Tracking Chief Tasacowadi And The Comanches

From the novel, Texas Is Cattle Country

The rider’s back ached. He had seen forty winters and was well into approaching another. No longer a young man.
He glanced around and spotted many pony tracks.
No metal moccasins. No pony-drags. Most likely a war party; forty to fifty, possibly more. Comanche.
A Comanche war party can easily travel forty miles a day. Judging by the freshness of the dung piles the trail was no more than two days old. The stalks of grass that were stomped down by the ponies hooves were beginning to rise back toward the sky.
He rode upstream for a quarter mile looking for more signs of the war party before returning to the trail. It took another three hours before he finally found what he was looking for. To the left of the trail was a gathering of white stones set in the shape of the quarter moon, meaning the party had passed this spot at the time of the first quarter moon which was three nights before. Not far away were two sticks jutting from the ground, one higher than the other and he knew that meant they had been on the trail two days from their last camp. He now understood the Comanches were at ease and not concerned about enemy movements around them
The rider continued to scour the ground for more signs. It didn’t take long to locate a straight line of small pebbles pointing east, indicating the direction the war party was heading.
Rain and sleet began to pepper him for the next mile before letting up, failing to soak him and, more importantly, the Comanche pony tracks remained visible.
That evening he could smell the smoke from their fires. He dismounted and staked his pony in a stand of Dogwood and cautiously approached on foot. He watched a mounted procession of warriors circling the fire, leading up to the Comanche scalp dance. One warrior rode through camp on his horse, his buffalo headdress on his head and freshly taken scalps tied to his tomahawk. One after another riders arrived and dismounted at a large dance area where drums began to beat and the warriors began to dance in their elaborate costumes; some dressed up as antelope or deer, some as bear or mountain lions. It was fascinating to watch as they screamed, growled and roared, imitating the sounds of the different animals. Then they all screamed blood-curdling war cries.
The rider knew this would go on for most of the night. He turned and crawled back to the stand of Dogwoods where he spread out his robe and fell asleep.
He was awake and saddled up before the sun rose and rode to the Comanche camp. He knew the Comanche sign to give, alerting the Sentinel he was a friend when approaching the camp. He rode his mount forward twenty steps and stopped. Then he turned to the right and walked another twenty steps and stopped before returning to where he began. The Sentinel waved him forward.
He was told to sit next to the chief, Tasacowadi, wearing a cape made from a huge spotted jaguar.
Tasacowadi looked at the stranger for a moment before saying, “Speak.”
“I followed you for three days since you crossed the Rio de Los Brazos de Dios, The River of the Arms of God,” the rider said. “You are brave. You weren’t concerned about enemies being in the area. I watched your scalp dance last night before spreading my robe and finding sleep.”
“And why should we be concerned? We are Comanche.”
“A hombre named, Basilio Ramos, and a group of his followers from Chihuahua Mexico, calling themselves Seditionistas, are stirring up trouble between the Comanche and the Texians. They are committing atrocious acts against women and children of the Texians and making it look like the Comanche committed the attacks and also on the Comanche making it look like the Texians were to blame.
I know the Comanche has no fear, but your women and children are left unattended and are in danger as the Seditionistas have been spotted east of the Brazos. I have come to let you know.”
“The Comanche will kill this Ramos if he comes near our women and children.”
“Now the Texas Rangers are coming and you must be careful so that you and your people do not get caught in the middle of this bloodletting.”
“ We do not fear the Texas Rangers nor do we fear the Mexicanas. We drove off the Apaches and the Kiowas and will do the same to the Mexicanas and Texians. Where have these Mexicanas been spotted?”
“I will show you. But we must leave before the sun moves a fist in the sky.”

Devil’s Tower But The Sioux Know it By Another Name

 

Sioux Warrior

The two men sat their horses facing west. One was a white man who came from Sweden to the western states to hunt beaver pelts many years ago when beaver hats were all the rage in Europe. The other an Indian, an old Lakota Sioux warrior whose people had hunted the land for many years, ever since the Anishinabe, the First People, forced them from the Minnesota Territory. The two had been friends a long time. They met a few moons after the great victory of ’73, when the Sioux along with their brothers the Cheyenne, defeated Yellow Hair Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn. Neither man had liked General Custer. The white man had worked as a scout out of Fort Laramie under the command of General Crook when Custer was under Crooks command as well. He rode with Custer a few times and considered him incompetent as well as arrogant. He felt Custer got his due. The years since then had passed quickly and they saw many people arrive and a change come over the land. They knew people like them would soon be forced to flee or die.
They were watching the sun fade in the west behind a tall rock jutting out over the Wyoming plains.
“Do you see that rock?” The old warrior asked his friend.
“Of course I see that rock. I ain’t blind. It’s Devil’s Tower.”
“That is the white man’s name. We have no devil in our beliefs. We got along well all these many centuries without him. You people invented the devil and, as far as I am concerned, you can keep him. But everybody these days knows that towering rock by this name, so Devil’s Tower it is.”
“So, what about it?”
“My people have another name for it. We know it as Bear Rock and there is a story to that.”
“Ain’t there always with you Indians?”
“I suppose. When you get close you will see on its sides there are many, many streaks and gashes running straight up and down, like scratches made by giant claws, bear claws.
Well, long, long ago, two young Indian boys found themselves lost in the prairie. You know how it is. You Wasichas get lost all the time. The boys shot their toy bows out into the sagebrush and went to retrieve them. They heard a small animal make a noise and went to investigate.
They came to a stream with many colorful pebbles and followed that for a while. Then they came to a hill and wanted to see what was on the other side. You know how that is, you Wasichus are always curious. Well, on the other side they saw a herd of antelope and, of course, they had to track them for a while.”
“Is there a purpose to this story, or are you just having fun at my expense?”
“That too. When the boys got hungry they knew it was time to go home but found they did not know where they were. They started off in the direction they thought their village was but ended up farther away from it. At last, being very tired from all that walking, they curled up beneath a tree and went to sleep.
The next morning they rose and walked some more, still headed the wrong way. They ate some wild berries and dug up wild turnips, found some chokecherries, and drank water from streams. For three days they walked toward the west.
On the fourth day, the boys had a feeling that they were being followed. They looked around and in the distance saw Mato, the bear. This was no ordinary bear, but a giant grizzly so huge that the two boys would only make a small mouthful for him, but he had smelled the boys and wanted that mouthful. The earth trembled as he gathered speed and got closer to the boys.
The boys started running, looking for a place to hide, but there was no such place and Mato was much faster than they were. They stumbled, and the bear was about to pounce upon them. They could see his enormous, wicked teeth. They could smell his hot, evil breath. The boys were old enough to have learned to pray, and they called upon Wakan Tanka, the Creator:
“Tunkashila, Grandfather, have pity, save us,” they prayed.
“All at once the earth shook and began to rise. The boys rose with it. Out of the earth came a cone of rock going up, up until it was more than a thousand feet high. And the boys were on top of it. Mato the bear was disappointed to see his meal disappearing into the clouds.
Have I said he was a giant bear? This grizzly was so huge that he could almost reach to the top of the rock, trying to get up, trying to get those boys. As he did so, he made big scratches on the sides of the towering rock. But the stone was too slippery; Mato could not get up. He tried every side. He scratched up the rock all around, but it was no use. The boys watched him wearing himself out, getting tired and finally giving up. Soon Mato left, growling, and grunting as he disappeared over the horizon.
The boys were saved.”
“How did they get down, old man? They were not birds. They could not fly. I suppose you are going to tell me that father Coyote came to save the day again?”
“No, not this time, Washichus, it was Wanblee, the eagle, he has always been a friend to our people. So it must have been the eagle that let the boys grab hold of him and he carried them safely back to their village.”
“Yeah? So why are you telling me this?”
“To let you know that the Sioux have been to the top of that rock and back down again. Wakan Tanka made it so. No white man has been there.”

You Can Make A Difference

One Lady Who Made A Difference

Don’t ever think because you are only one person that you can’t make a difference because you can, and this lady did.
Her husband, Charlie, told her to forget about it. To let it go she would only be riling up the neighbors and nobody would do anything anyway. Nobody cares.
But she couldn’t let it go. It was too horrific; all the blood. It made her shudder just thinking about it. That was two years ago and since that day, she reached out to people of all economic and social strata of society.
She adroitly cultivated many contacts, from school children to businessmen and politicians gathering information to lead the fight. It was a lot of work but it was passionate work and now…
The sun was beginning to rise over the Nevada Mountains as the diminutive woman limped with determination out her front door in Reno. The limp was leftover from a bout with childhood polio that left her crippled. Her purse hung from her left shoulder and in her right hand was a briefcase filled with all the documents she had gathered over the past two years. Her job as an executive secretary gave her the skills needed to put together the multitude of facts and evidence into the organized presentation that she hoped would right a wrong, a wrong that, for years, nothing had been done about; but she was determined to change that today.
She was scheduled to give her presentation that morning in Storey County, Nevada. She had no idea that she was about to set off a firestorm of hatred, scorn, and threats against her that would last her lifetime by the very people she was about to speak to.
As she arrived at the meeting, she was greeted by her boss, Gordon Harris, a Reno insurance executive.
“Hi, Velma, I want you to meet someone, State Senator James Slattery. Senator, this is the lady I was telling you about, Velma Johnston. She’s an incredible young woman and I think you will find what she is about to say very interesting.”
“Pleased to me you, Velma. Aren’t you one of Joseph Bronn’s kids?”
“Yessir, I’m his oldest. I have lived here all my life. He and my mother brought me out here in a covered wagon. I crossed the desert as an infant and was kept alive on mustang mare milk. Many of the horses my father used in his freighting service were mustangs.”
“Well, I’ll be. Your daddy was a good man. I look forward to hearing what you have put together.”
As Velma walked down the aisle to the podium where she would give her presentation, the men in the audience began to jeer her and finally one redneck rancher who looked like he was chewing on a golf ball, rolled his chaw of chewing tobacco to the other cheek and spit into a cup, before yelling out to his friends and fellow ranchers, “Well look it here boys, here comes Wild Horse Annie.”
Catcalls and laughter echoed throughout the hall before the county commission chairman was able to call everyone to order.
What started out as a divisive sobriquet became a rallying cry for her supporters and she wore it with pride for the rest of her life.
As it turned out, she was forceful and compelling as a public speaker and was able to charm and inspire others as she delivered her message about the indiscriminate slaughter and brutalization of America’s living legends, the mustang horse.
She fought for years to preserve the wild horses on the public lands in Western states. They and the burros were threatened by ranchers or others wanting to kill them for pet food.
It all began in 1950, as she left her office she noticed something that didn’t seem right; blood pouring out of the back of a stock trailer as it drove down the highway. She got into her car and followed it and it wasn’t long before she realized it was crammed full of wild horses destined for a pet food slaughterhouse. When they opened the trailer door to let out all the horses, she saw a yearling being trampled to death There and then she decided to expose this to the public eye.
In the mid-1900’s, massive wild horse and burro roundups were taking place on the Western public lands. These roundups involved airplanes flown by WWII pilots. They operated in conjunction with truck drivers and were aided by cowboys with lassoes and heavy truck tires. The 1961 movie, “The Misfits,” directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff, and Eli Wallach, who played a former World War II aviator named Guido Racanelli, depicted these brutal gatherings.
Velma Johnston led the drive in 1959 when Congress passed a bill to prohibit planes and trucks from rounding up the animals and it was through her hard work and dedication, that thousands of people of all ages became advocates for the wild horses. Congress received more letters on this issue than any other, save the Vietnam War.
Her testimony before Congress led to the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (P.L. 92-195) which was unanimously passed and signed into law in 1971. This gave the wild horses and burros protection on BLM and Forest Service lands “where found” at the time of the passage of the Act in 303 areas.
She was president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and of Wild Horse Organized Assistance Inc. She also wrote her autobiography, “Mustang—Wild Spirit of the West.”

In 1973, she played herself in the Western, “Running Wild” starring alongside  Lloyd Bridges and Dina Merrill.
It was true that her efforts touched off controversy. Ranchers said that the wild horses were destroying grazing lands for domesticated animals. In 1974, she received a warning from an Idaho vigilante group, but she took the threat lightly and hung it on her wall of mementos, saying: “There aren’t too many people who have been threatened by vigilantes in the 1970’s.”
At the roundups of wild horses by the Bureau of Land Management, Wild Horse Annie was often present to assure that the horses were not harmed. And once captured, she led an adoption program to find homes for the animals.
Wild Horse Annie received a public service award in 1972 from Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary of the Interior, for her fight on behalf of the horses. Her death was apparently caused by cancer.
So, when someone says to you, “You are only one person, you can’t make a difference.”
Just go out and show them, like little Wild Horse Annie did!

“They ran
 like they were running
 through the winds of time 
past the dry river gulch
 where the waters once 
ran swift and deep
 and many tribes camped
 along her banks
 and the children played
 and the deer and elk grazed
 they ran 
free and wild and 
with no idea that 
it would ever 
change.”
~ Michael Traveler, author of Postcards from the Past

JFK Murder Solved – Fiction By David Hesse

He glanced at his watch. It was 11:45 pm and the street was still deserted. He had been standing there for fifteen minutes. It was a Sunday night and the buildings were dark. A lone streetlight cast shadows across the street and sidewalk and he watched the mist as the wind blew it across the yellow beam put forth by the light. It was remarkably quiet. Not a sound. Nothing!
Earlier that evening, the fog moved in and soon after the heavy mist began to fall. The tall thin-faced man pulled the collar of his trench coat up around his neck and pulled down the brim of his hat to keep the dampness out. Nothing about him drew attention. He kept an eye on the phone booth down the street. It was still empty. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a package of Chesterfield cigarettes. He tapped the package on the back of his hand and bent down and removed a stick with his teeth. He replaced the package in his pocket and removed his lighter. He spun the wheel, igniting the flint and a flame shot up momentarily illuminating his lined and haggard face. He hadn’t slept in two days. He snapped the lid shut and returned it to his pocket. The smoke he exhaled was lost in the thick fog that enveloped him.
He looked around. He didn’t see anything, but he felt it. He didn’t like the feeling. He stuck to the plan to make sure he wasn’t followed, but you just never knew. From experience, he knew he couldn’t trust anyone and it was one helluva way to live your life.
He glanced at his watch once more. It was 11:53. He took one last drag of his cigarette and flipped it in a nearby puddle. He listened to the brief hiss before the butt was extinguished.
He inhaled deeply and looked to his right and left once again to make sure nobody was around before he moved out. Hurriedly, he crossed the street to the phone booth. He stepped in and closed the door. A light went on. He wrapped his hand in his handkerchief and smashed the light, enveloping him in darkness. He lifted the receiver and dropped in a dime. He knew the number by heart and had dialed it many times in the dark. The phone rang once before it was picked up. There was complete silence on the other end.
The tall man said, “7-1-1-3-4. I’ve been burned.”
“Where are you?”
“Zone three, drop one.”
“Stay there.”
The line went dead.
He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He lit up another cigarette and hungrily sucked in the smoke. His throat was raw. He had been smoking too many of these things. He opened the door and tossed it across the sidewalk. He reached under his coat and removed his gun, a 9mm Beretta. He chambered a round and put his hand and gun in his outside right coat pocket. Even though he dry cleaned the area he could never be too careful.
Quickly he walked to the corner and turned left heading toward an alley behind an old warehouse. He stepped into the shadows and waited. His mind wandered to his earlier conversation with Serena and he couldn’t erase it from his mind.
“Paul, she said, “I have the bona fides, documents that prove the CIA along with a German expat, one of those Paperclip Nazi’s, named DeMohrenschildt, a Dallas oil geologist and close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald’s, was in on the plot to kill John F. Kennedy and it goes higher than we thought. Paul, this makes me sick.”
It had been so long since anyone called him Paul, he had to pause for a moment to gather his thoughts. “Okay, put it together and meet…”
Was that a click on his phone, or hers? “Selena, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I have to go. I’ll meet you…”
Those were her last words. He heard her scream and a moment later an unknown voice came on the line.
“You’re next Paul. We know where you are.”
The line went dead.
It wasn’t long before a black Lincoln limousine pulled around the corner and came to a stop in front of the alley. The back door opened as it slowly rolled by and Paul jumped in closing the door behind him.
When he caught his breath he said, “We lost our Asset, Selena. They got to her this morning and they outed me. They called me by name.”
As they drove away his handler looked at him and gave him a scotch. “We are going to have to bring you in, Paul.”
“Why? I am about to tie this whole thing up. We got ‘em right where we want them. What we gathered isn’t chicken feed. It’s some serious stuff.”
“No, we don’t.”
“What?”
“Your swallow was killed last night. She was beaten and raped and dumped in the East River. They found her body this morning. She is currently at the morgue. Her apartment was trashed and her camera, typewriter, and files are all gone. Nothing.”
The tall man was quiet for a moment, taking this all in. If this was true, all the work he put together for the past year was ruined, compromised. Without supporting documentation, all he had was his word and he would be going up against some of the most formidable men in the world, not just the CIA but the President of the United States himself.
Paul threw back the scotch and looked over at his handler and found himself looking down the barrel of a silencer.
“I’m sorry Paul.”
Phatt, the sound of the silenced gun was the last thing Paul heard before the .22 caliber slug entered his skull, mixing up what was left of his brain. The slug didn’t exit his skull. It was the perfect caliber round for an execution.
He died instantly.

Brookfield Central High School and Who Was Captain Joel Compton? A Murderer or A Southern Hero?

Dick The Bruiser
Dick The Bruiser

Fighting has always interested me. Boxing, the martial arts and wrestling, not professional wrestling, but collegiate and high school. These sports put the individual athlete on his own, in front of others, trying to prove he is better than his opponent. If he loses, he has to stand with his head down while his opponent raises his fist in victory and gets cheered by all the spectators and his teammates. For the loser, it is rather humiliating.

Our high school wrestling coach was a former Captain in the Marines with dark eyes that could pierce the armor of a tank. His jet black hair was cut in a flat top, which was popular in the 1960’s before the Beatles and “Yesterday” and every day he sported a five o’clock shadow by the time the bell rang to start school. He was intimidating in kind of a passive-aggressive way, when he suggested something, you wanted to do it. Maybe it was fear or just respect for one scary Marine.

When I was a freshman in high school I weighed 98 pounds. That was in the morning when I would smuggle candy into school in my pockets. By the end of the day when I had emptied my pockets, I dropped to 96 pounds. I called it my candy diet. It was in my freshman year and I had my first girlfriend, I guess. We didn’t go out or anything, we just met in the hallway every day and talked. I considered her my girlfriend and I think she considered me her boyfriend. Her name was Karen and she happened to weigh exactly the same as I did when my pockets were still filled with candy. In fact, we were the exact same height as well, 4′ 11″ with our shoes on.

One day, while I was in the hallway with Karen, being suave by attempting to copy the moves the upperclassmen used by leaning into her while she had her back against her locker holding her books to her chest, I noticed our high school wrestling coach staring at me, not because of my good looks, but, I was soon to find out, because of my weight. He walked up to us and looked me in the eye while a sneer rolled up his lips. I was watching you play basketball the other night. I immediately thought he was going to compliment me on playing a good game, but he told me I was wasting my time and that I should go out for the wrestling team. I couldn’t believe he said that. I saw myself as the next Bob Cousey, the former Boston Celtic pro basketball team’s hall of fame guard, even though I stood only  4′ 11′ tall.  In fact, I barely reached the lowest mark on the high school nurse’s height chart. But that didn’t matter, I was determined to prove I could play basketball.

He could use me, he said. By the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes I immediately knew what his fellow Marines must have thought in Korea when this Captain issued an order. I felt I would be letting down not just my alma mater, but the whole United States of America as well.

He said I would earn a varsity letter in my freshman year, something that was virtually unheard of back then as freshmen were rarely, if ever, allowed to play varsity sports. He said I would win all my matches because he didn’t know of anyone in our conference that would be in my weight class. I would win every match by default. That didn’t sound too exciting to me, but I liked the idea of wearing a varsity letter as a freshman. Then I thought I probably wouldn’t get to walk out onto the mat and enjoy my victory by pumping my fist in  front of hundreds of cheering classmates which would include my little girlfriend Karen. Well, maybe not hundreds, but there were usually a couple of dozen folks sitting in the stands watching two boys squirming around on the floor.

My mind wandered to the wrestling room that I would pass going to the locker room to suit up for basketball. It was a small windowless room that smelled and had these sweaty guys stretching and rolling around on the mats wearing sweat shirts and sweat pants. Some of them also wore rubber suits so they could drop pounds and “make weight” by the 5:00 p.m weigh-in. At lunch, when the rest of the school was eating meat, potatoes, vegetables and a desert, the wrestlers were off by themselves in a corner peeling oranges. I didn’t want any part of that. I also knew I would have to give up my booty of smuggled candy each day so I could stay at weight. And would the coach want me to stay at 96 pounds for four years until I graduated? Would I always be winning matches by default, going through my high school career as the only undefeated wrestler by default in Brookfield Central High School’s history? I asked him who I would wrestle if there wasn’t anyone in my weight class.

“Well,” he said, with a smile and turning those black piercing eyes on my little squeeze, Karen, “maybe she could work with you?

Immediately my mind started wheeling and the fantasies were flying as I envisioned myself pinning little Karen to the mat and having her lying there completely at my mercy. But there was only one thing wrong with that fantasy, Karen could beat me up. She already proved it  after school one day while we were waiting for our separate buses to pick us up and take us home. She bent my wrists back and brought me to my knees. It was painful and humiliating.

Finally, common sense took over, one of the few times in my long life, and I felt my spine crumble as I said I would think about it, knowing full well I wasn’t going to do it. I just didn’t have the courage to tell him to his face. From that day on, whenever I saw the wrestling coach in the hallway, I turned and went the other way.

Well, I never did go out for wrestling, and, as it turned out, our wrestling coach didn’t need my massive 98-pounds of muscle and my weekly default wins; he was very successful and was able to teach real wrestlers the moves that ensured they were more successful than not.

I eventually played basketball and I shot up to 5’10” tall, 6′ if you believe some of our high school programs, but I fell short of being the next Bob Cousey as my considerable basketball skills flamed out before they actually began.

Our high school wrestling coach’s name was Howard Mathias, Captain USMC, a true American hero. He received the purple heart while serving in the Korean War. So who was Captain Joel Compton?

Well, Captain Joel Compton was Robert E. Lee’s wartime cook. He was from Gretna, VA, a burly young man billed as the wrestling champion of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was responsible for Lee’s only victory over Grant when, in a wrestling match,he killed a blue coat following the Confederate surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse. I never heard of a wrestler dying from a wrestling match. Boxing? Yes, there are many documented cases. Was it murder? We’ll never know as all witnesses no longer exist. Personally, the only wrestlers that I heard that died did so from overdoses of drugs and they were “professional wrestlers” who more than likely snorted steroids and other drugs on a daily basis.

Captain Compton lived to be ninety years old and passed away in 1932, still a defiant Confederate rebel – and wrestling champion!

 

long before any scouts could locate the small town of Brookfield, Wisconsin where I grew up.

That’s why I was trying the art of gentle persuasion while with her when coach approached us.