This Week in Old West History - April 23
CowboySpirit.TV - This week's installment of Old West History includes love blossoming in an unexpected heart, and the inadvertent removal of an unexpected head, along with a tragic maritime disaster and the founding of a true old west legend.
1874: Proving that even outlaws and murderers can have a heart, out west outlaw Jesse James took time from his busy career of illegal activities to marry Zerelda “Zee” Mimms on this day. They had a nine year engagement, maintained throughout the height of his activities. She was also James' first cousin. She died in poverty years after James' own death, in 1900.
1898: Spain declared war on the US on this day, starting off the Spanish-American war. It mostly concerned control over Cuba, which was then a territory of Spain until the US backed an independence movement. After the war, the US gained control of Cuba, but gave it complete independence in 1902.
1890: The great chief Crowfoot of the Siksika died on this day. Despite being honored as a warrior, he believed strongly in peace, spending much of his life negotiating treaties and agreements between the First Nations and the American people.
1901: Old west bandit Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum was hung in Clayton, NM on this day, inadvertently creating a gruesome display. Due to poor work on the part of the hangman, he dropped through the trapdoor so quickly that he was instantly decapitated upon hitting the end of the rope. His last words were: “All right, hurry up.”
1865: The worst steamship disaster in US history occurred today. Only a week after the end of the Civil War, the SS Sultana went up in flames on the Mississippi as three of its four boilers exploded. Two-thirds of the Steamship's 2,400 passengers died, either from the explosion or in the icy, runoff-swelled Mississippi River. The cause appears to have simply been poor maintenance of the boilers.
1876: The well-known mining town of Deadwood, SD was founded on this day. Its reputation as a lawless frontier town is somewhat exaggerated, but that didn't stop HBO from making a superb television show out of it.
1872: The James Younger Gang committed another murderous heist today, taking $600 from a bank while killing its teller, R.A.C. Martin. None of the gang were ever officially tried for his murder.
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