Monday, June 12, 2006

El Muerto- The Headless Rider

Back in the 1880s the Texas frontier was a dangerous place. In the northern plains the Commanche Indians were raiding settlements and murdering people and stealing their livestock. In the south Mexican bandits took advantage of this to plunder. The Texas Rangers were stretched thin. One notorious Mexican bandit of the day went by Vidal. He managed to make a name for himself. Another legendary name was Texas ranger William Anderson "Big Foot" Wallace. He tracked Vidal and killed him. To send a message to other Mexican bandits, he cut Vidal's head off. Then he tied the headless corpse to the horse and set it off across the Texas plains.
Shortly thereafter, stories emerged of a vengeful spirit that rode across the plains. A headless horseman like the one created by Washington Irving over a hundred years before in New England. It didn't take long for acts of evil deeds came to be associated with it. Eventually, a posse was formed and tracked the 'spirit' down. What they found was a tired old horse, and a dried up corpse full of bullet holes and Indian arrows. The body was buried in an unmarked grave, thus ending the reign of El Muerto.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Battle of Los Angeles

On February 25, 1942, America was still new to WWII. Security was tight as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was still fresh on everyone's mind. In the morning hours, air raid sirens erupted, waking people from their beds and scaring the hell out of everyone. The general consensus, Japan was launching another attack on American soil. The U.S. Army's 37th Coastal Brigade lit up the night sky with their massive spot lights looking for Japanese planes. However, they were due for an even bigger surprise. Instead, a massive UFO was hovering above the Los Angeles sky. The guns opened up. Witnesses would later claim the UFO took several direct hits, but appeared undamaged. Eventually the UFO moved away and the guns fell silent. In the aftermath, 6 people were later found dead from falling shell fragments.

These are supposedly archived photographs from that night.

Click here to read an account of it.

Click here to hear an archived newsbroadcast.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Oh Sh**!!!!!

During the Pacific campaign of WWII, an American soldier was trekking through the jungle when he stumbled onto a Japanese soldier. The American soldier said "oh sh**" and began reaching for his pistol, shown in the picture. At the same time, the Japanese soldier said "oh sh**" (in Japanese of course) and drew that katana sword and went after the American who was backing up, but stumbled and fell back. The sword came crashing down on the American's helmet as he pulled the trigger on the revolver, killing the Japanese. Look at that dent on the helmet.

For you Becca....

In Memory of the Men, Women and Children who perished and those who survived - this site is dedicated to you.... William N. Grigg Jr.
In 1937 New London, Texas, in northwest Rusk County, had one of the richest rural school districts in the United States. Community residents in the East Texas oilfields were proud of the beautiful, modern, steel-framed, E-shaped school building. On March 18 students prepared for the next day's Inter-scholastic Meet in Henderson. At the gymnasium, the PTA met. At 3:05 P.M. Lemmie R. Butler, instructor of manual training, turned on a sanding machine in an area which, unknown to him, was filled with a mixture of gas and air. The switch ignited the mixture and carried the flame into a nearly closed space beneath the building, 253 feet long and fifty-six feet wide. Immediately the building seemed to lift in the air and then smashed to the ground. Walls collapsed. The roof fell in and buried its victims in a mass of brick, steel, and concrete debris. The explosion was heard four miles away, and it hurled a two-ton concrete slab 200 feet away, where it crushed a 1936 Chevrolet.Fifteen minutes later, the news of the explosion had been relayed over telephone and Western Union lines. Frantic parents at the PTA meeting rushed to the school building. Community residents and roughnecks from the East Texas oilfield came with heavy-duty equipment. Within an hour Governor James Allred had sent the Texas Rangers and highway patrol to aid the victims. Doctors and medical supplies came from Baylor Hospital and Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Dallas and from Nacogdoches, Wichita Falls, and the United States Army Air Corps at Barksdale Field in Shreveport, Louisiana. They were assisted by deputy sheriffs from Overton, Henderson, and Kilgore, by the Boy Scouts, the American Legion, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and volunteers from the Humble Oil Company, Gulf Pipe Line, Sinclair, and the International-Great Northern Railroad.Workers began digging through the rubble looking for victims. Floodlights were set up, and the rescue operation continued through the night as rain fell.Within seventeen hours all victims and debris had been taken from the site. Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler canceled its elaborate dedication ceremonies to take care of the injured. The Texas Funeral Directors sent twenty-five embalmers.Of the 500 students and forty teachers in the building, approximately 298 died. Some rescuers, students, and teachers needed psychiatric attention, and only about 130 students escaped serious injury. Those who died received individual caskets, individual graves, and religious services.

Taken from this site.

The moral of the story being it usually takes tragedies to teach us something that we eventually grow to take for granted.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Gentleman Gunslinger

Robert "Clay" Allison 1840-1887

Called the Gentleman Gunslinger, Clay Allison was born in 1840, in Tennessee. Even at a young age it was known he had some mental problems. He joined the Confederacy during the Civil War, but was let go for mental instability. He rejoined and became a spy and guerrilla where he began building his reputation as an unbalanced killer. A Union soldier unwisely found this out when he showed up on the Allison farm announcing he was taking valuables off the property. Clay voiced his disagreement with gunshot, killing the soldier. Clay then moved to Texas where he found work as a "cowboy" driving cattle herds across the trails. In 1870, in New Mexico, Allison led a lynch mob into a jail and grabbed convicted murderer Charles Kennedy. Kennedy was lynched, then his body mutilated by Allison who then rode through town with his head affixed to a pole. Clay's reputation with the fast draw and dead accurate shot earned him a reputation among the frontier as a fearsome gunfighter. His name alone is said to make people release their bowels then and there. Allison continued building his reputation in gunfights in New Mexico. In 1875, in Colfax County, Cruz Vega was in jail for murder (supposedly someone who Allison liked) when Allison and a lynch mob stormed the jail and dragged him to a telephone pole where he was strung up, protesting his innocence. While he was dangling, Allison felt pity and shot him in the back to end his misery. A month later, Vega's son, and two other men met Allison in Cimmaron and invited him in the bar. Sensing a trap, the lights went out. When they came on, gunman Francisco Pancho Griego (who was with Allison) was lay dead and Allison gone. In 1876, Allison shot and killed deputy sheriff Charles Faber as he shot at his brother with a shotgun. Allison is said to have had an encounter with the legendary Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, Kansas. Some say the encounter never happened, others say Wyatt and his friend, Bat Masterson fled in terror (which I don't believe). Stuart Lake details the encounter in his book Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall.
Wyatt had angered many a cowboy and their supporters with his zero tolerance policy regarding carrying guns in the city limits. Many Texan cowboys found themselves pistol whipped and in jail when they challenged the law. A high ranking politician, Bob White, tried to interfere when Wyatt arrested a wealthy cowboy and found himself in jail. Enraged, White sought to get rid of Earp by sending for Clay Allison, who came into Dodge. Earp and Clay met outside a saloon when Clay tried drawing his pistol and found Earp's in his side. Allison then backed off, and as he did, revealed White's plot to have Earp killed.
Allison moved back to Texas where he married and had two children. On July 1, 1887, outside Pecos, TX, he was driving a wagon with supplies, very drunk. He fell off the wagon and the wagon wheel crushed his head. He was buried in Pecos (as seen above). He is quoted as saying he never "killed a man who didn't need it."

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Vampire Brothers

Back in 1932, a young girl stumbled into a New Orleans police station and told a tale of being kidnapped by two men and held in this apartment. There, they cut her, and drank her blood. She managed to escape and reported them to the police. The police then raided the apartment where they found more people who being bled and fed upon by the two brothers. They also found some bodies that were drained of blood. The two brothers were arrested, tried, convicted, and executed in the electric chair. Their remains were buried in a cemetery. Shortly thereafter, people reported seeing the two brothers on the street, and in the apartment. More people turned up dead, with their bodies drained of blood. Their tombs were opened up about a year later and nothing was found, no ashes, bones, or dust. This begs the question, what happened to them? Are they really running around?

She told him so.....

This used to be called the Bottom of the Cup Tea room. I don't know what it is now. You can find this building in New Orleans at 732 Royal Street in the French Quarter. Back in the 18 and 19th centuries, wealthy men were expected to have mistresses of another color. This practice was called placage then. Today it's called Clintonage. Anyway, the man who lived here had a beautiful, light-skinned Creole woman named Julie. The social custom of the day was to keep a mistress, give her clothes, a house, money and nice things, and carry on affairs with them. However, you dare not marry them or else you were ostracized. Well, Julie was in love with her man and wanted to buck the system. He didn't for the obvious reasons. She pestered him day and night about marrying her. One night, thinking this would quiet her once and for all, he made a wager. If she stood on the rooftop of the house all night naked, he would marry her. Julie never had to think twice, she stripped naked, and climbed to the roof and remained all night. Sadly, that night was very cold, and wet and Julie eventually died from exposure. The next morning her body was found. Her lover was torn, and he died soon after.
This building is said to be one of the most actively haunted in New Orleans. Some ghost touring companies will say if you walk in, say her name, you will feel her presence. Well, I did just that, and I didn't feel a damn thing. Julie is said to be temperamental ghost, maybe she just didn't like me.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Battles of Adobe Walls

Adobe walls is the name give to an abandoned fort that rests in what is now Hutchinson County, TX. On November 26, 1864, Col. Christopher "Kit" Carson was leading an expedition against Comanche and Kiowa Indians. Carson found a Comanche settlement and attacked it. However, the number of Indians was roughly over 10 to 1 more than his troops, more than he expected. Carson and his troops holed up in the Adobe Walls where they fended off charge after charge. The help of some howitzers on a high hill helped keep the Indians off Carson and his men. As food and ammunition ran short, Carson decided it was time to retreat. The troops retreated towards the rear, but the Indians saw this and set grass fires to back their escape. Carson changed track, setting his own fires and rushed through hails of gunfire to regroup and eventually withdraw from the area. Carson's casualties were 3 killed, 25 wounded (3 later dying). Indian casualties were estimated to be somewhere between 100 to 150.

On June 27, 1874, a second battle occurred. By now, the area had been teaming with buffalo hunters, including a young hunter by the name of Bat Masterson who would later earn fame and a name in history as an old-west lawman (with his good friend Wyatt Earp). The area Indians resented the buffalo hunters in the area and under the encouragement of a medicine man named Isa-tai. He performed a ceremony (getting high on peyote) and was told the Indians were to be protected from the white man's bullets. Under the leadership of Chief Quanah Parker the Indians attacked. The ruins were defended by a force of under 30 men, with superior weaponry. The Indian force ranged about 700 warriors who failed to take the ruins and defeat the hunters. Isa-tai's prediction about immunity from bullets proved to be false. In the end many of the Indians, including Chief Parker, were killed and the hunters lost only a few.

Race Riot in Houston

How many of you knew that on August 23, 1917, a race riot erupted in Houston, TX?
During World War I, the War Department (now the Department of Defense) set up Camp Logan in what is today Memorial Park. The assignment to guard the construction of the camp was given to the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry, an all-black regiment. These men were experienced soldiers who had seen combat. Unfortunately when they arrived in Houston they were viewed with hostility by the white population. Since Jim Crow was the rule of the day, the soldiers would find themselves discriminated against when they would come into the city on a pass. They were insulted by white citizens, they were forced to stand in the rear of street cars despite many empty seats in the 'whites only' section. A sheriff's deputy went as far to arrest a soldier for sitting in the whites only section. Another soldier was arrested for interfering with the arrest of a black woman by Houston Police. A Corporal, Charles Baltimore, inquired to a Houston Officer why his men were being arrested. For his inquiry, he got pistol whipped by the officer who even shot at the fleeing corporal as he fled. He ran into a shed where he was arrested, but eventually released.
Meanwhile, back at the camp, resentment at their treatment along with the false rumors that Corporal Baltimore had been killed and a white mob was marching upon the camp for a fight planted the seeds for a murderous rampage. A number of black soldiers then stole weapons and ammunition and under the leadership of Sgt. Vida Henry marched into the city of Houston, shooting at citizens and police. White citizens who stepped out of their homes to see what the commotion was were shot in cold blood. The soldiers also stumbled upon white police officers and shot them too. In the 2 hour riot, 5 Houston police officers along with 11 citizens (all white) were killed. Four of the soldiers, including Sgt. Henry were killed (2 of them accidentally by the rioters themselves). Officers Ira Raney and Rufus Daniels' bodies were hacked with the soldiers' bayonets after they were shot.
In the tribunal afterward, 110 soldiers were convicted on a variety of charges, 29 were given the death penalty, however only 19 were actually hung. The area of the slaughter that day is now along Center and Roy streets and San Felipe street. For a more detailed account of that day, go here.

For a history of Houston Police Officers killed in the line of duty going back to 1860, click here.