Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Dance, Civil Rights, & Kleptomania @JacquieRogers #oldwest #newspaper

Spring Dance, Civil Rights, & Kleptomania 

It's no fun when you're snowed in.  Or is it?  The folks in the Owyhees, whether in Idaho Territory, Oregon, or Nevada knew how to have a good time.  Residents of other communities enjoyed hearing about their fun, especially if romance was in the air.  (Remember, everyone knew everyone for a hundred miles around.)  Here's an article from The Owyhee Avalanche issued March 6, 1875:

Editors and reporters had no issue with inserting their own opinions in articles, and sometimes it's the best way for us to truly understand the mindset of the community.  In the next article, mother and daughter are arrested for kleptomania. I can only imagine that Mr. Brown was pretty fed up with his wife and mother-in-law, but he would've had few resources to help with their illness.

Babies were precious in the Old West so the births were always reported in the newspaper.  The Owyhee Avalanche had been in business for ten years, yet here's the first instance of the birth of twins.  Isn't it fun how births were announced in those days?  

National issues affected those out west, and most folks kept themselves well informed.  I find it interesting that all the while the eastern half of the United States wrestled with civil rights issues, those in Idaho Territory didn't have any notion that those rights should be bestowed on the large Chinese population.  And few Euro-descendants anywhere considered rights when it came to Indians.

That's it for this month.  May your saddle never slip!

coming soon:
Much Ado About Mustangs

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thomas Eakins, realist painter of the late 19th century America by Kaye Spencer

When I think of artists whose paintings and sculptures captured the essence of the American West, the names that come to mind are:

Charles Russell (1864-1926) His dramatic representations usually show men on horseback.
"Bronc to Breakfast" - Charles Russell
  George Catlin (1796-1872) His work was predominantly concerned with the Native Americans.
"Tipis" - George Catlin

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) His paintings focused on western landscapes.

"Green River Wyoming" - Thomas Moran
 Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) His paintings leaned toward sweeping, romantic landscapes.
"Prong-horned Antelope" - Albert Bierstadt

Frederick Remington (1861-1909) His artistic talents leaned toward paintings and sculptures involving cavalry officers, Native Americans, and horses. He provided illustrations of the American West for magazines.
"Fight for the Waterhole" - Frederick Remington
   To this esteemed list, I would add the Philadelphia native, Thomas Eakins (1844-1909).

Thomas Eakins self-portrait

His works, while not strictly focused on the west, are a more well-rounded study of the human condition of the time, albeit, the ‘eastern’ time

Thomas Eakins

Life in the American east and in Europe influenced the happenings in the west. The fashions, medicine and medical milestones, transportation, sports, leisure, and the day-to-day living “back east” had eventual impacts on life out west, and Thomas Eakins’ paintings show us those connections. For me, the ‘life’ he painted and preserved on canvas and his photography tell a broader story of what real life was like back then.

Thomas Eakins
Thomas Eakins
Eakins was a realist painter, photographer, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator. Other than trips abroad, he lived his life in his home town of Philadelphia, and the subjects of his art were the people around him. Eakins was a ‘colorful’ character for all of his 71 years, and he possessed a life-long passion for the human body as the ultimate art form. This information from Wikipedia sums up his work and his philosophy as a teacher:

He painted several hundred portraits, usually of friends, family members, or prominent people in the arts, sciences, medicine, and clergy. Taken en masse, the portraits offer an overview of the intellectual life of Philadelphia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; individually, they are incisive depictions of thinking persons.

He believed that women should "assume professional privileges" as would men. Life classes and dissection were segregated but women had access to male models (who were nude but for loincloths).

Controversy shaped much of his career as a teacher and as an artist. He insisted on teaching men and women "the same", used nude male models in female classes and vice versa…

"Home Ranch" - Thomas Eakins -  I often used this painting as a creative writing prompt when I taught writing classes.

"Four-in-Hand - May Morning in the Park" - Thomas Eakins
"Cowboys in the Badlands" - Thomas Eakins
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art a few years ago and view the Thomas Eakins exhibit. (yes, THAT museum with the “Rocky” stairs) So for fun, here’s a picture of me and Rocky.

Kaye Spencer with the Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2009)

For more information about Thomas Eakins, I would direct you to the website devoted to his life and works — http://www.thomaseakins.org/ — and to this book, The Revenge of Thomas Eakins by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick.

Until next time,


Twitter - @kayespencer

Note: The images included in this post are in the Public Domain and can be found through the Google Art Project, which is an “online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative's partner museums.” Some images are Kaye’s that she took while visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art in June 2009.

Friday, March 27, 2015


FIRST, an apology.

I have a reminder on my calendar to prepare a blog post every month for Western Fictioneers. And this month, I procrastinated. Yes. Page proofs for my historical mystery thunked on my desk, along with a ton of other pending matters. No excuses. I should have prepped this post, with an appropriate western theme, long ago. But such is the life of the writer. I'll do the next best thing - chat about all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a writing life. You have to be desperate to want that.

SECOND, I was desperate to succeed.

Oh yes. Back in the early 1990s, with my 3-year-old daughter at my feet happily playing, I tapped the keys of a manual typewriter with hopes that one day... You can guess the rest. Like a cat pawing under the door, trying to find that elusive toy... Five stacks of manuscripts later (most with dead bodies, which puzzled the romance editors) and many years followed. I worked part-time as a substitute teacher and tutor, enhanced my brilliant daughter's education (schools were good, but she needed more than what they offered), assisted my husband caring for his elderly mother, published in the children's market (very little money in magazines, trust me), and even set aside my writing throughout my daughter's high school years to help (and lead) the Band Boosters. Once she hit college running, I needed time to recharge my batteries. Oh, and do housework. Housework is always last on my list. As it should be. It will wait for you.

THIRD, I finally took my dream seriously.

No longer would my writing be a hobby. I wanted a real career. I wanted that publishing contract and even an agent. But first, I had to figure out why -- while friends had published (romances) -- why, oh, why the editors praised my writing but pulled the carrot away. So I decided to get an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. My husband supported my decision. Doing the week-long term residencies and the hard, hard, hard work of writing at home between, I identified my strengths and weaknesses. I even found my voice (lo and behold, it wasn't romance!), shored up the weakness in my writing and infused more of my strengths into my work. I graduated, celebrated, and snagged an on-line writing job to help pay bills -- but that's not why I earned the MA. I set aside my "thesis manuscript" (flawed, despite two years of hard work), and revised the manuscript I'd written before I started the MA (just to prove to I could finish one again, after a four-year hiatus, although it was more romance than western).

That book became DOUBLE CROSSING. Nobody wanted it. Not even after winning awards and finalist berths in unpublished writing contests. That's when I realized I had to PUSH HARDER. What would it take to get a foot in the door? I accompanied my daughter to Vienna (in spring!) to recharge my batteries, think, and pray. We had a lovely time. Writing was furthest from my mind. Sometimes you just need to get away, relax, sightsee and eat Sachertorte.

When I returned, I accepted an offer from a small press -- no advance, but it was grand seeing my name in print at last. And I am SO GRATEFUL to the Western Writers of America for choosing Double Crossing as the Best First Novel of 2012. I'd submitted it to many contests, but that win helped me realize this was for real. My dream HAD come true. But the hard work wasn't over. Staying at a small press wasn't the end of the line for me, despite a supportive writing community of friends. My college friend and long time critique partner Sharon Pisacreta helped me write the sequel to Double Crossing, DOUBLE OR NOTHING, which won the Laramie for Best Mystery - Western. It helps, when you're stuck in the middle of a book, to kill off a character -- her words, exactly.

But while driving to her house for that helpful session, I had the brilliant idea (all thanks to God, of course, for pinging my brain) of pairing up Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins as amateur sleuths. Since Shaw's Pygmalion is in the public domain, that gave us license to "take over" the characters while keeping his original intent in mind, plus his witty humor. Together we wrote the first draft and came up with a pseudonym, D.E. Ireland. We also snagged an enthusiastic agent three hours after sending a query. And John Talbot landed a publishing contract within three weeks from Minotaur Books. We were thrilled.

No, our book is not a western. But it is historical, and it is a series. I haven't left the western genre, since I have ideas for future dabbling. But for now, my mind is far, far to the east, in jolly 1913 England. And our first book, WOULDN'T IT BE DEADLY, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical of 2014! Wow. We are in grand company! Long established mystery authors Charles Todd, Rhys Bowen and Victoria Thompson are in that same category, with the decision to come at Malice Domestic the first weekend in May. We are SO HONORED.

And we are working on page proofs now for the second book, MOVE YOUR BLOOMING CORPSE, which is coming September 22nd, including Royal Ascot and the suffrage movement. We had so much fun writing it, and are enjoying these characters immensely. So while I may not be around much in the western field, I am still posting here... and plotting for the future.

Happy to place my nose back onto the grindstone... 

Award-winning mystery author Meg Mims -- also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for St. Martin's Minotaur mystery series featuring Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins -- lives in Southeastern Michigan with her husband and a sweet Malti-poo. She loves writing novels, novellas and short stories, both contemporary and historical. She earned a Spur Award, a Laramie Award and an M.A. from Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program. Follow on FacebookTwitter & Pinterest!

Thursday, March 26, 2015



The blog about 19th Century Medicine and Surgery

By Keith Souter aka Clay More


Head injuries are common in tales about the Old West. That is not surprising, considering all those gunfights, fist-fights and falls from horses. The town doctor on the frontier would probably have to be adept at treating them. That could include trephining the skull - effectively, opening the head.

Treatment of a skull injury from Fieldbook of Medicine 1517

Nowadays we have CT and MRI scans which can give us sophisticated images of the body. A CT scan stands for Computerised Tomography, which involves taking x-rays of the brain from various angles, which are analysed by a computer to build a 3-d image of the brain. This will show any fracture or haemorrhage. A MRI scan stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It uses magnetism, ultrasound and computerised technology to build up images of the inside of the body.  These can show the tissues and any abnormalities in surprising detail.

Back in the Old West there were no such luxuries. X-rays were only discovered by William Roentgen in 1895. The first use of them diagnostically only started the year after when Dr John Hall-Edwards in Birmingham, England started to use the technique. The town doctor had to use his clinical skills.

The unconscious patient
The doctor would assess the patient, by examining the scalp for a wound or local bruising. He would examine the ears and nostrils for bleeding, both of which could indicate a significant head injury, with fracture of skull bones.

Coma is the state of absolute unconsciousness when the patient does not respond to any stimulus. Squeezing the ear lobe or using the knuckles of the hand to rub over the sternum (breast bone) are extremely painful and usually will evoke a response in someone who is in a semi-coma. This means that they only respond to painful stimuli. A full coma patient will not even respond to pain.

The pulse would be taken frequently, say every 15 minutes in an unconscious patient. A slowing of the pulse is called bradycardia and may indicate internal hemorrhage somewhere, possibly inside the skull.

The semi-conscious patient
The patient may well be confused, so the level of confuse would be assessed. A rule of thumb gives mild, moderate or severe states of confusion.

Mild - some coherent conversation  is possible
Moderate - out of touch generally, but will answer with name or occupation
Severe - no sensible answers given, but will respond to simple commands such as hold my hand.

Deepening confusion may indicate hemorrhage. Sudden vomiting may also be highly significant.

Examination of the cranial nerves
There are twelve paired nerves which come directly out of the brain to supply the head and neck and some of the internal organs. These are separate from most other nerves, which come out from the spinal cord.

1st nerve - olfactory nerve - sense of smell
2nd nerve - optic nerve - vision
3rd, fourth and sixth nerves - occuolomotor, trochlear and abducent nerves move the eye and operate the pupils - get the patient to follow the finger and also shine a light in the eyes - the pupils should constrict
5th nerve - trigeminal nerve - sensory to the face and operates the masseter muscles, the large muscle that moves the jaw - tested by asking to clench the jaw
7th, facial nerve - movements of the face - ester by asking to see the teeth
8th, acoustic nerve - for hearing. Can he hear?
9th glossopharyngeal nerve - to the pharynx - cannot be tested
10th vagus nerve - multiple internal functions, but also moves the palate - tested by asking the patient to say 'Ah.' The palate should move when he does
11th nerve - accessory nerve - tested by asking to shrug the shoulders
12th nerve - hypoglossal nerve - moves the tongue.

Significantly the movements should be equal on both sides. One sided results could indicate a problem with one side of the brain.

Hutchinson's pupils
These are a set of guidelines devised by Sir Jonathan Hutchinson (1823-1913), a professor of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of London. He wrote a ten volume  Archives of Surgery between 1885 and 1899.

Hutchinson's pupil, described by him indicates that an intracranial mass (a tumour or blood clot) will result in a fixed (meaning it will not change size even when light is shone on the eye) and  dilated pupil on the same side. This is very significant, since it would indicate where to make the trephination.

General physical examination
Here the focus is on assessing the power of each limb and comparing one see of the body with the other. Disparity between the sides could indicate developing or developed paralysis.

Also testing the reflexes with a 'patella or tendon hammer.' The following reflexes are tested:

Biceps tendon by tapping the tendon in the hollow of the elbow.
Triceps tendon by tapping the tendon on the back of the elbow when the elbow is flexed.
Patella tendon by tapping underneath the stella (kneecap) with the leg flexed.
Achilles tendon  by tapping the tendon at the back of the ankle.

Lack of reflexes on one side would be significant.

The words trephination and trepanation are used interchangeably, since both come from the Greek trypanon, meaning 'to bore.' Archaeological evidence shows that trephination, the boring of a hole in the skull was used in early tribal societies. It was presumably thought that this would let out evil spirits. Examination of many skulls which have been trepanned in this way shows that healing of bone around the site of the boring took place, indicating that in many cases the operation was a success. Incredibly, they used three methods - cutting, scraping and drilling.

The oldest trepanned skull was found at a neolithic burial site at Ensisheim in France. It has been dated to 7,000 years ago.

The reason that it could have helped is by releasing the pressure upon the brain, which would follow a hemorrhage. Unfortunately, in those people who were not suffering from a rise in pressure it may have done actual harm.

The ancient Egyptians had actually developed a quite sophisticated system of medicine and surgery with doctors who specialised in one area of the body. thus they had eye doctors, stomach doctors and head surgeons.

The Edwin Smith papyrus, written in about 1500 BC, is essentially an ancient Egyptian textbook of surgery. It describes surgical instruments and techniques and discusses 48 cases of injuries, including head injuries.

The Edwin Smith Papyrus c 1500 BC - an ancient Egyptian textbook of surgery

A beautiful description of ancient Egyptian surgery is given in the 1945 historical novel The Egyptian by the Finnish writer Mika Waltari, which became an international bestseller and later a Hollywood blockbuster in 1954. In the novel the main character Sinuhe, who became royal physician to Pharaoh Akhenaten (father of Tutankhamen), is apprenticed to Ptahor, the 'opener of head.' He shows him how to examine a patient and diagnose where there may have been a problem in the head from an assessment of the state of consciousness and the use of the limbs. He then shows him how to remove a piece of skull and replace it with a silver plate which is bound with bandages while they await recovery. 

Ancient Greek surgical instruments. Note the trephine in diagram 'a' with a central pin

The technique of trephination was also used by the Greeks and the Romans. The instruments required became increasingly sophisticated.

We're going to have to open his head
The experience of British surgeons with  gunshot winds to the head during the the Crimean War (1853-1856) was not promising. Trephination was associated with an extremely high mortality of over 95 per cent. George H B Macleod, the chief surgeon of the British Expeditionary Force advise against the operation.

During the American Civil War the operation was performed with better results. The survival rate improved to more than 20 per cent. Then after Lister's aseptic techniques were accepted, recovery rates continued to improve.

In 1882 Samuel W Gross wrote a textbook A System of Surgery, in which he quoted a 41 per cent recovery rate after gunshot trephination. 

The trephination operation
The instruments needed:

Trephine - a cutting instrument with a cylindrical blade - usually with a cutting circle of one inch

An antique trephine with horn handle

Chisel and mallet

Rongeur - a strong forceps for grasping bone

Also needed would be a scalpel and various forceps for holding tissues, a gouge for smoothing roughed or fractured bone edges and an elevator to lift the bone disc that was cut.

The operation
The patient's head would be shaved and washed. After Lister this would have been with carbolic soap and then it would be scrubbed and washed with a 1 in 20 solution of carbolic acid in alcohol. 

The head would be supported on a sandbag and sterilised towels applied around the site to open the skull. In the earlier frontier days, this would not have been thought necessary.

When a wound already exists and a fractured spicule was apparent, the cite would be exposed by enlarging the wound. When the scalp was not wounded, as in a clubbing head injury or from a fall, then a semilunar flap of skin would be cut and raised. It would be cut so that the free end would point downwards. It would be a shallow curve, carefully made to avoid the main scalp arteries.

Alternatively, a V-shaped incision could be made, again with the V pointing downwards. It should be so arranged as to allow free-draining of blood. 

The incision should be carried down to the bone and the tissues helped with forceps. Then the flap would be turned upwards. A suture would be placed through it so that the flap could be held out of the operative territory.

Any bleeding vessels would be secured with pressure forceps to close the vessels off. 

Any spicules of fractured bone could be chiseled off with the chisel and mallet. 

If there is no fracture, then the circular trephine is applied. The central pin could be bored into the bone, then the trephine is made to cut into the skull by light, sharp movements from left to right and from right to left.

At first bone dust is dry, but it soon becomes soft and bloody. Once through the bone, the pressure changes dramatically. 

The area must be kept free of bone dust by irrigation with saline. 

The trephine is then gently rocked back and forth to allow it to move, then the elevator is inserted. The  ronguer forceps can then be applied carefully to remove the disc. 

The blood  or the blood clot can then be removed. It may well express itself. The area needs to be irrigated and any bone spicules or bone dust removed. 

The bone disc is placed in a china cup and soaked with warm (sterilised) water, ready to be replaced.

Once replaced the skin flap is brought back into place with silkworm-gut sutures.

In later years a spiral rubber tube could be used to drain between the sutures. 

It wasn't always a head injury
Abscesses could also cause raised intracranial pressure and need trephination.  

Choosing the site of trephination was important, since you need to avoid the middle meningeal artery.  The diagram shows the areas that were commonly used. They would avoid the area between A and B, since the artery runs underneath the cranium. Points A and B would be used if a middle meningeal artery haemorrhage was suspected.

This sort of hemorrhage can cause an epidural haematoma. This is a blood clot forming between the dura mater (the thick outer layer of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain) and the cranium. Rupture of the middle meningeal artery is often the cause.  It comes on after a head injury when someone is knocked unconscious. They then recover, seem to regain lucidity and even go off and resume normal activities. Later on they very quickly go drowsy and lose into unconsciousness s the clot forms. It is a life-threatening event and the trephination could be life-saving.

Be bold!
I have used trephination in some of my western stories. I have had both my main protagonist have an operation, as in Redemption Trail published by Western Trail Blazers  and in one of my Dr Marcus Quigley stories. It is tough surgery performed in life and death situations, so the operator has to be bold. Which of course, all of us as western writers have to be.


Some of Clay More's latest releases:

Redemption Trail published by Western Trail Blazer
- a novelette- novella

Sam Gibson used to be a lawman, until the day he made a terrible mistake that could never be taken back. Since then, he has alternated between wishing there were a way he could redeem himself and believing he deserved punishment. 

He’s about to get both… 


And his collection of short stories about Doc Marcus Quigley is published by High Noon Press

Available at Amazon.com:

And his latest western  novel Dry Gulch Revenge was published by Hale on 29th August.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Immortality of the Western

By Matthew Pizzolato

Every few years or so, rumors start up again about the supposed "death" of the Western.  It seems to go on a cycle and if the rumors are to be believed, then the Western has died a thousand deaths.

Yet, the genre is still around and going strong today. Granted, it is not nearly as popular as it was during the Fifties and Sixties, but it is a long way from being dead.

Iconic Western actor John Wayne believed in the durability of the genre.

"Don’t ever for a minute make the mistake of looking down your nose at Westerns. They're art–the good ones, I mean.  They deal in life and sudden death and primitive struggle, and with the basic emotions–love, hate, and anger–thrown in.  We'll have Western films as long as the cameras keep turning. The fascination that the Old West has will never die."

The Western will never die for a simple reason.  It is the one contribution to literature that is entirely and uniquely American.  Just as the great works of the Greeks and Romans are remembered today, so will the Western be remembered a thousand years from now.

For some reason, folks seem to want the Western to die or they at least want society to believe that it has, perhaps because it is not politically correct and may offend some people's delicate sensibilities.  However, there are much more offensive things in other genres than there will ever be in the Western.

There is nothing wrong with any aspect of the genre.  Some folks prefer the classic Western with the hero wearing the white hat versus the villain who wears the black hat.  Personally, I prefer my Westerns of the gray antiheroic type.  I enjoy all of John Wayne's movies and watch them time and again, but my biggest influences are Clint Eastwood's movies, from The Outlaw Josey Wales to Unforgiven, as well as the stories of the legendary writer, Louis L'Amour.

The genre is not as popular as it once was, but that is not because there is anything wrong with the genre.  The reason popularity has waned is because society has drifted away from the principles and ideals portrayed in Western films and books.

There are a lot of great Western stories being written, all over the world.  In addition, the Western lends itself well to blending with other genres.  There are a lot of great Western mystery stories and Romance Westerns, even Horror Westerns.  Generally, there is some kind of Western story for everyone.

Any story can be told as a Western and can be told better as one in my opinion because of the great tapestry that the backdrop of the Old West provides.

There's no reason to change anything about the genre.  If we do that, then we aren't writing Westerns anymore.  The genre has gotten along just fine like it is and will continue to do so.  Regardless of what some tenderfoots may think, the Western is just too tough to die.

Matthew Pizzolato's short stories have been published online and in print. He is a member of Western Fictioneers and his work can be found in the Wolf Creek series as well as his own publications, THE WANTED MAN, OUTLAW and TWO OF A KIND. 

He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Western Online, a magazine dedicated to everything Western. He can be contacted through Twitter @mattpizzolato or via his website: 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Apache Wars I

Amazon Link
It all started with the Spanish

The Spanish government of Mexico never held that Indians had any rights, regardless of the fact that they were on the land first. To the Spanish, Indians were due no respect at all. And from that, says Vincent Colyer in his report to the Board of Indian Commissioners in 1871, is the policy that caused the unceasing war with the Apaches.

In 1801, the Spanish governor of Santa Fe declared that every Apache, man woman and child, was to be killed. The government set up a garrison at Janos, just across the border into Mexico. One of the officers, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Manuel Carrasco, took a troop of cavalry out on patrol and ran into a group of Mimbrenos, which were almost all killed. Carrasco let one man go, and received a copper arrowhead as a good luck talisman. The Apache said the copper came from Pinos Alto, from a place known today as Ben Moore Mountain. He felt he’d make a lot more dinero in copper mining than as an officer in the Mexican army. He resigned, along with 25 troopers, scrambled for backing, and went to find copper in the land grant he and his backer got from the Spanish government. The miners they hired called their camp Santa Rita del Cobre. And it was in the heart of Apache country.

Mine encroaching
 on the town of Santa Rita
Furthermore, they sank their shafts into what had been council rocks for the Apaches for untold generations. They were a canker on the soul of every Apache in the area.

The Mexicans raised a fort; a three-cornered stockade with turrent-like towers overlooking the jumble of shacks spread out across the plaza. What’s more, the Mimbreno chief, Juan Jose, gave permission for the settlement, paid for by cloth, weapons, horses, and most of all, ardent spirits. Now, Juan Jose had been schooled by the padres in Mexico. He could both read and right Spanish. He was able to intercept military missives and escape any movements against him and his people.

Then half the Mimbrenos broke away from Juan Jose and established a camp at Ojo Caliente. From then on, they became the Warm Springs Apaches. Juan Jose’s were the Copper Mines Indians.

Under Black Knife, the Warm Springs Apaches raided into Mexico, bringing back ponies and plunder and captives. The Warm Springs Apaches were lean and stringy, but the followers of Juan Jose became round and fat and indolent. They began to speak Spanish. The young women swayed their hips like senoritas. The boys swaggered like insolent Mexicans. The time had come for change.

Mangus Colorado

This is supposedly Mangus Colorado
This time for change was 1837, fifteen years after the copper mines opened. A new man began to hold the attention of Juan Jose’s Copper Mine Band. His name was Mangus Colorado.

Mangus Colorado was a giant. Some say six-foot-six or seven. Bow-legged and barrel-chested, with a head large enough to fill a cask, they say. Eyes sunk deep under prodigious brows, a great beak of a nose over a thin-lipped slash of a mouth. And he’d already killed two men, brothers of his two Apache wives who objected when he made a Mexican captive equal to them in his lodge.

Mangus Colorado was great friends with Black Knife, the raider. Both hated Santa Rita del Cobre and the canker of Mexicans in Apache lands that it represented. Black Knife was a thorn in the side of Chihuahua Mexicans, and in 1837, the year of Mangus Colorado, the junta in Chihuahua set out on its Proyecto de Guerra—Project of War. The government placed bounties on Apaches, promising to pay $100 for warrior scalps, $50 for squaw scalps, and $25 for children’s scalps. It matched a law on the books in Sonora. And these laws seeded the bitter hatred of Apaches for the entire white race. Heretofore, that hatred had focused on Mexicans, not the few white trappers and traders in the area. Apaches in general, except for some stealing, let white men alone.

But one white man—there is some dispute on whether he was American or British—upset the apple cart. He was a Pinda Lick-o-yi, a White Eye, who would bring suffering to generations.

Johnson was the brain behind the great slaughter at Santa Rita. He had full cooperation from both the Mexican government and the town of Santa Rita, which also offered bounties. He and his partner Gleason, along with some Missouri trappers, were ready to cash in on the bounties.

The plan was simple.

A great feat was planned and all the Apaches were invited. All the food and drink they could hold. First to accept was Juan Jose the glutton. Then all the Copper Mine Apaches. And then women and children from Warm Springs.

Mexican comic book rendition
The party was all the Apaches could hope for. Roast steers, soccoro mush, mescal by the jug, and the Indians gorged. Mexicans brought out sacks of soccoro meal and piled them in the middle of the plaza. Johnson and his men hid behind a screen of branches and sacking, with a howitzer filled with bullets and nails and chain links and stones trained on the pile of meal sacks.

The Massacre

The alcalde offered the sacks of meal to the Apaches as gifts. Women and children and some of the men, including Juan Jose, gathered at the pile of loaded sacks, and Johnson touched off the howitzer. Followed by a screaming mob of trappers and Mexican soldiers from the presidio. Muskets, sabers, Bowie knives, weapons of all kinds took Apache lives. Apaches ran. But only the fleetest escaped. Juan Jose was dead. All turned to Mangus Colorado for leadership.

He organized for a war of vengeance, and chose men whose names would soon strike terror into the hearts of white men. Delgadito. Ponce. El Chico. Pedro Azul. Yellow Tail. Black Knife. And Victorio.

From that time forward, all Mimbrenos were called Warm Springs Apaches, and the great Apache Wars had begun.

Try my novel, A Man Called Breed, for some Cheyenne and Apache characters.