gun shop in Ogden in 1851 and living quarters in connection with the shop. John M. Browning was born January 23, 1855. The boy John quickly revealed an aptitude for the art of arms making far beyond influence of any hereditary talent on his environment. At 14 he had fashioned his first rifle, followed by another made especially for his brother Matthew four years his junior. When he was 24, John was issued his Letters Patent, based on the unique features of a single shot lever action rifle. This became the famous 1879 model Winchester single shot. Produced in a number of calibers it proved widely popular and established the inventor's long association with the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Jonathan died in 1879, about the time young John took out his first patent. Responsibility for the family now rested on the two brothers, John and Matthew.

Guns were prime necessities of western life, and these young men, who had been closely associated with firearms all their life believed they should establish a small factory and store devoted to the arms trade. Accordingly, in 1881 this was done, with John in charge of production and anything else relating to mechanics. Matt, as he was always called, was in charge of the business end, an arrangement that was to prove a happy one. They had determined on an ambitious undertaking to start off the new company. They would manufacture 600 of the 79 single shot rifles for the store stock, and none would be sold until the display racks held that number. At length the 600 rifles were reached.

And now came an unforeseen opportunity they could not afford to let pass. The Winchester company, which had been following John Browning's progress, offered to purchase all 600 guns and the patent, with full manufacturing rights. John and Matt accepted. Thus, another link in a business connection that was to last for many years was wrought.

Next move was the purchase in 1885 of a two-story building not far from the old location. Remodeling converted the lower floor into a complete sporting goods store, including popular firearms makers. Machinery and tools were set up on the 2nd floor. Here the steadily developing prime mover in the art continued work on a rifle action for which he had secured a patent the previous year. This also was sold to Winchester and became the celebrated 1886 model lever action repeater that in a few years dominated the market for repeating rifles. Patentable feature and important improvement in this gun was the sliding vertical lock, perfectly sealing the joint between breech and barrel with the simplicity of operation and economy of parts that was becoming the hallmark of John M. Browning creations.

At this time the 22 rimfire cartridge was coming into favor as a small game cartridge. The Winchester people asked Browning to design a repeating rifle for this caliber. So far, no positive method of handling the small 22 case had been devised for a repeating action. Before long the inventor sent to the factory his own drawings of a pump action rifle he was certain would do the job, but the plant technicians did not agree with him. “It won't work,” they said.

Browning seldom had use for blueprints. He could usually tool a new gun faster than he could draw it out. After considerable hard work he turned a model from the original drawing. “This is the gun I showed in my plans,” he wrote. “You said it wouldn't work, but it seems to shoot pretty fair to me.” The model 18 Winchester 22 went into production soon afterward. It outsold for many years all other makes of 22 rifles combined and is still popular.

His discovery of the automatic principle by gas operation dates from the fall of 1892, when he was hunting in the marshes near Great Salt Lake. He became aware for the first time of the significant movement of the surround rushes right after each gun blast. After giving this incident some thought, a company publication relates, he decided that it must be caused by the expanding powder gases following the bullet. Such a discovery intrigued his mechanical mind, and he immediately returned to his shop and began to experiment. The first step in this experiment, the account continues, was to take a piece of iron about four inches square, weighing about 5 pounds, and drill a hole in it large enough to permit the bullet to pass through. He then adjusted this piece of metal in front of the gun and pulled the trigger. As he had anticipated, the gas pressure that followed the bullet blew this piece of iron some distance from the muzzle of the gun. Experimenting further he found that a small hole drilled through the underside of the barrel permitted the gas pressure to operate a small piston linked with the actuated mechanism. This was an efficient mechanism for achieving automatic action and led to the world's first practical and successful gas operated automatic firearm.

Because of the need [for] effective weapons in the Spanish American war, Browning applied his automatic principle to gas operated machine gun. This gun was produced by the Colt company, also makers of many other Browning guns. World War I started. The call went out to arms suppliers and May 1917 was set for testing. To these trials Browning brought new guns. Brownings fired 40,000 rounds without a failure, twice as many as required for the test, and were adopted as regulation for the military.

With the end of World War I, Browning again turned to fine sporting shotguns. His first shotgun had been a lever action for Winchester, followed by a slide action 1897 model. In 1904 he had been issued a patent for the first hammerless repeating take down shotguns, No. 520 Stevens, Remington Model 17.

It was now 1923. The Browning Arms Company had been formed and offered the inventor’s automatic shotgun for sale. To this was added the double barrel shotgun over and under. This gun was made by the Fabric National in Belgium.

In 1926 John Browning died of a heart attack.

Kit Carson and other Hunters and Explorers

 

There were many other men who should be mentioned as hunters and explorers.

Kit Carson, who explored much of the West and rendered valuable service to settlers and scout work for the army.

Dan Singer, his father was the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Dan Singer used to spend six months at the head office in New York and the other six months of the year he spent hunting in different parts of the world. I met him at Sioux Lookout, as he camped next to us one fall.

Teddy Roosevelt, who spent considerable time hunting in the West, he and Buffalo Bill did considerable hunting together.

Stewart Edward White, the famous writer of western stories, hunted all over the world.

There were many European hunters who hunted buffalo in the West, and the railroads used to run special excursion trains in the buffalo country for hunters. European hunters also hunted small game, ducks, prairie chickens and geese.

Epilogue

I have written the experiences of my own hunting and fishing from the beginning to the present time, and the training and practice of shooting. I then started with the discovery of Columbus of America and work down through the most prominent hunters to the present. I am starting the next writings going back in history as far as I can.

When you start studying very ancient history it is difficult to find any authentic records, so that the only way that can be done is to use your own judgment as to who is the nearest correct. The first weapons used for hunting were the wood spear, the club, and thrown stones. Just when the bow and arrow was first used cannot be stated, as it may have been 15,000, 20,000 or more years ago. We have no definite way of telling. Bows and arrows were made of wood and soon rot and become destroyed. Articles of stone and bone last down through thousands of years in old camping sites and give a clue as to their age. Of course, pits and deadfalls were used in very ancient times. In the 15th century BC, we have a picture of Thutmose III in one of his expeditions hunting a herd of 120 elephants in the Euphrates district. Another picture about 2000 BC shows a lion hunt. The hunters carry big shields and

[Nichols was not able to complete the narrative before his death in 1958.]