Friday, July 26, 2013

Those Crazy Cozads

July 26, 2013

Very muggy this morning. Went for a walk at 6:30 and it started sprinkling. Lots of thunder and lightning, all of which was getting closer. Got back to the house about 6:51 and just as I cleared the studio door, down it came. Really a gully washer. So I dodged that bath.

Bailed right into a spot illustration for my next Classic Gunfight: "The Unlikely Son of A Gunfighter."

Daily Whipout, "Alfred Pearson Gets A Mouthful of Lead"

   The fight took place on October 14, 1882 and was over John J. Cozad's hay fields north of town and him accusing Pearson of letting his cattle in among the hay. Cozad threatened to sue and Pearson confronted him at the Bee Hive General Store and someone said the word 'liar" and the fight was on. One of the eye-witnesses (the guy in the overalls in back) said Pearson punched Cozad, knocking him into an empty dry goods box and then pounced on him with both fists (and he even tried kicking him). I found a photograph of a dry goods box from the Alaskan Gold Rush and poached the lettering. It actually said this: Store in a cool, dry place," which I think is a Tom Petty song as well. Ha.

   So I'm doing research on the Cozad family and they are a crazy bunch (one of them is allegedly a pyro maniac). Robert kept a diary and I found his 1880 entries, including this little gem, written when the budding artist was 15:

Trouble With the Cattle Men
   “I have been in Nebraska long enough to know that these cattle men will promise to move off premices (sic) immediately, in a most polite manner and then never make a move to do it.

   “When I had got to the press they had shone no signs of leaving, so pa, who had just arrived struck off to the herd. When I saw him going I struck off after him. Prince [his dog], seeing the cattle, and seeing that pa was going toward them, struck off ahead, and stopped when he had come within a few steps of the cattle and the cow-boy I had first seen—there was about a dozen cow-boys in all—When Pa rode up he told the man that these cattle must be drove off. The man acted impudent and then the Boss Herder rode up and pa told him that he must move off immediately. The Boss said that he was going to do so but showed no signs of doing it.

A Little Excitement
   "Pa then commenced driving the cattle himself, and Prince, thinking it time to commence darted at the cattle and drove them about a quarter of a mile, meanwhile the hearders (sic) yelled, swore and darted after the herd.

   “Kill the dog!” cried the Boss.

   “Don’t dare to kill that dog—he is my dog—he is on my lands!” yelled pa several times.

   "The herders dashed after the herd and the 1st herder—or the one I had first seen drew (sic) his revolver and fired—not at Prince but to make a show of bravo. As we afterwards came to the conclusion—it was a breathless moment to us till we saw Prince unhurt running to us. Pa and I had remained where we were while all  this was going on."

The Herder, and the Boss
   "After the herders had prevented the cattle from making a stampede the 1st herder came toward us as we thought to make a fuss.

   "He rode up by us and said something—in a serly (sic) manner—about his bosses being a gentleman, and then commenced in a bullying talk. Pa told him that he wanted nothing to say to him, but if his boss had anything to say let him come on ad say it. The man grumbled and muttered, and acted very bad. He got a coat from the ground near us and putting it on started away muttering. Pa told him that his words had no bearing on him and the Texan rode off after the herd. They went up along the road but not off the hay field so pa sent me to tell them to go along the road. The Boss was as oily and polite as ever, and did as I told him.

   "Later pa saw him in town and he was the same way. Pa told him that if he gave him any trouble he would prosecute him for shooting at the dog. The man gave us no further trouble.”

End of diary entry: this was written almost two years before the tragic incident with Pearson and shows the senior Cozad was quite willing to protect his hay field with threats of force AND a lawsuit. I don't have room to run all of this in the article so this is a treat just for you.

"Roger's been doing a lot of painting. Well, he does a lot of looking at his canvas and swearing."
—Julie Corman, on her husband, Roger Corman (yes, the King of Camp Movies) and his recent attempts at painting