Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four Bad Men Who Made a Specialty of Carrying Guns

Wyatt Earp (Columbus Journal, January 27, 1897)
(This article on four western gunfighters—Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Luke Short, and Wyatt Earp was published in the Omaha Daily Bee on March 13, 1887. It offers an interesting look at their life and times.)

An El Paso (Tex.) correspondent says: When Luke Short, a bad man with a record, shot Jim Courtwright, another bad man with a record, at Fort Worth recently, he reduced the professional killers of the west to a quartet. The list stands at present, in order of precedence, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Luke Short, and Wyatt Earp. There used to be more, but the same wise Providence that disintegrated the Jesse James gang and distributed it among the cemeteries, penitentiaries, and dime museums of the land, has elected that bad men eventually kill each other. Thus the supply has been kept ahead of the demand. The interest that attaches to those men is purely transitory; a dead killer is as quickly forgotten as a knocked-out pugilist, but the qualities of nerve and desperation that brought them to the surface in a country where everybody carries a "gun" and people go to glory every day without a benediction or a bootjack stamps them as rather extraordinary characters. Bat Masterson first became a border celebrity through this paper, in which a correspondent rehearsed his pedigree some years ago. Since that time more has been written about him than all the other three put together. He is the Maud S. of man killers. Nobody has ever lowered his record, but he claims that the twenty-six or twenty-seven inmates of his private graveyard were all sent thither in pursuit of his duty as an officer.

All his life has been spent on the frontier. He was first a cowboy, then a scout in the United States employ, and afterward marshal in several western towns, notably Dodge City, Kansas, and Trinidad, Colorado. Personally, Masterson is the best extant specimen of the gentleman desperado, copyrighted by Bret Harte. He has trained the voice that erstwhile yelled for cows down to a low, gentle baritone; he always dresses in black, wears no jewelry save a slender gold thread of a watch chain; a white cambtic handkerchief peeps from the breast pocket of his four-button cutaway, and he is careful about his boots and ties. A friend who invaded his room when he was here recently found two six-shooters and a manicure set on his bureau. He never blusters. When he gets mad his mustache creeps up under his nose in a peculiar smile that has no merriment in it, and he reaches for his revolver, which he carries thrust in the waistband of his "pants," directly under the lower buttons of his vest. It looks like the irony of fate that such a man should gravitate into a theatrical husband. Such, however, was the destiny of Masterson. Not long since he married Nellie McMahon, a western soubrette; and now he carries the pug and wears fur on his overcoat collar. Mrs. 'Masterson (nee McMahon) is not troubled with mashers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Original Account of Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic

(New York Tribune, April 18, 1912)
Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg

Giant liner on maiden trip met with disaster
330 miles from Cape Race and went to the bottom.

New York. —The greatest marine disaster in the history of ocean traffic occurred Sunday night when the Titanic of the White Star Line, the greatest steamship that ever sailed the sea, shattered herself against an iceberg and sank with, nearly, 1,500 of her passengers and crew in less than four hours. The monstrous modern ships may defy wind and weather, but ice and fog remain unconquered.

Out of nearly 2,400 people that the Titanic carried only 866 are known to have been saved, and most of these were women and children. They were taken from small boats by the Cunard Liner Carpathia, which found when she ended her desperate race against time, only the boats, a sea strewn with the wreckage of the lost ship, and the bodies of drowned men and women.

Among the 1.480 passengers of the giant liner were Col. John Jacob Astor and his wife, Isador Straus, Major Archibald W. Butt, aid to President Taft; George D. Widener and Mrs. Widener of Philadelphia. Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Harper, William T. Stead, the London journalist; F. D. Millet, the artist, and many more whose names are known on both sides of the Atlantic. The news that few besides women and children were saved caused the greatest apprehension as to the fate of these.

The text of the message from the steamer Olympic reporting the sinking of the Titanic and the rescue of 675 survivors also expressed the opinion that 1,800 lives were lost. "Loss likely total 1,800 souls," the dispatch said in its concluding sentence.

It is hoped and believed here that this is unless the Titanic had more passengers on board than was reported. She carried about 2,200 persons, including passengers and crew.
Deducting 675, the known saved, would indicate a loss of more than 1,500 persons.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Giuseppe Zangara He Tried To Kill FDR Because he Had A Stomach Ache

Franklin D. Roosevelt was shot at by a man with a stomach ache and a grudge against rich capitalists.

Shooter Giuseppe Zangara was an unemployed Italian American bricklayer, some say an Italian anarchist. The shooting occurred at Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida on February 15, 1932.

Zangara was short - only five feet tall, and as such, was forced to stand on a wobbly metal folding chair to get a good view of President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. Five shots rang out that day. Five people were injured. Fortunately for Roosevelt, several people in the crowd attempted to grab Zangara after hearing the first shot, and threw off his aim.

Roosevelt escaped unharmed, but Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who was with Roosevelt was shot in the stomach, and soon afterward died from his wounds.

At his trial, Giuseppe Zangara told authorities, “I decide to kill him and make him suffer [Franklin D. Roosevelt] … since my stomach hurt, I want to make even with capitalists by kill the President. My stomach hurt long time.”

Giuseppe Zangara died in the electric chair on March 20, 1933, just over one month after the assassination attempt.

How Detective Heck Thomas Took Down the Lee Brothers

Heck Thomas
Heck Thomas got his start in law enforcement work at the age of seventeen when he joined the Atlanta, Georgia police force. From 1875 to 1885, he worked as a railroad guard for the Texas Express Company. In 1885, he became a member of the Fort Worth Detective Association.

His first big case with them involved tracking down the Lee brothers.

According to the Dillon Tribune, the Lee’s had been terrorizing Delaware, Bend, and Cook Counties in Texas for nearly two years. They rustled cattle on the Texas side of the Red River and drove them across the river into Indian Territory where they had ranches. Jim, Bill, and Pink Lee led a gang of twenty cattle thieves in the river country and were said to have killed forty men. 

Thomas told the Dallas Daily Herald he had been chasing the Lee boys since May 5th. “At times we were in close places and could not tell whether the Lee boys were after us or we after them.”

On September 11th, Thomas received a tip the Lee brothers were hiding away in the village of Dexter, Texas. He rode out with officers James Taylor and James Settles.

It was raining hard. The posse came upon the gang just as they were cutting the pasture fence on John Washington’s ranch. The officers rode up as close as they could, then dismounted their horses, and crept up on the suspects.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Uncle Sam Flying With Orville Wright

The Evening Star (Washington, DC) July 31, 1909
Orville Wright made a speed of 47.431 miles per hour in his flight yesterday in returning from the Alexandria end of the course to Fort Myer, according to an official announcement made by the trial board at the War Department today.

His speed from Alexandria to the Fort Myer end of the course was 37.735 miles per hour, making his average 42.583.

The Wright Brothers will receive $30,000 for their aeroplane, $5,000 of which is bonus for excess in speed over contract requirements.

Everything is all satisfactory, said Gen. Allen, the chief signal officer, today. The aeroplane will be accepted formally in a day or two and the payments made to the Wright brothers.