The Burger King restaurant in Kayenta, Arizona, on the Navajo
reservation displays World War II Japanese guns, flags, mortars, grenades, and
a wall of photographs of Navajo Indians who played an important role in
defeating the Japanese. The photos are of Navajo Code Talkers who were
recruited into the MarineCorps for a program that used the unwritten Navajo
language as an unbreakable military code in the Pacific theater.
The Navajo tribe is holding a public prayer ceremony in Window Rock to
mark the return of stolen sacred artifacts after more than a decade spent
out of tribal hands. The centuries-old items have been identified by federal
investigators as a mask, a tortoise shell and two coverings that may be drum
heads or ceremonial vessel coverings. Investigators recovered the artifacts in
1991 after tracking them to dealers in Santa Fe, N.M., and New York. The
objects had been taken from a cave in northwestern New Mexico in 1986, before
it was a crime. The mask was recovered from a Tucson home. The other objects
were found at a Santa Fe gallery. A New Mexico man pleaded guilty in 1992 to
selling the artifacts. It has taken years to return the objects to the Navajo
because federal regulations require that authorities ensure the objects are
being returned to the proper tribe
West Point's first African-American graduate recently received a
presidential pardon from President Clinton, more than 100 years after his
court-martial. Henry O. Flipper was dishonorably discharged in 1882 after being
convicted in an 1881 court-martial of lying to investigators. Flipper was
acquitted on charges of embezzlement of commissary funds, but was found guilty
of "conduct unbecoming an officer" for lying. The conviction is genreally
regarded as being racially motivated. Flipper died in 1940 at age 84. West
Point presents an annual Henry Flipper award to a cadet who has overcome
adversity in recognitipn of Flipper's perseverance. Gen. Colin Powell hung a
photo of Flipper on his office wall while serving as chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
The building that housed the apartment and office of Civil War nurse
Clara Barton will not be demolished after all.
The General Services
Administration will create an exhibit area in the two rooms where Barton lived
and worked from 1862 to 1868 and in which a worker found dozens of boxes of
personal papers and government files belonging to Clara Barton. During the
Civil War, Barton devoted her time to helping wounded soldiers on the
battlefield. Afterwards, she set up an office at her own expense to help the
families of those still missing.
No one had connected Barton with the
building, located about halfway between the Capitol and the White House, until
a demolition surveyor recently found the papers and clothing. Among the
artifacts found was a brass sign reading: Missing Soliders Office, 3rd
story, Room 9, Miss Clara Barton. The entire third floor of the building
reportedly has been closed off since about 1900.
Two Pennsylvania men suspected of stealing an estimated $2 million to $3
million worth of Civil War artifacts from a Philadelphia museum have been
arrested. The FBI said a collector of Civil War memorabilia, and a former
custodian of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, stole more than 200 items
over a 10-year period. Authorities said they found many of the missing
artifacts at the collector's home. The valuable items included a sword
presented by the citizens of Philadelphia to Union Gen. George Meade after the
Battle of Gettysburg and a rifle once owned by abolitionist John Brown.
Some would say that another crime was that it took the museum almost ten
years to realize many of the historical items were missing.
The Story of the Buffalo soldiers has come to Television. Turner
Broadcasting presented the story of the black cavalry troopers, starring Danny
Glover. The program, originally aired on Sunday December 7,1997. For more
information check out the TNT website. Be sure to
also visit Guidon Books online catalog of
books about the exploits of these brave troopers
A new battle is about to be fought at the site of the battle between
Lt. Col. George A. Custer's 7th Cavalry and Sioux and Cheyenne Indians led by
Chief Sitting Bull. This time, however, the controversy surrounds plans to
erect a memorial to the Indians who fought and died at the Little Bighorn
Battlefield. Some say the monument is long overdue, while others say it will
detract from the monument to the 270 fallen soldiers and Indian scouts, all of
whom were slain by overwhelming numbers of Indians. The casualties amoung the
Indians numbered about 75 dead.
The pipe and pouch, once used by Sitting Bull, is being returned to the
Sioux Tribe.The items are being sent to the Indian Museum at the Crazy Horse
Memorial in South Dakota.The pipe is three feet long, with inlaid brass, carved
wooden stem and red pipestone bowl. The pipe was given several years ago to
Rick Mount, part Cherokee, in exchange for work he performed on a motor home.
Tombstone, Arizona, the "Town Too Tough to Die," has another problem to
contend with. The town, which rose to its glory days as a silver mining town,
is suffering from the long term effects of the mining. It seems that there are
many tunnels under the townsite and the years has caused some settling of the
ground under the town. The problem, which has been known for some time, has
been exacerbated recently. Some areas have been roped off and some historic
buildings have been condemned because of sinking foundations and cracked
A ceremony was recently held in New Mexico honoring members of the
9th Cavalry who fought against Apaches led by Victorio. The battle took place
on September 18.1979 in Las Animas Canyon. Three Buffalo Soldiers won the Medal
of Honor in the battle. The plaque dedicated at the site reads, "18 September
1879, near this spot lay troopers of the 9th United States Cavalry regiment
ambushed by Chief Victorio and his Warm Springs Apache. After a daylong battle,
the regiment sliped into the darkness."
A piece of Western Americana is for sale for the low low price of six
and a half million dollars. Virginia City and Nevada City, Montana are set to
be sold. The towns, consisting of over 100 buildings and many historical
artifacts has become too expensive for the current owner to maintain. The
Governor of Montana has proposed that the State purchase the towns to preserve
them for posterity. A study conducted by the National Park Service has
creditied Vrginia City with being the only town in the Old West that still has
so many of it general use building still intact.
The owner has given the state of Montana until June 1 to appropriate
the funds to make the purchase. Otherwise, the towns are scheduled to go on the
auction block. While the Montana Historical society is also attempting to raise
the funds, should the legislature fail to act, there is some concern that the
towns will fall into the hands of someone who does not have an appreciation for
the importance of preserving the towns. If that happens the concern is that the
"colonial Williamsburg of the Wild West" will be lost.
The American Bison, once in danger of being extinct, has flourished
within the confines of Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately for them, they
are unaware of man made boundaries. In recent times the Bison have wandered
outside of the park. Montana cattle ranches are fearful that they will infect
their herds grazing near the park with brucellosis, which causes cows to abort
their calves. More than 1,000 of the buffalo have been killed this year in
spite of protests from government officials and Native American Indians who
would like to take some of the park's excess buffalo and transplant them to
Indian reservations. Bureaucratic difficulties have stymied the effort.
For more information
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Relatives of Dr. Samuel Mudd, convicted in 1865 by a military tribunal
for participating in the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, has renewed efforts
to clear the family name. Mudd is the doctor who treated the leg of John Wilkes
Booth, which was broken as the actor leapt onto the stage at Ford's theater
after shooting President Lincoln in the back of the head. The motivation for
the resurgent effort the age and failing health of Mudd's grandson, Dr. Richard
Samuel Mudd claimed that he was unaware of the Lincoln assassination or
Booth's role in it at the time he treated Booth. Dr. Mudd was later pardoned by
President Andrew Johnson from aiding in the treatment of yellow fever victims
while in prison. The conviction, however, was not expunged
The 'New" Old Tucson is set ot reopen after being closed for nearly two
years due to a fire. Almost half of the the western theme park and movie studio
was destroyed by a fire in April of 1995. Originally constructed in 1939 as the
setting for the movie Arizona, the location west of Tucson, Arizona has
been open to the public since 1959. Lost in the fire were many wooden buildings
and much of the wardrobes that had accumulated over the years. We are glad to
see it risihng from the ashes.
The latest chapter of the Navajo - Hopi land dispute has an unknown
ending. The dispute, which has its origins in 1888, involves 1.8 million acres
of land claimed by both tribes. The land has been divided by Congress and the
United States Courts, but some Navajos are still living on the land which has
been granted to tthe Hopis.
The most recent plan, sighed by President Clinton, allows the Navajo
families remaining on the land to have a 75 year lease and gives the Hopis 50.2
million dollars. One glitch- 85 percent of the Navajo families living on the
Hopi land have to give written approval of the deal. The original December 31
deadline has been extended because only 6 families have sighed up so far.
The widening of the Beeline Highway in Arizona has resulted in the
rediscovery of the Old Reno Road, used in the 1860s to connect Fort McDowell to
Camp Reno in the Tonto Basin. Camp Reno, which was only active for a few years,
was established by General Crook to maintain a military presence in, and
hopefully prevent Apache Indian uprisings, in the Tonto Basin Area northeast of
Studies are currently underway to determine whether the Reno Road is
eligilbe for the national Register of Historic Places
Alberta Martin has staked her claim to being the oldest living widow
of a Confederate soldier. Her husband, William Martin, was just twenty years
old when he served in the Confederate Army during the seige of Petersburg. It
wasn't until many years later, however, that Alberta met William, by then an 82
year old shopkeeper. She was 21 at the time.
After William died in 1932, Alberta maried his grandson Charlie, who
was much closer to her own age. They stayed together for fifty years. Alberta
is now 89, just seven years older than William was when they met.
In the winter of 1846-47, a group of 89 settlers became stranded in the
rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. Many of the party died and some of the
survivors resorted to cannibalism. On August 18, 1996, more than 300
descendants of what has come to be known as The Donner Party gathered to
commemorate the 150th anniversary of the trek.
Although much of the focus on the ill fated journey has been on the
cannibalism, family members want to emphasize the courage of the members and
the contributions they made once reaching California.
If you are interested in learning more about the Donner Party
There seems to be a growing consensus that the flag in the Pike County
(Pa.) Historical Society Museum is indeed from Lincoln's box a Ford's Theatre
and may be stained with the blood of the slain president. The flag may have
been used as to cushion Lincoln's head after he was shot by an unknown
The flag was donated to the museum by the son of one of the cast
members of the play Our American Cousin which Lincoln was watching the
night he was shot.
A very interesting document recently was discovered among the records
of the Jacobs family, which operated mercantile stores in southern Arizona in
the late 1900's. The document discloses that Ike Clanton and John Behan jointly
borrowed $500 just two weeks after the famous gunfight at the O.K. corral.
Although the document does not reveal the purpose of the loan, its existence
provides support for those who believe that John Behan, Sheriff of Cochise
County, was " in cahoots" with the Clanton family. Behan you will recall, tried
unsuccessfully to stop the Earps and Doc Holliday on their way to the gunfight
by falsely telling them he had disarmed the Clantons and the McLaurys.
In a three way culture clash, a Federal District Court in Phoenix,
Arizona recently ruled that Hopi Indians may continue to gather eaglets on
Navajo land. The eaglets are used by the Hopi Indians in some of their summer
UPDATE The Judge has ruled that the Hopi
Indians may remove no more than 12 eaglets from the Navajo lands. The Navajo
are closly watching to make sure the limit is not exceeded.
An archeologist believes he has discovered evidence that Indians lived
in a cave near Fort Bliss, Texas 50,000 years ago. If true, this would have a
huge impact on the current theory that the first humans to occupy North America
came across the Bering Land Bridge (now the Bering Strait near Alaska) less
than 12,000 years ago.
The is no room in Boothill for Ike Clanton. At least that is what the
Tombstone town council has told Ike's namesake Terry "Ike" Clanton, who
proposed to hold reburial ceremonies for his distant relative. Ike, who avoided
being killed by the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday at the O.K. Corral gunfight,
was killed six years later and is buried in an unmarked grave (which may have
been located) more than one hundred miles from Tombstone. Although Ike's
father, Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton and brother Billy (who couldn't outrun
the Earp's bullets like Ike) are long term residents of Boothill Cemetary, red
tape has presented obstacles to Ike's relocation. Stay tuned. I don't think we
have heard the last of this.
For those of you interested in the Civil War, hope you did not miss the
TNT original production of Andersonville. It is the story of the
Confederate prison camp near Andersonville, Georgia. It is being rebroadcast,
so if you missed it, you can still catch it. Visit the Turner broadcasting web
page, which provides some insight about the making of the film. You can find a
link to it below. You can learn more about Andersonville and other Civil War
prison camps by reading some of the books in our special
Civil War Prison Camps section.
Tombstone, Arizona (The Town Too Tough To Die ) recently had another
showdown of epic proportions. The issue: whether horses in the town should be
required to wear horsey diapers. The city council proposed the ordinance,
concerned that tourists would get their boots dirty. After much ballyhoo, and
opposition from local merchants, the city fathers decided against the measure.
According to rumor, there was only one similar attempt to clean up the streets
of Tombstone. The conflagration that erupted when members of the Clanton Gang
attempted to leave the O.K. Corral without the requisite diapers on their
horses, is well documented.
We now have it on good authority that the person buried in the
grave of Jesse James is ...none other than Mrs. Zerelda James' son, ... Jesse.
Forensic scientist James Starrs has confirmed that preliminary DNA tests of the
exhumed body have matched that of known descendants of Jesse James. One more
thing, when his body was exhumed, it was face down. There is speculation that
one of the bad Hollywood movies about him caused him to turn over in his grave.
This, however, has not been confirmed. Reburial ceremonies were held October
28, 1995 in Kearney, Missouri. Our good friend and customer, Wilbur Zink, was
one of the Pallbearers.
If you are interested in learning more about the exploits of Jesse James
and his men, you can join The James Younger Gang. This organization is
dedicated to researching and preserving the history of the James,Younger Gang
and their civil war guerrilla associates. For more information write to:
The James Younger Gang
P.O. Box 78
James - Younger Gang Homepage
In a nod to political correctness, and to more accurately describe
what they do , the famed Hashknife Gang has changed its name officially to the
Hashknife Pony Express. For almost forty years, this outfit has opened the
Scottsdale Parada del Sol by delivering mail on horseback to Scottsdale from
Arizona communities 200 miles away . The journey takes about thirteen hours and
transverses some rugged terrain. This year the event was part of the Super Bowl
The original Hashknife Gang was associated during the 1880's
with the famous Aztec Land and Cattle Company in northern Arizona.
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