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Wild West—October 2014—Letters From Readers

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: July 30, 2014 
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Grand Canyon Skeleton

The Westerners ["Died in the High Country"] photo on P. 17 of the June Wild West was taken in the Grand Canyon not in the high country. The photo is on the cover of the book Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon (2001, Puma Press), by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers. The discovery of the skeleton is covered on P. 72 and in Table 2 on P. 90. Clarence C. Spaulding, an employee of Ralph Cameron, and Howard Noble found the skeleton in 1906. Ellsworth and Emery Kolb, who would show motion pictures of their 1911–12 river trip at their studio on the South Rim for around 70 years, photographed the skeleton. On the body was a Los Angeles newspaper from 1900. The Kolb brothers' narrative also appears in their book Through the Grand Canyon From Wyoming to Mexico. They camped in this area on their trip. I have camped across the river from this spot at Trinity Creek on a river trip in 1991, and it's not the best place to camp. The sandy area in the photo at the extreme left of the skeleton is probably Trinity Creek, and the less sandy area above the point at the skeleton's feet might be 91 Mile; it fits the Kolbs' description. Table 2 in Ghiglieri and Myers's book states the skeleton was found about 300 feet above the river. The inner gorge at this point should be about 1,000 to 1,200 feet high above the river. They also speculate the skeleton might have been a tourist or prospector and might have died from hypothermia or exhaustion. The Kolbs found no obvious signs of trauma.

Paul Stroich
Tucson, Ariz.

No Palomino

I enjoyed John Koster's article "Right as Rain-in-the-Face" in the June issue, but I want to correct the identification of the horse identified as "a palomino pony" on P. 31. Rain-in-the Face is astride a pinto or skewbald. Keep up the good work on your magazine.

Barry Waldbaum
Centereach, N.Y.

Editor responds: When the photo was sold at auction in 2008, Rain's horse was described as a "palomino pinto." The caption writer (me) left out the "pinto" part.

1888, Not 1988

I'm sure a number of readers caught the typo in the 10th entry (about lawman Bud Kell) of Art T. Burton's Top 10 list in the June issue of Wild West. Bud must have been one old lawman. I do enjoy reading about the Old West.

Ken Haines
Taylor, Mich.

Editor responds: Yes, we (not Burton) introduced the typo in the sentence "By 1988 he was serving as Muskogee's first town marshal." Kell made a name for himself in the 1880s and served as a lawman in various capacities through at least 1911.

Curved Knife

Your June 2014 edition, P. 69, shows several photos referencing the Denver Public Library's Western history collection. The photo with the caption "A large curved knife with sheath" is of a kukri, most associated with the famed Gurkha soldiers originating in South Asia, especially Nepal, and well known for their military prowess in World War I and World War II, fighting for Nepal, India and Great Britain. Since these edged tools/weapons have been around for several centuries, I'm sure a few have made their way to the states via immigrants, but it was a bit of a surprise to me to see them associated with the American West.

Rich Boesen
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Author Kellen Cutsforth responds: The kukri is from the Edwin Palmer Hoyt Collection held at the Denver Public Library. Hoyt, who served in World War I in 1917, had kept the knife as a memento. Throughout his life Hoyt developed an enthusiasm for Western history, and he was instrumental in reviving the Denver Post–sponsored Cheyenne Frontier Days train that runs from Denver to Cheyenne during Wyoming's popular Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Mountain Man Ties

We enjoyed your editorial "Rendezvous With Manifest Destiny" and the pictorial tribute to the mountain man rendezvous of the fur trade era in the June issue. We personally regret we were such late bloomers in our search of family roots. However, we were amazed to find two very adventurous souls—George Yount, Taos free trapper (1826–30), and Harry Yount, our nation's first park ranger at Yellowstone Park (1880–81). The Old Taos Trade Fair, held at the historic Martinez Hacienda, was the beginning of our endeavor to celebrate the spirit of George Yount with our primitive mountain man camp, accoutrements and trade goods. As we tell their stories (that's us on the right side of the photo), we still marvel at the true characters George and Harry were. They both must have been of strong body and mind to have survived well into old age. It must be true what they say: You never know how strong you are until you know the blood of your ancestors.

Harry and Alice Murray
(aka "Two Old Coots")
Las Cruces, N.M.

O.K. Corral Gunfighters

With all that's been written and portrayed about the O.K. Corral, one thing puzzles me: Why weren't the two best shootists of the Cowboy contingent—Curly Bill Brocius and Johnny Ringo—present? After all, the Earp's recruited Doc Holliday, obviously their best gun. Previously Wyatt had buffaloed Brocius with his gun barrel in the Marshal Fred White shooting. Also, Ringo publicly called out Wyatt on numerous occasions, with Earp declining the challenge. It seems Brocius and Ringo had more skin in the game than the Clantons and McLaurys. Ike ran, and those that stayed were more cowboys than gunmen. History might have been different had the number of shootists involved been more equal.

Brad Cleveland
Brentwood, Calif.

Researcher Roger Jay, who writes often about Wyatt Earp and the October 1881 gunfight near the O.K. Corral, responds: In my article "Fatal Mix-Up on Fremont Street" (October 2012 Wild West) I pointed out the gunfight was the result of an accident, not a planned confrontation by either the Earps or the Cowboys. Neither Curly Bill nor Ringo was aware the shootout was imminent—nor were the participants themselves.

Good Writers

I am a new reader of Wild West. Since I am a longtime admirer of Nez Perce Chief Joseph, whose picture was on the cover of your April issue, I bought that issue and then the June issue with Rain-in-the-Face on the cover. I was impressed. Your writers are very good, especially John Koster. "Right as Rain-in-the-Face" [by Koster] was the most interesting of all. I believe this Lakota warrior's story. "Slaper's Side of the Story" [by Koster] was informative and interesting. The Death Whoop painting article by Koster in the April Pioneers and Settlers held my interest. I like Koster's writing so much I am buying his book Custer Survivor. You have other good writers, of course. In the April issue I enjoyed reading "Chief Joseph's Guiding Principle," by Candy Moulton. "Stagecoach to Yosemite," by William B. Secrest, was good, and so was "Fort Dilts and Fanny's Bid for Freedom," by Bill Markley. I mailed in for my subscription.

Howard Walsdorff
Greenbrier, Tenn.

Almost Heaven

I am a huge fan of Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp. I come from Roswell, N.M., 70 miles from Lincoln—Billy the Kid Country. My mom and I moved to New Mexico in 1958 after my dad died. I was 11. Southern New Mexico had not only Billy the Kid but also Mescalero Apaches. It was heaven. I saw my future wife, Joann, when I was 13. I was 18 when we ran off to Juárez, in Old Mexico, to get married. Joann and I have gone to Lincoln many times. Christmas 1967, when I was on leave from the U.S. Army, we stayed at the Wortley Hotel, across the street from the Lincoln County Courthouse, where Billy the Kid was held prisoner in April 1881. Deputy Bob Ollinger was returning from a meal at the Wortley when Billy gunned him down. We also lived in Tombstone, Ariz., down the street from the Epitaph newspaper. I was stationed at Fort Huachuca. We've been in Colma, Calif., for 38 years. Wyatt Earp is buried in the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, two miles from my house.

John Flanagan
Colma, Calif.

 

 



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