This Week in Old West History - November 19
CowboySpirit.TV - We've got a lot of beginnings today, including the births of two true notables in old west lore, as well as the passing of an American literary legend. Read on for more!
1907: Novelist Jack Schaefer was born today, best remembered by western fans for his novel "Shane." This book, considered by most a true classic of old west literature, of course inspired the widely-loved Alan Ladd film of the same name. Schaefer died in 1991.
1880: That uncommonly couth old west robber, Black Bart the "po8," tried and failed to rob the stage from Redding to Roseburg in Siskiyou County, California. Depending on which account you prefer, he was deterred by either the sound of an approaching train, or a hatchet in the hand of the stage's driver. There would be no poetry on this day.
1860: A lawman and gunfighter named Tom Horn was born on this day. Originally a scout and deputy sheriff, he went into business for himself as a "range detective." Unfortunately, rather than becoming the hybrid western-noir hero of cinematic dreams, he instead simply acted as an assassin for hire. He was hung for murder on November 20, 1903.
1916: The widely loved American author Jack London died on this day. His most popular novels, including Call of the Wild, were based on his own experiences in the Klondike Gold Rush. They helped establish the strong theme of "man versus nature" that often characterizes American western literature.
1859: Today is likely the anniversary of the birth of one the old west's greatest bandits: Billy the Kid. There are actually three versions of the birth of Mr. The Kid, but without a birth certificate we'll never know for certain. But, this is the date most commonly accepted by historians.
1874: There was a birth of a different sort today. On this day, Joseph Glidden was awarded a patent for his version of barbed wire, a major step forward in old west security systems. Glidden's design would be the standard for many years to come.
1867: On this day, then-Major General George Custer suffered a near-career ending blow as his court martial concluded and he was sentenced to a one year's suspension from military service due to going AWOL. However, personal intervention from General Sheridan led to him being reinstated early.