Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Western Mystery: Who Shot Johnny Ringo? by Sarah J. McNeal

A Western Mystery: Who Shot Johnny Ringo?
                 Johnny Ringo

 In my all time favorite western, Tombstone, Johnny Ringo was portrayed as a well educated member of the criminal gang known as The Cowboys. He mentally sparred with Doc Holiday and was apparently the fastest gun in the gang. I remember the part where Wyatt asked Doc why Johnny Ringo did the terrible things that he did and Doc replied that Johnny was angry for being born which implies that Johnny had some dark childhood. In the end, Doc beat Wyatt to the wooded area where Johnny waited to shoot it out and shot Johnny Ringo in the head with one fatal shot while Johnny had his gun in his hand, but didn’t get off a shot before he died.

But what’s the truth? What really happened at that shoot-out? And who was Johnny Ringo anyway? Well I dug around doing some research and found some very interesting facts about Johnny Ringo and the mystery of what happened that day when Johnny Ringo died.

Johnny Ringo was born John Peters, May 3, 1850 in Greensfork, Indiana. His family moved to Independence, Missouri in 1856 where Johnny met Frank and Jesse James who lived in Kearney, a town nearby.  His aunt, Augusta Peters married Coleman Younger, uncle of the famous Younger outlaw making him their cousin. I can see the early connection he had to outlaws by the time he was six, but the coincidences didn’t end there.

In 1858 the family moved to Gallatin, Missouri where they rented a house from John W. Sheets who would become the victim of the James-Younger gang when they robbed The Daviess County Savings and Loan Association in 1869.
 
               The Younger Brothers with their sister, Henrietta.

The Ringo family was traveling through Wyoming when Johnny’s father, Martin Ringo, stepped off the wagon with his shotgun and accidently shot himself in the head. Johnny, then age fourteen, and his family buried Martin on a hillside along the trail.

Ringo moved from San Jose, California to Mason County, Texas in the mid 1870’s and became acquainted with Scott Cooley, an ex-Texas Ranger who was the adopted son of a local rancher, Tim Williamson. 

But life didn’t remain quiet for Johnny Ringo. Two American rustlers were taken from the jail and hanged by a predominantly German crowd. On May 13, 1875, an all-out war started when Tim Williamson was arrested by a posse and murdered by a German farmer named Peter Bader. Cooley and his friends, including Ringo, began a terror campaign officially called the Mason County War, but by locals, referred to as the Hoodoo War. Cooley killed a German ex-deputy sheriff named John Whorley. Cooley didn’t just shoot Whorley; he scalped him and dumped his body in a well on August 10, 1875.

Cooley killed several more during the “war” adding to his reputation as a dangerous man and, amazingly, gained respect as a Texas Ranger. When Moses Baird, one of Cooley’s supporters was killed, Ringo and his friend, Bill Williams, went to James Cheyney’s house (the man who led the ambush of Baird). He was unarmed when he came out on the porch and invited them in. Ringo shot and killed him. Next, the two of them rode to Dave Doole’s house and called him out, but when he showed up on the porch with a shotgun, the two fled back into town.

Later, Cooley and Ringo mistook Charley Bader for his brother Peter and killed him. They were jailed in Burnet, Texas for the crime by Sheriff Strickland. They weren’t there long before their friends broke them out of jail.

After the Mason County War ended and many lives were lost, Ringo and his friend, George Gladden, were locked up again. One of his cell mates was the notorious, John Wesley Hardin. Gladden was sentenced to 99 years and Ringo was acquitted. Two years later, Johnny Ringo served as constable in Loyal County, Texas. There seems to be a blurry line between lawmen and outlaws in the old west. Not long after that, Johnny Ringo migrated to Arizona. He showed up in Cochise County, Arizona Territory with his friend John Graves from the “war”. He got drunk in a saloon in Safford, Arizona and shot an unarmed man named Louis Hancock for refusing a complimentary drink of whiskey because he preferred beer. Hancock survived the wound. I should add here that Ringo did not take part in the gunfight at the OK Corral as some may believe.

Ringo and Doc Holiday got into a confrontation on January 17, 1882 that was about to lead to a gunfight when they were both arrested by Tombstone’s new chief of police, James Flynn. The former chief had been Virgil Earp who had suffered a bad wound in an ambush just a few weeks prior. Ringo and Doc were and fined for carrying guns in town and Ringo was rearrested and jailed over the weekend for outstanding charges of robbery.
Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp (they look a lot like Val Kilmer and Kirt Russel playing their parts in Tombstone.)

Ringo had a reputation for his bad temper by the folks in Tombstone and he may have had a connection with the outlaw gang known as the Cowboys for some robberies and killings. A couple months later, the Earps suspected Ringo of murdering their brother, Morgan, on March 18, 1882. Later in court, Pete Spence’s wife testified that her husband, Frank Stilwell, “Indian Charlie” Cruz and a half-breed named Fries had killed Morgan. The Earps tracked down the men and killed Cruz.

After Wyatt and his posse found and killed Frank Stilwell, the Cochise County sheriff, Johnny Behan deputized Ringo and 19 other men, mostly members of the Cowboys gang and friends of Frank Stilwell to tract down the federal posse, but they never found Wyatt and his men.

Wyatt Earp killed Ringo’s friend, Curly Bill, in a gunfight in Iron Springs, about 20 miles from Tombstone 2 days after he killed Cruz. Wyatt later told his biographer that Cruz confessed to being an outlook for Morgan’s murder and that Cruz said Johnny Ringo, Frank Stilwell, Hank Swilling, and Curly Bill were Morgan's killers.


                                William Brocius "Curly Bill"


On July 14, 1882 Ringo was found dead leaning against a tree with a bullet hole in his head that exited out the back. His gun hung from one finger. Now the mystery/controversy begins. Some said that Ringo’s gun had one shot out of the chamber and his feet were wrapped in pieces of his undershirt. They found his horse two weeks later with Ringo’s boots tied to the saddle. The coroner declared the official cause of death was suicide. Some reports revealed that no bullet had been fired from Ringo’s gun leading to the suspicion of murder either by Wyatt Earp or Doc Holiday. Of course, there was that memorable scene in the movie Tombstone where Doc Holiday challenged Johnny Ringo to a fight and shot him before Johnny could fire his drawn gun.

Ringo was buried at the site of his death In West Turkey Creek Canyon which lies on private property now. Visitors must request to view the burial site from the owners before they can be admitted to the area.


The controversy over Ringo’s death continues to this day.

It must be said that Louis L’Amour didn’t think much of Johnny Ringo as a tough outlaw. He perceived him to be a loudmouth, mean drunk who wasn’t even fast with a gun and that his only claim to fame was killing the unarmed Louis Hancock over a drink of whiskey. Some authors believe Ringo’s claim to fame only came because of his opposition to the popular good Earp brothers.

One thing’s for sure; there is nothing boring about the old west. No wonder we just can’t get enough western stories. So, what do you think? Did Ringo commit suicide? Did Wyatt kill him? Did Doc Holliday kill him? Do you think he was murdered or did he lose in a gunfight with either Wyatt or Doc?

A NOTE:
This is a repost of my article on Sweethearts of the West from June 2013. 
I have a NEW RELEASE!


Beautiful June Wingate’s perfect marriage is in shambles—and she hasn’t even left the wedding reception! When she overhears two gossips discussing the real reason Kit Wilding married her, June believes there must be some truth to it—after all, things have happened just the way they said.  Is her marriage only make believe? Trust is hard for June to accept, and now, her faith in her husband has been broken—along with her fragile heart.

Kit Wilding has loved June since the moment he laid eyes on her—a vision in pink that he couldn’t get out of his mind. Now that he’s married her, he can’t understand the changes that have suddenly turned her secretive and distant. How can he make things right between them when he doesn’t know what he’s up against?

But the tables are turned when June’s father, a pillar of the community, is accused of a crime that brings shame on the Wingate family—along with prison time. Kit Wilding’s not the kind of man to give up easily, but with his budding political career at stake, will he be able to hold his marriage together? Or will he be forced to admit IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE

EXCERPT




     A loud slap echoed through the house. June’s hand stung as she placed it back in the pocket of her dressing gown, part of her vast trousseau paid for by her parents.

     Kit stepped back and rubbed his reddened cheek with his left hand while Snort, Kit’s dog, barked. June couldn’t help but notice the flash of his golden wedding band in the light of the dressing room. Her heart clenched at the sight of it. They’d been married only a few hours, and now this…

     “Hush that barking, Snort.” The dog quieted, but kept a sharp eye on June, just in case. Kit glanced from the dog to June. “What the hell was that for, June? Did I do something wrong by trying to kiss my wife?”

     “You bet you did. I thought you loved me, and now…” 

Amazon: Paperback  Kindle





Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author who writes diverse stories filled with heart. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press and Sundown Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:



Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Day a Generation Died—The New London School Explosion by Mike Cox



We go through life and are often unaware of historical events or tragedies in our own back yards. While researching the oil fields of Texas in the twenties and thirties for my time travel, A Way Back, I ran across the mention of the New London School Explosion.

Later at a book signing somewhere in Texas, I purchased a book titled TEXAS DISASTERS TRUE STORIES OF TRAGEDY AND SURVIVAL by Mike Cox. His chapter on the New London School Explosion detailed the horror in detail. Most of the information here is paraphrased from his words or quoted. Thank you Mike. I love your book.

The tragedy occurred on Thursday, March 18, 1937, in New London, a community about 120 miles east of Dallas in the booming East Texas oil fields. Their new school was three years old.
Google Images
The final bell rang each day at 3:30. The elementary students had been dismissed earlier. A PTA meeting began at 3:00 in the cafeteria. At 3:15, a muffled explosion heard 12 miles away, lifted the front portion of the 30,000 square foot school into the air. "In the words of one witness, the building began collapsing from north too south like 'a row of dominoes falling.'"
Google Images
The band director, unharmed, loaded as many injured children as he could into his car and sped to Overton. He stopped at the Western Union Office. "The London school is blown to bits...hundreds killed and injured! Get help." Via Morse code and telephone, the nation's news services issued a "flash" on their wires, a term for only the most monumental events. Texas Governor Allred ordered all available highway patrolmen and Texas Rangers to New London. President Franklin Roosevelt asked the Red Cross and all federal agencies to stand by to offer assistance.

Even Adolph Hitler was touched by the tragedy and sent a telegram with his condolences.

By 6 P.M more than 2,000 men, many of them rough necks from nearby oil fields and fathers themselves were on the site removing debris and rescuing trapped individuals and removing bodies.

Martial Law was declared by Governor Allred at 8:30. The National Guard with fixed bayonets enforced a perimeter around the the school. Boy Scouts with unloaded rifles worked with them.

Walter Cronkite, a young press reporter from Dallas recalled, "It was dark and raining by the time I arrived. I'll ever forget the scene as I drove into the little town. I can still see those flood lights they had set up and the big oil field cranes that had been brought in to help with the removal of the rubble."
Google Images
"Hysterical mothers fought over young bodies crushed beyond recognition, each claiming a dead child as her own."

In the last classroom, only body parts were found of the twenty-seven students. In total the bodies of 280 children and 14 adults had been found. "As the blood-covered volunteers filed away from what had been the school building, National Guardsmen stepped back and snapped crisp salutes."

A thorough investigation was conducted. It was discovered gas had been leaking from pipes under the building. At that time, gas had no odor so the leak went undetected in the 64,000 cubic-foot poorly ventilated crawl space. An electric spark from a sander in the basement industrial art triggered a flash fire that spread through the crawl space at 1,000 feet per second. "In a instant the pressure built up to at least ninety pounds per square inch, far more than any structure could endure."

After the tragedy, several laws were instigated, the most important was the requirement that natural gas intended for domestic or industrial use be odorized. Sillers and Clarke developed a device called a metering gas odorizer. It injected a precise amount of a pungent chemical into natural gas flowing though it into transmission lines. They filed for a patent on June 18 1939. (Peerless Manufacturing)

Here is a little about my time travel set in the oil fields of Kilgore. I can see the rough necks from the area on the scene doing their part to relieve the agony of parents, families, and people of the community of New London.


http://amzn.to/2aRTBkg 
Amber Mathis, a Wall Street investment banker, returns to her office after burying her grandmother. Distraught, tired of the rat race, she's determined to make a career change. In the elevator she falls and rises to find herself in a vintage lift.  The date is February 25, 1930, and a man stands on the window ledge in her office ready to jump.

Wellman Hathaway, owner and CEO of Hathaway Bank in New York struggles to pay his depositors half their losses. A woman claiming to be from the future appears in his office and involves him in a scheme that forces them into marriage. With Amber's knowledge of the financial history of the 1930s, they travel to the oil fields of Texas to recoup Wellman's funds.


Two people from different centuries are thrown together to survive a difficult time. Will they find more than A Way Back to prosperity?

Thank you for stopping by today and reading. I know this is a sad topic, but that so needs to be remembered.

Linda LaRoque
www.lindalaroque.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

collages as inspiration

by Rain Trueax

Every now and again, writers are asked from where came their ideas. The answer is usually a mix of places-- where we've been, something we read, the Muse/muse, our own lives-- maybe even past lives. Sometimes though, they come from something we don't really connect at the time and only later in looking back realize-- you've got to be kidding.

Making soul collages held that moment for me. In 2001, I read about doing these collages. The idea is you take old magazines, cut up images, and with the ones that resonate with what you want in your life, you put them together and then paste them to a board. 

So, I sat on the floor with stacks of my art and western magazines, which I had decided had been saved long enough, cut out photos, paintings, advertisements, put them out on a board, arranging and rearranging and then gluing them in place. The collage below is that first attempt, which I had framed behind glass and put on my wall behind my desk in Oregon.


That year ended and I considered-- uh what's this about? Nothing seems to have changed-- not that I was sure in what way they could have. In Tucson, I created another one for 2002. I found images that I hadn't considered so important in the first one. I also had that one framed and hung it behind my Tucson desk.


Another year passed. In 2003, I created another, adding words to go with the images. It was as satisfying as the first two. They were all full of ideas I loved. It was fun figuring out how to put them together. By this time, I wasn't sure they were getting me where I wanted to go. Their creation was not exactly fitting with the clay sculptures I was also doing (wet and muddy hands don't handle images well). I did no more but did study them on the walls now and again-- often wondering why I'd chosen this or that image.


During those collage creating years, besides the sculpture and painting, I was continuing to write, as I always had, historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances. I was not trying, however, to get the books published. It was not until 2011 that I read about indie publishing and decided to take the risk (and putting out creative work always is a risk). With books I'd written as far back as the 70s, I spent 2011 editing and editing again. In December, I sent off the first.

It wasn't until 2017 that I looked at my collages with a new understanding. Those images represented my books-- even the ones I had yet to have written when they were created. They were visualizations of the books I had been creating and hoped to create.

As has happened a lot in my life, what I had actually been doing was feeding the energy I needed for the work. I just hadn't seen how it was coming together. For someone who likes to always be in control, that might have seemed a problem. For me, I loved the insight, as serendipity has long played an important role in how I see my life.

I recommend doing soul collages to encourage creativity-- especially if you want something in your life you don't have. What I had wanted, but had not known, was more writing and actually getting those books out where they could be seen. The energy of those collages is all so western and so much what I have wanted for my romances whether contemporary or historical. The collages tell the stories before they were told.

To do soul collages, buy a foam board of the size you want, corral your old magazines and begin going through them for images that speak to your heart. The result might not end up as you expected but it can be a creativity boost both in the doing and the outcome.

a few of my links:


.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In what years…? By E. AYERS



The hardest thing for me to keep track of is exact dates. It least I can remember July 4, 1776, beyond that I'd better have a list someplace. So I thought I'd share one of my lists with all of you. Besides if I'm not writing, I'm probably reading. And I'll be honest; I can get so confused so quickly if I can't remember certain dates. I was one of those kids who couldn't remember most of this stuff anyway. Give me something about the way they lived and I could snap that into my brain's storage files faster than Jack Sprat could jump that candle stick. Give me a date and I couldn't remember it long enough to write it down! I haven't improved one iota over the years. In fact, I've managed to get the birth dates of the grandchildren mixed up. (Oh was I in trouble when I did that!)
Keeping lists is important to me otherwise I can screw up even a poem that is supposed to help us remember. In 1642 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. That's totally wrong. I have to look it up each time! It's 1492. I remembered the one, four, and two! Do I get credit for anything? (And why are we celebrating Columbus? Never mind, that's a whole different time in history and a whole different story.) So I keep timelines on my computer and Wikipedia has a very comprehensive one. I figured I'd share with you the one that I use frequently now that I'm writing about American history. The dates are when the states were admitted or ratified. That's why the gap between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the formation of the first 13 states. I like this list because it tells which piece of land became which state.

State
Order
Date
From
 Delaware
1
December 7, 1787
Crown Colony of Delaware
 Pennsylvania
2
December 12, 1787
Crown Colony of Pennsylvania
 New Jersey
3
December 18, 1787
Crown Colony of New Jersey
 Georgia
4
January 2, 1788
Crown Colony of Georgia
 Connecticut
5
January 9, 1788
Crown Colony of Connecticut
 Massachusetts
6
February 6, 1788
Crown Colony of Massachusetts Bay
 Maryland
7
April 28, 1788
Crown Colony of Maryland
 South Carolina
8
May 23, 1788
Crown Colony of South Carolina
 New Hampshire
9
June 21, 1788
Crown Colony of New Hampshire
 Virginia
10
June 25, 1788
Crown Colony of Virginia
 New York
11
July 26, 1788
Crown Colony of New York
 North Carolina
12
November 21, 1789
Crown Colony of North Carolina
 Rhode Island
13
May 29, 1790
Crown Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
 Vermont
14
March 4, 1791
Vermont Republic (AKA New Hampshire Grants)
 Kentucky
15
June 1, 1792
Virginia (District of Kentucky: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties)
 Tennessee
16
June 1, 1796
Southwest Territory
 Ohio
17
March 1, 1803
Northwest Territory
 Louisiana
18
April 30, 1812
Territory of Orleans
 Indiana
19
December 11, 1816
Indiana Territory
 Mississippi
20
December 10, 1817
Mississippi Territory
 Illinois
21
December 3, 1818
Illinois Territory
 Alabama
22
December 14, 1819
Alabama Territory
 Maine
23
March 15, 1820
Massachusetts (District of Maine)
 Missouri
24
August 10, 1821
Missouri Territory
 Arkansas
25
June 15, 1836
Arkansas Territory
 Michigan
26
January 26, 1837
Michigan Territory
 Florida
27
March 3, 1845
Florida Territory
 Texas
28
December 29, 1845
Republic of Texas
 Iowa
29
December 28, 1846
Iowa Territory (part)
 Wisconsin
30
May 29, 1848
Wisconsin Territory (part)
 California
31
September 9, 1850
unorganized territory (part)
 Minnesota
32
May 11, 1858
Minnesota Territory (part)
 Oregon
33
February 14, 1859
Oregon Territory (part)
 Kansas
34
January 29, 1861
Kansas Territory (part)
 West Virginia
35
June 20, 1863
Virginia (Trans-Allegheny region counties
 Nevada
36
October 31, 1864
Nevada Territory
 Nebraska
37
March 1, 1867
Nebraska Territory
 Colorado
38
August 1, 1876
Colorado Territory
 North Dakota
39
November 2, 1889
Dakota Territory
 South Dakota
40
November 2, 1889
Dakota Territory
 Montana
41
November 8, 1889
Montana Territory
 Washington
42
November 11, 1889
Washington Territory
 Idaho
43
July 3, 1890
Idaho Territory
 Wyoming
44
July 10, 1890
Wyoming Territory
 Utah
45
January 4, 1896
Utah Territory
 Oklahoma
46
November 16, 1907
Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory
 New Mexico
47
January 6, 1912
New Mexico Territory
 Arizona
48
February 14, 1912
Arizona Territory
 Alaska
49
January 3, 1959
Territory of Alaska
 Hawaii
50
August 21, 1959
Territory of Hawaii

Here are a few other important dates:

Civil War
1861-1865
Begins at Fort Sumter, the seaport of Charleston, SC, Ap 12, 1861
Ends when Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA. May 13, 1865

Transcontinental RR
1863-1869
Started in 1863 and completed May 10 1869

WWI
1914-1918
July 28,1914 - Nov 11, 1918

Great Depression
1929-1939
Stock Market crash
Oct 29,1929

Dust Bowl
1930 -1936

WWII
Sept 1, 1939-Sept 2,1945
Pearl Harbor
Dec 7,1941

Vietnam War
Nov1, 1955 - Ap 30, 1975

Hope these lists help you as you read and write about American history. They are far from complete because so many important things have happened. There no dates for the Wright brother's first flight or the first automobiles. I could have written fifty pages worth of important and interesting dates such as the death of Wild Bill Hickok, Lincoln's assassination, our presidents, the first telephones, or a gazillion other things. Instead I tried to just give a few of the bigger things along the way.