Austin City Slicker Goes Into a Bandera Bar


A city slicker from Austin rode his horse into Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, and stopped at a saloon for a drink. Unfortunately, the local wranglers always had a habit of picking on strangers, especially from Austin. When he finished his drink, he found his horse had been stolen.

He goes back into the bar, handily flips his gun into the air, catches it above his head without even looking and fires a shot into the ceiling.

“WHICH ONE OF YOU SIDEWINDERS STOLE MY HORSE?” he yelled with surprising forcefulness. No one answered.

“ALL RIGHT, I’M GONNA HAVE ANOTHER BEER, AND IF MY HOSS AIN’T BACK OUTSIDE BY THE TIME I FINNISH, I’M GONNA DO WHAT I DUN IN SAN MARCOS! AND I DON’T LIKE TO HAVE TO DO WHAT I DUN IN SAN MARCOS!”

Some of the locals shifted restlessly. He had another beer, walked outside, and his horse is back! He saddles-up and starts to ride out of town. The bartender wanders out of the bar and asks, “Say partner, before you go…what happened in San Marcos?”

The cowboy turned back and said, “I had to walk home.”

In God We Trust

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

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CLICK: PARK LANE by Rebecca Taylor

Quotes From the American Old West

“I think it was the distinguishing trait of Wyatt Earp, the leader of the Earp brothers, that more than any man I have ever known, he was devoid of physical fear. He feared the opinion of no one but himself and his self-respect was his creed.”— W. B. “Bat” Masterson

Earp

“I wish I could find words to express the trueness, the bravery, the hardihood, the sense of honor, the loyalty to their trust and to each other of the old trail hands.”— Charles Goodnight


“My father had seen in a flash that they were all gunmen, so he told me to stand still, although we were right in a possible line of fire. If near a gun-fight and the weapons are wielded by amateurs, run for your life; if professionals are handling the trigger, stand still — they know where they are shooting.”― William S. Hart

Hart

“The past is sufficient to show that bushwhackers have been arrested… charged with bank robbery, and they most all have been mobbed without trials… I have lived as a respectable citizen and obeyed the laws of the United States to the best of my knowledge.” — Jesse James in a letter to a frontier editor

“Wild Bill was a strange character, add to this figure a costume blending the immaculate neatness of the dandy with the extravagant taste and style of a frontiersman, you have Wild Bill, the most famous scout on the Plains.”  – General George Custer

“I am aware that my name has been connected with all the bank robberies in the country; but positively I had nothing to do with any one of them. I look upon my life since the war as a blank, and will never say anything to make it appear otherwise.” – Cole Younger

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History, Texas, Pioneers, Genealogy

From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

‘Lady Lawman’ Movie: The Good, Bad and Ugly

We love and miss Westerns, so we invited friends to watch “Lady Lawman,” a fictitious movie based on the first real female marshal, Francis Miller, of the Indian Territory in the 1890s.

Jake Jecmenek, a friend from high school, was kind enough to give me a DVD of the movie he co-produced and starred in, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

To provide a fair review, I combined the ratings of all six of us, so as not to skew the results. (Dodie has known Jake since at least the 8th grade and we are both fond of him).

SEE LADY LAWMAN PREVIEW HERE

We had popcorn and tasty beverages for our guests to enjoy as we prepared to project the film outdoors like an old fashioned drive-in theater. The DVD cover and packaging is beautiful, but the first hint something might be amiss was when one of them read the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) movie description:

“A women (yes, plural instead of ‘woman’) is offered a job and because the Shieriff (yes, misspelled, rather than ‘Sheriff’) is short handed to a woman (yes, ‘short handed to a woman‘) whom lost her recent husband (instead of an older spouse?) to the same gang of outlaws as the tracker (so the tracker was in a gang of outlaws?).

Brett William Mauser is the executive producer, writer, director, editor and, among other responsibilities, an actor in the movie.

Here is the good, bad and the ugly with our ratings of Lady Lawman:

THE GOOD

The best acting into this 95 minute movie was by Ryan Jasso (Francis Miller) and Jake Jecmenek (Buck Johnson) who played the prime characters.

Other notable actors included Ernest Martinez (ditch the whiskey bottle in every other scene – you’re better than that), Carlos Leos and Kody Nace.

According to our small six-person audience, among the good features of the movie were:

🔹How a momentous pocket watch was weaved into the story.

🔹Dodie and her girlfriends all “liked the beautiful horses.”

🔹Everyone agreed the background music helped the movie.

🔹”My favorite were the gag shots in the Bonus Features” of the DVD, one said. “Especially when it showed someone actually wearing stiched-in red letters– ‘FLASH’–on black jockey underwear, the obvious rage in 1890s fashion I suppose.”

🔹”The acting and horses saved the movie,” Dodie exclaimed.

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THE BAD

Mauser may be an improved movie maker since his western, Bass Reeves. It was the only movie I reviewed of his, way back in 2010.

In Bass Reeves, a film about the first Black U.S. deputy marshal, there were some good performances by actors James A. House and Craig Rainey, but audience members were distracted by things like 1970s style paneling and plastic light switches on interior walls during the times of the Old West.

In his latest offering, Mauser releases what could have been a more pleasing movie without two primary familiar disturbances:

1. lack of authenticity.

2. long drawn out dialogue that was sometimes difficult to understand.

🔹Practically every actor sported brand new cowboy hats, bejeweled with Route 66 type trading post or Buckee’s style ornaments and headbands. 1890s? No way.

🔹It’s significant enough as major diversions–as are the shiny new saddles on every horse; pristine and more modern day style shirts, jackets and attire–or replicas–on some of them.

Online ratings: 3 out of 5 stars, Amazon and 4.5 out of 10 on IMDb.

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🔹An asphalt road in front of a seamless metal-roofed house with a concrete sidewalk during the 1890s was way out of the time period. People notice that Brett!

(Asphalt first appeared in North America in the 1870s in Virginia and was used for the centennial of 1876 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. It took years for cars and buggies to be driven on asphalt roads in Oklahoma or Texas.)

He could work his way towards something more exceptional if he would not still be making the same mistakes. You can’t blame it on budget restraints. Used and authentic can cost less! At the very least, change the camera angles to hide these errors.

Everyone in our small focus group agreed and used descriptives like “annoying,” “obvious,” “blaring” and–

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate, especially when the shine from Wal-Mart stainless bowls were laid out on the table.”

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate on the acting because the clothes looked like they came from Sears, K-Mart or Wal-Mart,” a husband and wife team explained as I took their notes.

🔹”This is a cowboy movie,” she said. “One guy looked like a Low Rider who should be driving a jumping ’65 Chevy.”

🔹”And what about so many of them wearing new outfitter clothes, complete with matching bandanas?” another asked. “I’m sorry, this would have been a fairly decent movie for theater release if they would get help with the dialogue writing, costuming and location help.”

🔹”Look, I enjoy westerns and watch the Western Channel all the time,” said a veteran cowboy western fan. “After awhile, I just tried to ignore all this, and tell myself ‘hey, give them a break, it’s independent greenhorn tenderfoot hour,’ and then was able to enjoy it better. It’s not High Noon or The Searchers after all. It’s some good people making a movie with what they’ve got. I’d give them at least a B for effort. For dialogue, not so much.”

🔹”I did the same,” the second man said. “Maybe it’s because we live around and raise horses, livestock, and goats, that I was being hard on them, but a movie shouldn’t have to make me give excuses for it. I did enjoy it alright, but it took some effort.”

Amazon ratings

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🔹”The rain scenes at night on the closeups looked like the drops were coming down superimposed on the screen,” he continued. “I wanted to concentrate on the struggle, but by this late in the movie I was trained to look at mistakes.”

THE UGLY

🔹”It seems like they went overboard with all the shooting and killing,” our first lady friend said. “The pocket watch part was good, but I kept wondering if they even had musical watches that played Fleur-de-lis in the 1800s. It’s not hard to think that way with so many other noticeable such instances.”

“Since it is in Bonus Feature we can laugh and be forgiving, but those red stiched lettering “FLASH” in the black underwear band was bad, but funny as hell,” her husband noted.

REVIEW RATINGS

By Jack Dennis

In a quirky sort of way, after the movie was over, guests had left and with alone time to reflect, I actually enjoyed Lady Lawman in a campy, nonsensical sort of fashion.

It reminded me of the same illogical, but fun emotions I experienced when my neighborhood pals and I would take the bus downtown to the (now defunct) Texas Theater in San Antonio to watch old 1950s Ed Wood horror and sci-fi movies. The props were ludicrous and the actors (an old Bela Lugosi, Doris Fuller, Vampirella and Tor Johnson) were baffling strange–only Lady Lawman had far, far better acting.

Mauser seems to be sticking to his formula, making independent low budget movies the best he can with what resources he has. Personally, I think he’s better than this. If he would accept writing, continuity and professional costuming help, rather than attempt to tackle as much of it as he can by himself, he could churn out some better products. He has some of the talent and much experience around him, but perhaps this is his comfortable niche.

Effort, B+

Acting, B overall.

Acting, Ryan Jasso and Jecmenek, A-

Production, C+

Writing, C+

Music, B+

Authenticity, C

Total Movie: B-

(Low) 1 to 10 (High) Scale, Five Person Composite

Effort = 8.2

Acting = 6.6

Production = 6.9

Music = 8.6

Authenticity = 5.2

Total Movie = 6.7

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VISIT BANDERA, TEXAS

Now on Amazon Prime

SEE LADY LAWMAN PREVIEW HERE

CleverJourneys 2nd Anniversary: Thanks to Our Readers

Loralyn “Dodie” and Jack Dennis wish to thank all of our faithful readers for your support. On the eve of our second anniversary for our CleverJourneys blog, we reached 1,110,011 unique viewers. Our best yet.

We began on May 1, 2020. Although I previously wrote articles for Examiner, AXS Entertainment, The Rowdy and my own News Legit, CleverJourneys is my dream come true (well, one of many thanks to God).

This is not too bad for two young seniors that have known each other since our first year of school way back when. To celebrate, we hope you enjoy these:

Here are some our regular features in leadership popularity order.

JackNotes: Summaries of books, classes, conferences, speeches and knowledge of over 40 years.

Another of our most popular articles series are JackNotes, executive summaries of books, articles, speeches and other useful information that may save you the expense and trouble of reading the entire publication….or it may spur you on to seek more information from the original source.

TRUE CRIME STORIES

Another feature, Accounts of the Old West is a tribute to Jack’s great, great uncle Charlie Bassett, the first marshall of Dodge City, Kansas…and James Allison Morgan–a cattle driver and cowboy, Jack’s great grandfather. (You thought TV’s ‘Marshal Matt Dillon’ was the first didn’t you?) We feature tales and history of the Old West.

EXPLORE FURTHER
Travel, Road Trips, Destinations, Tips
Food, recipes, restaurants, cooking

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Wisdom of the Real American Cowgirl

Being a cowgirl goes beyond riding a horse and working with cattle.

Growing up in Texas, we know that a cowgirl is a woman who is strong, confident, and not afraid of a hard day’s work. She is polite, sharing kindness with all the folks around her, and she doesn’t shy away from getting dirt under her fingernails. Each cowgirl is an inspiration to us all.

Over the years, many cowgirls and cowboys have passed down their wisdom and have provided encouragement to others. Dodie and I graduated from McCollum High School where the mascot is the Cowboys.

Today, we live near Bandera, the Cowboy Capitol of the World, and see the true Texas Hill Country spirit of the hearts and souls here. These photos and quotes are here to support and empower all of us and help build confidence and strength in these times of reassurance.

Sometimes we just need to think about our attitude and try approaching a situation differently rather than let something or someone ruin a whole day.

A gentle reminder that though it may be really hard, being kind to everyone is the right thing to do, even if they are not kind to you.

There are always going to be difficult times and being able to weather the storms are only going to make you a stronger person.

Sometimes you must take life by the reins if you want to chase your dreams and ambitions. A reminder: we have to get outside of our comfort zone to get what we truly want.

The values associated with cowgirls are ones of kindness, respect, and love. People can often lose sight of those values when it comes to personal gain and it is important to never lose sight of those beliefs.

Take each day with a good attitude and appreciate what you have, but don’t let that stop you from working towards your goals.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Real Grizzly Adams, Mountain Man


John Capen Adams [1812-1860] became so famous for his love of grizzly bears, he would go down in history simply as “Grizzly Adams.”

“Grizzly Adams,” in the 1970s, was the title of both a popular motion picture and NBC TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”

On the television, Dan Haggerty played the role of Grizzly Adams” and established new Thursday night record-ratings for the network. Even so, today few people realize there was a real “Grizzly Adams” who migrated to the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the confines of civilization after participating in the great California Gold Rush.

Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams

In 2018, Adventure Outdoors Magazine recognized Grizzly Adams as one of the three greatest American outdoorsmen of all time alongside Buffalo Bill Cody and Ernest Hemingway.

Adams challenged both conventional norms and untamed nature, first by turning his back on a greed-driven society born from the California Gold Rush, and then by blazing a trail into the wildest parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

There, he built a cabin home in the wilderness, made friends with nearby Native American tribes. Of special note, he found companions among some of nature’s untamed beasts, that especially featured his prized grizzly bears.

Although a California Mountain Man, he was actually born in Boston in 1812. As a young man he fled into the wilderness in search of adventure. To earn money he would trap all kinds of animals and sell them to zoos. It was here he learned to survive in the wilderness and get close to animals.

When he attempted to train a Bengal tiger in a local zoo, he was mauled almost to death. This did not deter him. When the California gold rush kicked off, Adams headed for California himself. Finding no luck as a gold miner, he took to the wilderness, living the life of a reclusive mountain man.

“And it was in the mountains that I successfully worked out for myself the great problem which other men have to work out, each in his own way, before they say that they live.”

– Grizzly Adams (1812-1860)

Grizzly Adams cared for the California grizzly bear, and studied their behavior. He learned to approach and even tame them. He even had a pet Grizzly bear who he stole from a bear den when it was just a pup. Called “Benjamin Franklin,” the bear saved Adams life on numerous occasions.

Another bear Adams named “Samson” was confirmed by the California State Historical Society to be the bear image on the state’s flag.

It was rendered from an 1855 painting done by famous Gold Rush artist, Charles Nahl, who came to know Grizzly Adams well in the 1850s.

With his familiarity, Grizzly Adams captured numerous bears over the years, selling them to zoos, circuses and private collectors. On occasion he would perform in the circus with them.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Charlie Bassett, Dodge City’s First Sheriff

Gunsmoke was a popular radio program and later, a legendary television series that featured 635 episodes from 1955-1975. The series featured actor James Arness as the first marshal of Dodge City, Kansas.

In reality the first sheriff and city marshal of Dodge City was my great-great grandfather, Charlie Bassett. He was the uncle to my great grandmother, Missouri Bassett, the mother to my maternal grandfather, Bassett Arthur.

Charles Bassett (October 30, 1847 – January 5, 1896) was one of the founders of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, served as the first sheriff of Ford County, Kansas, as well as city marshal of Dodge City. His deputies included Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

Charles E. Bassett was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Benjamin Bassett and Julia (née Norton) Bassett.

On February 14, 1865, Bassett enlisted in the Union Army at Frankford, Pennsylvania (now a part of Philadelphia). He received a $100 bounty for signing on for one year as a private in Company I of the 213th Pennsylvania Infantry, a volunteer regiment. Bassett was mustered out of his volunteer regiment in Washington, D.C., on November 18, 1865. He served a little more than nine months, not for the year he had signed. This was most likely the result of an Army cutback after Lee’s surrender in April.

Charles E. Bassett spent the period between late 1865 and early 1873 drifting around the West, serving various stints as a miner, bartender, and buffalo hunter. He was most likely in the neighborhood of what would become Dodge City, Kansas, when his father, Benjamin Bassett died in Philadelphia on January 2, 1872.

Bassett opened the original Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City in late 1872 in partnership with Alfred J. Peacock. Eventually, Bassett and Peacock sold the Long Branch. The saloon changed hands several times until Luke Short became one of the owners. Short’s partnership in the Long Branch would cause one of the high points of Bassett’s life in 1883.

Dodge had turned into an unruly city with little law enforcement, a town that the Hays City Sentinel had christened “the Deadwood of Kansas … Her corporate limits are the rendezvous of all the unemployed scally-wagism in seven states. Her principal is polygamy, her code of honor is the morals of thieves, and decency she knows not … ” The Kinsley Graphic newspaper was somewhat less kind, naming Dodge the “ … the Beautiful, Bibulous Babylon of the frontier.” And it was in Dodge City where Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Warp, and the Masterson brothers would earn their early reputations as lawmen settling this unsettled berg.

On June 5, 1873, the citizens of Ford County, Kansas, chose Bassett as their first sheriff. His headquarters were in Dodge City. Bassett was re-elected twice, serving until 1878.

Charlie Bassett

On September 18, 1877, Sam Bass and his gang robbed a Union Pacific train of $60,000 at Big Springs, Nebraska. The bandits were reported in Kansas and Sheriff Bassett went out after them. Bassett’s posse included Bat Masterson and John Joshua Webb. The group was unsuccessful in their pursuit of the train robbers. 

By Kansas law, Bassett could not seek a third successive term as sheriff of Ford County. On November 6, 1877, Bat Masterson was elected sheriff of Ford County, replacing Bassett. One of his first acts was to appoint Bassett as his under-sheriff.

In addition to serving as Bat Masterson’s under-sheriff, Bassett was also serving as assistant city marshal under Bat’s brother, City Marshal Edward J. Masterson. He was still serving as sheriff when he got the appointment during December, 1877. The Dodge City Times reported, “Sheriff Bassett has been appointed by Mayor [James H.] Kelley to assist Marshal [Edward J.] Masterson in preserving order and decorum in the city. Mr. Bassett has had thorough training and is a good man for the place.”

On January 27, 1878, Dave Rudabaugh and four others attempted to hold up a train at Kinsley, Kansas. On February 1, a posse led by Sheriff Bat Masterson captured two of the robbers – Dave Rudabaugh and Edgar West. Charlie Basset assisted his two bosses, Sheriff Bat Masterson and Marshal Ed Masterson, in the capture of two more of the train robbers right in Dodge City.

Ford County encompassed some 9,500 square miles, a large portion of southwestern Kansas. It was a lot of territory into which outlaws could quickly vanish. In their pursuit, Bat called upon Wyatt Earp as well as appointing his younger brother James Masterson and friend Bill Tilghman deputy sheriffs. Dodge City also had its own city marshal, Ed Masterson, and a local police force. Dodge was a tough town, and it needed every lawman it had.

Bat and Ed Masterson

As county sheriff, Bat’s rule of thumb was to buffalo an armed man first and then ask questions later, a technique he had learned from Wyatt in which the barrel of a six-shooter is firmly applied to the head of miscreants. It was a controversial practice but Wyatt and Bat always defended its use. And it was clearly posted on the way into Dodge that no guns were to be worn within the city limits. Often ignored by cattlemen, a great part of every law officer’s duty was to enforce the rule. And at times, with a bunch of liquored up cowboys running rampant, it could be a deadly job.

In April 1878, Ed Masterson was shot at point-blank range doing just that, disarming a drunken cowboy who had openly ignored the rules. Ed returned fire and downed two men before he stumbled across the street and collapsed. He died 40 minutes later.

Marshal of Dodge City

The murder of Marshal Ed Masterson by two Texans named Jack Wagner and Alfred Walker on that April 9th prompted (after Ed Masterson’s funeral) the Dodge City Council to appoint Bassett as city marshal at a salary of $100 a month. On May 12, Wyatt Earp was appointed as Bassett’s assistant marshal at a salary of $75 a month. Bat had not been in Dodge City, the night his brother was murdered.

 On July 29, 1878 James “Spike” Kenedy (1855-1884), the son of the wealthy cattle baron Mifflin Kenedy (1818-1895) attempted to shoot Mayor James H. Kelley. He was stopped from doing so by Marshal Bassett. Kenedy paid his fine and court costs and left town. Within three weeks, the young Texan was back in Dodge and in trouble again. According to the court docket for August 17, 1878, Kenedy was again brought into court by Marshal Bassett. This time it was on a charge of being disorderly. After paying his fine, Kenedy was told by Marshal Bassett to get out of Dodge and stay out.

The Killing of Dora Hand

At 4:00 in the morning of October 4, 1878, Kenedy was back in Dodge and fired two shots through the front door of a small frame house usually occupied by Mayor Kelley. One of Kenedy’s bullets killed a 34-year-old woman named Dora Hand. The Dodge City Times noted that “the pistol shot was intended for the male occupant of the bed … who had been absent for several days. The bed however was occupied by the female lodger at the time of the shooting.” 

A posse left Dodge City at 2:00 on the afternoon of October 4. Its members were Marshal Charles E. Bassett, Assistant Marshal Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman, Sheriff Bat Masterson, and Deputy Sheriff William Duffey. At 4:00 on the afternoon of October 5, the posse caught up with Kenedy at a location some 35 miles from Dodge. The possemen turned loose a volley on Kenedy. Three shots slammed into Kenedy’s horse, while another shot, supposedly from a .50 caliber Sharp’s, shattered Kenedy’s left arm. Three weeks after the killing of Dora Hand, Kenedy was released for a supposed lack of incriminating evidence. Spike Kenedy returned to Texas to manage his father’s 390,000-acre LaParra Ranch. He died from typhoid fever during December 1884.

Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas

On November 4, 1879, the Dodge City Council appointed James Masterson as city marshal, to replace Charlie Bassett, who had resigned. According to the local paper: “Ex-Sheriff Chas. E. Bassett, accompanied by Mysterious Dave [Mather] and two other prospectors, started out last week in search of ‘greener fields and pastures new.’ They went in a two-horse wagon, after the style in the days of 49.” 

After unsuccessfully panning for gold in Colorado, Bassett and Mather drifted successively to New Mexico and Texas. Both men were in San Antonio during the early part of 1881.

Mather remained in Texas for the next two years, but Bassett had grown homesick for Dodge City. His return to Dodge was noted by a local paper, which reported, “Charles E. Bassett, ex-sheriff of Ford County, and formerly city marshal of Dodge City – one of the old timers – arrived in the city last Tuesday after an absence of a year and a half. Charley looks as natural as life, wears good clothes, and says Texas is suffering from the dry weather.” 

Kansas City

Bassett did not remain in Dodge City for long. He moved on to Kansas City, Missouri, where he became manager of Webster and Hughes Marble Hall Saloon.

The Kansas City Journal reported his arrival by noting, “Hon. C.E. Bassett, a well known cattle man of Kansas and Texas, returned to this city yesterday, after a brief stay in Dodge City. He will remain here for some time.” 

On April 28, 1883, the celebrated “Dodge City War” broke out. Luke Short had been run out of Dodge and headed straight for Kansas City, where he looked up Charlie Bassett at the Marble Hall Saloon. Bassett quickly proceeded to re-establish Short in Dodge City. Quick to respond were Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, along with several others.

The Dodge City Peace Commission

DodgeCityPeaceCommission.jpg
The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 10, 1883. (L to R) standing: William H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, William F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Michael Francis “Frank” McLean, and Cornelius “Neil” Brown.

The bloodless Dodge City War ended with both sides reaching an agreement in early June 1883. To maintain the shaky truce, the Dodge City Peace Commission was formed, including Bassett. Bassett returned to Kansas City, where he opened the Senate Saloon and obtained the nickname “Senator”. The venture was a failure and Bassett went to work as a bartender in an establishment he did not own.

Final years

Bassett suffered from inflammatory rheumatism during his final years. He went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with the hope that the water would benefit his health, but he died there at age 48 on January 5, 1896.

Movies & TV

Charlie Bassett has been portrayed in many Western movies. Some of the most notable include:

Kirk Douglas and Earl Holliman

Actor Earl Holliman, who owned the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse in San Antonio back in the 1970s, was cast as lawman Charlie Bassett in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, his first time working with stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

Scott Whyte as Charlie Bassett in Wyatt Earp's Revenge (2012)

Scott Whyte as Charlie Bassett in Wyatt Earp’s Revenge (2012)

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

James Morgan’s Texas Cattle Drive Wrangler Stew

Great grandfather James Allison Morgan was a real Texas Wrangler in the late 1880s and early 1900s. He taught his son-in-law (my maternal grandfather, a chef/cook in the Navy Seabees and later in Abilene), Bassett Arthur, how to make Texas Wrangler Stew.

Just about every bite features generous chunks of earthy, wholesome potatoes and onions, juicy seared beef, and tender vegetables. Savory, rich, and meaty with a few notes of sweetness and dark beer, this stew fends off the chilliest of days with good old-fashioned flavors.

Here’s the basic recipe, modernized a bit, for this hearty meal.

Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

recipe image


Ingredients

• 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces

• salt and pepper, to taste

• 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if desired

• 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped

• 1 tablespoon garlic, minced

• 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into thick slices

• 2 celery stalks, chopped into thick pieces

• 4 large potatoes, quartered• 1/4 cup plain flour

• 1 1/2 cups dry stout beer, such as Guinness, or dark beer of choice

• 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional

• 4 cups beef broth or stock

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish)

• mashed potatoes, for serving


Directions

Step 1

Set the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Step 2

Then, thoroughly season the beef with salt and pepper. You’ll want to be generous as you are only seasoning the surface of the meat.

Step 3

Heat the oil over medium-high heat, in a heavy-based, oven-proof pot (or a dutch oven).

Step 4

Sear the beef in batches of 3 or 4, until browned on both sides. Then, move the beef to a warm plate.

Step 5

Add the garlic and onion to the pan juices, sautéing until transparent and soft. Be careful not to let the garlic burn, as it easily can if sautéd for too long.

Step 6

Add in the celery, carrots, and potatoes, cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Stir the flour into the vegetables and potatoes, evenly coating them. The flour helps to thicken the stew down the line.

Step 7

Stirring occasionally, cook for 2 minutes more. The raw flour smell should disappear. Pour in the dry stout or dark beer, mixing well to dissolve the flour.

Step 8

Then add in the brown sugar (if using), tomato paste, thyme, and broth, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. These brown bits, called fond, help deepen the meaty flavors of soups and stews when incorporated into the broth.

Step 9

Bring the stew to a simmer, cooking until slightly thickened, for about 5 minutes. Return the beef back into the pot along with any juices.

Step 10

Cover the pot partially, then move to the oven and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove it from the oven twice during the cooking process to give it a good stir, then return it to the oven still partially covered.

Step 11

After the stew has finished cooking, cautiously remove from the oven, then season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 12

Serve with mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley, if desired.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards

Our beautiful visit with a long-time-ago friend brought charming remembrances, intriguing history and a fascinating new book.

Dodie and I recently had lunch with Cynthia Leal Massey to catch up and discuss her new book, What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, being released today (August 1, 2021).

Our lunch was at the regionally renown El Chapparal Mexican Restaurant within the nearby hills of Helotes. A growing town in the northwest San Antonio metropolitan area, the city is known for Floore Country Store (Willie, Waylon and other legends have–and continue to perform–at this famous Hill Country dance hall.

Many of our trips into the Alamo City include a stop off at Old Town Helotes (antiques, quaint shops and plenty of charm are worthy) so Dodie can buy a bag of her favorite, Helotes Blend at the Texas Grounds Coffee shop.

Cindy is a popular figure in the area, a local historian, journalist and 14-year city council member. Her research has prompted the official designation of U.S. Historical Marker status at sites and buildings in the area.

This lunch was special for us, not only due to Cindy being a sponsor of CleverJourneys, but because she and Dodie had not seen each other in over 40 years.

Cindy and Dodie were in Student Council together back in their senior class days at McCollum High School in south San Antonio. Cindy and I also worked on the Chanter, our school’s newspaper staff (I was in the class ahead of them).

Dodie on the left. Cynthia on the right. 1973

We agreed the three of us shared commonality traits of being studious, spirited, dependable and “absolutely brilliant.” LOL.

None of us really hung around in a particular clique. “We were all over the place,” noted Dodie. “Sports, clubs, assorted activities and involvement.”

I recall Cindy being contemplative, industrious and thoughtful. She remembered me always “having a camera in your hand everywhere you went.”

Fortunately, Dodie knows that even though I may not be typing, “he’s always writing in his head. Always.”

“As the old saying goes,” Cindy laughed. “Writers write.”

It was enjoyable being around a fellow writer for a couple of hours.

I sensed the familiar enthusiasm and excitement as Cindy told us about her current novel in progress. It’s based on a true story, tentatively titled “Fowl Water,” a literary mystery about the 1958  murder of a South Texas turkey breeder.

My father, a homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department, considered the events surrounding the crime quite legendary.

I’m looking forward to reading it as I’m more than halfway into her fascinating “Death of a Texas Ranger” chronicle of murder and vegence in the Texas frontier. It’s especially intriguing because we live in the area where much of the events occurred.

So what is Cindy’s new book about? Here is Amazon’s description:

Unearth the Mysteries of Those Who Lie Beneath the Oldest Graveyards in the Lone Star State

Texas, the second largest state, both in land mass and population, has more than 50,000 cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds. As the final resting places of those whose earthly journey has ended, they are also repositories of valuable cultural history.

The pioneer cemeteries—those from the 19th century—provide a wealth of information on the people who settled Texas during its years as a Republic (1836-1845), and after it became the 28th state in 1845.

In What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, author Cynthia Leal Massey exhumes the stories of these pioneers, revealing the intriguing truth behind the earliest graveyards in the Lone Star State, including some of its most ancient.

This guide also provides descriptions of headstone features and symbols, and demystifies the burial traditions of early Texas pioneers and settlers.

About the Author

Cynthia Leal Massey combines her background in journalism and love of history to write award-winning historical fiction and nonfiction.

A former corporate editor, college instructor, and magazine editor, she has published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and several books.

She is a recipient of a Will Rogers Silver Medallion Award for Western Nonfiction and a San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Award for her book “Death of a Texas Ranger: A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier.”

She was a winner of the Lone Star Award for Magazine Journalism given by the Houston Press Club for “Is UT Holding Our History Hostage?” published in Scene in SA magazine. One judge wrote: “In her exhaustive look at the unique battle over the Bexar Archives, writer Cynthia Leal Massey manages to make history come alive, filled with dark plots and do-gooders of yesteryear, and allusions to cattle rustling and murder and more.”

The article was also a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters O. Henry Award for Best Work of Magazine Journalism.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry called her novel, ” The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas,” a vivid picture of the Rio Grande Valley as it was fifty years ago [and] a very good read.”

Born and raised on the south side of San Antonio, Texas, Massey has resided in Helotes, twenty miles northwest of the Alamo City, since 1994. A full-time writer, she is a past president of Women Writing the West.

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Autumn in Sedona: Try Ales on Rails at Verde Canyon Railroad

We traveled through enchanting Sedona a few weeks ago, although we couldn’t stay long. It’s only been a few years since I was there, but mercy has it grown…almost to the point that Sedona’s popularity could be a possible burden.

Traffic congestion was considerable and all shops, restaurants and parking areas were full. We will be back, but probably not in the peak of summer. Most likely we will try again in the fall.

The first sign of autumn isn’t always the changing of the leaves; sometimes it’s the changing of the kegs. When the air turns crisp and pint glasses are raised in celebration, it can only mean that Oktoberfest has arrived. 

Ales on Rails is Verde Canyon Railroad’s way of toasting this German tradition, providing a rollicking farewell to summer beginning Tuesday, September 14 and running through Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Sample a wide range of local Arizona breweries, proudly showcased on the depot patio, these are richly crafted local beers ranging from the lightest pilsners to the hoppiest IPAs and deepest stouts the Copper State has to offer.

Now in its 19th year, the very popular Ales on Rails season always sells out in advance and may be reserved to include a Verde Canyon Railroad logo beer glass with four beer-tasting tickets, a made-to-order lunch from the Copper Spike Cafe and a large selection of fine Arizona-brewed craft beers for only $125 per person.

The party begins on the depot patio from 10:30am -12:45 p.m., with beer tasting on tap prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m.  departure.

The fun continues as favorite beers of the day will also be available canned for purchase aboard the train, to enjoy while marveling at the vibrant Verde Canyon scenery.

Echoing the celebration of amber brews are the brilliant bronze and gold colors vividly on display throughout Mother Nature’s masterpiece during the Fall Colors Tour, with autumn foliage ranging from chartreuse to ginger, and vermillion to violet for a wide range strikingly seasonal hues.

If you mixed all four seasons together and skimmed off the very best, you would create autumn.

Radiant colors and mild temperatures with a hint of briskness in the air charges Verde Canyon with a fresh energy. Residents of the Verde Canyon, as well as visitors, feel the seasonal change.

Wildlife sightings increase as deer, Javelina, coyote and other species grow more active. Amidst the fall finery, a chorus of wings adds a touch of music, as migratory birds return to the sanctuary between the canyon walls.

The Verde Canyon’s resident Bald Eagles are joined by these migrating visitors, adding to the population, and the train’s connection with these noble birds.  

The train is a proud sponsor of Arizona-based rescue Liberty Wildlife, who share scheduled Raptors at the Rails programs with depot guests, featuring hawks, owls, falcons and vultures from their education program at the depot, and a bald eagle riding the train each month.

As October draws to a finale, the Verde Canyon’s low whistling winds are perhaps ghostly whispers of ancient Sinaguan cliff-dwellers or of miners’ spirits restlessly roaming from nearby famed “Ghost City” Jerome’s abandoned copper mine shafts.

It’s not the destination, it has always been the journey

No matter what your plans might be for the spookiest night of the year, spend part of your day aboard the Haunted Halloween Express on Sunday, October 31st.

In addition to the blazing colors of fall and the smooth, cool flow of artisanal beer, train staff will be in Halloween disguises ranging from mild to wild, and there will be a costume contest for passengers, with fun prizes and plenty of candy making for ghoulish good fun for the whole family.

Leave the confines of city life in favor of high-spirited fun and an unforgettable journey around every bend and over every bridge as the train winds through its beautiful and historic red-rock riparian canyon home this autumn. Surrounded by the colors of the season, the flavors of Arizona, the curves of the Verde River, a trip aboard the train inspires wonder and fills cameras. 

The Verde Canyon Railroad depot is in Clarkdale, Arizona, 25 minutes southwest of Sedona and two hours north of Phoenix. For reservations book online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or call 800-293-7245.

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Treasures of the Old West in Arizona

Lost Opata Mine South of Tucson, Arizona

About 45 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, rises what remains of Tumacacori Mission, now a national park. The 18th-century church was built by Spaniards hoping to convert the pagan Opata and Papago Indians. The missionaries hired the Indians to work in their nearby silver mines and store the yield in a giant room.

The Opata kidnapped a woman they believed was the Virgin Mary and wanted her to marry their chief. She refused, so the people sacrificed her to their gods by tying her to the silver, rubbing poison into cuts in her hands, and dancing and singing around her.

The missionaries, so dismayed by the pagan violation of their Christian teachings, had the entrance closed off, presumably sealing in the woman’s skeletal remains—and all of the silver—still waiting to be found.

Lost Dutchman Mine Apache Junction, Arizona

Rich in gold, but—some believe—cursed, the fabled Lost Dutchman gold mine generates endless stories. The treasure hunters who mysteriously go missing while looking for the gold fuel the 120-plus-year legend. Today, some wonder if the Superstition Mountains really harbor the gold or if the stories have piled upon stories to bury the truth.

Sometime after 1868, a German (not Dutch) miner named Jacob Waltz found the Peralta family mine and worked it with an associate, Jacob Weiser. Legend has it that they hid some of the gold near Weaver’s Needle, a local landmark. Details after that are unclear, according to Lost Dutchman State Park information. Either Waltz killed Weiser or Apaches killed him, leaving Waltz as the only person who knew the whereabouts of the mine.

His neighbor in Phoenix, Arizona, who took care of him before his death in 1891, and countless others have searched unsuccessfully for the gold.

Palo Duro Canyon is a True Texas Natural Wonder

Travel deep into the heart of the Texas Panhandle and you’ll find a true natural wonder. Canyon walls gleaming orange in bright sunshine, otherworldly rock formations, and scenic trails lined with mesquite and juniper trees await at Palo Duro Canyon.

About 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and with a depth of roughly 800 feet, Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the country. Formed over millions of years, the canyon is a majestic showcase of nature’s power. Descend into its depths and you’ll see vibrant layers of rock in the canyon walls that tell a story 250 million years in the making.

I first traveled to Palo Duro while RVing with two sons, ages 8 and 9, in 2005. They were enchanted and loved the remoteness. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was their favorite on this particular trip, but Palo Duro Canyon was a highly rated second place.

I suppose some people naturally compare it to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been there, how can you measure any place against the Grand Canyon? To do so may disappoint. For their young eyes–who had never been to Arizona–Palo Duro was spectacular and offered a spirit of adventure.

We only stayed two nights, but could have easily stayed more. My journalism professor at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State), Jeff Henderson, told me about a show there back in the late 1970s. It remained on my bucket list for 30 years before I was able to experience it.

We enjoyed a great Chuck Wagon meal prior to the event just outside the entry of the Pioneer Ampitheater.

It’s beautifully carved out of and nestled into a natural basin in the state park. Summer 2021 the spectacular TEXAS OUTDOOR MUSICAL Palo Duro Canyon comes alive once again for the 55th season  of the Official Play of the State of Texas.

It reminded me of a Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Broadway musical type play but set against an authentic tapestry of history. The show’s fictional characters bring to life the stories, struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800’s. Song and dance abound – and a generous helping of good ol’ Texas humor too – with spellbinding lighting, special effects and fireworks.

For a dad with his two sons, one of the best ways we experienced the canyon was by tying on hiking shoes and exploring the CCC Trail, one of more than 30 miles of trails.

If a strenuous, yet rewarding, hike is what you’re after, traverse either the Upper Comanche or the Lower Comanche trails. The former takes you across a river and deep through Comanche territory to an overlook halfway up the canyon wall. The latter meanders beneath Fortress Cliff and past spring-fed streams and Rocky Mountain junipers. Meanwhile, the Juniper/Cliffside trail offers a more easygoing stroll past percolation caves carved by moving water over time.

The Lighthouse

A favorite for many visitors (it was the middle of June, hot, so we elected not to try it–almost 6 mile round trip) to Palo Duro Canyon hike to the Lighthouse, the park’s iconic rock formation. If you decide to trek to Lighthouse trail to see it for yourself, make sure to bring plenty of water.

Of course, there are other ways to uncover Palo Duro Canyon’s many wonders. Ride horseback on the canyon floor on a guided tour with Old West Stables or find your way along many of the trails on your mountain bike.

The canyon’s lush landscapes and variety of terrain makes it a veritable hotspot for birdwatching. Golden-fronted woodpeckers are among the many birds you can see throughout the year, while summer welcomes such colorful species as painted buntings and Bullock’s orioles.

Keep a keen eye and you may even see bobcats, coyotes, and wild turkeys, as well as members of the official State Longhorn Herd (descendants of cattle brought by the Spanish in the 1500s).