Saturday, April 30, 2016

Original Account of Wright Brothers Flying Machine 1904

Originally published in Minneapolis Journal (January 2, 1904)
Wilbur and Orville Wright who are at Kitty Hawk, N.C. experimenting with the aeroplane of their own make and regulated by devices of their own invention. 

The "Wright Flyer" as they call the machine, is a double-decked, curved aeroplane, driven by a small, but powerful gasoline motor, with aerial screw propellers.

The speed was at the rate of thirty-one miles an hour, meaning that they moved at the rate of ten miles an hour against a twenty-one-mile-an-hour wind.

The Wright Flyer is distinctly a flying machine. It has no gas bags or balloon attachments of any kind, but is supported by a pair of aerocurves, or wings, having an area of 510. It measures a little more than 40 feet from tip to tip, and the extreme fore and aft dimension is about 20 feet. The weight, including the body of the aviator, is slightly over 700 pounds. The machine is driven by a pair of aerial screw propellers placed just behind the main wings. The power is supplied by a gasoline motor. It is of the four cycle type and has four cylinders. The pistons are four inches in diameter and have a four inch stroke. At the speed of 1200 revolutions per minute the engine develops sixteen-brake horsepower, with a consumption of a little less than ten pounds of gasoline per hour. The weight including carburettor and fly-wheel, is 152 pounds. The wings, tho apparently very light, have been tested to more than six times the regular load, and it is claimed for the entire structure that it is a practical machine, capable of withstanding the shock of repeated landings, and not a mere toy which much be rebuilt after each flight. The invention is the joint work of the Wright brothers.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Great California Airship in Flight November 28, 1896

San Francisco Call (December 5, 1896)
Here's another interesting tidbit from the San Francisco Call. 

It doesn't fit in with my current research, but I couldn't let this one go unnoticed. I'll get back to you in an upcoming post, and provide more details about this early flyer.

It predates the Wright Brother's first gliding flights by seventeen years.

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1896 Political Cartoon William Jennings Bryan Beholds an Unwelcome Apparition

San Francisco Call (October 19, 1896)
Ran across this cartoon while paging through the San Francisco Call. Had to share it.

Witness the shock on William Jennings Bryans' face when he discovers wheat advancing in price, while silver holds steady.


Apparently only to the stunned Bryan.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Anybody Remember the Old Wilkins Coffee Commercials? It Was Jim Henson Before the Muppets

Just saw a Wilkins puppet come up for sale on Pawn Stars and had to learn more about them. 

 These commercials are really cool! 

Jim Henson, the man behind the Muppets, created them back in the 1950s to promote Wilkins Coffee. I think, what I like most, is even though they're only eight seconds long, they're funny as hell! It's sort of like an early version of Vine Videos - only they were made for TV, rather than the internet.

Now the way the commercials worked, Wilkins was the stand in for Wilkins Coffee. His sidekick, Wontkins, was somewhat of a grump, and usually refused to drink coffee, no matter what stunt Wilkins pulled. 

The best way to describe the commercials is The Looney Tunes on steroids, or maybe Wile E Coyote vs the Road Runner.

Picture this.

Wilkins is just hanging out with his cannon like most coffee drinking puppets do. He asks his buddy Wontkins, who just happens to be standing in front of the cannon, what he thinks of Wilkins Coffee. Wontkins says he never tasted it. Next thing you know the cannon goes off in Wontkins face, blowing him away in a whisp of smoke. After a brief pause, Wilkins turns his cannon around to face the audience and asks, "Now what do you think of Wilkins Coffee?"

Friday, April 15, 2016

Should America Take a Lesson From Thomas Jefferson's Fight With the Tripoli Pirates?

Think terrorism is new? America faced a threat from the Tripoli pirates over 200 years ago. John Adams favored bribing the terrorists. Thomas Jefferson felt the war was the only way to stop such a threat. 
In case you're wondering when Jefferson became president he kicked their ass. Maybe we could learn a lesson from the Barbary Wars.
Adams "believed that a war against the Islamic nations would be costly and possibly unwinnable. It would certainly require too large a military force for America's budget." He told Jefferson, "We ought not to fight them at all unless We determine to fight them forever."
Sound familiar. Two centuries ago, John Adams hit the nail on the head. He knew then, what Americans today are just coming to grips with. A war with Islam is impossible for anyone to win. Once started, it's going to be unstoppable.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Contemporary Account of the Gunfight at the O K Corral

(This is one of the first printed reports of the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. It was printed in the Arizona Weekly Citizen on October 30, 1881, and is reprinted here in its entirety.)

Wyatt Earp (from The Columbus Journal, 1/27/1897)
A Desperate Street Fight

Marshal Virgil Earp, Morgan and Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday Meet the cowboys—Three men killed and two wounded, one seriously—Origin of the trouble and its tragical termination.

Tombstone Nugget (October 27th)

The 26th of October will always be marked as one of the crimson days in the annals of Tombstone, a day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as shuttlecock, a day always to be remembered as witnessing the bloodiest and deadliest street fight that has ever occurred in this place, or probably in the territory.

The Origin of the trouble dates back to the first arrest of Stillwell and Spencer for the robbery of the Bisbee stage. The co-operation of the Earps with the sheriff and his deputies in the arrest causing a number of the cowboys to, it is said, threaten the lives of all interested in the capture. Still, nothing occurred to indicate that any such threats would be carried into execution. But Tuesday night Ike Clanton and Doc Holliday had some difficulty in the Alhambra saloon. Hard words passed between them, and when they parted it was generally understood that the feeling between the two men was that of intense hatred. Yesterday morning Clanton came on the street armed with a rifle and revolver, but was almost immediately arrested by Marshal Earp, disarmed and fined by Justice Wallace for carrying concealed weapons. While in the court room Wyatt Earp told him that as he had made threats against his life he wanted him to make his fight, to say how, when and where he would fight, and to get his crowd, and he (Wyatt)would be on hand.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Donald Trump By the Book

You can learn a lot about a man from the books he writes.

The America We Deserve, was published in 2000, and was released in conjunction with Trump’s run for president. It spelled out his political agenda.

Even before 9/11, and the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS, Trump predicted a growing terrorist threat. He saw it as a natural outgrowth of America’s increasing involvement in regional politics. His solution was totally unique. Trump advocated expanding the intelligence community so they could sniff out dangers before they occurred. The twist was, he wanted to create a national lottery where the proceeds would be used to pay for his spy network.

Similar to today, he was tough on immigration and wanted to control who entered this country. He said we needed to stop helping every Tom, Dick, and Harry nation out there. And, when we did help, we shouldn’t be so generous. We should send those countries a bill for our services.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Bill Dalton Wanted to Build a Gang That Would Be More Famous Than His Brothers, The Doolin-Dalton Gang Was

Body of outlaw Bill Doolin after taking
21 rounds of buckshot
The Doolin-Dalton Gang was formed from the remnants of the Dalton Gang, after their failed raid on the Coffeyville, Kansas Bank in October of 1892.

The gang consisted of Bill Dalton, Bill Doolin, George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, William “Tulsa Jack” Blake, Charley Pierce, and a negro named Israel Carr. Bill Doolin, was the acknowledged leader, but “the negro Carr was said to have killed more men than all the rest of the gang put together.” He was one mean son-of-a-bitch. Over time the gang grew to include Dan “Dynamite Dick” Clifton, “Arkansas Tom” Jones, and several others.

Bill Dalton wasn’t part of the original Dalton Gang with his brothers. Until 1892, he had led a respectable life in California, where he ranched and served two terms in the California legislature. After his brothers had been wiped out in the great Coffeyville Bank raid, Bill Dalton decided it was time to shake things up a bit. He robbed his first train outside of Los Angeles, California in 1891. In 1892, he joined Bill Doolin’s gang, and thus began a four-year reign of terror throughout Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Did James K. Polk Engineer the Mexican-American War to Steal Much of Texas and the Southwest From Mexico?

1910 Tuck's postcard
As students, we’re taught to believe America is always on the side of right, and would never start a war just to steal land from another country, right?

It’s an interesting thought, but history doesn’t quite bear it out.

James K. Polk was probably the most unsociable, drab, stick-in-the-mud ever to be elected president. Fun was a four letter word in his book. Sports, drinking, dancing, anything to do with being around people didn’t make his A-list. He was short, scholarly, lived for his work, and avoided face-to-face conversations and confrontations whenever possible.

About the only thing Polk had going for him was his friendship with Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s support pushed Polk into the White House.  And, the general made sure Polk understood the two key goals of his presidency were to annex Texas and Oregon.

Four years, a war, and several treaties later Polk would accomplish it all.

After Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 most citizens of the Lone Star State favored annexation by the United States. Americans weren’t as sure about the idea. President Martin Van Buren worried the move could trigger a war with Mexico. Both, the Democrats and Whigs, worried it could cause a split in Congress over slavery in the new territory. As a result, annexation was a moot point until President John Tyler raised the issue in 1844.

The Senate voted annexation down in June of 1844. Tyler brought the issue before Congress again in early 1845. This time it passed on March 1st, and Texas was admitted to the Union as a state on December 29th.

Donald Trump Should Learn This Lesson From Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably heard Donald Trump pissing and moaning and threatening that the Republicans better not steal the nomination from him at the Republican National Convention. His thought is that if he garners the lion's share of the votes, he should be the person chosen to represent the party, even if he doesn't reach the magic number of electors.

It's a good argument, but it doesn't hold water.

The rules say, if a candidate gets to the convention with at least 1237 electors - he wins. If no one shows up with a clear majority, it's anybody's game. In many states, the electors are bound to vote for the first choice of their state for at least the first round of voting. Some states require them to ride with the chosen candidate longer. Some states let them go free range from day one.

The thing the Donald needs to understand is if he doesn't arrive at the convention with the necessary number of votes to lock in his nomination, anything goes. The system was developed to ensure the party was able to put up the most viable candidate, not the candidate who received the most votes.

Sorry Mr. Trump, but that's the prevailing system, whether you're rich or poor.

* * * * * * * * * *

Friday, April 8, 2016

Calamity Jane Frontierswoman and Indian Scout, or Braggart and Prostitute?

Calamity Jane could best be described as a man, trapped in a woman’s body. She could out drink, out ride, out shoot, and cuss louder, and nastier than any man alive. An article in The Black Hills Daily Times said she looked like the “result of a cross between the gable end of a fireproof and a Sioux Indian.” She stood nearly six foot tall, had stringy, unwashed hair, and a rough, weather-beaten appearance. When asked to describe her, most acquaintances would say she had a tall, strong build, more male than female, and often dressed in buckskins and leather britches, but when she did wear a dress—still appeared more masculine, than feminine.
Calamity Jane holding her rifle

Whiskey was her downfall. A July 7, 1877, article in the Cheyenne Daily Leader said “she is lifted high up into the heavens on the wings of a snifter and in the next plunged into a sea of unutterable gloom…as a female holy terror, she has no living superior, and her worst enemies will not deny that she is an able drinker.”

She was born Martha Jane Cannary in Pleasanton, Missouri on May 1, 1852. Her family migrated to Virginia City, Montana in 1865. It was a five-month journey by wagon train, and Martha Jane said, “The greater portion of my time was spent in hunting along with the men and hunters of the party, in fact, I was all the time with the men when there was excitement and adventure to be had.”

Her mother died in Black Foot, Montana in 1866 shortly after they arrived, and in the spring of that year, the family moved farther west to Salt Lake City, Utah. Her father passed away in 1867, and that’s when the story of Calamity Jane really begins.

Johnny Appleseed Man, Myth, Legend

Much like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and other frontier legends, Johnny Appleseed is one of those mythical characters every school child learns about. His story has become so entwined in the folklore surrounding him that it is hard to unravel truth from fiction.

Johnny Appleseed tending his apple trees
What we do know is he was born John Chapman, in Leonidas, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1774. His father was a minuteman in the Revolutionary War, and is thought to have fought at Bunker Hill, as well as serving with Washington’s troops in New York. His mother died in 1776, most likely from tuberculosis.

Sometime in 1797 or 1798 Johnny made his way to western Pennsylvania where he planted his first orchard on Brokenstraw Creek. A few years later he was living near French Creek planting Orchards in that area.

Johnny Appleseed was a shrewd businessman. He seeded orchards several steps in advance of settlers moving into new territories, so he could have young apple trees ready for the settlers when they arrived.

According to an article published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in November of 1871, “Johnny would shoulder his bag of apple seeds, and with bare feet penetrate to some remote spot that combined the picturesque and fertility of soil, and there he would plant his seeds, place a slight inclosure around the place, and leave them to grow until the trees were large enough to be transplanted by the settlers.”

Could James Buchanan Have Prevented the Civil War?

It has been said that James Buchanan was a “weak, timid, old man” who didn’t do anything to prevent the Southern states from seceding. Some historians have even gone so far as to declare Buchanan was an “accessory after the fact.” He was a president, Southern sympathizer, and a traitor.

But, was he?

President James Buchanan
The obvious comparisons are Andrew Jackson and George Washington. Andrew Jackson stood firm during the South Carolina nullification crisis, and threatened to kick the nullifiers in the ass and hang all the traitors from the nearest tree branch if they laid a single hand on Federal property or fortifications. During the Whiskey Insurrection George Washington personally marched 13,000 troops to western Pennsylvania to put down the insurrection.

James Buchanan, by comparison, hid away in the White House and issued this special message to Congress on January 8th, 1861. “No state has a right by its own act to secede from the Union or throw off its Federal obligations at pleasure…” However, he continued, “To [Congress] belongs the power to declare war, or authorize the employment of military force…”

In effect, he said, I’m president, and secession is illegal, but I don’t have any power to act or stop the individual states from seceding. It’s up to Congress.

That’s a wimpy opinion at best.

Pearl Hart She Robbed a Stagecoach, But a Magazine Article Made Her a Nationwide Celebrity

Cosmopolitan Magazine, more, or less, created the legend that was Pearl Hart in an article they published in October of 1899.

Pearl Hart reading over her statement
According to the story, the lady bandit "directed the affair...The woman held a revolver in one hand, the muzzle of the weapon looking threateningly, now on one person and now on another. The woman was in a man's garment, and in the moonlight, her slender (read between the lines: sexy) figure and the masses of hair escaping from beneath the broad sombrero were plainly discernible." 

It was a story that was too good to ignore. 

Within a few days, papers from all over the country were borrowing quotes from the article, telling readers about the brash, cigar-smoking, hard drinking "lady bandit" who masterminded the daring daylight stage robbery.

Pearl told readers, she came from a good home, had attended a private boarding school, but at the tender young age of sixteen she hooked up with a fast-talking conman and gambler. She told readers, "marriage to me was but a name. We ran away one night and were married."

It didn't take Pearl long to discover her new husband, Frank Hart, wasn't exactly marriage material. He drank, gambled to excess, and frequently, he beat Pearl and abused her. They broke up and got back together at least three times. 

Black Jack Ketchum Scourge of the West, or Bumbling Bandit? Even His Hanging Went Badly

Tom Ketchum was the second Black Jack to terrorize the Arizona territory. The first was a fellow by the name of Worthington, and according to lawman Les Dowe, they were the “very image” of each other. Dowe said Ketchum was “an absolutely dead shot with rifle or revolver. His nerve was past all question.”

Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum
Tom Ketchum hooked up with his first partner in crime, Tom Sanders, while he was working for the Chiricahua Cattle Company in the Sulphur Spring Valley on the western slope of the Chiricahua Mountains. The pay was a hundred dollars a month, and to earn it, a man needed to be “as handy with a gun as with a rope or a branding iron.

Tom Sanders was a real-bad ass. Tom and his brother Charlie got shot up by a posse in Montana. His brother, Charlie, took a bullet and was killed in the shootout. Tom had no way out except to cut off his dead brother’s hand.

Ketchum and Sanders began their robbery streak around Sonora, Mexico, sometime in 1891. They moved from town-to-town robbing stores, and any place else that looked like it might net them a few bucks. That got the locals riled up, and they soon found themselves racing out of town with a dozen Rurales hot on their ass, chasing them high up into the mountains. The boys killed five of the Rurales in the fighting that day.

Not long after, that Ketchum formed his first outlaw band with Billy Carver, Tom Sanders, Bronco Bill, and Ezra Lay. They called themselves the High-Five Gang and operated all over Texas and New Mexico. They robbed their first train at Stein’s Pass in northern Arizona. That one went sour from the start. The gang intended to rob the Wells Fargo Express car, but cut off the mail car instead. Needless to say, the take was nowhere near what they expected.