Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008
Oh, this is rich:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Barack Obama is claiming a link to the Wild West — Wild Bill Hickok, to be precise.

The Democratic presidential candidate came to this town on the edge of the old West on Wednesday and laid down a challenge for his GOP rival.

"If Sen. McCain wants a debate on taxes in this campaign, I'm ready," Obama said, noting that Hickok is said to have fought a duel here. "I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes right here, quick draw," Obama said before closing the loop with Hickok.

"The family legend is that he is a distant cousin of mine. I don't know if it's true but I'm going to research it."

It's not just legend, says Chris Child, a genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Hickok is sixth cousin to Obama's fourth great-grandfather, Jacob Dunham, Child said. Their common ancestor is Thomas Blossom, who arrived with the Pilgrims. The society earlier found other notable links to Obama, including Brad Pitt, of Springfield; and Vice President Dick Cheney.

—Compiled by Mike Glover

I'm researching the Wild Bunch and the capture of Elzy Lay for the next Classic Gunfights episode. Looking through Jeff Burton's excellent book "The Deadliest Outlaws," I found this description of the saddle Tom Ketchum was riding when he was captured near Folsom, New Mexico:

Black Jack’s Saddle
A “high-forked, centerfire, full stamped, with twenty-eight inch tapaderos and buckskin pockets”. He also had an elaborately-woven Navajo blanket. A San Angelo, Texas saddler, Mose Taylor, apparently made Black Jack’s saddle.

Another amazing find is the fact that Elzy Lay, who was severely wounded at the Turkey Creek Canyon fight, was still wearing the same blood soaked shirt when he was captured over a month later! Lay took one bullet in the chest and another in the shoulder, at the Turkey Creek fight with Cimarron lawmen. The two rifle bullets knocked him unconscious. Amazingly, the two bullets went "through and through" meaning they didn't strike his heart or other organs. Man, what are the odds of getting a bullet in the chest and shoulder and not only live, but with little medical help, be up and around within two weeks? And, riding 300 miles to southeast New Mexico, where he was captured at a cow camp east of Carlesbad. He even put up a hell of a fight in that encounter.

This is one of those authentic episodes in the life of Old West outlaws that would be hard to take in a Western movie. It reminds me of Peter Fonda, getting gutshot, at the beginning of 3:10 To Yuma and then riding a horse a day or two later. Dr. Jim Kornberg, our Frontier Doc, did an entire column on the dubiousness of this portrayal, but hey, Elzy really puts it back within the realm of possibility.

And, yes, my family claims a connection to Black Jack Ketchum. My mother's oldest sister, Sadie Pearl, married Tap Duncan's son, and one of the Duncan girls married into the Ketchum clan. This is the outlaw connection that drove my mother crazy because I was always telling anyone that would listen that we were related to outlaws. Ha. Funny, what we take pride in.

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it."
—Erma Bombeck

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