This Week in Old West History - June 4
CowboySpirit.TV - There's a lot of death in this bizarrely bloody (even by Old West standards!) installment of our weekly history lesson, including the lynching of a cold-blooded murderer, and the death of The Man Who Shot Jesse James.
1889: “The most frightful [affair] that has occurred in the history of Topeka,” happened on this day, according to the Topeka Daily Capital. A thief named Nat Oliphant cold-bloodedly murdered Alonzo Rodgers, a tailor and one of Topeka's best-loved citizens, along with his wife. That evening, a mob of 15,000 enraged people lynched him.
1880: Myra Maybelle Shirley married Sam Starr on this day, leading to the name she's better known by in Old West history: Belle Starr, the “Bandit Queen.” She and her husband, a Cherokee, became infamous for organizing and fencing for thieves and bootleggers. Her “reign” ended six years later when her husband was shot by lawman Frank West.
1865: Notorious Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill died on this day in a Union military prison from a gunshot he received during his capture. Quantrill is most remembered for his part in the Lawrence Massacre of 1863, in which he led a raid into Lawrence, Kansas, that killed 183 men and boys.
1866: The respected Duwamish Chief Seattle died on this day. Seattle, for whom the city in Washington is named, was known for his efforts to bring peace between the Native Americans and the white settlers, as well as for speaking out in favor of conservation.
1892: Robert Ford, “The Man Who Shot Jesse James,” died himself on this day. He was shot inside a tent saloon by Edward O'Kelley. Oddly, O'Kelley's motivations are totally unknown. Some say he did it for the fame of killing the much-hated Ford, but the men had no known grudge.
1911: Both famous and infamous, depending on who you asked, Carrie Nation died on this day. Nation was the best-known of the old west temperance crusaders, who built a reputation on bursting into saloons and conducting her "hatchetations" upon their barrels of booze. She did not live to see her dream of Prohibition become reality.
1885: And for a bit of lighter news, on this day the Missouri-Pacific railroad finished laying tracks to Salina, Kansas, where the railroad workers were greeted by a crowd of more than 1,500 cheering residents.
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