Tuesday, March 21, 2023



Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Victor Colorado
photo (c) and property of the Author

Some may have heard of Joseph Lesher, especially if you are into numismatics. Many may have not.

Lesher was born in Ohio in July of 1838 according to records. When the Civil War broke out he joined the Union Army. 

After the war, like many others, Lesher headed West. He mined in various areas of  Colorado, including Georgetown, and Leadville along with sites in the San Juan mountains. He may have owned a silver mine near Central City but would have lost much of his wealth during the 1873 demonetization of silver. 

When gold was found in the Cripple Creek/Victor area Lesher headed up that way and settled in Victor. Some stories say he found work, first as a miner, then eventually as a shift boss, and later getting involved in politics. Other stories have him amassing his wealth by investing in real estate.  

Regardless, Lesher believed in silver and in 1900 he launched the production of his own silver coinage. He called his dollar-sized coins of varying value the 'referendum souvenir' medals. They were eight-sided to help distinguish them from the U. S. currency. He had minted about 100 of these coins when the federal government said they were counterfeit and confiscated his dies. This is despite the businesses that accepted them as money.

Lesher then consulted the U.S. Attorney's office to make sure his new coinage would not add further legal trouble. This time he stamped the name of a grocer in Victor who agreed to accept them for merchandise. 

For the remainder of 1900 and part of 1901, Lesher produced five types of  'dollars' using the names of various businesses not only in Cripple Creek and Victor bug Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Salida, Denver, and Grand Junction.

In 1901 Lesher discontinued his production, but now over a century later his coins are worth more to coin collectors than you would believe as only around 1,800 of the coins have been found. 

Joseph Lesher died around 1918 in his home in Victor, Colorado but what an unusual legacy he left. For those who would like to know more you may like the following book: "Forgotten Colorado Silver: Joseph Lesher's Defiant Coins" by Robert D. Leonard Jr., Ken Hallenbeck, Adna G. Wilde Jr.

Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

On This Day in the Old West: March 10

 On this day in US history, the United States issued its first official paper bills, in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000 notes.


The Legal Tender Act, the law authorizing the use of paper notes to pay government bills, was passed by Congress on February 25, 1862. This ended the long-standing policy of using only gold and silver in transactions, and it allowed the government to finance the enormously costly Civil War (even after the gold and silver reserves were depleted). The Confederate government had been printing paper money since the beginning of the war, but the Legal Tender Act allowed the US to print $150 million in paper money not backed by gold and silver. 


Congressman and Buffalo banker Elbridge G. Spaulding was responsible for the bill. “The bill before us,” he argued before the house, “is a war measure, a measure of necessity, and not of choice. These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary measures must be resorted to in order to save our Government and preserve our nationality.” The new notes were designed to replace the demand notes issued at the beginning of the war and intended mostly as payment for the Union army. The new notes featured the statement “This Note is a Legal Tender” rather than the printed promise of payment “On Demand.”


Many bankers and economic experts predicted doom for the economy. They felt there would be little public confidence in the scheme. There were also misgivings in Congress. Many legislators worried about a total collapse of America’s financial infrastructure. However, the paper notes, called “greenbacks” for the color of the paper, worked far better than expected. The government was able to pay its bills, and, by increasing the money in circulation, the wheels of Northern commerce were greased. Greenbacks were legal tender, meaning creditors must accept them at face value. However, they were not made an unlimited legal tender, as they could not be used by merchants to pay customs duties on imports nor used by the government to pay interest on bonds. 


The limitations of the legal tender status were pretty controversial. The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee of Ways and Means, Thaddeus Stevens, who authored an earlier version of the Legal Tender Act that would have made US Notes legal tender for all debts, denounced the exceptions, calling the new bill “mischievous” because it made US Notes an intentionally depreciated currency for the masses, while banks who loaned money to the government got “sound money” in gold. This controversy would continue until the exceptions were removed in 1933. 


By the end of the war, nearly half a billion dollars in greenbacks had been issued. The Legal Tender Act laid the foundation for the creation of a permanent currency in the decades after the Civil War. 

J.E.S. Hays



Wednesday, March 1, 2023

March Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love - Seven Spanish Angels #westernfictioneers #countryballads #classiccountrymusic

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s listening to the country music of that era. I stuck with country music through the 70s. I made it into the 80s but, by the late 80s, country music as I knew and loved was headed in a direction that, with a few exceptions, I wasn’t interested going. So I didn’t. (Get off my lawn.)

The old west gunfighter and trail ballads, drinking songs, and revenge songs had an influence on me that was, and still is, every bit as strong as the impact Louis L’Amour’s books left with me. My lifelong interest, perhaps fascination bordering on obsession, with everything old west—truth, legends, and myths alike—have roots in those old cowboy and country songs.

I’m inviting you to read along with me this year as I post one or two nostalgic-for-me country ballads on the first Wednesday of each month. I will share a snippet of trivia about each song along with a YouTube video.

Each month, I will include a link back to the previous month’s article as reference to those songs. The common thread that runs among the songs I’ve chosen for this musical memory lane excursion is tragic lost love.

January – Marty Robbins – El Paso and Feleena

February – Faron Young – The Yellow Bandana

This month’s song is the duet by Ray Charles and Willie Nelson, Seven Spanish Angels.

Seven Spanish Angels tells a story of an outlaw and his lover who are making a last stand against the 'riders', presumably a posse or Rangers, to keep from being taken back to Texas. The couple say their tearful goodbyes. The gun battle ensues, and the outlaw is killed. In her grief, the woman says she can't make it without him. She picks up the gun, even though she knows it’s empty, and points it at the lawmen. She knows they will assume she’s going to open fire upon them, and they will kill her, which is what she wants.

Regrettably, the record producer, Billy Sherill, didn't want the originally written final verse included, because he thought the song would be too long. This is the verse:

Now the people in the valley swear
That when the moon's just right
They see the Texan and his woman
Ride across the clouds at night.

What a shame this verse was omitted.

If the video doesn't show on your device, this is the URL: https://youtu.be/x8A9Y1Dq_cQ

Willie and Ray each planned to record the song individually at nearly the same time. Billy Sherrill suggested a duet to solve that issue, and what a wonderful collaboration it turned out to be.

Ray Charles released Seven Spanish Angels in 1984 as a single from his album Friendship. Seven Spanish Angels was his most successful of his eight hits on country charts. The song spent one week at No. 1 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart, No. 1 on the Canadian RPM Country chart, and 12 weeks on country charts worldwide. Willie Nelson included the song on his 1985 album, Half Nelson. The song was written as a tribute to Marty Robbins.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time