Friday, October 30, 2009

Apology to my readers

I must apologize for not getting posts in as fast as I had hoped recently. The sad thing about being a partially disabled Vet is that the injuries act up on occasion, and mine have become infected, so I'm moving slower than I would like. Please bear with me and I'll get back up to speed as soon as I can.

Thank you for understanding.

Jerry Thomas (aka Professor Jer Thom)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

William H. Anderson: Bring Um' Back Bill

Back in the eighteen-seventies,
within the Texas border,
was a feller' named William H. Anderson
who had a natural talent fer' law an' order.
If a stranger shot a ranger
then escaped over the hill,
they sought the man with a never quit plan,
known by some as "Bring um' Back Bill."
An' if another kind committed a crime,
a hopin' ta' make it pay,
it were a sure bet with Bill trackin' um',
he'd bring um' in ta' see a court day.
Yep, crime was mighty costly
fer' those who took the chance.
Once caught ya' see, there were options, three;
do yer' time, pay yer' fine, or take yer' place at a rope dance.
So never mistake this Bill Anderson
with the cutthroat who rode with Quantrill,
cuz' Bloody Bill took ta' killin' the innocent,
while the innocent had nothin' ta' fear from Bring um' Back Bill.
Course facts do prove that this Bill too
began the Civil War wearin' Confederate gray.
Then after some thinkin' he changed ta' Yankee blue,
switched ta' an Illinois regiment from his birth state.
Though he opted fer' Texas ta' make his home
an' take ta' wearin' the star.
Ta' be one of the best after some of the worst
was a choice he hoped would take him far.
If ya' judged by miles he truly went far,
cuz' he never stopped at the border.
From state ta' state, even Canada or Mexico,
he'd go anywhere ta' dish out law an' order.
Course Lady Luck don't follow that law,
the Law of Average is her guide.
An' we'd argue she weren't much of a lady
steppin' aside on the day that Bring um' Back Bill died.
He was given the chore ta' bring in Bill Collins,
last survivor of the Joel Collins gang.
The goal of course was ta' bring him in,
an' give him a trial before he'd hang.
Anderson gave chase, he dogged him hard
up ta' little Pembina in Manitoba, north of the U.S.
Though it looked as if Collins figured dyin' there
was jus' as easy as a rope, I guess.
Both Bill's drew their steel
an' commenced the deal
by throwin' led in the other's direction.
An' both died in the fight,
though only one in the right,
with a chance at a heavenly resurrection.
An' on that day the Good Lord may say,
I need the devil taken back ta' hell...
Send out the man
with the grit an' the sand,
none other than Bring um' Back Bill.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Harris Austin: a rather ordinary outlaw

Harris Austin was one of those minor outlaws
that barely rate a word or two.
Full of sass, piss, an' vinegar,
used as a tool ta' camouflage he's a fool.
He shot a man fer' a shot of whiskey
in a place called Tishomingo.
Perhaps he had a few too many
an' imagined he was Johnny Ringo.
Thomas Elliot took three rounds,
two ta' the torso, an' one ta' the temple.
Austin never even called him out,
he liked ta' keep his killin' simple.
He even stood so close ta' the future corpse
that powder left burns on his face.
Then seein' the looks of the patrons,
he skedaddled in total disgrace.
He decided it was time
ta' take himself a long vacation.
Mounted his horse an' took ta' the hills
in the heart of the Chickasaw Nation.
The law mounted a posse straight-away,
but Austin knew those hills.
He escaped an' evaded fer' a half-dozen years
before Deputy Marshall Carr, without any frills,
tracked Austin down an' brought him in,
so the townfolk could gawk at his trial.
The verdict came in, he hung fer' his sin,
an' jus' like he lived,
he did it without any style.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Heritage: One Generation Removed

Although I write more poetic prose than actual cowboy poetry, it irks me to be told I have no right to write cowboy poetry because I am not an actual working cowboy. What ticks me off the most about that is that I would have been born into that life if it had not been for the government swindling policies to force a lot of ranchers and farmers off their lands: lands that had often been in their families for generations. And I also ask those  who claim I'll never belong to their community, where were their fighting spirits when all the ranchers and farmers were losing their land? --- I am just one generation away from my country heritage, and it weighs heavy on me because I have a country heart... and because of that I'll write when I want, where I want, what I want, and for as long as I want. --- I shed blood for this country, and anyone claiming they want me to give up my liberties will be in for a fight.

I've been told I've got no right
ta' be writin' cowboy poetry,
cuz' I ain't an actual cowpoke on the range.
An' if I persist there'll be a fight,
an' perhaps a rope thrown o're a tree,
cuz' they rate dudes even lower than the mange.
But they forget the range is dwindlin'.
It's less than half of what it were.
Big spreads have gone the way of the Dodo bird.
Yet where were they durin' Uncle Sam's swindlin'?
An' why am I the brunt of a common slur
jus' because our family lost its ranch an' herd?
It's true I am a city born,
but I got me a country heart,
an' it bleeds red, white, an' blue jus' like yours.
You were raised a holdin' a saddle horn,
I was forced ta' have street smarts,
but they served me well in uniform on those distant shores.
My Ma was raised upon a ranch,
my Grandpa Grover's down in Texas.
I heard all the stories but never got ta' see.
I was on the broken branch,
after the government's double-taxes,
that cut-off the country side of my family tree.
Ya' point yer' fingers at me
an' claim I'll never be one of ya'll.
Ya' say I'm a pretender who jus' bought a hat.
The country fried community,
I wanted it, barn raising's an' all.
But when Gramp's spread was on the choppin' block,
where were you at?
Gramp's worked hard all his life;
he was strong, quiet, an' proud.
The Good Lord even took him home as he sat in church.
He never deserved the strife
from the rustlin' government crowd,
as they sowed unsavory policies, leavin' common folk in the lurch.
It's true I love my country,
but I hate my Uncle Sam,
he stole from me the life I shoulda' had.
Country's most my genealogy,
it's my heritage: who I am.
An' ta' have it stole, one generation removed, makes me damn mad!
So if ya'll still say I ain't country,
an' ain't fit ta' write country poetry,
give it yer' best cuz' I'll stand with ya' toe ta' toe.
I can't choose the place of my birth,
but I can choose how I'll live,
an' I'll live country til the day I go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

John Armstrong: One of the Good Guys

John Armstrong, middle-name Barclay,
born in McMennville, Tennessee in January, eighteen-fifty.
The son of a dentist, who took ta' travelin'
he was sort of a drifty;
leavin' home at an early age
in a quest ta' check out the southwest.
Points here, an' points there,
til he found himself in Texas:
Austin ta' be exact.
Then he picked up a wife,
as a matter of fact,
an' began a new life as a rancher,
who would raise himself up a seven heir brood.
Now young John, who was just twenty-one
in eighteen an' seventy-one
was a stickler fer' law an' order.
So he joined the paramilitary Travis Rifles:
a group that didn't look at rampant lawlessness
in Texas as mere trifles.
This union lasted til seventy-five
when he opted ta' strive
in a different way ta' bring about some peace.
Though his personal peace was sacrificed
in a job involving many dangers.
An' I doubt that he knew when he joined
he'd become one of the most famous Texas Rangers.
Initally servin' under L.H. McNelly,
with "excellent service" written in the log.
Armstrong was a fearless foe of outlaws,
quickly promoted ta' sergeant,
an' respectfully dubbed "McNelly's Bulldog."
On the first of October of seventy-six
he found himself doggin' some rustlers
alongside other men of the star.
They cornered them near Espinoza Lake,
with most of 'um tryin' ta' make a break,
'cept four who foolishly tried ta' shoot it out.
So out they went from this world ta' the next.
One second, pullin' a gun,
the next second, shakin' hands with the Devil;
cuz' Rangers like Armstrong know
ventilatin' outlaws is a necessary evil.
In fact, two more of them rustlers would soon bite the dust
at the hands of a small party under Armstrong's command.
Of course even the best lawmen don't always get roses
after spreadin' fertilizer on the ground.
There was the time when Armstrong
an' his partner Leroy Deggs
were told ta' fetch in a murder suspect
who didn't have ta' be found.
A rancher named John Mayfield,
with a hefty price on his head.
So the two rangers went out ta' his spread
in Wilson County,
an' confronted the yahoo out by the corral.
Well upon bein' arrested,
Mayfield jus' sorta' flipped his lid,
cuz' he laughed an' went fer' his gun.
Which, of course, was the last thing he did,
cuz' both rangers drilled him.
Then a dozen ranch hands come a runnin'
an' made their intentions clear:
"You ain't collectin' no reward,
cuz' you ain't takin' the body,
an' if you try, you'll never get out of here."
So with caution the better part of valor,
an' with more smarts than the one they jus' done in,
the two badge toters wisely withdrew.
Of course the cowboys took the corpse
an' buried it secretly, where no one else knew.
Another desperado Armstrong took after
was none other than John Wesley Hardin.
The fastest an' most feared gunslinger fer' a spell.
At the time there was a $4000 reward on his head fer' murder.
Thus Armstrong was set on bringin' him in
or sendin' him ta' hell.
Well the task was formidable right from the start.
With this match-up no gambler in his right mind
would take his wad an' lay it all on the law.
After all, it was a rancher turned ranger
goin' up against a spiteful, mean fightin',
greased lightnin' son of a gun:
though Armstrong surely had the heart.
Yet when days of trackin' turned ta' weeks,
an' weeks ta' months,
I'm sure even the well-wishers
wished fer' another wish.
But Ranger Armstrong wasn't called a bulldog fer' nothin':
truly there had been many good men with a star,
but very few were as tenacious.
A character trait highly prized when trackin'
someone as elusive as Hardin;
not ta' mention audacious an' contumacious.
Now ya'll may scoof
but the tenacity paid off,
allowin' the rangers ta' locate Hardin
an' the train he was a ridin'.
So Armstrong boarded it in Pensacola
along with his deputies,
though his deputies were nervous an' felt like hidin'.
Yet they followed their boss
as he marched through the coaches,
ever alert, lookin' fer' his prey.
An' sure enough, today was the day;
August 23rd, eighteen an' seventy-seven,
when the big burly ranger with steely eyes
an' uncompromisin' nature
caught up with the infamous badman.
Hardin was spotted in a seat
next ta' a gang member, Jim Mann.
While three other associates sat nearby,
all of them packin' plenty.
Ironically, as luck would have it,
an earlier mishap by Armstrong,
while cleanin' his weapon he plugged his own leg,
which forever left him gimpy.
Yet this stifled Hardin's normal suspicions;
so much so, in fact,
that there must've been a touch of elation
as Armstrong sat down right across from the outlaw pair,
while the train was still at the station.
Now ever aware, an' unlike the hare,
Armstrong eased out his forty-five,
an' placed it on his lap,
as if gettin' comfortable ta' rest.
Then up quick he stood,
aimed the pistol toward his prey, an' said,
"I'm a ranger an' yer' both under arrest."
Now Hardin cocked his head back,
muttered some words then went fer' his gun.
But tryin' ta' draw while tryin' ta' stand
from an awkward an' cramped position
caused one problem after another:
Hardin definitely weren't havin' no fun.
While Hardin's gun was caught in his suspenders,
Mann, jus' nineteen, drew his an' fired,
but only shot the stetson off the ranger.
Then found out ta' his dismay,
that even a wobbly legged ranger
still presents danger,
especially if ya' take yer' shot an' miss.
So with a cane in one hand,
his six-gun in the other,
Armstrong calmly squeezed the trigger,
an' blew a hole into Mann's chest.
The young outlaw dove head first out the window,
no doubt filled with fear an' dread.
He got ta' his feet an' took a few steps,
then fell ta' the platform dead.
Well, by then Hardin was up,
though his pistol was still tangled.
So in frustration he sent Armstrong flyin'
back down the aisle with a kick.
Which only pissed the ranger off,
it's time he got in a lick.
So up he rose, an' jumped forward,
bringin' a gun-butt down on Hardin's hard head,
again an' again,
til he was plum' out on the floor.
The three other outlaws still sat in their seats,
perhaps they were stunned by what jus' took place before 'um.
They handed up their hardware without a fight,
a much more civilized decorum.
So Armstrong took five, the Hardin gang zero,
when tallyin' up the final score.
An' it all took jus' a few minutes.
Oowhee! What a sight.
Armstrong took them back ta' Texas
an' collected his reward,
which set him up with a fifty-thousand acre spread.
He coulda' retired
but elected not to,
he kept catchin' criminals
an' rose ta' the rank of Captain instead.
Then after a star-studded career
he finally gave it up in eighteen an' eighty-two.
He spent the remainder of his days overseein' the ranch,
as rigidly as he had the law.
Which nearly became his downfall
when a cowhand took offense at a harsh command
an' put a bullet in him in nineteen ought eight.
But Armstrong survived
while prison was the cowpoke's fate.
Eventually, Armstrong died peacefully in bed.
It was May 1st, nineteen an' thirteen.
A wealthy rancher,
a famous ranger,
a survivor who succeeded,
an' most times made it look routine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Joseph Allen's Anger Done Him In

Some folks say, "don't let the Sun set on yer' anger,"
          cuz' only bad things will happen if ya' stay mad.
But there'll always be those who won't harken ta' the danger
          like a rebellious pup, or dimwit dingo,
          with a stubborn streak iron-clad.
Well, Joseph Allen was such a one, he failed ta' learn that truth,
          he took offense at A.A. Bobbitt the cattle baron,
          an' they began a feud.
Most likely began over somethin' simple, somethin' said,
          or without proof.
          But still the hate did agitate enough ta' fume an' brood.
Allen partnered in a saloon an' cattle ranch with a feller'
           named Jesse West.
          They did O.K. in terms of pay, an' shoulda' played it square,
But with beef baron Bobbitt always a bestin' their best
          they took it ta' heart, got themselves frazzled,
          an' forgot the meanin' of fair.
Took some of their money, tainted it red on account of
          a polk named Jim Miller.
          He made him a name with a gun in his hand,
          not as a ridin' cow-herder.
They say scores of names of deadmen he carries,
          cuz' he's a professional killer.
          An' the only reason ta' have him around is if ya'
           contract fer' a murder.
The beef baron's body was found in ought-nine,
          February twenty an' six.
          The corpse was ventilated with bullets a'plenty,
           records claim it was riddled.
But the feud was well-known, so Allen an' West were
          stuck in a bit of a fix.
          With them were Miller an' another feller' Berry Burrell,
           each on the proverbial griddle.
Arrested an' shackled an' placed behind bars in Ada, Oklahoma.
          So Allen opened his billfold again, an' hired the four a law talker.
Moman Pruiett, an' attorney with "rep," it equates ta' a foul aroma.
          His murder record stood at 303 set free,
          a mighty convincin' squawker.
When word of this legal ringer spread the townfolk
           didn't like the score.
          The thought of the Texas killer for hire, an' those payin'
          blood money ta' bring him
Gettin' set free on account of legalities after
          such a horrific chore
          sparked talk like "vigilante," then talk became action,
          "Let's get a rope an' string 'um."
A mob of more than forty a strode ta' the gray bar motel.
          They broke out the four accused, a worse fer' wear
          as they drug 'um ta' the stable.
Allen an' friends appealed with squeals, 'cept Miller
          who put on show'n'tell.
          He confessed ta' fifty-one killin's, but thought it
          more important ta' die with his hat on, if able.
I suppose Allen might wonder as he sweats the fires of Hell,
          how no vigilante came ta' be arrested fer' doin' him in.
"Well didn't they do what I hired ta' be done?,"
          ya' might hear him ask.--- Well, do tell.
          But perhaps he shoulda' checked his own temper,
          quit feedin' the feud an' takin' ta' whimper,
          so each of them might've jus' kept on a livin'.
So let me iterate... it just don't pay ta' hate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zenogalache: the Apache Kid

In eighteen an' sixty-seven a young boy
was born into the tribe of the Apache.
He would later be known as the Apache Kid,
aka the Crazy One;
though his given name was Zenogalache.
He was the son of a chief, Toga-de-chuz,
who was killed so's a rival could bed his squaw.
The same squaw the Kid called "Ma."
An' the Kid waited years, til he grew,
then exacted revenge on his father's killer,
in the style of Apache law.
He was still young when orphaned,
so he was taken to San Carlos,
where he schooled by Al Sieber,
the legendary calvary scout.
It was military learnin',
ya' know, weapons an' such.
An' was the Kid good?
Well, ta' that there's little doubt,
he liked it very much,
since Sieber had him appointed
First Sergeant of the Apache Government Scouts.
However, Sieber became concerned
upon learnin' the Kid had already killed,
an' decided it would be best jus' ta' order him in.
So in he did come --- that is,
him plus ten.
Each of them fully packin'.
Well, both sides took ta' jawin',
one side hemmin', the other side hawwin',
til Sieber said the guardhouse would be their new home.
Thus, the Kid barked an order,
an' their guns sparked fire,
an' Sieber's leg caught a bullet.
So the Kid an' his band made good their escape,
an' soon began ta' roam, like there was nothing to it.
Yep, from that day forward
there was a price on the Kid's head,
the same ol' "alive or dead" standard.
So the army took ta' lookin',
along with scouts an' gunmen too.
Even the famous Tom Horn.
An' though the band increased in number,
at least times three,
most of the chasers invariably
chased shadows;
then returned empty-handed ta' face the scorn.
Now ya'll would figure most on the run
would try ta' keep a low profile,
so I guess the Crazy One's style
sprang forth from other thoughts.
Cuz' they stole a horse herd from the Atchley Ranch,
over near Table Mountain.
Then they killed themselves a loner,
an' left him ta' rot in his cabin,
a trapper named Bill Diehl.
An' then the desperadoes,
while movin' ever southward,
chose ta' add ta' their disgrace,
by torturing, then murdering, the rancher Mike Grace.
Down ta' ol' Mexico they rode,
then back again,
fer' two years the Apache Kid remained free.
But eventually
his spree was cut short,
he was captured an' clapped in irons.
Then a quick day in court fer' both he an' his men.
The sentence was "death"
but the Kid wouldn't die,
it appeared he had "friends" in high places.
His innocent pleas
of the dirty deeds
would soon add ta' the White House disgraces.
Ya' see, President Grover Cleveland
granted the Apache Kid a pardon,
an' set him free ta' go kill again.
Though this time instead of takin' herds
he took ta' stoppin' wagons,
killin' the drivers an' taken the freight.
Now I want ya'll ta' get this straight,
they weren't no redskin Robin Hoods
a' stealin' from the rich ta' give ta' the poor.
An' they sure didn't kill in self-defense,
they killed cuz' they thought it felt great.
Per chance a hero stepped forth in the form of a sheriff
Glen Reynolds of Gila County, Arizona,
who took a posse after the Kid an' caught him.
Though hindsight suggests
instead of playin' "Oops, I'm caught again"
they each should've picked a target an' shot 'um.
Cuz' they received a pitiful seven year sentence,
then never served a day;
they killed their guards on the way ta' Yuma Prison,
followed by a quick getaway.
Sadly, one of them guards was Reynolds.
In the hunt that followed
six of the Kid's band were captured.
Though only two were hanged.
The other four decided ta' do themselves away,
strangled with their own loincloths.
So like moths ta' the flame,
with the price on his head an' reputation growin',
the Kid an' his men began a murderous rampage.
The Apache Kid's rage needed targets,
an' there were targets a' plenty,
several settlers quickly bit the dust.
Gee, I wonder how much trust
President Cleveland retained in the Kid,
after hearin' how the Kid took out a prairie schooner
with a mother, young son, an' a babe?
Thank God the infant survived,
found alive near its kin that were dead,
cuz' in the eyes of the Apache Kid
 infants don't rate the cost of lead.
Now this reign of terror by Zenogalache
made him history's second most feared Apache;
second only ta' the famous Geronimo.
So both the army an' civilians wanted him dead,
with hundreds setting out ta' hunt him down.
Then, in a quirk of fate
while upon a trail in the Catalinas
the Apache Kid was found
by Dupont, a lone scout.
But they both carried rifles that were single shots,
an' neither wanted ta' fire, possibly miss,
an' be at the mercy of the other.
So they slowly dismounted,
sat themselves on some rocks,
an' waited out the long hot day
with eyes glued ta' one another.
Til finally at dusk, up rose the Kid,
he grunted, "Me leaving"
then mounted his horse
an' did in fact leave.
Of course Dupont heaved a sigh,
completely relieved.
Well, the years came an' went,
an' the renegades kept on raidin'.
No ranch or frieght was safe from the band,
at least not in New Mexico or Arizona.
And they hid out in the Sierra Madre land
south of the border
with a bit less law an' order.
Course here we go again,
like many a legends,
the end of the Apache Kid is in question,
cuz' history often has more than one recollection.
There is the claim of Edward A. Clark,
a rancher who'd been raided often by the Kid,
who recollects the final raid
in eighteen an' ninty-four.
With his new partner John Scanlon,
and an English visitor named Mercer,
they were besieged by the Apache band,
an' they fired back from the windows an' door.
Then came night fall, when Clark slipped out,
a workin' his way ta' the corral,
where he spotted two injuns a leadin' away his favorite horse.
So the logical course
of action was ta' aim an' fire.
Clark did, an' he did again,
but he waited til the end of the strife,
awaitin' til mornin' light ta' verify
that the one body found was a squaw.
It was the Apache Kid's wife.
An' near where her body lay,
a blood trail led away.
It was trailed by Clark til it petered out
high in the rocky hills.
An' Clark claims that it was the Kid,
an' he went off ta' die;
which seems ta' be supported by the fact
that there were no more raids an' kills.
No more ranchers raided,
no settlers or frieght drivers died.
An' with two witnesses
an' the corpse of the Kid's wife,
it appears that Clark hadn't lied.
Yet, without a body it was still bound ta' be
that other tales would sprout.
Just folks tryin' fer' a smidge of fame,
hopin' somebody might remember their name;
but fer' history they only add confusion an' doubt.
Such as the account of Mrs. Tom Charles,
claimin' the posse led by Charles Anderson
trapped the Apache Kid over near Kingston.
Insistin' they shot him dead
on Spetember tenth, nineteen-ought-five.
An' there always seem ta' be some
who prefer the bad guys actually win:
ta' getaway an' retire
in order ta' live out their days
unpunished fer' their sin.
So later reports of the Apache Kid
have us hearin' of his death again;
seems he was a cat with nine lives,
dyin' peacefully, or as peaceful as dyin' can be,
of consumption
at his Mexican hideout in nineteen-ten.
Unfortunately, as ya'll can see,
sometime history remains a mystery.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

William "Bloody Bill" Anderson

If you've heard anything about the Civil War
than you've probably heard the name Bloody Bill.
William Anderson was his legit moniker,
an' was known fer' bein' the right-hand man
ta' the infamous William Quantril.
He was born in Jefferson County, Missouri
on February 2nd, eighteen an' thirty-seven,
an' allegedly died in sixty-four.
Well, he wore the grey right from the beginning,
an' by most accounts he
took to the killin', blood, an' gore.
He quickly became infamous,
everyone knew he was a powerful hater,
even before he joined Quantril,
where he became known as the most vicious raider.
Though even while under Quantril
he often ran his own band of guerillas,
usually around sixty-five men.
An' he was feared throughout the border states
of Missouri an' Kansas
as one who was thrilled ta' kill,
plus he enjoyed about every other sin.
Although, he tried ta' claim he only killed "damn Yankees,"
or the equally vile sympathizers an' loyalists.
Yet he would murder a passel of civilians
without evidence,
an' no confessions or royal list.
Now he may have wore the colors of the South,
but he weren't no southern gent.
Jus' like Quantril an' his other friends
he was a no-account plunderer of small towns
that were defenseless.
With large numbers and an arsenal
they used their strength ta' prey on the weak.
Enjoyin' the thrill ta' rape, kill, pillage, an' burn,
an' other acts just as senseless.
Bloody Bill tried ta' claim
what he did was justified
on account of three sisters
who burned in a buildin' an' died.
Further claimin' they was raped,
brutally tortured an' intentionally torched.
'Course there ain't a speck of evidence
ta' support such claims,
it appears they just died in a fire.
And it's not like it's the first time
he's been called a liar.
Records indicate that most folks in his day,
an' most historians sense,
agree on one fact,
that Anderson was a blood lusting lunatic
who had the knack
fer' inflictin' pain an' death on his fellow man.
An' it was known far an' wide
by the Union opposition
that it was rare fer' Bloody Bill ta' take prisoners.
He preferred ta' shoot captives out of hand.
Why even Jim Cummins,
who later rode with Jesse James,
an' had been a member with Quantril,
claimed "the most desperate man I ever met"
was Bloody Bill.
Centralia, Kansas was the perfect example
of the ample viciousness within him.
While attemptin' ta' hook up with troops
under the command of General Sterling Price,
Anderson an' about seventy men plunged into Centralia
on the twenty-seventh of September
in eighteen an' sixty-four.
He was quickly recognized
so townfolk began fleein' homes an' stores.
Knowin' that their town was now at the mercy
of the bloodiest guerilla raider of the war.
Well, a slew of folks were rounded up;
many were executed,
the women were raped.
An' some whiskey barrels were found,
so they all drank hearty
while enjoyin' their merciless killin' party.
Then Anderson soon discovered a train was on its way,
so he ordered his men ta' build a huge barricade
right across the tracks in order ta' stop it.
After all, the more the merrier, as he saw fit.
Of course he was pleasantly surprised
ta' find among the passengers
twenty-six fellers' wearin' soldier blue,
under the command of Lieutenant Peters.
Unfortuantely, Peters was one of them yellow-back leaders,
with a yeller' streak high an' wide.
So he covered himself with a blanket
an' jumped off the train,
leavin' his men ta' get caught,
as he crawled under a platform ta' hide.
Course, he didn't hide very well,
in fact, he was spotted by Bloody Bill,
who said, "Pull that bastard out of there!"
So Peters was caught
like it or not,
an' began ta' shiver an' shake,
on account of he was scared.
Now when Anderson advanced
with pistols in hand
Peters broke free an' tried ta' run.
Yet even with the captive tryin' ta' scurry,
Bloody Bill saw no reason ta' hurry,
so he took careful aim
an' sent six bullets from his gun.
Ya'll can notch up another one fer' Bloody Bill.
He then ordered the remaining troops,
the six plus twenty,
into an open field.
Where he paraded in front of them,
with guns a'plenty,
enjoyin' their tears an' fears,
an' some even squealed.
With four Navy Colts on his belt,
four rifles on his horse,
a sabre, a hatchet,
an' even an' extra bag of pistols on his saddle horn,
Bloody Bill was definitely the vision
of death come a callin'.
An' the snifflin' an' bawlin'
of the younger Yankees
made him feel powerful, like a mighty big man.
So with enough guns at hand
he jus' kept a stallin',
hopin' ta' see some belly-crawlin'
before he did the blue-bellies in.
Then he stopped, an' he pondered,
an' stuck a smelly ol' cheroot in his mouth,
set it ablaze, an' didn't care if it stank.
He jus' stared at his captives with ill-meanin' eyes,
then quietly asked, "Boys,
do you have a sergeant in your ranks?"
Well, their mouths were tight with fear,
so he took ta' coaxin', an' told them some lies.
Yep, he even claimed he would spare their lives,
so Sergeant Thomas M. Goodman stepped forth.
Then Goodman was ushered away,
he'd live ta' see another day,
ta' be used as a prisoner exchange
fer' one of Bill's men held by the North.
Now came the time fer' Anderson's fun,
so with each of his hands he now held a gun,
an' commenced ta' shootin'
as he walked along the rows.
After he quickly emptied one
he would simply draw another,
an' kept it up til they were all in death throes.
That is, all except Goodman, who,
with a bit of luck,
actually escaped ta' tell the tale.
Now fer' a bit of the bizarre,
there came a strange act of normalcy
within all this lunacy.
Within weeks of the slaughter
Bloody Bill married the daughter
of a Texan,
an' brought her back up ta' Ray County, Missouri.
Where they settled briefly on a small farm.
Then back he went to his men an' murderous raids.
But when you're one of the most hated men in the country
it's only a matter of time
before someone puts an end ta' your vicious escapades.
The day was October 27th, eighteen an' sixty-four,
when the incident arrived that many had prayed for.
Scores an' scores who mourned over kin
done in by Bloody Bill,
wanted ta' hear how it happened ta' him,
when he was hurried onto Hell.
It is said to have happened near Orrick, Missouri
while ridin' at the head of his guerilla band.
They were ambushed by some Union troops
with Captain S.P. Cox in command.
A hail of bullets struck Bloody Bill,
dozens in fact,
they say he was dead in the saddle.
And although his men fought wildly ta' retrieve the body,
they found themselves in a losin' battle.
So away they ran ta' save their own hides.
Now if Bloody Bill ever expected
ta' have his remains respected,
he was a bigger fool than he was a bully.
Cuz' he earned every ounce of hate
each trooper had fer' him,
an' they lost their chance ta' make him suffer
before he was dead.
So they took his corpse ta' Richmond,
propped it up fer' some pictures,
perhaps fer' posterity;
then cut off his head.
They then impaled it upon a pole
an' placed it fer' all ta' see at the entrance ta' town.
Later, goin' back fer' the carcass,
an' roped it up in order ta' drag it around.
An' they kept it up til it was butchered
like the butcher he was known ta' be;
then finally dumped it in a shallow unmarked grave.
Now there's a lesson ta' be learned here folks,
yer' probably gonna get treated like you behave.
However, like most legends regardin' the famous,
or in this case, the infamous,
stories later arose claimin' it wasn't Bloody Bill
who died that day.
A case of mistakin' identity with a look-a-like.
An' they claim there's evidence ta' sway
them over ta' that way of thinkin'.
Now it's a fact that most rumors are a waste of breath
an' do nothin' fer' history but add their stink in.
But every once in awhile curious facts pop up
that irritate history like blisters.
Like a ninety year old man dyin'
on eleven-two of nineteen an' twenty-seven,
down in Salt Creek, Texas.
An' on the table next ta' his death bed
was an ol' photograph of three young ladies;
who were later identified as Bloody Bill's long-dead sisters.
Now ya'll can take it fer' what it's worth,
believe this way or that,
but remember there's been way better cons in history,
showin' more things valid, so-to-speak.
Ya' see, it jus' don't figure,
how can a man like Bloody Bill,
who got such a thrill
outta' murderin' people in cold blood, by the multitudes,
just up an' quit cold turkey,
then go off an' live respectfully?
Then many years later,
he's supposed ta' die peacefully in ol' Salt Creek.
So allow me ta' end this tale with an epitaph,
considerin' both facts an' mystery.
We know somewhere lies the body of Bloody Bill,
who earned his place in history,
as well as a hot seat in Hell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hugh Anderson

Hugh Anderson is one of them gun totin' cowboys
that some historians try ta' claim there weren't many of,
though I suggest ya' add 'um up an' judge fer' yourself.
Though Hugh was no brainchild,
nor was he lighting on the draw.
It's obvious he would've lived a lot longer
if he kept his temper an' his guns upon the shelf.
While trailin' a herd from Saledo, Texas
ta' Newton, Kansas in eighteen an' seventy-one
he was asked ta' join a manhunt
fer' a killer named Juan Bideno.
So he joined three other cowpokes
an' tracked the man ta' Bluff City,
where one of those cowhands,
Texas gunslinger John Wesley Hardin,
out shot Bideno an' put him in a hole.
Then upon arrivin' at the end of the trail in Newton,
Anderson learned of the death of a friend, William Bailey.
He was shot ta' death at the hands
of a rough an' tumble railroad foreman
named Mike McCluskie.
But McCluskie had left town right after the killin'.
So Anderson an' some friends
vowed ta' seek revenge
if ever McCluskie should return.
Well, the burly foreman did come back
ta' the scene of the crime,
an' Anderson weren't the type ta' waste no time,
in fact he thought it was past due
fer' bloody justice ta' have its turn.
Though I'm sure he never realized
that what he was about ta' begin
would be in history books fer' generations:
as the single bloodiest gunfight of the old west.
Although the press
never has stressed
it on the same level as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Nope, Hugh was just angry an' wanted release
at the expense of the feller' that done in his pal.
Around 1 AM on August 20th of seventy-one
Anderson found McCluskie at Perry Tuttle's Dance Hall
playin' faro.
So with hate in his heart
an' revenge on his mind
he made a beeline fer' him as straight as an arrow.
"Yer' a cowardly S.O.B.!
I will blow the top of yer' head off!"
Anderson yelled, while pullin' his gun an' takin' a shot.
Though he missed his head, he shot his neck,
but only slowed him down a bit
on account of McCluskie bein' so big.
So McCluskie half rose from his chair,
blood gushin' from the wound,
an' yanked his pistol from its rig.
But when he pulled the trigger
the dang thing misfired,
allowin' Anderson another free turn.
So Hugh's gun barked again,
spittin' fire an' lead:
a leg wound this time, with pain that did burn.
Which toppled Mike down,
ta' the ground he did fall,
bellowin' fierce like a bull.
 McCluskie was fallin' for his next trigger pull,
sparkin' his first shot,
which only hit the floorboards beneath him.
An' while he was down
Anderson simply backshot him,
doin' him in fer' his sin.
Now McCluskie's friends an' Anderson's friends
both decided ta' join this lead spittin' party.
Though if some of them knew
what the outcome would be
you can bet they'd a chose ta' be tardy.
Jim Riley an' Patrick Lee
took up fer' the fallin' McCluskie.
They fired at Hugh,
an' wounded him with two,
both ta' a lower limb.
So Henry Kearnes an' Billy Garrett,
comin' ta' Anderson's aid,
took pot shots at the both of them.
All four of the men with steel in their hands
advanced toward each other with guns a blazin'.
A sight amazin' ta' some,
but a nightmare ta' others,
since the combatants weren't the only ones hit.
There was Jim Martin from Texas
who merely tried ta' keep the peace,
but was struck in the neck with a bullet.
He clutched at the wound,
but the artery was severed,
an' he stumbled ta' the street where he died.
Yet the lead kept flyin'
with most of them wide,
though some hit their mark.
Lee soon fell from a gut shot,
an' both Henry an' Billy took lead ta' the chest,
sendin' each into darkness fer' eternity.
Then there was poor ol' Jim Wilkinson,
an unarmed cowboy who hadn't took part,
but was still singled out by the pumped up Riley;
an' though Riley tried ta' blow off his head,
he blew off the tip of his nose instead,
leavin' the unlucky feller' disfigured fer' life.
An' like most gunfights, it didn't take long
to inflict all this damage through strife.
In just a few minutes
there were five dead or dyin',
an' five more who needed the Doc.
Though Anderson was doctored by friends
who wasted no time gettin' him outta' town.
Now, why the local sheriff didn't hear
pert near
fifty shots at 1 AM in the mornin'
is not quite clear.
So when he finally was informed,
an' made it to the hall,
there weren't much he could do anyway.
The dead were dead,
an' the others fled,
they made good on their getaway.
Thus Anderson made good on his boast,
he done in the man that did in his friend,
an' it only took two more of his friends ta' do it.
But like all feuds, which thrive on hate,
an' where both sides think revenge is sweet,
it'll never end til they smartin' up
or each one catches a bullet.
In other words,
though things seemed ta' quiet down,
an' Anderson was in a different town;
in fact it was Medicine Lodge, Kansas
where he was tendin' bar at Harding's Trading Post,
when the ghost of his past did appear.
It came in the form of Arthur McCluskie, Mike's brother.
Another fool addicted ta' seek out revenge,
like a wino seekin' wine from binge ta' binge.
It was June of eighteen an' seventy-three
when Arthur sent a man named Richards
into the saloon ta' bring Anderson out
so he could settle the score
fer' the killin' of his brother two years before.
He even gave Anderson the option of guns or knives.
Well, guns were chosen, in fact
it would be similar to an' old formal duel,
perhaps attemptin' ta' bring some futile honor
to the taken of lives.
They even chose seconds;
there was Richards fer' McCluskie,
an' Harding fer' Hugh.
Ironically, the patrons grumbled a might
when Anderson closed the bar,
while claimin' he had a "chore ta' do."
Though he turned out ta' be a bit overconfident
when he claimed he'd be back in a few.
Once outside upon the street
the two combatants stood back ta' back
an' feet ta' feet.
They then stepped off twenty paces, turned,
an' repeatedly fired at their foe.
There were hundreds of onlookers who wagered an' watched,
awestruck, an' wonderin' how it would go.
Well the first shots went wild,
but the seconds found their mark,
proven this duel was not just a lark;
they came fer' blood an' blood began ta' spill.
Anderson's arm was brokin' an' bleedin':
a cut artery as he sank ta' his knees in pain.
Though he still had enough composure
ta' use his good hand an' take aim.
His gun spit fire an' the bullet flew,
it struck McCluskie in the mouth,
an' he spat out gobs of blood an' broken teeth,
yet still advanced at Hugh.
So Anderson fired twice more,
an' McCluskie crashed down,
with one ta' the leg an' one ta' the middle.
While most the bystanders were thinkin' it's time
ta' play a dirge on the fiddle.
But McCluskie fought through that painful feelin',
an' rose a bit til he were kneelin',
fired again an' gut shot Hugh,
who pitched backward, gaspin' fer' air.
The crowd thought it was over an' began ta' move
but Harding, holding a shotgun
said, "Stay away from there.
This is what they agreed upon,
so don't no one interfere."
An' sure enough it weren't through.
McCluskie pulled his knife,
then crawled painfully to his foe,
an' sank it ta' the hilt in his side.
Though Anderson, too, had his in hand,
used it ta' cut McCluskie's throat,
 an' both collapsed an' died.
In fact, within seconds of each other.
So the bets were collected,
the bodies quickly buried,
an', like the cliche',
"That is all she wrote."

Monday, October 12, 2009

David L. Anderson: from outlaw to lawman

David L.Anderson, born in eighteen an' sixty-two,
died in nineteen an' eighteen,
with alias' of Billy Wilson an' Buffalo Billy.
Though he weren't as rotten, nor as mean
as most who took ta' the wrong side of the law.
He come into the world in Ohio.
Moved ta' Texas early on,
an' took ta' the range as a young cowboy,
liftin' a burden off his Ma an' Pa.
He resettled at eighteen in White Oaks, New Mexico,
where he took on the moniker of Billy Wilson,
an' ran himself a livery stable.
But he had a weakness in business,
an' he weren't no whiz with figures,
though with the stock an' equipment he was more than able.
Well, he up an' sold in eighty;
considered it a good deal,
but the payoff was in counterfeits,
a damn sharper got the stable in a steal.
No, Billy weren't the wisest
where money was concerned,
he simply went ta' passin' the bills he'd been paid,
with an' awful lesson soon ta' be learned.
Cuz' the system failed young Billy,
a warrant was issued fer' him,
while the one who swindled him got away.
You could say the system created an outlaw that day.
Young Wilson was both scared an' riled,
it sent him on the skid.
He jumped bail immediately,
ran off an' joined another Billy --- Billy the Kid.
Wilson may have started as a greenhorn,
but he learned his lessons quick.
Even a pawn can kill a king,
an the game of life is no lark.
It took grit ta' hang with Billy the Kid,
after all, he weren't no saint.
An' posse's by the dozen were always
chompin' at their heels
like a great white shark.
Though more often than not they out smarted them,
or at least had the better luck.
Like on the night of November 29th of eighty-one,
when both the Kid an' Wilson's horses
were shot an' felled' ta' bloody muck,
an' the two still escaped the posse
on foot in the dark.
However, the subsequent retaliation
coulda' used a bit more plannin'.
But the Kid had a powerful hankerin' ta' get even,
even at the expense of common sense.
So the two joined up with Dave Rudabaugh,
an' grabbed some fresh mounts,
then headed back ta' White Oaks
with the thought of recompense.
When the trio boldly rode into town
they quickly spotted Deputy James Redman,
who had been part of the posse on the previous night.
The three drew steel, an' spent some lead,
but Redman ran for cover,
an' somehow got clean outta' sight.
But the sound of gunfire roused the town
an' dozens of citizens joined in the fight.
So the three desperadoes wisely chose ta' take flight,
gallopin' away
in order ta' fight another day.
A day not far in the future,
in fact, on the 'morrow,
when the posse tracked 'um ta' the ranch of Jim Greathouse.
Where posse leader Jim Carlyle tried a bit of reason,
but found out reason weren't in season with the Kid,
who, in fact, played the louse.
Cuz' on Carlyle's next play
he put himself in harm's way,
exchangin' himself fer' a hostage.
An' though he tried his best
it weren't good enough,
took three ta' the chest
when the Kid flipped his lid.
Then William Bonney took the body
an' crashed it through the window,
shockin' the posse with disbelief,
an' givin' time fer' the three men ta' go.
Now when the posse learned they let them escape
they needed themselves a way ta' vent.
They took it out on the ranch house
an' everything in it,
leavin' nothin' but ash an' stone ta' show.
History later would record that while in the house
Anderson, alias Wilson, had also tried ta' reason with the Kid,
but the Kid was havin' none of it from anyone.
Wilson had reminded him, that at that time,
there wasn't much of a charge against them.
But the Kid opted ta' do his thinkin' with a gun.
Ironically, it was this incident that paved the way
fer' Pat Garrett ta' assume command
of the posse in the area,
all searchin' fer' the gang.
Now with Garrett in charge
the posse set a trap near Fort Sumner, New Mexico,
an' waited fer' the outlaws ta' appear.
An' probably thinkin' of which ones would hang.
Then six of 'um came ridin' up on the 19th of December;
so Garrett, Lon Chambers, an' others
leapt from their cover,
confrontin' both outlaws an' fear.
Now Pat appeared ta' want them alive,
but alive was riskier in the eyes of his men,
who started pullin' triggers an' spittin' lead.
In jus' a few seconds the whole thing was done,
but it obviously wasn't done well;
cuz' only O'Folliard an' Pickett were blown
from their saddles.
Oh yeah, an' Dave Rudabaugh's mount was dead.
The Kid an' Charlie Bowdre
had quickly raced away.
An' Anderson showed his grit
by slowin' ta' pick up Dave.
All four of them made good their escape
without so much as a scratch.
Though as luck would have it,
Anderson's days with the gang were numbered
on account of another trap Garrett did hatch.
They caught him at Stinking Springs,
convicted him of robbery an' murder,
an' sent him off ta' prison at Santa Fe.
Though he quickly escaped an' fled ta' Texas,
ta' the town of Sanderson, founded by kin;
where he ended up spendin' many a day.
He lived there quietly under his real name.
He married, raised a family,
an' ran the Old Cottage Bar.
He eventually gained in popularity,
even got himself elected in nineteen-ought-five:
elected by the town ta' wear their star.
From one side of the law to the other,
an' he proved himself time an' again,
keepin' the peace with a resolute steady hand.
So well in fact he did his job
that when his past did arise
Garrett an' others saw that the charges were counter-manned.
But it has often been said,
"If ya' live by the gun, ya' die by the gun."
An' in the life of Anderson it came true.
It came while tryin' ta' reason with a young cowboy
who was drunk an' brandishing his iron.
Well, Anderson let his guard down
cuz' it was someone that he knew.
His name was Ed Valentine,
an' he ran to a shed an' refused ta' come out.
So Anderson felt it was his duty ta' go in,
but he never made it through the door
before the bullet struck him.
An' by the way, lest I forget ta' mention,
the townfolk were so incensed
at this killin' without no sense,
that they seized the culprit an' commenced ta' lynchin'.
As I end this tale
let me leave ya' with a bit of trivia
connected with David L. Anderson.
It has ta' do with his earlier arrest,
an' I find it kinda' interestin'.
The gun that he surrendered ta' Pat Garrett that day
is suppose ta' be the same one the sheriff used
ta' blow Billy the Kid away.
Although history has never been a hundred percent certain.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Burton Alvord: lawman turned outlaw

Burton Alvord lived from eighteen sixty-six ta' nineteen-ten,
a feller' who took ta' both sides of the law.
He came out west with a justice of the peace,
of course he called him "Pa."
They settled in the well-known town of Tombstone
in the days of the Earp-Clanton feud.
In fact, Burton was a stable hand
at the O.K. Corral on that fated day
an' he would never forget what he viewed.
Alvord saw the Earp-Holliday crew defeat the Clanton-McLowery bunch
with cool composure an' deliberate aim,
an' he would mimic that pattern the rest of his life,
it would become a hallmark trait attached ta' his name.
Well in eighteen an' eighty-five at the age of nineteen
Six-Shooter Jimmy dared Alvord ta' make a play,
so both slapped leather on that ill-fated challenge,
but Jimmy fanned an' sprayed
while Alvord took a bead,
an' with one well placed shot it was Burton who walked away.
The well-known John Slaughter witnessed the affair
an' respected the youngster's reserve,
so when he was elected as sheriff of Cochise County in eighty-six
he sought out Alvord with a tin star in hand
an' asked him ta' serve
as a deputy ta' back him up against robbers, rustlers, an' such.
So under the eye of the competent Slaughter
ol' Burton, he learned himself much,
an' he coulda' gone far
wearin' that star
cuz' he lived in a time when fame was attached
ta' those who were tough,
ta' those with a knack
fer' puttin' damn bandits in jail.
Then came eighteen an' eighty-nine
when Alvord's character began ta' lose its shine
on account of the fog an' mist,
an' even some hail,
that comes with heavy drinkin'.
Coincidentally, he mixed his drinks with the outlaw element,
which helped him lose sight of what was important.
Inevitably, things jus' had ta' come ta' a head,
an' it came while on a drinkin' binge with two other yahoos,
when the one named Fuller
took offense at the one named Fortino,
so he grabbed Alvord's gun an' shot him dead.
Now when Sheriff Slaughter arrived on scene ta' learn
that his deputy was too snockered ta' discern
another man had used his gun with deadly force,
he up an' exploded,
chastizin' Burton bad,
"Dammit Son, can't ya' see you've been had
by the spirits yer' drinkin'
an' the company ya' keep?"
Slaughter said, "It's costin' ya' boy,
an' it's gonna get steep!
Now pull it together,
quit actin' like sheep,
or I'll have ta' fire yer' butt, it's my only recourse."
Well, Alvord sorta' soured then
on both Slaughter an' Tombstone,
so he moved ta' Fairbank, A.R.
ta' wear another star
as constable fer' the town.
Course he went back ta' cavortin' with criminals,
an' drinkin' like a fish,
which quickly turned the townfolk's smiles upside down.
He was asked ta' leave an' he quickly left
ta' be the sheriff in the town of Wilcox,
where even the riff raff called him a "boozer."
Then one of them undesirables,
a cowboy gunman named Billy King,
pushed Burton too far,
an' wound up as the real loser.
After threatenin' the star man
the two went out behind the saloon ta' get more space,
but as Billy passed through the door
Burton went into motion,
he drew steel an' shot every load
right in the gunman's face.
By the turn of the century
Alvord had foregone keepin' peace an' the law,
preferin' instead ta' break it.
He ran with the crowd befriended in saloons,
the kind that would look at what is yours as theirs,
if they wanted it they'd pull a gun an' take it.
Well, for a few years
Alvord took ta' leadin' some ruthless no-accounts,
whose only claim ta' fame,
though history's forgot most their names,
was the fact that they robbed a few trains.
Course Alvord weren't no genius,
so they'd catch him an' throw his butt in jail,
first in nineteen-hundred,
then again in ought-three.
The second time with his sidekick Stiles,
with the first name of Billy,
an' it was Billy who stole the keys
while in the position of trustee
which allowed them ta' leave the Tombstone jail.
 Alvord was now wanted with a passion
by the law he use ta' serve,
so he thought he'd use a bit of trickery,
an' the pair came up with a couple of corpses,
sealed them in two coffins an' sent 'um ta' town,
claimin' one was Burton an' the other Billy.
Well, thankfully all lawmen aren't drinkers,
some, in fact, are thinkers,
an' the star men in Tombstone weren't fooled by the ruse.
They opened those coffins
an' found two dead Mexicans,
which undoubtedly proved
that Burton an' Billy were still on the run.
This fact greatly perturbed the Arizona rangers
who set off in grim pursuit,
vowin' ta' bring 'um back,
or put 'um down with a gun.
Ignorin' the border of Ol' Mexico
acrossed it the rangers did tramp.
Then they headed yonder ta' Nigger Head Gap,
an' found the two in their so-called secret camp.
First talkin' was tried, but neither were havin' it,
both gunmen went fer' their steel.
So the rangers unloaded, an' wounded the pair,
though Stiles still somehow slipped away.
But Alvord was down with two ta' the leg,
an' that weren't the only pain he'd feel;
cuz' they packed him off ta' Yuma Prison,
where they'd turn a rusty key.
He would call it home fer' the next two years
on account of robbery.
Upon his release in nineteen-ought-six,
he decided ta' leave the American west.
Headin' fer' Central America, or so it's said.
Supposedly seekin' his fortune,
though reports seem ta' have him driftin':
Venezuala, Honduras,
an' workin' on the canal in ol' Panama
until the year of nineteen-ten,
the year most historians claim him dead.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Billy the Kid's DNA investigation & Three Chicken Little Towns

     Six years ago Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan, Captian Mayor Steve Sederwall, and De Baca County Sheriff Gary Graves initiated a new investigation into the death of Billy the Kid.
     The original plan was to exhume the bodies of Billy the Kid and Catherine Antrim, his mother, and use modern-day DNA techniques to prove if the body laid to rest in Fort Sumner was, in fact, the young outlaw.
     In the half dozen subsequent years they have encountered one stonewalling attempt after another. Government officials, agency heads, and private interests have fought hard to halt the continued efforts of Sullivan and Sederwall (Graves has apparently stepped away, there has been little mention of him since), who have turned the investigation into a private affair supported with their own money.
     Even when the two tried a different angle, by way of discrediting the unproven claims of Ollie P. "Brushy Bill" Roberts and John Miller, both professing to be the Kid, the powers that be have done their best to prevent it. Although Sullivan and Sederwall performed an end-around play in Prescott, Arizona, and was able to bypass the government red tape by getting the okay to exhume John Miller through private ownership of private lands.
     I must confess a certain amount of curiosity as to why the findings of that exhumation and testing by celebrated forensic pathologist Dr. Henry Lee have not come to light. I made a couple attempts to contact the Los Angeles office, but have been rebuffed, and the latest online search have discovered that a lawsuit has been filed to have the evidence turned over, but I have been unable to find an outcome at this time.
     Likewise, Sullivan and Sederwall are still stonewalled by the three remaining cities of interest to this case: Fort Sumner and Silver City in New Mexico, and Hico, Texas.
     If this was simply a case of proving or disproving the legend surrounding the controversial death of Billy the Kid it would be little more than a disappointment. But the fact remains that three towns are bringing in big bucks year after year in tourist trade by claiming to be the final resting place of the real Billy the Kid. Which means at least two of those towns; Prescott, Fort Sumner, or Hico; and their government officials are condoning and conspiring to fleece honest tourists with lies. --- Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?
     The following poem shows my distaste over the situation.

(afraid of Billy the Kid's DNA)

They say the old west was rough and tumble,
it was hard but it was fair,
if you were square with yer' neighbors or strangers when lost.
An' there still were fine folks
who would stand for the truth at all cost.
Lately, however, we see in the west
a different take on the truth in modern-day.
Like the three chicken little towns
afraid of three little letters,
the letters D-N-A.
Now fer' all hermits,
an' any others who might live under a rock or out in space
an' may not have heard over the last several years
how a particular situation,
regarding a not-so-secret investigation,
has gone in an' out of the courts an' news.
It appears Tom Sullivan an' Steve Sederwall
had them a notion
so they put forth a motion
to once an' fer' all
learn the truth.
Now these feller's have dotted their I's
an' crossed their T's
an' tried ta' be upright an' fair.
But each efforts been stalled,
each motions been squashed
by those claimin' authority in the three one-horse towns
who'd rather not have the truth --- but dare.
Ya' see the whole thing surrounds William Bonney,
the infamous Billy the Kid.
Cuz' the tale still holds too much mystery,
not enough facts, an' abundance of fiction,
the myths run free while reality hid.
Don't it seem a bit outta' place
in a country that claims honor an' pride
to allow three or more towns to be robbin' the tourists,
while professin' quite loud,
"This is where poor Billy died?"
Now unless Billy Bonney was a cat with nine lives,
he shouldn't have so many places of rest,
an' yet these three chicken little towns
ain't got the guts ta' O.K. the DNA test.
First is Silver City, next Fort Sumner,
both in New Mexico.
With the third town in Texas,
a puddle-jump called Hico.
Can ya'll imagine that?
What's this country comin' to when a town in Texas,
where they take pride in the Alamo,
no longer has the guts ta' fight fer' the truth?
Course, there was a fourth town,
the town of Prescott, A.Z.,
but an end-around play
by Sullivan an' Sederwall
earned an official "OK"
through private channels on private land
bypassin' the usual P.R. seekin' authority.
An' ain't it funny how the government jack-boots
claim they're actin' in the "public's interest"
when at least two out of three
have definitely
been scamming the public fer' years?
An' I dare any one of those uppity town snobs
a stickin' their noses up at the truth,
ta' prove ta' little ol' me
how they can legitimately
justify highway robbery
by claimin' lies as facts
just ta' coax the tourists back.
An' by the way,
who the hell does Trish Saunders think she's kiddin'?
The so-called spokes-filly
fer' the Billy
the Kid Historic Preservation Society,
yet takin' the side, when all is said an' done,
that'll keep provable history in the dark.
Ain't that a lark
my friends,
how folks claim they're interested in preservin' history,
but they've only got interest in preservin'
their version of it, ya' see,
the truth be damned.
Sadly it all comes down to one thing
the truth might cost them a buck,
they'd rather lose their souls
keepin' pigeons in rows
coughin' up dollars
an' chokin' off common sense here in the so-called land of the free.
Thank God I'm not one of those dummies
who have ta' be struck by a truck
ta' realize my luck,
an' how thankful I am and should be
to not have one speck of those dishonest government officials
DNA in me.