Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18, 2008
Finally, we got the scorcher today we have been dreading. Supposed to hit 107 in Phoenix. Here in Cave Creek it's 99.7 degrees at four P.M. When I went out to feed the chickens this morning I almost stepped on a four-foot Mohave Rattler. I don't know how the dogs missed him. I finally saw it on the way back from the hen house as it was stretched out full length waiting for us to make our move (they really blend in to the dirt, but his coon tail stripes gave him away). We went out the side gate and let it slither out under the fence.

Delivered a dozen eggs to Tom Augherton this morning. Received four questions for True West Moments. Answered this one:

On May 18, 2008, at 2:46 PM, Yvonne Stock wrote:


Hello, my husband Rick and I watch the Westerns Channel most of the time and your stories are very interesting.

My question is this: If hanging was a form of punishment in the Old West, why didn't they build a gallows outside of town and use it over and over, instead of building one in the middle of town every time someone needed hung?

I realize that from the Hollywood stories, that watching the hanging in the town square was quite an attraction. Especially if it were someone famous.

I would appreciate you checking into this, or perhaps you already know why, and letting me know.

—Thank you, Yvonne Stock

Hangings in the West were rare enough that towns didn't want a permanent gallows. It was bad for business. In Las Vegas, New Mexico they had an old windmill in the town square and after several lynchings the town fathers had it torn down. The only exception to this that I can think of is Judge Parker's gallows in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which I believe were semi-permanent. (and eventually, state prisons probably had a permanent gallows as well, because that was their job). There was a public hanging in Durango, Colorado that drew 10,000 but it got bad press (too much of a circus) and so it was mostly frowned upon. Sheriffs out West were in charge of building the gallows and supervising the hanging (invitations were sent out, which is a custom held even today). Then the gallows were torn town and the lumber sold, or used for public projects.

—Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

"The novelist is the better historian—and especially better than the empirical historian—because he admits that he is partial, prejudiced, and ignorant, and because he has not forsaken passion."
—Jull Lapore

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