Wild West – April 2009 – Letters from Readers

‘I had occasion to visit the Infernal Caverns…and what an experience it was. Stickers everywhere, and hardened clay potholes and plenty of mosquitoes….But it was worth the trip’

Two He Dogs
I am a Swedish photo historian who has a great deal of interest in American history, especially the Wild West. I find your Wild West magazine the best I have seen, and I have bought a number of them since my first visit to the United States many years ago. I am writing now to say that the photo on the cover of your October 2008 issue (below) shows He Dog, a Sicangu Lakota, or Brulé Sioux, from the Rosebud Reservation. The caption information inside, though, is for the Oglala Sioux He Dog (1840–1936). The confusion in some literature over whether the leader He Dog was an Oglala or Brulé is the result of trying to combine two individuals as one. The Brulé He Dog (1836–1927) became a tribal leader in the mid-1870s and visited Washington in 1875 with a large Sioux delegation to discuss the sale of the Black Hills.

I have researched the life and photo legacy of the photographer of this image, John Anderson (1869–1948), a Swedish immigrant to the United States in the 19th century who became a pioneer photographer on the Rosebud Reservation. John Anderson knew this man very well until He Dog died in 1927. I have written about the Brulé He Dog in my 2004 book Rosebud Sioux: A Lakota People in Transition (the photo of He Dog is on P. 134), which I have published with my wife, and with her I have organized a traveling photo exhibit with John Anderson photos and contemporary photos from the Rosebud Reservation.

Ben Reifel (1906–1990), a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe who was elected to the U.S. Congress, confirmed in his correspondence and many conversations with me that there were indeed two Lakota persons named He Dog and that John Anderson was the photographer of the He Dog on your cover.

Claes H. Jacobson
Stockholm, Sweden

December Delight
I very much enjoyed reading your December 2008 issue of Wild West, featuring Wild Bill Hickok aficionado Joseph G. Rosa. Aside from that one error of running the Colt Navy on P. 7 instead of P. 35 (apologies made by you on the February 2009 “Letters” page), the cover article was terrific. I also loved “Must See, Must Read” books and movies on Hickok [P. 69] and “Bird’s-eye View of Deadwood” [P. 38]. One of the buildings you pointed out was the Gem Theatre, owned by Al Swearengen. Of course, British actor Ian McShane brilliantly portrayed Swearengen on HBO-TV’s Deadwood series. The real-life Swearengen was crushed to death by a freight train while trying to hitch a ride on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Give my regards to author Joseph Rosa.

Tony M. Stabo
Milwaukee, Wis.

The editor responds: In the August 2006 issue of Wild West we ran an article titled “The Real Men of Deadwood,” by Mary Franz, that had a lot to say about Swearengen, as well as such other Deadwood characters as Seth Bullock, Sol Star and Charlie Utter…oh, and that real woman Calamity Jane, too. For back issues call 800-358-6327. The three seasons of Deadwood are all out on DVD.

Some Hanky Business
For many, many, many moons now I’ve been under the impression and belief that Charles E. Boles, dubbed Black Bart (who, by the way, is my all-time favorite bandit), was captured because he left a monogrammed handkerchief at the scene of a California stagecoach robbery, and it was traced to a Chinese laundry in San Francisco. You say in the “Roundup” news item “Who Shot Black Bart?” (October 2008) that when he was shot at his last robbery, he dropped a leather valise and that “inside was evidence that led to Black Bart’s capture by Wells Fargo agents.” Could it be the hanky was inside the valise?

I love your magazine. The October 2008 issue was one of the best.

Rodney Arthur Horse Miller
San Marcos, Calif.

The editor responds: You are correct. Black Bart researcher Ralph A. Clark says that regardless of who shot the stage robber, the events following the holdup are undisputed. “In an incident worthy of an episode of CSI,” Clark explains, “Charles E. Boles would be apprehended in San Francisco nine days after the Funk Hill incident, famously tracked down because of a laundry mark on a handkerchief found inside the valise left at the scene of the crime.”

Infernal Caverns
I enjoyed reading Gregory Michno’s fine article [“Crook at the Infernal Caverns”] on the Battle of Infernal Caverns in the October 2008 issue. I had occasion to visit the Infernal Caverns outside of Alturas, Calif., a couple of years ago with my beloved and intrepid lady companion, Eleanor, and what an experience it was. Stickers everywhere, and hardened clay potholes and plenty of mosquitoes. We only got halfway up the hill to the caverns and then had to quit. So my advice to anyone visiting the Infernal Caverns: Wear heavy boots and bring plenty of insect repellent. But it is worth the trip, out there in the unadulterated boondocks with no commercial distractions.

Daniel Woodhead III
San Francisco

Finding Inspiration
I’m just a simple cowgirl who has read your magazine since 1997 and has kept every issue. I woke up one morning with a screenplay in my head, and it’s been like a waterfall ever since, thanks to Wild West. I use it as a reference for my Westerns.

Louisa Allyn
Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.

Send letters to Wild West, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176, or e-mail us at WildWest@weiderhistorygroup.com. Letters may be edited for space.

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