Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Below is a news report from the August 29, 1885, Gazette in Colorado Springs, that helped to start a rabbit hole of research on the killer "Joe Ward". There is much more to the story, and a paper on the subject has been written. But I thought some might find the early reports interesting. 

The headline read: Joe Ward, the slayer of Scheidler, riddled with bullets,
the career of a noted Colorado desperado terminated,
review of the crime committed by Ward in the city,

Early residents of Colorado Springs remember that on February 1879, Lafayette Scheidler, the young man eighteen years of age, was shot and killed by one Joe J Ward, who, when he came here, did not have a very enviable character. The circumstances of the case were these: Scheidler and two companions visited a house on the west side of the Monument, just north of Tejon street, which was occupied by a woman who had borne a bad reputation.

Upon knocking for admittance they were told by an occupant that the woman had gone to Leadville. Scheidler and his companions immediately turned back to town. After having gone from the house but a short distance Scheidler was shot in the back and after lingering nearly two days died.

It being ascertained that the shooting had unquestionably been done by Ward, the woman's husband, the officer searched the house, but the man was not to be found. Sheriff Dana, who was then Marshall of Colorado Springs, the same night detected and arrested Ward as he was coming in from the brush to take a horse from the barn with which to make his escape.

In the meantime, the news of the shooting had spread about town in a crowd gathered to lynch Ward. Scheidler was well-known and a popular young fellow, while Ward had an unsavory reputation and had frequently boasted of having killed his man in southwestern Kansas. Comparing this record with that of Scheidler the crowd were determined to make him pay the penalty of his crime but the officers very cleverly evaded them and place the prisoner within the stonewalls of the county jail. 

On April 22 of the same year Ward, who had been indicted by the grand jury, was arraigned before Judge Bowen of the fourth judicial District, now US Senator. The defendant was given a fair and impartial trial being prosecuted by CW Burris and defended by Gen. Danforth. As a result, Ward was committed to Canyon City for a term of two years.

In his sentence Judge Bowen said that the verdict was fully sustained by the evidence. At the same time, he considered the reckless and useless resort to firearms, but under the recommendations of mercy by the jury and the consideration of aggravating circumstances he would make the sentence two years.

Ward served out his sentence, and it was hoped that it would give him a lesson. Not so, however; for no sooner had he been released and he went to Leadville, where he was joined by the disreputable wife who had placed him behind the bars. Leadville was in those days very prosperous. The wife opened a dance hall and the husband lived off the profits. He lived liberally, made things lively with his six-shooter and occupied a cell in the city jail almost weekly. Finally, finding even the cloud city too warm for him, he departed for a more congenial climate, taking with him his wife and daughter.

When we next heard of Ward was last summer in Northpark, where he and his wife were keeping a sort of a tavern where liquors were disposed of without a license, and the husband and a few pals were occasionally raiding cattle ranches. Here the depraved wife by undue familiarity with a young cowboy aroused the ire of the husband. The result was he (the young man) was killed, in cold blood, one day on his way to Georgetown. A report of the shooting appeared in the Gazette at the time, and so indignant were the residents of that locality in consequence that Ward was lucky in escaping the country alive.

From Northpark we follow this desperados history to Gunnison County where it is reported that he with his ready shooter disposed of his man, but we cannot confirm the story.

Now comes the report that on Tuesday a body was found on an un-frequented road leading to Green River which was identified as that of Joe Ward. Beside him was lying his horse, that had fallen with two bullet holes in his side, and that was all that was left to tell the story of death. Upon examination, it was found that Ward had been shot five times, and his body was completely riddled with bullets. It is said that Ward had been having some trouble in that region, as in this, over his wife and that upon this occasion he started out to prescribe his favorite dose for a cowboy. Thus another Colorado outlaw with the record takes his departure.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

COWBOY POTATOES! by Cheryl Pierson

Hi everyone! I was thinking about how much I love fried potatoes tonight when I was making them for dinner. Those are a great “comfort food” to me, and one I don’t think I’d ever get tired of. But I imagine the cowboys of yesteryear grew sick of the fare they ate constantly–beans, chili, stew, potatoes, and the like–when they were on a cattle drive.

Dinner time at a cowboy’s camp, banks of the Yellowstone, Montana, U.S.A. Original source: Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.

Here’s another awesome picture that is around 120 years old–Wonder what they’re having to eat? Chili? Beans? Maybe biscuits and gravy? Or…POTATOES??? These color pictures were produced using a method called photochrom. This is making colorized photos from black and white negatives through the direct photographic transfer of a negative onto lithographic printing plates.

It was invented in the 1880s and by the 1890s, was extremely popular (when this image was shot). Credit: Mediadrumimages/PublicDomain

Here’s a really good recipe for — what else? COWBOY POTATOES!
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper (or jalapeno for spicier fare!), diced
salt and pepper
Peel potatoes, if desired or leave the peel on and cut into 1/2″ cubes.
Heat oil in large skillet. Add the potatoes, spreading into a single layer. Let them get brown on one side before stirring.
Stir the potatoes, and let them brown on another side. Stir once more, and add the pepper and onion. Cook until the onions and peppers are tender. If the potatoes are not done, reduce heat to low and cover the skillet until they’re done.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

YUM, YUM! Hope you enjoy these! Do you have a favorite potato recipe? PLEASE SHARE! I’m sure we have a LOT more variety than the cowboys did!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Western Bookshelves

One thing I like to do periodically is inventory my books. I enjoy having physical books on my shelves (though I do have quite a few e-books on my iPhone) and I enjoy the solid heft of a good book. I like the smell of a book as well, especially some of the older ones I’ve collected.

I thought you might like a virtual peek at my bookshelves, being authors yourselves. You’ve probably got much the same collection, but perhaps you’ll spot something that will strike your interest. I’d love it if you’d comment, too – what books do you have that I might like to read?

Here are some of my favorite non-fiction books about the Wild West:

Age of the Gunfighter; Joseph G. Rosa – a basic history of gunfighters and gunfighting

A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains; Isabella L. Bird – the journal of a middle-aged English lady traveling alone in 1873 Colorado

The American Frontier: Pioneers, Settlers and Cowboys 1800-1899; William C. Davis – another basic history of the era

The American West; Dee Brown – a good all-around history book about the period

A Texas Cowboy, or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony; Charles A. Siringo – autobiography of the man who later became a Pinkerton detective

Before Barbed Wire: Photographer on Horseback; L.A. Huffman – an excellent source of photographs from the era

Boudoirs to Brothels: The Intimate World of Wild West Women; Michael Rutter – a well-illustrated history of the madam and her working girls

Buckskin and Blanket Days; Thomas Henry Tibbles – the memoirs of a pioneer, scout, hunter and “friend of the Indians”

Card Sharps, Dream Books and Bucket Shops: Gambling in 19th Century America; Ann Vincent Fabian – an interesting history of gambling

Children of the Old West; Russell Freedman – full of photographs of pioneer and Indian children during the era

Cowboy and Western Songs; Austin E. Fife – an interesting collection of songs from the era

Cowboy Culture; David Dary – a chronicle of cowboy life and legend

Cowboy Lingo; Ramon F. Adams – “A dictionary of the slack-jaw words and Whangdoodle ways of the American West”

Cowboys of the Wild West; Russell Freedman – an introduction to the cowboy

Daily Life in a Covered Wagon; Paul Erickson – this interesting book draws on actual diaries and letters

Days on the Road: Crossing the Plains in 1865: Sarah Raymond-Herndon – true story of a young woman who crossed the plains to start a new life

Early America at Work: A Pictorial Guide to Our Vanishing Occupations; Everett Broomall Wilson – an interesting history of old-time workers

Frontier Gambling; G.R. Williamston – a discussion of the seedier side of the frontier

Frontier Slang, Lingo and Phrases; Kathy Weiser-Alexander – another useful dictionary

The Gunfighter: Man or Myth?; Joseph G. Rosa – truth and legend of the Old West’s gunfighters and their influence on American culture

The Gunfighters: How the West Was Won: Bruce Wexler – truth and legend about some of the famous gunfighters of the era and their weapons of choice

Guns of the Wild West; David Kennedy – showcases more than 50 of authentic weapons from the Cody Firearms Museum of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming

Home on the Range: A Culinary History of the American West; Cathy Luchetti – a chronicle of American frontier cooking from anecdotes, writings and photographs

How the Wild West Was Won: A Celebration of Cowboys, Gunfighters, Buffalo Soldiers, Sodbusters, Moonshiners, and the American Frontier – Bruce Wexler – a comprehensive history

How to Write Western Novels; Matt Braun – a good basic writing “How-To”

I Do: Courtship, Love and Marriage on the American Frontier; Cathy Luchetti – compiled from journals, letters and reminiscences

The Look of the Old West: A Fully Illustrated Guide; William Foster-Harris – basically a picture dictionary of Old West tools, culture and fashions

The Log of a Cowboy; Andy Adams – the story of an 1882 cattle drive from Mexico to Montana

Men: A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources: Harter – a good picture dictionary for clothing and hairstyles

Men of the West: Life on the American Frontier; Cathy Luchetti – compiled from letters, diaries, journals and photographs

My Sixty Years on the Plains: Trapping, Trading and Indian Fighting; W.T. Hamilton – a simple reflection from a man of the era

The Old West: National Geographic – an excellent history of the era with lots of good photographs

The Old West Day by Day; Mike Flanagan – 15,000 chronologically-arranged events with descriptions, sidebars and photographs

The Prairie Traveler; Randolph B. Marcy – an 1859 guide for settlers

Reflections of Western Historians; John A. Carroll – the history of the era by 16 historians

Seeking Pleasure in the Old West; David Dary – the amusements available to the average Westerner during the era

Shoes, Hats, and Fashion Accessories: A Pictorial Archive; Grafton – a good picture dictionary of fashion from around 1850

Stagecoach: Rare Views of the Old West; Sandor Demlinger – almost 300 rare photographs

Time-Life Old West Series – a great encyclopedia with many useful photographs

Trail Driving Days; Dee Brown with Martin F. Shcmitt – tales and photographs of the men and their animals during the heyday of the cattle drives

The Way West: A.B. Guthrie, Jr. – a novel about a frontiersman’s return to the untamed West in 1846

We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher; E.C. Abbott – the story of “Teddy Blue” Abbott, a cowboy from the heyday of the era

Western Words: A Dictionary of the Old West: Ramon Adams – an excellent dictionary

The Wild West How the West Was Won; Bruce Wexler – another history of the era

Women: A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources; Harter – a good picture dictionary of fashion and hairstyles

Women of the West: Cathy Luchetti – a good look at the women who settled the West, from memoirs, diaries, letters, journals and photographs

Write a Western in 30 Days: With Plenty of Bullet-Points!: Nik Morton – an interesting “How-To” book for the Western writer

Writing Historical Fiction: A Writers’ and Artists’ Companion; Celia Brayfield and Duncan Sprott – reflections on writing the genre

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West: Candy Moulton – an interesting basic guide to writing the era

Your Travel Guide to America’s Old West; Rita J. Markel – a travelogue describing fashion, accommodations, foods, customs and local transportation

Comment with your own favorites!

J.E.S. Hays