Sunday, April 23, 2017


Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear surveyed the faces of the four American great leaders carved into the sheer mountainside. For ten years, Standing Bear had pondered the white men hanging by scaffolds from the face of Mt. Rushmore, which happened to lie on his native homeland, the Black Hills of South Dakota. The irony stirred him deeply, and an idea came to him. Finally, in the fall of 1939, he wrote a letter to one of Mt. Rushmore’s sculptors, which read, ''My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.''

The sculptor was Korczak Ziolkowski and he became so intrigued with Standing Bear’s idea of creating a stone memorial honoring Native Americans that he eventually moved west to begin work. Standing Bear and the other Lakota leaders chose the warrior Crazy Horse’s likeness to represent them in stone.

It was Crazy Horse’s band of Lakota warriors who defeated Custer’s Seventh U.S. Cavalry battalion in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, known as "Custer’s Last Stand.”  The warrior Crazy Horse was killed in 1877 at Ft. Robinson, where he rode in under a flag of truce. A misunderstanding, possible the fault of a poor translator, led to a scuffle and Crazy Horse was mortally wounded with a bayonet.

In 1948, Korczak Ziolkowski’s hammer struck a chisel into the granite of Thunderhead Mountain, only 17 miles from Mt. Rushmore. Being a self-taught sculptor, he made many early miscalculations, some resulting in bodily injuries. He fell in love with Ruth, a young volunteer on the project, and eventually married her. The Ziolkowskis welcomed a total of 10 children. Ruth worked alongside him until his death in 1982, then took over supervision of the carving, taking to heart his instructions to “go slowly so you do it right.” At this point, not even the face of Crazy Horse was finished.
Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski

The privately funded transformation from mountain to statue has been a long one, and it is still not complete. Today, four of the Ziolkowski children and several grandchildren carry on the work. After 69 years of construction, the sons and daughters of Korczak Ziolkowski say they will not see completion of the statue in their lifetimes. (In comparison, the Great Pyramid of Egypt is thought to have been built in about 20 years.) Eventually, the image of Crazy Horse will be wider than two football fields and taller than the Washington Monument.

Crazy Horse’s pose was inspired by the story that, after the defeat of the Lakota, a derisive Cavalryman asked him the question, “Where are your lands now?” With his left hand pointing over his horse’s head, Crazy Horse answered, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

Strangely, a few years after the warrior’s death, a medicine man, Black Elk, told an interviewer that Crazy Horse had predicted to him: ''I will return to you in stone.'' The prophecy is coming true, one chip of granite at a time.

For more information about the Crazy Horse Memorial, visit
Rendering of the future Crazy Horse Memorial Visitor Complex

All the best,


2015 WWA Spur Finalist (Short Fiction)
2015 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Finalist (Short Fiction)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gunsmoke: Chester or Festus?

In this installment of my Gunsmoke musings, I ask the all-important question:
Chester or Festus?
Which was your favorite? Which was the most help to Marshal Dillon?

It ranks in importance with other earth shattering pop culture decisions- who was your favorite Bond? Your favorite Law & Order detective? Your favorite Third Stooge? (for me it’s a close call between Curly and Shemp… I wish they could’ve been the Four Stooges! But I digress.)
First, a little background.
Chester Goode, played by Dennis Weaver, was a member of the original cast- and, like all the other originals, was a carryover from the radio program. On the radio version his name had been Chester Wesley Proudfoot, and he did not have the distinctive stiff-legged limp –that was introduced by Weaver. The limp is never explained; Chester does, however, mention serving in the army, so I always figured it was probably a war wound. The fact he got into the army suggests the limp came afterwards.

A common misperception: Chester was not a deputy. He wore no badge, and was described as “the marshal’s assistant.” It seems that he had been hired by Matt to help out around the jail; cleaning up, running errands, making coffee. However, Chester did often back the marshal’s play when apprehending bad guys –always taking a shotgun or one of the rifles from the rack in the office, never wearing a pistol.

In one episode (“Reward for Matt,” Season One), fearing for Matt’s safety, Chester surreptitiously took the marshal’s back-up revolver- “that old rusty Remington you keep in your desk.” Matt takes it away from him: “Sorry, Chester. A man has to kill his own snakes.”

Dennis Weaver left the series in the middle of the ninth season, having appeared in 290 episodes. He left to star in his own series, Kentucky Jones, which only lasted one season (but he had much more success later, with Gentle Ben and McCloud, and gave an excellence performance as trail-boss R.J. Poteet in the miniseries Centennial.)
The Gunsmoke writers gave no reason for Chester’s departure- one week he was there, the next week he was not, and he was never mentioned again that I am aware of. In fact, that tended to be the procedure on the show; new cast members were always introduced with an “origin” episode, showing them arrive in town, but when they left they were just gone without a word of explanation. The half-Comanche blacksmith Quint Asper, played by Burt Reynolds, is the only character I ever recall being mentioned again after they left (Festus: “Matthew, we’ve gone through several blacksmiths since the Comanche left.”)
Festus Haggen, played by Ken Curtis, was introduced in an eighth-season episode (“Us Haggens”), became a recurring character in the ninth season, and took over as Matt’s sidekick when Chester left –edging his predecessor out by appearing in 304 episodes. The apparently unlimited Haggen clan are sometimes referred to as Missouri ridge-runners, and Ken Curtis said he based the accent on someone he knew from his native Colorado… but said accent is very authentic Appalachian dialect.

Ken Curtis- a singer as well as an actor, and a former member of the Sons of the Pioneers –released two albums in the late ‘60s, singing and telling stories in character as Festus.

In one of the tales, “Ode to a Mule,” he tells of being a mule skinner in the Confederate Army, and specifically at the battle of Franklin in Tennessee. General Schofield (the Union commander) “was mighty hard on us Tennessee boys.” Festus came under heavy fire while trying to recover Confederate dead from Hood’s ill-fated charge- he survived only because his faithful mule Ruth carried him through the hail of bullets, succumbing herself once they reached safety. In gratitude to the mule who died carrying him to safety, he swore to name every mule he owned thereafter “Ruth,” no matter their sex.

The story tells us a lot about Festus. We can safely assume that the Haggen clan was comprised of East Tennessee mountain folk who migrated to Missouri at some point. Again, being from the area myself, the accent is perfect- my wife didn’t believe ye could be jobbed in the eye with a stob till she heard Festus say it too.
When we first met him, Festus was a man who had apparently spent most of his life on the wrong side of the law –like all his kin. His brother Jeff had been killed by a shotgun blast while trying to rob a stagecoach, and his twin brother Fergus had died of wounds received from a posse after a botched bank robbery. Festus first encounters Matt when they are hunting the same man- Black Jack Haggen, Festus’ uncle, who had abandoned the injured Fergus, stealing his horse and leaving him for dead. Matt and Festus strike up an uneasy partnership, catching the older bandit (who winds up shot dead by the marshal.)

We see Festus again the following season (the ninth)… trying to keep to the straight and narrow, he is now working in the Dodge area as a prairie wolfer. He shows up in town from time to time to trade in his hides, and winds up helping Matt more than once. For a very brief spell, Festus and Chester are both in Dodge- and they seemed to be fast friends.
After Chester leaves, Matt begins occasionally deputizing Festus and leaving him to watch over things when the marshal has to be out of town (this as-needed situation is first described in the season ten episode “Deputy Festus.”) Later, Thad Greenwood and then Newly O’Brien also serve as part-time deputies. Festus initially works part-time at Moss Grimmick’s livery stable, doing repair work to wagons (a skill he would’ve learned as a mule-skinner, no doubt) but eventually seems to be Matt’s full-time deputy, even doing the work of a deputy U.S. marshal (tracking fugitives in other states.) In the final season, Matt usually leaves Newly “in charge” –and, as we learn in the first TV movie, Newly eventually takes Matt’s place as marshal.

There’s the background. So who’s your favorite? I’ll say upfront that –while I like both characters –if I were the marshal and had to pick one I’d go with Festus. Here is how the two match up, in various categories…


Though Chester can be relied on in a posse, or for laying down covering fire… he’s not really a tough guy. He is hampered physically by his bad leg; he is also high-strung, nervous, fastidious, and a hypochondriac. One gets the distinct feeling he doesn’t wear a pistol because Matt doesn’t allow him to, figuring he’d get himself killed.
However, Chester is brave and determined… and as the show progresses, you can almost see the frustration in Dennis Weaver as he tires of being the gimpy sidekick and wishes for a more central, heroic role. He gets it a few times, in his last couple of seasons – catching some bad guys and solving some mysteries. The very last episode he appears in, “Bently,” features Chester figuring out who the killer is –only to be brushed off somewhat ignominiously by Matt, Doc, Quint, and Kitty. Not only do they not believe him, they are impatient with his antics, treating him like an idiot. Turns out Chester was right –the old farmer who had died leaving everyone to believe he had robbed and murdered Dave Bently was innocent; the bad-guy rancher who had really committed the crime (due to jealousy) tried to have Chester killed because he was snooping around too much, and accidentally killed his own young wife –who had been trying to warn Chester.

The last time we see Chester he is deeply shaken by the turn of events, and offers to escort the innocent man’s elderly widow to the stage, right after she learned that her husband had not been a killer and that Chester was the only one who had believed in him. In the last scene they are walking silently together to the depot. The more I watch that final scene, the more convinced I am that Chester just got on that stage with her and went someplace he’d be appreciated.
So I think in the final analysis Chester was more competent than the audience –or any of his friends –really realized.
Festus, on the other hand, was portrayed from the very beginning as a handy person to have in a shooting scrape or a brawl, as well as a talented tracker. If anything, he became more of a caricature as time went on –for some reason getting more scruffy and squinty-eyed after his first few seasons (Curtis also changed the character’s voice, making it deeper.) Toward the end of the series, the viewer could pretty much know that when Matt left town someone or other was going to knock Festus and Newly in the head and take over Dodge. Even then, however, Festus was presented as much more competent than Chester would have been –and many episodes were centered on Festus trailing desperadoes alone. And he was a hellion in a rough-and-tumble, apt to bite off that there hangy-down part of your ear.

From day one, Matt’s interactions with Festus demonstrated mutual respect and trust in his abilities, while his treatment of Chester was condescending and protective.

This was Chester’s official designation, and he was much better at the duties it entailed than Festus would or could have been. He always kept the coffee fresh, cleaned the place up (although I recall him grumbling once about Matt making him wash windows, which “ain’t no type of job for a man”), delivered messages, kept the prisoners fed, and so on. Festus, on the other hand, was seriously hampered by the fact he was completely illiterate… and he just wasn’t a tidy person like Chester.


Believe it or not, Festus wins this one… scruffy as he was on a normal day (and when he was prairie-wolfin’ he was even scruffier), Festus had something Chester did not.

A fancy dress shirt.
When the occasion suggests it, Festus foregoes his usual white shirt and goes with a sort of paisley one –he fastens the collar button, and even adds arm garters. The best Chester does is sometimes add a vest to his simple wardrobe.


Chester sings to himself while he putters around the office –his favorite tune, which I don’t recognize, is about moving to Kansas. He also plays guitar pretty well, and blows a mean comb.
But he can’t compete with Festus. In his early episodes, Deputy Haggen occasionally unleashes that mellifluous Ken Curtis singing voice. He also, in those first few seasons he was on the show, frequently sings his own theme song: “Festus, don’t let no pretty woman make a fool of you… build yourself a herd, then you can cull one out if you want to…”


Both Chester and Festus are known for working hard when the occasion warrants, and for working hard to make sure the occasion doesn’t warrant. They’re also both cheap, and always on the lookout for a free drink or meal.

We get to meet Chester’s “wild” brother Magnus, and the uncle who raised Chester after his father died, Wesley Goode (Magnus ran away and went wild when he was ten, never sleeping in a bed again. My guess would be that when Wesley’s brother died, he tried to take in both boys but Magnus didn’t cooperate.)

 In a first season episode, "How to Die for Nothing," however, Chester -after remarking that he was ten years old before he realized boys were supposed to have a ma -says he was raised up by Ben Cherry, a friend of his father's. When asked how long he stayed with him, Chester said "till he pegged out in his sleep one night, then I buried him in the ground and started out on my own." Maybe Uncle Wesley took him in for awhile, then he ended up with Cherry.
Uncle Wesley appears in a fourth season episode that was adapted from one of the radio episodes. Chester’s uncle shows up in town unannounced, to his nephew’s consternation; Chester had been writing home and saying that he was the marshal of Dodge City, and he had an assistant named Mister Dillon. Chester’s friends play along with the charade to help him save face. His uncle is impressed, for he too had a low opinion of his nephew’s competence:
““I had 11 nephews, and Chester was nowhere near the brightest. About number nine. Chester just borders on bein’ ignorant, I’d say… I never thought he’d amount to anything.”

Chester foils a robbery, proving he is not the klutz everyone takes him to be. Well, not completely.
This episode, oddly, keeps the original radio title: “Marshal Proudfoot.”
As discussed earlier, we also met Festus’ uncle (Black Jack) early on. The Haggens just keep coming (“there’s a sight of us around.”) We probably encounter over a dozen, plus we learn of many more via Festus’ stories (he frequently quotes his Grandpa Hawg Haggen.) There were so many, in fact, I’m not going to go into detail here and instead make them the subject of a future installment.

Both Chester and Festus make a second career out of arguing with Doc Adams, often reducing him to dyspeptic sputtering.

One thing that sets Festus apart in his first couple of seasons is his close friendship with the blacksmith, Quint Asper (Burt Reynolds.) It is a very playful relationship, showing us a side of Festus we rarely see otherwise. The episode “Comanches Is Soft” (Festus’ frequent rejoinder to the half-Comanche blacksmith), in which Festus and Quint go on a drunken, carousing adventure, is one of the funniest of the series.

“Mad Dog” is another favorite of mine, in which Festus is mistaken for a deadly gunfighter in another town… and also thinks he is dying of rabies, and decides he’d rather go out shooting (and biting) his enemies.
The funniest Chester episode (and one of the best in the series), by contrast, is “Chesterland”… in which Chester tries to satisfy his (somewhat accidental) fiancĂ©e by building a house out on the prairie. His housekeeping/homebuilding efforts are one hilarious disaster after another, and the girl was only after what little money he had anyway. So in the midst of the hilarity, there is still great sadness… and the humor with Chester, almost always, is along the lines of “Poor Chester… he really does try so hard, but he just can’t accomplish anything.” While often funny, that’s no fun.


“Chesterland” is probably the high point of Chester’s love life. He has a few unrequited crushes, gets taken advantage of a lot, and the one time he meets a woman who really does appreciate him –she throws him over and runs off with an outlaw, to keep the outlaw from killing him (“He Learned about Women.”)

Festus at least does have a steady girlfriend for awhile- April, who was introduced in the same episode he was and who appeared several times in the ninth season. There are also a few widder-women that take an interest in Festus, and sometimes vice-versa (Chester had an ill-fated widow adventure as well, and an ill-fated mail order bride.)


That’s MY assessment- of course, I may be biased in favor of Festus, because he is the Gunsmoke sidekick I grew up with. When I talk to folks older than me, they tend to prefer Chester. I think that if they ever do a  TV or big screen remake of Gunsmoke –as they are about to do with The Big Valley and The Rifleman –they should use both Chester AND Festus, with Chester as the “marshal’s assistant” taking care of things at the jail and Festus as the chief deputy. That would be perfect.

What do you think?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Old West Recipes Part

Your Old West characters would have been interested in reading about many of the same things that interest modern folk: the latest news, expert advice, and of course, looking and feeling good. People back then worried about the same things we do, too: clear skin, gray hair and no hair. This particular list of recipes is from The Ladies' and Gentlemen's Etiquette (Mrs. E.B. Duffey, 1877). Each paragraph beneath a heading marks a new recipe.
Some terms explained:
      Ambergris: a wax-like substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale; found floating in tropical seas and traditionally used in perfume manufacture.
      Attar of Roses: the essential oil extracted from the petals of various types of rose.
      Bandoline: a mucilaginous preparation used for smoothing, glossing or waving the hair.
      Cantharides: extract of crushed blister beetle
      Deliquated: dissolved or melted.
      Drachm: a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equal to 60 grains or one-eighth of an ounce.
      Felon: also known as a whitlow; a deep, usually pus-filled inflammation of the finger or toe, especially around the nail.
      Gill: a unit of volume equal to 4.16 fluid ounces
      Goulard's Extract: a solution of lead acetate and lead oxide; commonly used as an astringent up until the early 20th Century.
      Grain: A unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries, equal to 60 milligrams. 1 gram is equal to 15 grains, and 1 dram is 60 grains.
      Isinglass: a kind of gelatin obtained from fish, especially sturgeon, and used for making glue, etc.; also used of transparent sheets of mica.
      Muriate: a chloride compound.
      Rectified Spirits: highly concentrated ethanol, which has been purified by repeated distillation (rectification).
      Spermaceti: a waxy substance found in the head cavities of the sperm whale (and, in smaller quantities, in the oils of other whales).
      Tragacanth: a natural gum made from the dried sap of several Middle Eastern legume plants.

To Improve the Complexion:
The whites of four eggs boiled in rose-water, half an ounce of alum, half an ounce of oil of sweet almonds; beat the whole together until it assumes the consistency of paste. Spread upon a silk or muslin mask, to be worn at night.
Take a small piece of the gum benzoin and boil it in spirits of wine until it becomes a rich tincture. Fifteen drops poured into a glass of water; wash and leave to dry.
For Roughness of the Skin:
Mix two parts of white brandy with one part of rose-water, and wash the face night and morning.
Take equal parts of the seed of the melon, pumpkin, gourd and cucumber, pounded until they are reduced to powder; add to it sufficient fresh cream to dilute the flour, and then add milk enough to reduce the whole to a thin paste. Add a grain of musk and a few drops of the oil of lemon. Anoint the face with this; leave it on twenty or thirty minutes, or over-night if convenient, and wash off with warm water. It gives a remarkable purity and brightness to the complexion.
Steep the pimpernel plant in pure rain-water, and bathe the face with the decoction.

To Soften the Hands:
Take half a pound of soft soap, a gill of salad oil, an ounce of mutton tallow, and boil them till they are thoroughly mixed. After the boiling has ceased but before the mixture is cold, add one gill of spirits of wine and a grain of musk. Anoint the hands, draw on gloves, and let them remain till morning.
For Rough and Chapped Hands:
Lemon-juice, three ounces, white wine vinegar three ounces, and white brandy one-half a pint.
To Prevent Hair Turning Gray:
Oxide of bismuth four drachms, spermaceti four drachms, pure hog’s lard four ounces. Melt the two last and add the first.
To Soften and Beautify the Hair:
Beat up the whites of four eggs into a froth, and rub thoroughly in close to the roots of the hair. Leave it to dry on. Then wash the head and hair clean with a mixture of equal parts of rum and rose-water.

To Remove Pimples:
Sulphur-water one ounce, acetated liquor of ammonia one-quarter of an ounce, liquor or potassa one grain, white wine vinegar two ounces, distilled water two ounces. Bathe the face.
Pimples are sometimes removed by frequent washings in warm water and prolongs friction with a coarse towel.
Chapped Lips:
Oil of roses four ounces, white wax one ounce, spermaceti one-half an ounce. Melt in a glass vessel and stir with a wooden spoon. Pour into a glass or china cup.
Cure for Corns:
Take nightshade berries, boil them in hog's lard, and anoint the corn with the salve.
One teaspoonful of tar, one teaspoonful of coarse brown sugar and one teaspoonful of saltpetre, the whole to be warmed together. Spread it on kip leather the size of the corns, and in two days they will be drawn out.
J.E.S. Hays

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for April

After too long away, I've returned.

Today, with tomorrow being Good Friday, followed by Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, the Easter Triduum as the Roman Catholic Church calls it, I thought I'd give a very bried, hardly in dpeth overview of religion in the frontier West.

Of course, religion is one of the main reasons the so-called New World was settled. While the native peoples had their own forms of worship, bringing Christianity to new lands was a mission for many faiths. The Spanish wanted to bring Catholicism to the so-called New World. Others fled England, the Netherlands, and France to flee religious persecution. The Spanish missionaries brought their beliefs to the West first, followed by others, one notable group being the Mormons.

Unfortunately, like so many other professions and callings of the West, clergy have also been much stereotyped in Western movies, books, and television shows. Too often, a clergyman will be portrayed as a pistol packing preacher, a hellfire and brimstone Bible thumper, a zealous reformer, or a sissy who gets trampled by the outlaws and ingrained powers of a town. Clergy women are treated no better, if nuns portrayed as heroic, too good to be true,or else sadistic knuckle-rappers, female preachers radical anti-liquor and gambling zealots, who are always ugly, and always frowning.

The truth is, of course, that religion was very important to the people of the West, just like to the rest of the world, and most clergy were merely good people doing their job. And unlike in the typical portrayals, every faith was represented, not just the Protestant preacher trying to reform the town nor the Mexican priest ministering to the peons. Jews were well represented in the West, particularly in Texas. Many early Texas Rangers were Jewish, and several counties in Texas are named after an early Jewish settler who joined the Rangers. Corsicana, Texas was a center of Jewish society. An historic synagogue still stands in the town, now used as a recreation center.

So, when you think of, or write about, religion and clergy in the West, yes, you can have your character anything you want. Just keep in mind that most of them went about their daily business just like the other settlers of the land west of the Mississippi.

Until next month, 
"Ranger" Jim

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Notorious Schoolmarms of the Old West
Blog #3  One-room Schoolhouse Teachers
            By Julie Hanks, Ph.D.  aka Jesse J Elliot

         Okay, I’m sorry, I couldn’t find any “notorious” schoolmarms or schoolmasters west of the Mississippi. Due to the strict rules educators (especially female educators) had to follow in order to maintain their employment, any scandalous behavior would have been met with immediate expulsion. Teachers could administer the birch to a student and still be in the right, but if the teachers were out after eight or missed church or flirted, they were fired.
            After Catharine Beecher lauded women’s ability to be natural teachers (and cheaper ones at that) in the classrooms, the amount of female teachers increased greatly. Between 1847 and 1858, more than 600 women teachers traveled across the untamed frontier to provide youngsters with an education, and the numbers grew rapidly in the decades to come, as women took advantage of one of the few career opportunities for respectable work for ladies of the era (Enss.) By 1890, approximately seventy five percent of school teachers were female, and though none were notorious, many were notable. Here are four of them.

Sister Blandina-Builder of schools & hospitals; Friend to Billy the Kid and Happy Jack; passionate teacher and caregiver to SW Native Americans & Mexicanos

              In Trinidad, CO, Sister Blandina brought communities together to build schools and hospitals. Money was never available for schools, so when Sister Blandina arrived and saw the shack used for educating the children, she decided to draw attention to the need for a newer building. She took a crowbar and got on the roof and began to rip it apart. When a local rancher rode by, he asked what she was doing. She told him she was rebuilding the schoolhouse since this one was unacceptable. Shocked by this intrepid nun who spoke to him in his own language (Spanish) and realizing she was right, he asked her what she needed. Before the day was done, she had six men with supplies helping her. Apparently, few if any of her ventures were funded originally, but she refused to accept defeat and accomplished her goal each time one way or another with the help of the community.
            One day she was called to save the life of a youth. When Sister Blandina found him, he was slowly dying from gunshot wounds. None of the doctors would help him as he was an outlaw. Ironically his name was Lucky Jack. She took care of him for nine months until he died. For her kindness, Jack’s gang leader, another youth at the time, Billy the Kid, asked how he could return a favor.  The sister asked him not to harm the doctors who had refused to help Jack after she heard his plan to go back and scalp them. Billy the Kid promised her and never got his revenge, but as we all know, he did continue to rob stages, etc.
After building schools and hospitals and helping bring education and medical care to the Mexicanos and the Native Americans of the South West, Sister Blanini died at the ripe old age of 94 (Enss).

Hannah Clapp: A teacher named Hannah Clapp arrived in Salt Lake City wearing “a calico blouse and bloomers made of thick, canvas-type material and carrying a pistol.”
         Hannah Clapp made the trip out west with her brother and his family. Her only desire was to bring education to the west. Her attire reflected her philosophy. She supported women’s rights, the Temperance movement, and the [then] Republican party. “She was armed and ready to take on anyone who might physically challenge her style or dream of going to California to teach.”  Finding that there was no school between the Sierras and Salt Lake City, she petitioned the territorial leaders to approve a modest facility. They gave her $12,000. Though larger than a one-room schoolhouse, she opened the doors of the Sierra Seminary.  She shared teaching duties with two other teachers, and her school was so renown, that a young reporter was sent over to cover some of the special events of the school. His name was Mark Twain (Enss).

Anna Webber:  Prairie teacher, taught sixteen + students in a classroom made for about six students with no furniture, blackboards, or books.
         At twenty-one years of age, Anna Webber received her teaching certificate in Mitchell County. She went on to teach in Blue Hill, Kansas, in a sod schoolroom. Eleven boys and five girls made up her classroom. Their ages ranged from six to thirteen years. In her journal, she explains that she waits in vain for any classroom furniture. No desks, no chairs, and no tables. About half way through the three-month session, six new students arrived, and Glory Be, they brought a table with them. Webber was ecstatic. 
         Also in her journal, Webber described the constant inclement weather of the prairie, high winds and storms that often kept her students away from class. “My Land! The wind blows hard enough to take a persons heard off.” Forced to keep the students inside, she allows them to play, but their play shakes the sod schoolhouse so much that she can’t even write straight.  Sadly on the last day of school, it rained so hard that only nine students were able to show up.
         In spite of the lack of furniture, equipment, books, and blackboards, Webber continued to teach in Blue Hills and two additional Kansas counties in the state. She later joined the Kansas Industrial School in June 1890 and was the head of the sewing department. She married, and her daughter became a respected teacher of American history at Lincoln High School in Nebraska (Enss).

Lucinda Lee Dalton:       Tenacious and intellectual
         Another notable female teacher was from Beaver, Utah. Dalton illustrates the intellectual depth of the teachers found in the West. Forced to quit her own education at twelve, she left behind her mentor, a male teacher who recognized her for her intellect, and she went to work for her father in his newly opened private school. Though younger than many of the students by up to four years, she was their intellectual superior in all subjects. At sixteen she began teaching in an infant school.
         Though born a Mormon, she was an independent thinker and a suffragette. After a failed marriage and the death of her husband, she went back to teaching to support her four children. There she gained her independence and an opportunity to continue to learn with her students (Kinkead, 1996).
         This is just four of the many notable teachers. I’m having difficulty finding any schoolmasters of the Old West, let alone notable ones.  If any of you out there know of some journals or anecdotes about male teachers in the Old West, don’t be shy. Please pass them on.

Czajka, Christopher. (2000)   Homestead History       

Enss, Chris. (2008) Frontier Teachers: Stories Of Heroic Women Of The Old West.
            Globe Pequot: Guilford, CT.

Kinkead, Joyce.(1996). A Schoolmarm All My Life: Personal Narratives from Frontier
            Utah. Signature Books: Salt Lake City, Utah.