Thursday, May 30, 2019


post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, and summer just ahead, with all its strange weather, I thought a list of fun facts about the region I live in might be a nice diversion.

1    Colorado Springs is the county seat for El Paso county. In 1861, when President Buchanan signed the order creating the Colorado territory, El Paso became one of the original 17 counties.

2     Although other towns may have been planned, Colorado City, now known as Old Colorado City, was the first actual town in El Paso County.

3      Black Forest was part of an area that was called ‘The Pineries’. It was from here lumber for the building of Colorado Springs, Denver and the various railroads was logged.

4      Fox run park has many trees that are Ute Prayer Trees. The Ute and Comanche inhabited the area until about 1800 when the Kiowa took over the area. They in turn were run out by the Ute and Comanche about 40 years later.

        Canon City had a territorial prison in 1871, five years prior to Colorado becoming a state in 1876. At that time, it became part of the state system.

Arkansas River - Canon City
photo property of the author
    Although Cripple Creek has the honor of being the place where Bob Womack located gold and started the last great gold rush in the lower 48, most of the mines in the area were located on Battle Mountain near Victor Colorado.

7        Manitou Springs was originally founded as town to be fashioned after the resorts in Europe. The town was known for its healing mineral waters that visitors would drink to improve their health.

1        The Pikes Peak Hill Climb had its first race 1916 and is the second oldest race in the United States. It was promoted and conceived by Spenser Penrose, who had converted the old carriage road into an auto road.

2        The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo originated in 1937 and took place at the Will Rogers Stadium, across from the Broadmoor, until 1973 when it moved to the Pikes Peak Equestrian Center. (now known as Norris-Penrose)

3        Colorado Springs was chosen as the national headquarters in 1977. It established the Olympic Training Center at the old ENT Air Force Base at the corner of Boulder and Union. Colorado Springs is now known as Olympic City USA.

4        Prospect lake originally was used as a reservoir to water Evergreen Cemetery, and the east side of Colorado Springs. It was also the place for ice skating in the late 1800s.

Heasdstone - Evergreen Cemetery -  Colorado Springs
Photo property of the author
    Pro Rodeo Hall of fame opened in 1979 and is the only museum in the world devoted to the sport of professional rodeo.

6        Winfield Scott Stratton, Cripple Creek Millionaire, donated land for a baseball park and even purchased bicycles for laundry ladies.

          On Saturday June 7, 1873 the Base Ball Club played their first game. The newspaper had a reporter on site, but he was sad, for no accidents of note occurred. ( source - Colo. Springs Weekly Gazette)

          In 1879 ‘wool growing’ was one of the top industries in the region.


          Colorado Springs has seen Eight plus railway companies come and go during the heyday of train travel. The Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway and the BN&SF are still active

    Tourism has always been a part of the region. Cave of the Winds was ‘first’ discovered in 1880. It was called ‘Pickett’s Cave’ in honor of the minister whose group found it. *source Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette, July 3, 1880. Pg.7, col. 1 *

           Out West, the first newspaper for Colorado Springs, had this to say about Garden of the Gods in the June 20, 1872 issue. “ The Garden of the Gods is one of the best know wonders of Colorado, its characteristic features being so striking as to arrest the attention of even such as may not be susceptible to the grander beauties of the mountains.”

     Author Helen (Hunt) Jackson has this to say about Cheyenne Canyon in her essay of the same name. “There are nine “places of divine worship” in Colorado Springs, - the Presbyterian, the Cumberland Presbyterian, the Methodist, the South Methodist, the Episcopal, the Congregationalist, the Baptist, the Unitarian and Cheyenne Canyon.”   

           There were numerous coal mines in the area making it an early and profitable industry for the region.


           Early on, Ute Pass was considered one of the easiest routes to the gold and silver mines in the Leadville and South Park area.

            Enjoy your summer, writing and may your book sales and reading be even greater than you expect. 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Her


Monday, May 27, 2019

The Mule-Made Man

Nacogdoches, TX 

It all started with a mule.

I’m going to take a chance and exercise a little literary license by posting this story on a blog dedicated to the American West, and I feel justified in doing this for two reasons: First, this story takes place in 1912 during the tail-end of what is considered the time period that we associate with the west (usually from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of WWI). Second, whereas the “west” is generally considered to be located west of the Mississippi, this story takes place just inside that border, about eighty miles west of the Mississippi River in the east Texas town of Nacogdoches.

But before we get to the part with the mule and what exactly happened in Nacogdoches in 1912, we need to back up a little and get some context to the story and introduce our main character, Julius.

Julius was born on a chilly day in October 1890 in a room above a butcher shop in the poor Yorkville section of New York City’s Upper East Side. His parents, Sam and Minnie, were Jewish immigrants from Germany. Sam and Minnie already had two sons (a third had died of influenza at the age of seven months) and, by 1901, would add two more sons to the family.

By all accounts, Julius had a happy childhood and dreamed of becoming a doctor someday. However, the family was poor. His father, Sam, worked as a tailor, but apparently, was not a very good one. Julius wound up dropping out of school at the age of twelve to help support the family. He worked at several different jobs, but his
Minnie and Sam with their five boys
big break came when his mother realized what a pleasant singing voice he had. Actually, all of Minnie’s boys were musically inclined. Her oldest son, Leonard, played the piano and her second oldest son, Adolph, eventually learned to play six different instruments. Minnie was ambitious for her sons and came up with an idea. She had a brother who worked in vaudeville. Maybe she could use that connection to get her boys on the stage.

On July 16, 1905, 14-year-old Julius took to the stage as part of the Le May Trio, debuting at the Ramona Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Entertaining on the road wasn’t all glamour for the young Julius. At one point after a show in Colorado, one of the other group members took off with all of his money, stranding him. He found a job in a grocery store where he worked until he had saved up enough money to go back home to New York.  

The Four Nightingales
Undaunted, by 1907 Julius joined with his older brother, Adolph, and a younger brother, Milton, to form a trio called “The Three Nightingales.” Sometimes they were joined by a friend, Leo Levine, and were known as “The Four Nightingales.” They toured all over the country with Minnie as their manager. However, it was still tough going for the family. They only experienced moderate success and felt like they hadn’t really discovered their place in the entertainment industry.

Here’s where the mule comes in.

One night in 1912 (some accounts have it as early as 1907 and others put it at 1914) the brothers were performing at the Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas. Sometime during the middle of their performance, the show was interrupted by someone busting through the door of the Opera House and shouting, “The mule’s loose!” These Texans were a peculiar bunch who were either easily distracted or found the prospect of a mule tearing through town more entertaining than the singing brothers. At any rate, most of the audience jumped to their feet and ran outside to see what was going on.

Julius was seething at having lost the spotlight and his brothers were furious at what they considered rude behavior from the audience, so after the audience returned, Julius let them have it. The insults rolled off of his tongue. He told them that “Nacogdoches is full of roaches,” and that “The jackass is the flower of Tex-ass.” No matter how many insults he threw at them, to his amazement, rather than getting mad at him, the audience laughed. It was then that they realized that they could have a future as a comedy group, and that, as it turned out, was their destiny.

Although all five of Minnie’s boys would at one time or another be a part of the group, it was primarily the three oldest boys, Leonard, Adolph, and Julius who made a name for themselves in comedy. If it hadn’t been for that mule, they might have remained little-known singers. But because of that night in Nacogdoches, we all know them as comedic geniuses. They even made thirteen movies together and Julius wound up with a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

But if you don’t recognize their real names, you will undoubtedly recognize their stage names: Chico (Leonard), Harpo (Adolph), and Groucho (Julius) – the Marx Brothers.


Mike Ritt describes himself as Conservative, Christian, Pro-life, and Pro-gun. He is a drinker of copious amounts of coffee. Happily married to his redheaded sweetheart, Tami, they live in the mountains of western Montana. He is a writer of western short stories, poetry, and humorous fiction and has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. He has finished his first western fiction novel and is patiently waiting for publication. You can visit his Facebook page at, and his blog at

Thursday, May 23, 2019


The Doctor's Bag

The blog about Medicine and Surgery in the Old West 

By Keith Souter aka CLAY MORE

OK, I appreciate that this blog about the medicine of yesteryear is not for everyone's taste. I take into account that some people are squeamish about blood and body fluids, but the reality of life in the 19th century is that sanitation and hygiene were not as well developed as they are now. People fell ill, they contracted all manner of infections and infestations and the treatments were not always pleasant to take. 

So, if you are squeamish please do not read further.  I'm going to talk about worms. Specifically, tapeworms. These are a potential problem 

A word about parasites
Humans are hosts to around 300 types of parasitic worms, and to around 70 types of protozoa. Doctors have known about several of them since antiquity. Canopic jars containing the intestines of mummies have been found to contain tapeworms. 

The Ebers papyrus

Indeed, the Ebers papyrus, a medical papyrus written around 1550 BC contains a chapter on stomach disorders and describes the treatment for tapeworm infestation. They used the roots of the pomegranate tree. Interestingly, this is an anthelminthic (a drug used to expel worms), so they had discovered a treatment over three millennia ago. 

The medical name for tapeworm infestation is Cestodiasis. There are about 40 species of tapeworms and 15 larval forms. 

The main ones that cause illness are:

Taenia sodium  - the pork tapeworm
Taenia saginata- the beef tapeworm
Diphillobothrium latum- the fish tapeworm

Life cycle
Tapeworms can reach a length of several meters, live in the intestine of the  host attached by a scolex (head). The long body is called the strobila and is formed of multiple segments. Each of these segments is called a proglottis. Once mature, many of these   proglottids containing numerous eggs,  pass out in the excreta into soil or water, where the eggs are released. 

Taenia solium - the pork tapeworm

When an intermediate host consumes the eggs, they hatch in the intestine, releasing larval stages called  oncospheres, that burrow through the gut wall to reach various tissues of the host, where they develop into cysts  in muscle. 

Life cycle of the pig tapeworm

The life cycle is completed whenundercooked or raw meat is eaten and the cysticerci are released and attach to the gut wall of the final host and develop into adult tapeworms. 

Remarkably, there may be none. More often though, there will be vague abdominal symptoms. A voracious appetite is common and is accompanied by weight loss. 

Diagnosis is made by examination of the stools for segments of the worms. Eggs may also be found on the peri-anal skin. 

Trust your butcher and make sure you cook  it properly

The Victorian worm diet
It is often quoted that in Victorian times people could buy pills containing tapeworm eggs in order to grow your own tapeworm inside your intestine. People were persuaded that the tapeworm absorbed all of the nutrients and that the person lost weight. 

I have not been able to track this down and think it is probably a myth. However, I have read of one case in recent times where someone tried this and became quite ill. It is definitely not something that anyone should ever attempt. 

Doctrine of Signatures
In ancient times the dominant theory in medicine was that plants and minerals had special markings, nature's clues about their medicinal value. 

As mentioned above, the Ebers papyrus from ancient Egypt describes a treatment derived from pomegranate roots. The pomegranate is full of little seeds which resemble the segments of the tapeworm. 

Pomegranate seeds

Another often used remedy came from pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds

Both actually have antihelminth properties, which is interesting. 

Pumkin seeds were used in the 19th century. The outer husks were peeled off, then the seeds were ground in a pestle and mortar. Then sugar was added to make into a paste and  finally water was added to make it into a drink. 

Sometimes a dose of castor oil would be taken to produce a laxative effect. 

From The Cincinnati Lancet and Observer, June 1862, republished in The American Journal of Medical Sciences, July 1862:

Seeds of the Cucurbita Pepo, or Pumpkin in Taenia, by Dr G R Patton;

Fourteen cases of taenia successfully treated by an emulsion of pumpkin seeds. One patient was troubled by the Bothrocaphalus latus (fish tapeworm) , the others with the solum (pork tapeworm) 

Dr P says that "of all the antihelminhics proposed for the extermination of taenia, the seed of the ordinary pumpkin claims our first attention. It is innocuous, inexpensive, readily procured and by far the least disagreeable of all the vermifuge medicines. Its power to dislodge large fragments of these worms has never been questioned; but it has not succeeded in every instance in destroying them. This results evidently from discontinuing the remedy too soon. By maintaining the treatment from four to six days (unless the head is discovered with the fragments first passed) success would, doubtless, result in all cases.

The administration of castor oil  during its use is not to be recommended. The emulsion itself is sufficiently laxative in large doses, if a light diet be strictly enforced. By purgation we may defeat our end, by interfering with the action of the pumpkin to produce its full toxicological effect upon the head of the parasite. 

Other treatments used by doctors included making a liquid extract of Lady Fern, which had the added effect of making the patient nauseous!

Turpentine in  tiny doses was advocated by some physicians, as were chloral hydrate, naphthalene and chloroform. The aim in all of these was to paralyse the worm so that it would relinquish its hold on the intestinal wall and be passed out of the body.

None of these would be recommended today, as we have more effective drugs. It has to be said that in parts of the world these parasites  are all still a major problem. 


If you are intrigued by medical Latin, then you might like to dip into this book, which you can pick up for a cent or two!

If you are interested in reading more about medicine and surgery in the frontier days,  then you may find The Doctor's bag useful. It is a collection of my past blog posts, published by Sundown Press.

The novel about Dr George Goodfellow, the Tombstone surgeon to the gunfighters

The novel about Ned Buntline, the King of the Dime Novelists