Thursday, November 05, 2009

November 5, 2009
Last night when I was driving home from work I caught this spectacular sunset over The Seven Sisters:

Then, this morning, as I walked out the driveway to pick up the newspaper, I caught this sunrise:

True West Moment Question:
"In the old west movies they always seem to show a single sheriff or marshal with maybe one deputy. Going up against maybe 4 or 5 gun toting folks in a saloon who broke the law. I understand the idea of a posse who tracks a murderer (and I think that is also overblown how many men would leave there farms and families for days)doesn't seem to make sense to me. Can't believe most sheriffs were that brave. Whats the real scoop on how most NORMAL sheriffs handled that situation?"
—Mark Swint
Clearwater, Florida

Believe it or not, many farmers and ranchers were deputized by roving posses, some against their wills. In the Lincoln County War in New Mexico (1878), rival posses carrying warrants from different judges and alcades (Mexican officials), would stop at a ranch and draft able hands to join them. Many didn't want to go but felt forced to do their civic duty, or avoid paying a fine. As for the one deputy this was true in small towns (and still is in some parts of the country today), but even in Tombstone in the 1880s, there were several policemen, the city marshal, and then county officials which would include the county sheriff, and then men carrying U.S. Deputy Marshal badges (Wyatt Earp).

There was plenty of law in the Old West, some would say too much law, as in the case of the Lincoln County War. But in very rural counties, like in the Bootheel of New Mexico, you might have a sheriff covering hundreds of miles. Even there, the sheriff would have ranchers he could count on. When members of the Wild Bunch robbed a train at Steins Pass, a pretty large posse made up of train detectives, county officers and volunteer ranchers went on the trail. Often with a squad of Apache trackers as well. So the movie portrayals all have some basis in fact, although it can get to be a tired cliche, like in High Noon, where one guy goes out to face five outlaws.

How's this for weird and wacky? A Wild West Gathering in the East. This April, the French Broad Outpost Ranch is having its First Annual Western Gathering in The East! Ha. Michael Martin Murphy, Waddie Mitchell and Asleep At The Wheel will be there. Where? Del Rio, Tennessee.

Check them out.

"History is an argument without end."
—Pieter Geyl

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