Feisty, Far-Out, Feudin’ and Fightin’ Fridays: In Case You Missed These

Happy New Year!  Just a few more days until I start blogging daily again.  Here are some Friday articles you might have missed last year.  For your re-consideration: Feisty Females (and Fellows):  Ellen and William Craft – Ellen Craft was the light-skinned daughter of her slave mother Maria and slave owner Colonel James Smith.  Ellen met William Craft and married him in 1846, although not allowed to live together.  This is the story of how they decided to take flight to the North in 1848, under the guise of Ellen posing as a white man and William as the servant.  It was a harrowing journey and they eventually left the United States for a time to avoid being sent back to the South.  An inspiring story. These early American “feisty females” are worthy of a second look:  Mercy Otis Warren – an activist in the cause of liberty; Nancy Morgan Hart (War Woman) – a legendary patriot and spy during the Revolutionary War, expert with a gun (although cross-eyed); her life story inspired a group of women during the Civil War — they called themselves the “Nancy Harts”.  One more worth a second look, although it did pretty well the first time around:  Patience Wright – she was a well-known sculptress (with some “interesting techniques”) who later went abroad to England, regularly corresponded with Benjamin Franklin and his sister Jane Franklin Mecom (read about Jane’s fascinating story in this book review).  Patience was an and eccentric and fascinating character. A couple of Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday articles of interest are:  The Great Hopewell Frog War – this wasn’t about...

Best of Fridays: 2014 Reader Favorites

Friday articles are rotated primarily amongst the alliterative themes of “Far-Out Friday“, “Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday” and “Feisty Females“.  Many of these Friday articles were some of the most-viewed of all articles this past year: Far-Out Friday:  Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly (The Luckiest Fool on Earth) (409) – This article was second only to the most popular article this year, which I highlighted on Tuesday:  Tombstone Tuesday:  Henry Collis and Zipporah Chandler Rice – Sodom Laurel, NC.   This article was gleaned from reading Bill Bryson’s excellent book One Summer (reviewed here).  I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised how many views this article has received this year.  I discovered that, for some reason, it was very popular in foreign countries like Russia — go figure?!? Far-Out Friday:  The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872 (83) – This article was gleaned from Simon Winchester’s excellent book, The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible (reviewed here).  The story received world-wide attention, yet it turned out to be one of the most cunning and crafty hoaxes ever perpetrated on a group of learned men which included bankers, financiers and mining engineers.  From that story came another Far-Out Friday article:  “Passing Strange“, the story of a very white man who tried to pass himself off as black, or what was called “passing strange” — interesting story if you missed it. Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday:  Spikes-Gholson Feud (82); Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday:  Fence Cutting War (Don’t Fence Me Out) (82); Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday:  The Lawless Horrell Brothers (From Lampasas, TX to Lincoln, NM and Back) (76)...

Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday: The Great Hopewell Frog War

While doing some family research last week, I came across something called a “frog war”.  What’s a frog war?  I’ve done some “frog” stories, one called “The Battle of the Frogs” and one about an old horned toad named Rip, but this one isn’t about an amphibious creature or a lizard.  This one had to do with railroad lines. Hopewell Frog War In the late eighteenth and into the early nineteenth century, the fledgling new American government began building a series of turnpikes, toll roads and canals to facilitate transportation of goods, as well as westward expansion.  A Revolutionary War veteran, lawyer and politician by the name of John Stevens III experimented with steam in the early 1800’s and was the first to construct a steam-powered locomotive in the United States, testing it on a track which ran around his Hoboken, New Jersey estate. The railroad boom between 1830 and 1860 saw numerous long-distance and regional rail lines established, accompanied by fierce competition for business and less dependence on waterways for transporting goods.  New Jersey, on the eastern seaboard, was an important launch point to transport goods westward. In April of 1846 the Pennsylvania Railroad, or “Pennsy” as it was sometimes called, received its charter to begin the process of surveying and laying track.  Its main objective was to provide a link between Philadelphia and the West, as well as compete with the likes of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O).  By 1852, the Pennsy was on-line and doing well – revenues greatly exceeded expectations. In 1850 the Pennsy had also become the first railroad to operate its own coal...

Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday: Colorados y Azules (Some Things Never Change)

As the political rule-of-thumb goes, most people don’t pay attention to upcoming national elections until after Labor Day.  Here’s a look back at an era gone by – or is it?  As another saying goes, “some things never change”. Today we are accustomed to the color-coded political classification system of “red states” vs. “blue states”.  The concept, however, is not a new one.  Following the Civil War, political parties in South Texas used a system to help illiterate or Spanish-speaking voters utilize ballots which were printed in English.  This practice started in the 1870s and continued until the 1920s. The system revolved around what was called “boss rule”.  In that era, elections were a big deal (they still should be, but that’s another story) with each side attempting to outdo the other with parades, bands and dances.  Democrats Stephen Powers and James G. Browne organized the Democrats of Cameron County into a Blue Club, with about one hundred members, both Anglo and Hispanic. The Republicans of Cameron County founded their own organization, the Red Club.  Surrounding counties soon organized their own Red and Blue (“Colorado y Azule”) Clubs.  Again, here is where not much has changed, for the Blues’ success depended on the votes of Mexican Americans, Mexicans living in Texas AND Mexicans living on the other side of the border. Essentially, the Mexican vote was “bought” since the dances were held with all kinds of merriment and libation, where the attendees were “taught” how to vote.  In 1902 a new direct primary system was developed, so after being taught how to vote the Mexicans would receive poll-tax receipts. ...

Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday: A Bloody One in Arkansas

The Arkansas feud known as the Tutt-Everett War or the King-Tutt-Everett War or the Marion County War wasn’t over love, money, water or land – it was pure politics and it was bloody.  The Marion County War might be the most appropriate name since it eventually seemed to have involved just about every citizen in the county. The Tutt family, led by Hansford “Hamp” Tutt, had come to Searcy County, Arkansas from Tennessee sometime in the 1830’s.  The Tutts were members of the Whig Party and wielded political influence in Searcy County.  They were also known to be a rough bunch – gambling, horse racing, fighting and drinking.  Hamp was a merchant and also owned a saloon which served as a local hangout. The Everett family of John, “Sim”, Jesse and Bart were members of the Democratic Party and wielded great influence in the area where they lived.  Marion County was created in 1836 by the Arkansas legislature out of the area where the Everett family resided.  It would also place the Tutts in the same county as the Everetts.  To add a little more drama, the King family, fellow Whigs, joined up with the Tutts. By 1844 most of the county’s three hundred or so residents had lined up behind one faction or the other.  The first noted public confrontation between the two sides occurred in Yellville in June of 1844 at the site of a political debate.  A brawl, which would later be seen as the match that “lit the feud”, broke out – no guns, just fists, rocks and whatever else they could grab. In the...

Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday: The Hay Meadow Massacre

It was a Kansas feud, a county seat war, but the massacre occurred in a strip of land which is now part of Oklahoma, the “panhandle” part.  In 1888, however, it was called the “Neutral Strip” or “No Man’s Land”. Stevens County, Kansas was established in southwest Kansas on August 3, 1885.  The town of Hugo (later called Hugoton) was established in late 1885 and the town of Woodsdale was founded in 1886 by Colonel Samuel Newitt Woods.  Hugoton and Woodsdale would later lock horns over which one would be the county seat.  In that day, county seat wars were all too common – Gray, two counties northeast, was another that turned into an unfortunate bloody affair (you can read about it here). Colonel Woods, of course, opposed the idea of Hugoton being designated the county seat from the very beginning.  Hugoton’s response to Woods’ meddling was to have him arrested on a libel charge and escort him out of Kansas into No Man’s Land.  The county seat election was held and not surprisingly Hugoton won, although amidst voting irregularities. Woods was not to be deterred, however.  In 1888 a referendum was ordered by the county on the question of issuing bonds for railroad construction.  Apparently Woods did some wheeling and dealing and the plans called for the rail line to pass through Woodsdale and bypass Hugoton and the citizens of Hugoton rallied to defeat the measure.  The two sides accused each other of fraud and violence escalated, so much so that the Kansas militia was dispatched. The marshal of Hugoton, Sam Robinson, had whacked Jim Gerrond of Woodsdale...