Thursday, June 30, 2011


We interrupt the regularly scheduled posting to bring you the Semi-Annual List of Blogs I Like to Read:

l. Buddies in the Saddle - Ron Scheer's reviews, photos and life. (
2.Davy Crockett's Almanack - by (Dave) Evan Lewis, variety, stories, comics, but not much in the way of the West lately. (
3. Razored Zen - Charles Gramlich (
4. My Little Corner - Sandra Seamans updates on writer's markets and other things. (
5.The Education of a Pulp Writer - David Cranmer - Short stories, interviews, etc. (
6. The Tainted Archive - Gary Dobbs' blog of western, mystery, movies, etc. (
7. Betty Auchard's Blog for the Home for the Friendless - For the humor. (
8. Rough Edges - by James Reasoner - A ripping good blog for keeping up on things western and other subjects. (
9. Houston A. W. Knight - Romance writer - On hiatus right now. (
10. Laurie's Wild West - Laurie Powers' pulp extravaganza. (

I like all the other blogs on my blog list and will be adding more. They're just too interesting not to read.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On to Norfolk

In 1637, the colonists exterminated the Pequots because of some killing by the Pequots. Rev. Eldridge wrote, "The warlike tribe from the first had exhibited a hostile spirit toward the English. They had committed several murders." And who wouldn't when some foreigners are trying to take over their land. Woops! They had no written proof it was their land, whereas the English had charters and such to prove to the Indians and anyone else they had a right to the territory. And with some stirrings of independence from the English in the Connecticut Colony under Charles II, and some clamping down under James II, the Charter Oak affair came about and the colony remained somewhat independent.

After a lot of squabbling and hoo-hawing back and forth between the Colony of Connecticut and the towns of Hartford and Windsor, the western part was given to the colony by the Assembly and towns were surveyed and laid out, including that of Norfolk. "The town was incorporated in 1758, and then contained twenty-seven families resident." In a short while there were sixty families and then seventy, even though the Assembly had a heck of a time selling the original township. The East Coast had been getting crowded in the last hundred years with all the new arrivals and people were looking West.

Nothing but Indians and wild animals roamed the thick forests, and roads had to be laid out through them connecting the various towns to further commerce. The colonists were resourceful and hard-working, building their own houses, planting crops and all the other requirements of a settlement, and, of course, a church in which the Reverend Robbins held forth. School books were "the Bible, the New England Primer, Dilworth's Spelling Book and an elementary arithmetic called the Schoolmaster's Assistant...... .. The children learned to write sometimes on birch bark and sometimes on paper, which was then a very scarce article.  Ink was made of berries of sumach, and inkstands from the tips of cattle horns."

Norfolk wasn't  the only town settled at that time in western Connecticut, but I'm using it as an example of what my own ancestors went through on the journey West. My fifth great-grandfather (Asahel Case) was among those early settlers to make his home in Norfolk. I've mentioned this before in an earlier blog that Asahel was a descendant of John Case who arrived in America on the Dover in 1640. John had lived in Hartford before settling in Simsbury.
So, when and how did we get to the West? In the 1790's a big jump was made in exploring in that direction and we will get to it in the next blog.

(Ref: History of Norfolk, Connecticut, 1744-1900)

Friday, June 24, 2011


The West had to be discovered by European descendants sometime or other, but before they reached the West they had to discover and settle other places along the way. The Reverend Joseph Eldridge said something similar in 1856 in a Thanksgiving address: 

".....The history of the United States has one special advantage and attraction; it is authentic. The origin of most of the states and nations of Europe is involved in much obscurity. Our own can be traced back, clearly and distinctly to its earliest beginnings. .....

"Then the events of our history are of the most striking character. Highly interesting in themselves, they are becoming more so by the promise which they hold in regard to the future.

".....Local histories are important as furnishing the elements of general history, and they have peculiar attractions for those born and reared in the places themselves. It is a duty of filial piety, as well as gratitude to the supreme disposer of events, to gather up, and preserve, and transmit all the memorials we can, of the labors, trials, and achievements of those who have preceded us on the spot where we dwell. We have entered into their labors. We reap the results of their enterprise, forecast, and efforts. We sit under the shadow, and eat the fruits of the tree which they planted."

Which leads me to say that the history of the West must start somewhere, but not in the West. The above was extracted from the introductory chapter to the "History of Norfolk, Connecticut, 1744-1900," which book is in the public domain and was reprinted by the Higginson Book Company of Boston, Mass., and is for sale by them, one of many that company has reprinted in connection with the genealogy of early Americans.

Rev. Eldridge goes on to say more about the history of Connecticut:

    "The title to the land and right of Robert, earl of Warwick, was the first proprietary of the soil under a grant from the Council for New England. March 19, 1631, he ceded it by patent to Lor Say and Seal, Lord Brook, John Hampden and others. Before any colony could be established under their authority, individuals, headed by William Holmes of Plymouth had, September 1633, erected a trading house at Windsor. The June previous to the arrival of Holmes, the Dutch from Manhattan, had established themselves at Hartford, having purchased twenty acres of land of a Pequot chief,---built a for, and mounted a couple of cannon.  They claimed Connecticut, and never wholly relinquished their claims until 1664. The fur trade with the Indians was then very lucrative. The Dutch purchased of the Indians annually ten thousand beaver skins. In 1634, a few men from Watertown, Mass., came and erected huts at Wethersfield, which is the oldest town in the state. In 1635 a number of men came from Dorchester to Windsor, and erected log houses. Other men from Watertown did the same at Wethersfield. In the autumn, having comp;leted these preparation, these men returned to Mass. for their families, and on the 15th of October there set out about sixty men, women and children with horses, cattle, and swine. More than a hundred miles of wilderness through which no roads existed, whose streams were without bridges, and whose sole inhabitants were Indians and wild beast, had to be traversed. ........"

This attempt met with failure due to the fact that winter set in and they had sent their provisions by boat and the boat couldn't sail because of the ice in the Connecticut River. Most of the families returned to Boston and waited for the spring of the next year (1636) when they set out under the guidance of the Rev. Thomas Hooker.
When those sixty individuals set out in October they should have known that winter would set in, but live and learn.
It had been only a few years since the Mayflower landed, and I assume they thought winter would be mild, most probably just arrived themselves and knew no history of the area. (My ancestor on my mother's side, Nathaniel Foote, arriving in the new land in 1630, was among these, being one of the first settlers of Wethersfield.) If I'd been there, I would've directed them to Miami Beach.

And so starts the discovery of the West from MY perspective and we will reach Norfolk, Connecticut, before too long. Maybe some of the readers' ancestors will show up along the way.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More California

In Seventy-five Years in California by William Heath Davis there was hardly a mention of the big gold discovery in 1848 by John Sutter. There are two chapters in the book, Chapter 34, First Discovery of Gold in California, and Chapter 35, Gold, Gold, and More Gold, where he approaches it from a viewpoint of one who doesn't care too much about it. The first discovery of gold was not the big lode at Sutter's Mill, but a gold find in the area of Los Angeles in 1841 by some Mexicans who were going to the northern part of the Territory. The find was not a terribly large one, but the mining went on for a few years. Mr. Davis then writes about the mixing of races. The Spaniards wanted to keep the Spanish blood from being mixed with the Indians, so they imported some women from Mexico to alleviate the pressure on the large number of males without women. And he goes on to explain the draft system that was being used by the Generals in California to maintain the number of forces necessary to defend against the Indians. It was by conscription of the young single males. The Generals sent men out to round up the eligible males and tell them  "You're in the Army now, not behind a plow." Well, that isn't exactly what they said, but you get the idea, no matter what they were doing they were taken away to help defend against the Indians or others..       

Gold, gold, and More Gold, this chapter deals with not the Sutter Gold, but the events surrounding it. Mr. Davis writes that the Indians told the Padres of the Missions about the gold they found in the mountains and the Padres told them not to tell anyone, and the Padres kept it secret, too. Davis went on his own gold search around the San Diego area but was unsuccessful. This was after the big discovery at Sutter's Mill.


Thursday, June 16, 2011


I have probably mentioned this before, but I haven't said much about it. It's a book entitled Seventy-five Years in California by William Heath Davis and published in 1929 by John Howell. The subtitle says "A History of Events and Life in California: Personal, Political, and Military; Under the Mexican Regime; During the Quasi-Military Government of the Territory by the United States, and after admission of the State to the Union."

The reason I bring this up is, I finished reading another book Sea of Courage about the Naval Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842. As this expedition was winding down after discovering and surveying part of Antarctica and the South Sea islands the ships were busy surveying the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon Territory. Commodore Wilkes (actually a Lieutenant), the commander of the expedition, sent a detachment of sailors overland from the river to see what they could see and meet the ships in the Bay of San Francisco. And, lo and behold, upon removing ......California from the shelf, I see that Commodore Wilkes is in the Bay area from Chapter XXI - "Commodore Wilkes Visits Yerba Buena." Naturally, I had to read that chapter to discover the results of the small group traveling overland, but there is no mention of it. San Francisco at that time was known as Yerba Buena.

While at San Francisco, they surveyed parts of the Sacramento River, the harbor and the coast line, which Mr. Davis commented on and he mentioned the surveillance of the British ships and Wilkes thinking that maybe the Brits wanted to take over this part of the country. The ships' supplier while in port was Nathan Spear who settled in the area in 1822. The Mexican Governor Alvarado became a good friend of Spear and offered him eleven leagues of land if he would become a Mexican citizen, a not uncommon practice and according to Mr. Davis, several Americans had done this.

Mr. Davis had the same feelings about Commodore Wilkes that many, if not all, of the expedition sailors did - the Commodore was a tough disciplinarian with a no-nonsense sense of duty, unsociable, and very knowledgeable in his scientific endeavors, but in my estimation from the other book and this, lacking in common sense or it was overshadowed by his obligation to duty. Mr. Davis had nothing but complementary things to say about the other officers, though, finding them to be intelligent and fun-loving. Prior to their leaving a big party was thrown at Davis' friend, Guerrero's, that lasted through the night.

Mr. Davis also wrote about the Fiji captive that Wilkes was taking back to Washington, but died before he reached there. This Fijian was very large in stature and weighed as much as 250 lbs, and had what we today call an "afro" hair-do that would make the normal "afro" look like a mini alongside this fellow.

Commodore Wilkes was stubborn and when he set his mind on doing something, nothing stopped him. Like, when he upped anchor to depart San Francisco Bay, his pilot, a Britisher named Richardson, who was very familiar with the area, told him not to leave because of the terrible waves at the mouth of the bay caused by the wind from the southwest. Wilkes left, but he did stop just inside the bay after he saw what Captain Richardson was talking about and waited until the next day. His next stop was Monterey.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Monster Eating Arizona

You've heard of it by now, the Wallow Fire, that has gobbled up the eastern half of Arizona, almost. It has consumed about 433,000 acres so far and is still spreading as of this morning, with only a minute portion under control. The winds have been wreaking havoc in the mountainous terrain, making it difficult to extinguish. Two new towns have been told to evacuate, Springerville and Eager, making a total of around 10,000 people, and the fire has become the second largest in AZ history. It has now jumped the border and is in New Mexico, too.

Temporary shelters are being and have been set up, but if the fire gets into these small towns and consumes the houses, it will present grave problems for the residents.The Red Cross is calling for donations - HELP, if you can.

The Horseshoe II fire has consumed almost 200,000 acres in southern AZ, and the Arivaca fire near Tubac has burned up over 85,000 acres, but it is pretty well under control. The summer monsoon season with its lightning, winds, dust and rain hasn't yet begun. Another hot and windy day in eastern Arizona.

The Fire Monster is eating its way through the State.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I will be signing and selling my three books tomorrow night at the Mesa, AZ,  2nd Friday Night Out event. It should be an exciting evening, and I'm hoping to finally get started on selling in the Phoenix Area. It's taken me much too long to get into the swing of this business, but I think I'm finally getting past the hurdle of licensing and my reluctance to enter into it wholeheartedly, etc. Check out the Mesa website here . There should be a lot of traffic and since the emphasis will be on books, it may turn out very well.

The only problem is, we have to stay awake beyond 10 PM, something we're not accustomed to, so we decided to get a motel for the night. Ye gods! It's only forty or fifty miles down the road, but there goes the profit if we so lucky to sell that many books. I tell you, there's a negative side to everything. My conscience is talking to me, saying "Quit your damn whining and get on with it!" All right, already! I will, I will. Ahem.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More on Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It was my better half's sudden love of poetry that made me aware of Mrs. Wilcox. The wife and her daughter were antiquing in downtown Glendale last Saturday when the wife purchased on impulse a book entitled Maurine and other Poems and also buying a book by Sinclair Lewis titled Free Air. Maurine and other Poems was published around 1888 the year of copyright and Free Air in 1919, both first editions as far as I can determine and probably not worth much.

Anyway, I thumbed through Maurine and read a couple of poems and I liked them, one called "The Story" reminds me of "Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill:"

They met each other in the glade--
  She lifted up her eyes;
Alack the day! Alack the maid!
 She breathed in swift surprise,
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from lifting up the

The pail was full, the path was steep--
  He reached to her his hand;
She felt her warm young pulses leap,
  But did not understand.
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from clasping hand
  with hand.

She sat beside him in the wood--
  He wooed with words and sighs;
Ah! love in spring seems sweet and good,
  And maidens are not wise.
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from listing lover's

And etc., etc.

Ella Wheeler married Robert Wilcox in 1884 and lived in Connecticut and then on to NYC and then back to Conn.
They built two houses on Long Island Sound and several cottages known as Bungalow Court where they held literary and artistic gatherings. They had one child, who died shortly after birth. She and her husband became interested in the occult and made a pact to communicate with each other whoever died first. It was Robert who died first, but he never contacted her and she couldn't understand why. Hmm-mm.  I think she needed a Sylvia Browne to tell her why or explain it to her. Maybe she just wasn't seeing the light.

She wrote over twenty books of poetry and her autobiography over the years. One of them is "Custer" and another is "Hello, Boys!" about the First World War, and others covering Power, Progress, Sentiment, Optimism and Passion and still others on various subjects. 

I never much cared for poetry, not even Leaves of Grass, but I found the poems in Maurine easy to read and understand for the most part and the time spent was well worth it. More of them can be found on Project Gutenberg. Photo of Mrs. Wilcox from Wikimedia Commons:


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poetry Raises Its Arrows

You never can tell when you send a word,
   Like an arrow shot from a bow
By an archer blind, be it cruel or kind,
   Just where it may chance to go.
It may pierce the breast of your dearest friend.
   Tipped with its poison or balm,
To a stranger's heart in life's great mart,
    It may carry its pain or its calm.

The above is the first verse of a poem titled "You Never Can Tell" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. I can never tell whether or not she was writing this about writing or some other subject, because in her second verse she writes about doing an act, sowing a seed, and dropping an acorn. In the final verse she poetizes about thoughts, airy wings, the law of the universe "And they speed o'er the track to bring you back, Whatever went out from your mind."

When I push my arms against the desk and roll my chair back, there comes to mind the thought that she was writing about the effect that words have on whoever they land and by sowing seeds and dropping acorns, great things may show up in the fertile minds of those who master the art of wordry. She says, "You never can tell what your thoughts will do, in bringing you hate or love;  for thoughts are things and their airy wings are swifter than carrier doves." 

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in 1850 in Johnstown, Wisconsin, and died in 1919 of cancer. She is famous for her poem "Solitude", the opening lines being "Laugh, and the world laughs with you, Weep, and you weep alone." I should say those lines are more famous than she is, since whenever they're used they are not credited. She is also "famous" for another poem, "Custer," or she may have been for awhile when it was first published or she may be still among her admirers.

"Custer" is a long poem, broken down into three "books" with many verses and she eloquently reviews his life and sudden death in the massacre at the Little Big Horn. A fine poem.

More on Mrs. Wilcox in the next post.