April 2015 Readers' Letters | HistoryNet
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April 2015 Readers’ Letters

1/29/2015 • Wild West Letters

Hangman Maledon?

‘My grandmother was born in Indian Territory and played with Quanah Parker’s children’

I was at the VA the other day, and in the exchange basket was your June 2014 Wild West—real good articles. In the top photo on P. 56 of Art T. Burton’s article “The ‘Tonto’ of Indian Territory” is a tall, bearded gentleman on the far left. Is that by any chance George Maledon, the hangman at Fort Smith? It looks a lot like him, and it would make sense for him to be photographed with the guards. By the way, my grandmother was born in Indian Territory and played with Quanah Parker’s children.

 

Ida Johnson
Marianna, Fla.

Art Burton responds: I would put my money on the man being George Maledon (1830–1911). Nicknamed the “Prince of Hangmen,” German-born Maledon served in the federal court of Judge Isaac “Hanging Judge” Parker.

Lamentable Lapse
I made an error concerning the prior 1878 case mentioned in my article “Disorder in the Court: ‘The Lamentable Occurrence,’” which appeared in the February 2014 issue of Wild West. This case is on microfilm and was written by hand. Often words and lines were illegible, sometimes even whole pages. In the article I stated that Jacob and Clarissa Kelsey had won the case against Patrick McAteer. Since pages were often not labeled, what I thought was Associate Justice Charles Silent’s decision I now believe was the closing argument for the Kelseys. In fact, McAteer won that case. Because I have found nothing that describes the 1883 case, I do not know what circumstances caused Charles Beach and Clark Churchill to feel they had a chance to overturn the ruling from five years earlier or why the chief justice of the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court, Charles G.W. French, chose to adjudicate this new case. I have since updated my version of the article and wonder if you would put it online, as I would not wish to do anything that would besmirch the excellent reputation of Wild West.

Dorothy Daniels Anderson
Phoenix, Ariz.

Editor responds: Thank you for the updated article. For interested readers, we have put the revised version on our website.

Not Victorio
I enjoyed reading Craig Springer’s interesting article on Victorio (Indian Life, December 2014) and write to say that his uneasiness about the supposed likeness of the chief [published with the article] is well founded. Anyone knowing something about Victorio (Bidu-ya) and Apache Indian photographs should detect the characteristically Yavapai physiognomy and general appearance of the subject. He is, besides, no older than 40—how could a studio photograph have been obtained of Victorio in the 1860s? Someone with a particular interest in Apache and Yavapai Indian photographs might think it likely this image is one of the Yavapai Indian scout portraits made at Fort Bowie in 1886 by Baker and Johnson. The other more frequently published but equally erroneous likeness of Victorio is of similar nature and one of the series Yavapai Indian portraits taken at San Carlos, Arizona, by Frank Randall in 1886–87. In that case there is an original print that identifies the man as Beitero.

It is easy to empathize with the widespread wish for a photographic likeness of Victorio, a formidable and fascinating Apache leader. Surely, though, we are way past the “all Injuns look alike” attitude of the 19th century and able to be more immediately skeptical of alleged likenesses that do not bear a reasonable resemblance to the 1884 Frank Randall portraits of Victorio’s relatives and Warms Springs associates. New Mexico researcher and historian Dan Aranda has established that Victorio was photographed (with others) and is working to discover whether that image survives.

Allan Radbourne
English Westerners’ Society
Taunton, U.K.

Bitter Chinooks?
On P. 20 of David McCormick’s Pioneers and Settlers article in the August 2014 issue, he refers to “the bitter chinooks sweeping down the Bitterroot Valley.” According to the definition, a chinook is a warm wind, and we wonder if the term “Alberta clipper” should have been used. Reading your magazine from cover to cover and living in Arizona, we find a lot of good articles and have discovered quite a few things about places we have been.

Tom Papa
Mayer, Ariz.

Editor responds: Don’t know about Alberta clippers, but as one who in the 1980s mistook a few “bitter chinooks” in the Bitterroot Valley, you are right about those winds being warm.

Paris, Texas
I enjoy Wild West. I like to Google the locations of areas and towns in the articles, and when I was looking up the Lamar County area and Paris, Texas, where John Chisum’s family settled, I found it was more in the eastern part of Texas rather than the “extreme western frontier of the Lone Star State” as the August issue stated. Small error but a great article.

David Paul
Pineville, La.

Editor responds: You are correct. Paris, Texas, county seat of Lamar County, is in northeast Texas, on the western edge of the Piney Woods.

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