Boomtowns and newspaper men

I tumbled headfirst down this historical rabbit hole thanks to my mom, who reminded me during a conversation about the abysmal state of news journalism that we have an ancestor who was a newspaperman back in the mid-1800s. Back in those days, it was a given that every newspaper covered what was most valuable to... Continue Reading →

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Christmas at the sawmill: A true story of the Old West (and a ghost of posts past)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Since I don't have any new Christmas content, I'm reposting last year's. I hope you enjoy this ghost of a Christmas post past. Benjamin F. Johnson, 1818-1905. Salt Lake City and the growing settlements  around it desperately needed lumber, and it was Benjamin Franklin Johnson's job to provide it. More than a... Continue Reading →

God made men; Sam Colt made ’em laugh

Yes, indeed he did. Samuel Colt raised the funds to start his firearms manufacturing business by touring the country as "The Celebrated Dr. Coult of London, New York and Calcutta," a "practiced chemist" demonstrating the wondrous effects of nitrous oxide for the edification and wonderment of all. In reality, of course, he was neither a... Continue Reading →

Poetic robberies

There were plenty of deadly stagecoach holdups in the Old West, but the famous stagecoach robber, Black Bart, had a very different modus operandi: politeness and poetry. Guns were involved, of course -- he used a double-barreled shotgun in all his robberies -- but he never fired a shot. His robberies were always very well... Continue Reading →

Nate Champion’s last stand

Nate Champion knew too much. For years, Champion and his small ranch had been a thorn in the side of the Wyoming Stock Growers' Association, a cabal of the biggest ranchers in the Johnson County area. The cattlemen insisted that Champion and his fellow small settlers were rustlers, constantly stealing cattle out of the bigger... Continue Reading →

Time got away from me last week and I didn't post, but I didn't just do nothing... And the nothing I didn't do...er, the something I did do...was to start a bibliography page, in which I'll keep an annotated list of the sources I find useful as I continue to research the history and weaponry... Continue Reading →

The Allen Pepperbox: A “cheerful weapon”

I rewrote my post on the Allen & Thurber pepperbox pistol and submitted it to The Truth About Guns for their spring content contest. Here's the article I wrote for the contest: A "Cheerful Weapon": The Allen Pepperbox. They're publishing the best submissions (mine got published the day after I sent it in, so I... Continue Reading →

Old West prescription shades

Did you know that people in the Old West actually wore sunglasses? It was a surprise to me. I've been thinking about guns, horses, clothes, provisions, even eyeglasses...but sunglasses never occurred to me. While doing research on the Allen Pepperbox gun, I stumbled across a dramatic part the gun played in early Mormon history and... Continue Reading →

Christmas at the sawmill – A true story of the Old West

The growing settlements in the mountain valleys of Utah needed lumber, and it was Benjamin Franklin Johnson's job to provide it. More than a job -- a mission. The Mormon church's Council of the Twelve had asked him to do it, so he regarded the task as a sacred duty. The sawmill had been sited... Continue Reading →

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