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Letters from Readers - October 2008 Wild West

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: August 14, 2008 
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Terrorism and Tilghman
I was somewhat amused by the comments about religious terrorism in the April 2008 issue ("Letters"). We all certainly seem to have short memories about the early history of this country. Does anybody remember what the padres did to the native Americans throughout the Southwest and California? The "Black Robes" did similar things in the Northeastern United States and Canada. Then we had the witchcraft trials in areas of New England. Various dissenters from the Church of England were jailed and worse in Virginia. The list could go on and on. Religious terrorism is not new here or elsewhere in the world.

"Out of the West into the Western" (also in the April issue) is a nice article, but the comment that Bill Tilghman was gunned down is a misstatement of fact. There was ample testimony at the trial of Wiley Lynn, the man who killed Tilghman, that indicated Lynn shot Tilghman in self-defense. Tilghman had repeatedly made threats that he would "get" Lynn because Lynn was getting in the way of Tilghman's various "shakedown operations" in Cromwell, Okla. Lynn was a federal prohibition officer trying to conduct a raid on a club in Cromwell when Tilghman attempted to keep him from performing his duty.

Nancy B. Samuelson
Sacramento, Calif.

A Bank Robbery
Allan Radbourne's article in the April issue on early moving pictures was excellent. I was especially interested in the mention of Oklahoma Natural Mutoscene Company's The Bank Robbery, by Bill Tilghman. I understand there was a cameo performance in that film by Quanah Parker. A check with Google shows the film listed as A Bank Robbery and lists Quanah (as himself) and Heck Thomas. Is there any available copy of this film on tape or disc?

L.H. Amman
Thornton, Colo.

Author Allan Radbourne responds: A Bank Robbery (19 minutes, 1908) survives in the Library of Congress but is not available for home viewing as far as I know; I have not seen it. Kevin Brownlow, in The War, The West and The Wilderness (London, 1979), comments about the appearance of Tilghman and the difficulty in verifying the presence of Quanah Parker. Tilghman later directed and starred in The Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws (1915).

Hawmps! and Hawmps?
As a Wild West subscriber, I enjoyed very much the December 2007 article on the U.S. Army experiment using camels. In the P. 6 "Editor's Letter," you mentioned two films that had camels. There was also a comedy in 1976 called Hawmps! featuring camels in a cavalry unit in Texas; the cast includes Slim Pickens, James Hampton, Jack Elam and Denver Pyle. It is humorous and a bit "Hollywood-ized" but reasonably accurate as far as historic timelines and facts. I purchased it on DVD [it's written Hawmps? on the DVD, but Hawmps! on the video]. I like all Wild West articles, and on annual trips to the West, I like to visit sites featured in these stories.

Gordon Dremann
Princeton, Ill.

About that 'Wild' in Wild West
I read with horror a letter in your April 2008 issue from a reader who was clamoring for "more action, more adventure" and "thrill" simply because the August 2007 issue allegedly lacked these aspects. For me Wild West Magazine represents one of the last vestiges of journalistic integrity in our society. I believe I speak for a vast majority of your readers when I beseech you not to give in to modern, superficial, tabloid-style journalism!

Has the reader forgotten why we love the Old West in the first place? The wondrous nature of its beauty, freedom and simplicity stand in sharp contrast with the commercialized, packaged, regulated world we live in today. To be sure, gunfights and prostitutes and bank robberies were a part of that world back then, but the "wild" in Wild West simply means untamed, not "action-packed." Curiously, The Little House series the reader admits he enjoys has endured all these years because it is fascinating, inspiring and, yes, exciting to read about Western pioneers. For most of us, the wondrous history in your publication represents this same kind of priceless dedication. If the reader only wants action, read Louis L'Amour.

Gregory J. Winters
Warren, Mich.

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