Commentators Quotes

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Commentators Quotes

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Photo: U.S. PD


The Sections: each roughly in DATE order… (the reference could be newer)
Commerce, Industry, Mining and Transportation
Legends Begin
Mountain Men
Politics & The Law



“Keep in mind, We are the oncoming past.”
Doc Boyle

“Libraries are the memory of mankind.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“I don’t get mad at history; it was what it was.”
Professor William H Foster III – author of “Looking For a Face Like Mine”

“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
John, eight, verse thirty-two

“History is prophesy looking backwards.”

“Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”
Horace Greeley in an editorial in The New York Tribune (07/13/1865).

“I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy. I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.”
Larry McMurtry
Wk. 22, 06/03/1936 – Larry McMurtry

“The history of a state is best told in the biographies of its citizens.”
Capt. Richard Sopris – Portrait and Biographical Record 1899.
Wk. 30, 07/23/1860 – Richard Sopris

“The kernel, the soul – let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances – is plagiarism.”
Mark Twain (1903 letter to Helen Keller)
Wk. 16, 04/21/1910 – Mark Twain

“History is a lie agreed upon”
Al Swearengen – Deadwood, SD [c. late 1870’s]
Wk. 46, 11/15/1904 – Al Swearengen

“History ain’t what it is. It’s what some writer wanted it to be.”
Will Rogers

“Lies, lies, lies, authenticated by gray hair and long whiskers.”
John Meyers Meyers – Writer, Western Historian

“They are placed on the cots until every bed is full and yet others crowd in. The faces soon wear a bluish cast; a distressing cough brings up the blood stained sputum. In the morning the dead bodies are stacked about the morgue like cord wood.”
Victor C. Vaughan – A Doctor’s Memories 2007.
Wk 10, 03/11/1918 – Influenza

“A Historian is not just a chronicler of what has been. The fruit of his labors is a series of terms from which the future can be extrapolated. His significant function is not booking but prediction.”
from Starbridge (1955) an SF novel by Jack Williamson and James E. Gunn

“Belief or nonbelief has no power over objective truth.”
Theodore Sturgeon from his short story Dazed (Galaxy, 09/1971)

“Every dog, we are told, has his day, unless there are more dogs than days.”
Bat Masterson
Wk. 43, 10/25/1921 – Bat Masterson

“There is no way back into the past. The choice is the Universe – or nothing.”
H.G. Wells

“The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.”
Willa Cather
Wk. 17, 04/24/1947 – Willa Cather

“History is the distillation of evidence surviving the past”
Oscar Handlin – Truth in History (1979)

“What utter madness to believe that we can prevent the truth of history from eventually being written.”
Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola, French novelist, playwright, journalist – c. 1890’s

“History is bunk.”
Henry Ford

“…flawed, brilliant, provocative, outrageous, … often wrong, often spectacularly right, always stimulating, sometimes infuriating, and never, never dull.”
A description of historian Bernard Augustine DeVoto
by friend and biographer, Wallace Stegner
Wk. 46, 11/13/1955 – Bernard Augustine DeVoto



Commerce, Industry, Mining and Transportation:

In reference to Navy Lieutenant Jonathon Thorn – Captain of the Pacific Fur Company trading vessel, Tonquin.
Captured by Tla-o-qui-aht Indians, her crew massacred and the ship subsequently destroyed. (06/15 -16/1811) Thorn’s behavior was sharply criticized by fur traders who were aboard the Tonquin on the voyage to Oregon…

“He was a strict disciplinarian, of a quick and passionate temper, accustomed to exact obedience, considering nothing but duty, and giving himself no trouble about the murmurs of his crew, taking council of nobody, and following Mr. Astor’s instructions to the letter. Such was the man who had been selected to command our ship. His haughty manners, his rough and overbearing disposition, had lost him the affection of most of the crew and of all the passengers: he knew it, and in consequence sought every opportunity to mortify us…”
Gabriel Franchère – Canadian voyageur, passenger on Tonquin (1811)

“…for the captain, in his frantic fits of passion, was capable of going any lengths, and would rather have destroyed the expedition, the ship, and every one on board, than be thwarted in what he considered as ship discipline, or his nautical duties.”
Alexander Ross  – Canadian voyageur, passenger on Tonquin (1811)

Players – Timelines Master Index – Timelines M-Z – Trading Ship Tonquin Timeline


“…the Mississippi, as I before wrote you, is conquered.”
Steamboat designer and engineer Robert Fulton (Oct 1811)
Wk 42, 10/20/1811 – First steamboat on the Mississippi River

“…one hundred men to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two or three years.”
St. Louis Gazette & Public Advertiser (02/13/1822)
placed by: The Rocky Mountain Fur Company
Wk. 29, 07/17/1881 – Jim Bridger

“Everywhere within six or eight feet of the ground, where the surface is sufficiently smooth, and in some places sixty or eighty feet above, the rock is inscribed with the names of travelers. Many a name famous in the history of this country, and some well known to science, are to be found among those of traders and travelers…”
John C. Fremont – 08/01/1843
In reference to Independence Rock in Wyoming,
a major landmark on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails before they divided.
see also:
Wk. 27, 07/04/1862 – Wyoming’s first Masonic Lodge meeting.
The Originals Index – Landmarks and RegistersIndependence Rock

“I saw that a great American community would grow up, in the space of a few years, upon the distant Pacific and I felt an ardent desire to aid in this most important enterprise.”
Peter Burnett (1843) (later, first governor of California)
Wk. 21, 05/22/1843 – Peter Burnett heads west…

Harrisburg and Brazos Railroad” “A large number of laborers are engaged at present in throwing up the track and preparing for rails at an early season, and a greater number will soon be employed.”
Morning Star – Houston, TX (05/16/1840)

“Although the Mississippi in its course between Minnesota and the Gulf laves the banks of nine prosperous and mighty states, yet to a territory of the Union, almost without capital, but certainly not without energy, perseverance and mechanical skill, appertains the first honor of ‘bridging’ this noble stream with a magnificent structure equaling in beauty, strength and durability any suspension bridge in the country.”
© New York Times 02/16/1855
Wk. 04, 01/23/1855 – First bridge over the Mississippi River.

“Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like. I’ve just had 24 days of it.”
Waterman Ormsby, New York Herald reporter
After 2,812-miles (4,525 km) on the first East to West [to San Francisco] run of The Butterfield Overland Mail coach. (09/16/1857 to 10/08/1857).

“Beale successfully pursued a personal El Dorado of adventure, status, and wealth. In doing so, he mirrored the dreams of countless Americans of his day.”
Gerald Thompson in reference to E. F. Beale (1822 – 1893).
see also:
The Originals Index – TrailsThe Beale Expedition

“If I have seemed to love my subject, it is no surprising thing, for I loved the profession far better than any I have followed since, and I took a measureless pride in it.”
Mark Twain in reference to his time as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River (1859-60).
Wk. 15, 04/09/1859 – Samuel Clemens

“If all the forgotten graves were located, there would be enough to make the shores of the Missouri one continuous cemetery from its mouth to its source”
An anonymous steamboat captain…

“With the Homestead Act, the U.S. is betting 160 acres that you can’t live on it.”
Old Tyme Wisdom
Wk. 20, 05/20/1862 – The Homestead Act

“It is estimated that during the winter of 1874-1875, not less than 3,000 Buffalo and mule deer suffer even more severely than the elk, and the antelope nearly as much.”
George Bird Grinnell in reference to poaching in Yellowstone National Park.
Wk. 15, 04/11/1938 – George Bird Grinnel

“Most of the time we were solitary adventurers in a great land as fresh and new as a spring morning, and we were free and full of the zest of darers.”
Charles Goodnight, Texas cowman, and so much more..
Wk. 50, 12/12/1929 – Charles Goodnight

“The Great Pacific Railway is commenced. Immigration will soon pour into these valleys. Ten millions of emigrants will settle into this golden land in twenty years… This is the grandest enterprise under God!”
George Francis Train
Wk. 1, 01/05/1904 – George Francis Train

“May God continue the unity of our country, as the railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world.”
Engraving on the final Golden Spike, set at Promontory Summit, UT.
Wk. 19, 05/10/1869 – Promontory Summit, UT

“There is every prospect that the new station on Pike’s Peak will be in working order within six weeks; as it is hoped that the delay arising from the chief office, misapprehending the difficulties attended on this location, and thereby failing to secure an adequate appropriation, will be quickly remedied. Once, however, established, it’s importance as the highest station in the world cannot be overestimated; and its records and observations will be anxiously scanned by the meteorologist of all countries.”
The Gazette Telegraph (Colorado Springs, CO) 10/04/1873

“Goodbye, Adobe Walls, goodbye.”
Old Buffalo Hunter Brick Bond, after a final visit to the ruins 48 years after the battle (1922)
see also:
Wk. 26, 06/27/1874 – 2nd Battle of Adobe Walls
Wk. 26, 06/30/1874 – Billy Dixon‘s long shot
Wk. 27, 07/03/1874 – adios Adobe Walls

“…deadliest strike in the history of the United States”
Thomas G. Andrews- Historian
in reference to the United Mine Workers (UMW) strike against Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company (RMF), and the Victor-American Fuel Company (VAF) in Colorado, from September 1913 until December 1914.
Wk. 16, 04/20/1914 – The Ludlow Massacre

“The tonnage system drove many poor and ambitious colliers to gamble with their lives by neglecting precautions and taking on risk, with consequences that were often fatal. Between 1884 and 1912, mining accidents claimed the lives of more than 1,700 Coloradans. In 1913 alone, 104 men would die in Colorado’s mines, and 6 in the mine workings on the surface, in accidents that widowed 51 and left 108 children fatherless.”
Thomas G. Andrews, Historian

“Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then more work.”
James J. Hill, “Empire Builder” Shipping and Railroads.
Wk: 22, 05/29/1916 – James J. Hill

“Men travel faster now, but I do not know if they go to better things.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
Wk. 17, 04/24/1947 – Willa Cather

“…in those years when the Old West was passing and the New West was emerging. It was a time when we still heard echoes and already saw shadows, on moonlit nights when the coyotes yapped on the hilltops, and on hot summer afternoons when mirages shimmered, dust devils spun across the flats, and towering cumulus clouds sailed like galleons across the vast blueness of the sky. Echoes of remembrance of what men once did there, and visions of what they would do together.”
Hal Borland, nature writer , author, poet
Writing about growing up.
Wk. 08, 02/22/1978 – Harold Glen “Hal” Borland

“Here’s another of those crackpot editorials about the voices of frogs shattering the autumn stillness!”
A New Yorker cartoon showing a man brandishing a newspaper and shouting.
Hal Borland kept it on his office wall.
Probably helped keep things in perspective… – Doc


Legends Begin:

“Out West, every prairie dog hole is a gold mine, every hill is a mountain, every creek is a river and every prospector is a liar!”
Old Tyme wisdom

“Pa’dners, I seed a pewtrified forest of pwetrified trees with their pwetrified limbs chock full of pwetrified birds a-singing of pewtrified songs.”
Early trapper’s description of the petrified forest near Florissant, CO. c. 1830’s – 40’s

“The region is, of course, altogether valueless. – Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado river, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
From a report by an Army Corps of Engineers explorer – 1857.

“Such a combination of incongruous drama, execrable acting, renowned performers, mixed audience, intolerable stench, scalping, blood and thunder, is not likely to be vouchsafed to a city a second time, even Chicago.”
The Chicago Times, reviewing Ned Buntline’s play: “The Scouts of the Prairie! And Red Deviltry As It Is” (12/12/1882)
Wk. 29, 07/16/1886 – Ned Buntline

“I have followed almost every occupation under the sun, from bull-whacking and mule-skinning down to politics, with one notable exception, stage robbing.”
Albert Franklin Banta – aka: Charley Franklin – Arizona pioneer/explorer, U.S. Army scout and guide. First white man to discover Barringer Crater (“Franklin’s Folly”).
Wk. 25, 06/21/1924 – Albert Franklin Banta

“It is the coming show.”
P.T. Barnum, in reference to Bill  Cody’s Wild West Show (Date?)

Buffalo Bill, an alleged scout and a very bad actor, is said to have fallen into a fortune of 2 million dollars in Cleveland.  That is good news for Bill.  It would have been better news for the public if he had fallen into a well.”
Eugene Field, Denver Journalist, in the The Denver Tribune (c. 1881)

“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison – beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. … Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimit, and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”
Theodore Roosevelt 1903

“Don’t grow sentimental over the seven,” “The folks out there would like to get rid of the whole herd and they would, but for the sentimental hubbub that is always raised when they talk of rounding out the buffalo. The animals are worthless – there isn’t worse meat on earth to eat – and they ruin the whole territory for cattle grazing purposes. So the buffalo remain – sentimental reminders of the America of the past.”
James Cruze, Film Director; in reference to the seven buffalo shot from the Antelope Island Herd for the hunting scenes in The Covered Wagon (1923).
The Originals Index – Hazards & Resources-Animals Index Page – MammalsBison
The Originals Index – Cow? What cow?Buffalo?

“Why it ain’t nothin’ but driftwood!”
James Corbitt Morris’s grandmother, reacting to the carefully blanket wrapped bundle of sticks, which her husband had handed her, when she was expecting to hold her new grandson for the first time. The name stuck! c. 1907.
Wk 28, 07/12/1998 – Jimmy Driftwood

“The difficulty, the ordeal is to start.”
Zane Grey
Wk. 43, 10/23/1939 – Zane Grey

“This was like taking a ride through a familiar country on a horse that knew the way, on a fine morning when you felt like riding…”
Willa Cather, in reference to the experience of writing O Pioneers! (1913).
Wk. 17, 04/24/1947 – Willa Cather

Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by Buntline, Harte and Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend.”
Cecil Smith, Los Angeles Times (09/1975)

“I like them all. I never rework a book. I’d rather use what I’ve learned on the next one. The worst of it is that I’m no longer a kid and I’m just now getting to be a good writer. Just now.”
Louis L’Amour, late in life, when asked which of his books was his favorite.
Wk. 23, 06/10/1988 – Louis L’Amour

“A mythologized version of the Old West and it’s survival in the contemporary West.”
Richard Nilsen
The Arizona Republic (04/17/2011)
(In an article specifically referring to the art of the Cowboy Artists of America, but I think the comment fits the entire spectrum of the art, the literature and our behavior… – Doc)

“When a man ain’t got no ideas of his own,” said Scipio, “he ought to be kind o’ careful who he borrows ’em from.”
The Virginian” – Owen Wister
Wk. 22, 05/28/1902 – Owen Wister

“Like most passionate nations, Texas has its own private history based on, but not limited by, facts.”
John Steinbeck

“Say, boys, if you give me just another whiskey I’ll be glad. And I’ll draw right here, the face that drove me mad.
H.A. D’Arcy, The face on the floor.
Just for fun Pages – The Face on the Barroom Floor



“I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about a dozen men […] They ran back and fetched the bucket of tar, when one exclaimed, with an oath, ‘Let us tar up his mouth;’ and they tried to force the tar-paddle into my mouth […] All my clothes were torn off me except my shirt collar; and one man fell on me and scratched my body with his nails like a mad cat […when afterward] I came to the door I was naked, and the tar made me look as if I were covered with blood, and when my wife saw me she thought I was all crushed to pieces, and fainted […] My friends spent the night in scraping and removing the tar, and washing and cleansing my body; so that by morning I was ready to be clothed again.”
Joseph Smith*, Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Wk 17, 03/24/1832 – The Assault…

“Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.”
William Reynolds, explaining why he had murdered ten year old Sardius Smith in cold blood during The Haun’s Mill Massacre in Caldwell County, Missouri
Wk. 44, 10/30/1838 – Haun’s Mill Massacre

“This is the place! Drive On!”
Mormon leader Brigham Young’s reaction to arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Wk. 30, 07/24/1847 – Salt Lake Valley 

“I do not believe everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham Young. I do not care who hears it. It is my last word… I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner.”
James Doyle Lee, prior to being executed by Firing Squad, Mountain Meadows Massacre Site, Utah.
Wk. 12, 03/23/1877 – James Doyle Lee


People made fun of us as we walked, pulling our handcarts, but the weather was fine and the roads were excellent and although I was sick and we were very tired at night, still we thought it was a glorious way to go to Zion.”
from the journal of a hand cart pioneer

“It is not of much use for to attempt to give a description of the situation of these people, for this you will learn from [others]; but you can imagine between five and six hundred men women and children, worn down by drawing hand carts through snow and mud; fainting by the wayside; falling, chilled by the cold; children crying, their limbs stiffened by cold, their feet bleeding and some of them bare to the snow and frost. The sight is almost too much for the stoutest of us; but we go on doing all we can, not doubting nor despairing.”
George D. Grant – Head of the Rescue Party in his report to Church President Brigham Young (1856)

“Memories of what was perhaps the worst disaster in the history of western migration have been palliated by what could also be regarded as the most heroic rescue of the Mormon frontier.”
Mormon Historian Leonard J. Arrington & Rebecca Bartholomew

for more information on Mormon Handcarts in Old West Daily Reader
Wk. 37, 09/16/1857 –
Wk. 39, 09/24/1860 –
(and: Photo Gallery Index – Transportation PhotosMormon Handcarts)


Mountain Men:

James Beckwourth is reliable save for three areas: numbers, romance, and his own importance.”
Bernard DeVoto – American Historian

“…having a reputation almost equal to Kit Carson‘s for bravery, dexterity with his rifle, and skill in mountain life.”
U.S. Army Major B.L. Beall in reference to Mountain Man and Scout, Thomas Tate Tobin
Wk. 18, 05/01/1823 – born: Thomas Tate Tobin

“In the mountains, meat never spoils.”
Jim Bridger
In answer to Father DeSmet‘s question about potential infection around the last arrowhead [one of two wounds] that Bridger had not yet been able to remove from his body since a recent encounter with hostile Indians.
Wk. 23, 05/21/1873 – DeSmet
Wk. 29, 07/17/1881 – Bridger



“…the rush to California has now commenced in earnest.”
The Savannah Sentinel [MO]  (04/24/1852)

“Some folks follow old wagon tracks. Others break new trails.”
Old Tyme wisdom

“Many uneasy for fear we shall all perish from hunger. We have little meat left… Eddy’s child died last night”
Patrick Breen, with the Donner Party.
Wk. 03, 01/18/1847 – a mid-winter crossing of Donner Pass

“Seth Bullock is a true Westerner, the finest type of frontiersman.”
Theodore Roosevelt
Wk. 38, 09/23/1919 – Seth Bullock
Wk. 01, 01/06/1919 – Theodore Roosevelt

“An Indian missionary was awakened one night by a racket in the house. He picked up a pistol and quietly sneaked into the next room where he found a burglar ransacking the place. He said, ‘My friend, I would not hurt thee for the world but thou art standing right where I am going to shoot!'”
retold by George A. Stingle

-Ezra Manning Meeker:

“…cruel to let this aged man start on this journey only to perish by exposure in the mountains”.
A Puyallup, WA minister’s opinion of Meeker’s proposed re-run of The Oregon Trail (1906)

“for a septuagenarian he must have been blessed with remarkable health and endurance … ”
James Aldredge, reporter (1975)

“You’d be surprised at the difference between riding in a Prairie Schooner and in an airplane.”
Ezra M. Meeker to Orville Wright (Dayton, OH 1926)

“He’d camp down on Rush Creek with a covered wagon. The old bum was riding a grub line. He’d grub meals from all the ranchers around here. My grandmother hated the sight of him. He’d comb that long hair at the dinner table. Put his [false] teeth in to eat and take them out to talk.”
Bernard Sun, grandson of Wyoming Oregon Trail pioneers in Wyoming.
see also:
Wk. 52, 12/29/1830 – born: Ezra Manning Meeker
Wk. 49, 12/03/1928 – Ezra Manning Meeker
The Originals Index – Trails – bottom of page
Photo Gallery Index – Pushin’ Up Daisies

“We do not live, we only stay,
‘Cause we’re too poor to move away.”
Old settler folksong parody on “Beulah Land”, called Sweet “Kansas” Land or “Nebraska” or where ever you were stuck.

Oregon Trail Headstone - Pushin' Up Dasies“It is possible for one to walk from the Missouri to Fort Laramie stepping only on graves.”
Words of the times along the Oregon Trail.
Photo: U.S. PD? internet, Oregon Trail headstone – Pattison.

“…sang the blues wonderfully, but he was much bigger than that…”
Alan Lomax in reference to Leadbelly.
Wk. 49, 12/06/1949 – Leadbelly

“The West is good country for men and dogs but mighty hard on women and oxen.”
Old Tyme wisdom

“There was, of course, no training school for the pioneer. He went out and was one or wasn’t.”
Mari Sandoz

“Oh, the dust, the dust; it is terrible. I have never seen it half as bad; it seems to be almost knee-deep in places […] When we stopped, the boys’ faces were a sight; they were covered with all the dust that could stick on.”
A Western Traveler


The Rivers, in the words of the Pioneers…

The Platte River:

“…usable only if filtered and strained with a cloth since this is not a river at all, but”simply moving sand.'”
D.A. Shaw – Eldorado, or California as seen by a Pioneer

They say it was a dangerous river to cross, (when up) because its quicksands were liable to swallow up horse, coach and passengers if an attempt was made to ford it.”
Mark Twain in Roughing It

The Mississippi River:

“Big Muddy”

The Missouri River:

“Old Muddy”

“…a little too thick to swim in and not quite thick enough to walk on.”
Thomas Hart Benton

“to thick to drink and too thin to plow.”
Folk wisdom



“…the rankest kind of little Mexican adobe affair on the Rio Grande.”
Henry B. Ailman (1871)
In reference to Albuquerque, NM

“The dog killing still goes on- another wagon load was hauled off today”
George Hand – Tucson, AZ 1875, overrun by wild dogs.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish. Well posted parties here affirm that within a month every gambling den in the city will be closed, and that a majority of the card manipulators will go north, …”
Cheyenne, WY Leader, editorial 05/31/1876.

“the Wickedest City in America.”
Dodge City, KS; a common opinion c. 1870’s – 80’s

“The most notorious bawdy house in North America.”
The Birdcage Variety Theater, Tombstone, AZ Terr. (sez who?)
Wk. 51, 12/21/1881 – Opening night…

“To all whom it may concern: All thieves, thugs, confidence men, and persons without visible means of support, will take notice that the ordinance enacted for their special benefit will be rigorously enforced on and after tomorrow.”
Newly elected Mayor of Dodge City, KS, Alonzo B. Webster (1881)

“Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes, and outlaws than did Las Vegas, New Mexico.”
Ralph Emerson Twitchell – Historicist.
PLAYERS – Timelines A-L – Las Vegas, NM Timeline

“That’ll keep the bastard down!”
Caroline Plumb, Emporia, KS (1891)
After causing a large boulder, as a tombstone, to be placed on her husband’s grave [Preston B. Plumb, town founder].

“That second morning, the creek commenced cutting the ground out from under it.  Sometime between 11 and 12 o’clock it went down.  I’ll never forget that bell.  It tolled as the building slid down into the water.”
A 13-year-old girl witnessed flood waters destroy much of the little mountain town 0f Jamestown, CO, including the community’s only church. (1894)
From an article by Silvia Pettem in the Boulder Daily Camera 07/31/2017.  {003)

“One Nebraska farmer had such a bad reputation as a liar that he had to bring in a neighbor to call his hogs.”
Folk story


Politics & The Law:

“A politician can borrow $20, pay back $10 and declare you’re even because you both lost $10.”
Cowboy wisdom

“5 weeks to get a divorce.
6 months to get a hunting license.”
Old complaint in Nevada

“The Father of Texas is no more; the first pioneer of the wilderness has departed.”
Sam Houston, President of Texasofficial statement upon being informed of the death of Stephen F. Austin
Wk. 52, 12/27/1836 – Stephen F. Austin

“ WHEREAS it has become apparent to the citizens of San Francisco, that there is no security for life and property, either under the regulations of society as it at present exists, or under the law as now administered; Therefore the citizens, whose names are hereunto attached, do unit themselves into an association for the maintenance of the peace and good order of society, and the preservation of the lives and property of the citizens of San Francisco, and do bind ourselves, each unto the other, to do and perform every lawful act for the maintenance of law and order, and to sustain the laws when faithfully and properly administered; but we are determined that no thief, burglar, incendiary or assassin, shall escape punishment, either by the quibbles of the law, the insecurity of prisons. the carelessness or corruption of the police, or a laxity of those who pretend to administer justice.”
1851 Committee of Vigilance via the Daily Alta California (06/13/1851) (claimed over 700 members)

“As [the vigilantes] controlled the press, they wrote their own history, and the world generally gives them the credit of having purged San Francisco of rowdies and roughs; but their success has given great stimulus to a dangerous principle, that would at any time justify the mob in seizing all the power of government; and who is to say that the Vigilance Committee may not be composed of the worst, instead of the best, elements of a community? Indeed, in San Francisco, as soon as it was demonstrated that the real power had passed from the City Hall to the committee room, the same set of bailiffs, constables, and rowdies that had infested the City Hall were found in the employment of the “Vigilantes.”
Gen. William T. Sherman in his memoirs (1875)
In reference to the San Francisco Vigilance Committees of the 1850’s
Major-general of the Second Division of Militia in San Francisco – resigned in protest

“…at certain times, a great man”, but also “the father of American terrorism.”
Ken Chowder
in reference to Abolitionist John Brown
Wk. 48, 12/02/1859 – John Brown

“Forty acres and a mule.”
Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman ordered 400,000 acres of land in the South to be divided into 40-acre lots and given to former slaves. The order, later revoked by President Andrew Johnson, is believed to have inspired the expression. (1865)
also at:
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West – Commerce in the Old West1865

“It is estimated that during the winter of 1874-1875, not less than 3,000 Buffalo and mule deer suffer even more severely than the elk, and the antelope nearly as much.”
George Bird Grinnell in reference to poaching in Yellowstone National Park.
Wk. 15, 04/11/1938 – George Bird Grinnell

“…nothing less than the legalization of racial discrimination.”
Senator George Frisbie Hoar (R) MA
In reference to The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
Wk. 18, 05/06/1882 – Chinese Exclusion Act

“…he’d be damned if he could find any law against killing a Chinaman.”
Judge Roy Bean explaining why he had released a railroad clerk who had killed a Chinese named Ah Ling; reported by The El Paso Texas Daily Times. (06/02/1884)

“A friend to honesty and a foe to crime”
Unknown; in reference to Allan Pinkerton  1819 – 1884.
Wk. 26, 07/01/1884 – Allan Pinkerton

“He was taken at once to Hunnewell and there kept closely guarded until about ten o’clock, when several officers took him across country to Wellington. It is well that they started when they did, or his body would have been found hanging to a telegraph pole the next morning. On the road to Wellington he said he had killed Hollister with a Winchester rifle…”
Taken from a contemporary account of the killing of deputy sheriff C.M. “Cash” Hollister by Bob Cross.
Wk. 42, 10/18/1884 – C.M. “Cash” Hollister

“I have traveled in this free country for twenty hours without anything to eat; not because I had no money to pay for it, but because I was colored. Other passengers of a lighter hue had breakfast, dinner and supper. In traveling we are thrown in “jim crow” cars, denied the privilege of buying a berth in the sleeping coach.
This foe of my race stands at the school house door and separates the children, by reason of ‘color,’ and denies to those who have a visible admixture of African blood in them the blessings of a graded school and equal privileges… We call upon all friends of ‘Equal Rights’ to assist in this struggle to secure the blessings of untrammeled liberty for ourselves and posterity.”
Legislator Benjamin W. Arnett, in the Ohio House of Representatives (03/10/1886)
describing life in segregated Ohio

“The number of lynchings far exceed the legal hangings, and many of them are for offenses that the law does not define as capital offenses punishable by death.”
Phoenix lawyer, Mr. Street, writing for The Weekly Champion [from, “Mob Law”] Flagstaff, AZ. (08/06/1887)

“A citizen of the United States, in the custody of a United States Marshall under a lawful commitment to answer for an offense against the United States, has the right to be protected by the United States against lawless violence; this right is a right secured to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and a conspiracy to injure or oppress him in its free exercise or enjoyment is punishable under section 5508 of the Revised Statutes”
U.S. Supreme Court, Logan v. United States [03/16/1891]
Wk. 03, 01/17 & 19/1889 – Marlow Brothers

“Gentleman, I have served several years time in the penitentiary, but only sixty days in the legislature. I have watched the proceedings here carefully. I would like to say that the time I spent in the penitentiary was more enjoyable than the time I have spent here. There is more honesty in the halls of the Territorial prison than in the halls of the legislature. I would prefer another term in prison than another election to the House.”
Pablo Herrera, a founding member of Las Gorras Blancas
speaking to the New Mexico territorial House of Representatives in February 1891.
The Originals Index – Outlaw Gangs Index – Las Gorras Blancas (NO page yet)

“I have ever had the single aim of justice in view… ‘Do equal and exact justice,’ is my motto, and I have often said to the grand jury, ‘Permit no innocent man to be punished, but let no guilty man escape.'”
Judge Isaac C. Parker – Federal Judge (1872-1896)
Wk 46, 11/17/1896 – Judge Isaac C. Parker

“I never hanged a man. It was the law.”
Judge Isaac C. Parker – Federal Judge (1872-1896)
Wk 46, 11/17/1896 – Judge Isaac C. Parker

“I consider bunco steering more honorable than the life led by the average politician.”
Soapy Smith, to a reporter for The Road, (c.1896)
Wk. 27, 07/04/1894 – Soapy Smith

“I have selected you to do this work, placing explicit confidence in your abilities to cope with these desperadoes and bring them in – alive if possible – dead if necessary.”
U.S. Marshal Evett Nix in a directive to the Three Guardsmen in reference to the Doolin Gang. (03/20/1894)
The Originals Index – Outlaw Gangs Index – Doolin Gang – Wild Bunch
Wk. 06, 02/06/1946 – Died, Evett Nix
PLAYERS – Timelines – Timelines M-Z – Three Guardsmen Timeline

Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land.”
John Wesley Powell; at an irrigation conference in 1883.
Wk. 38, 09/23/1902 – John Wesley Powell

“We have been the forerunners of government.  As soon as law and order was established anywhere, we never had any trouble.”
Doc Holliday, quoted by Bat Masterson in “Human Life” (May 1907).
Wk. 45, 11/08/1887 – Doc
Wk. 43, 10/25/1921 – Bat

“Whiskey is for drinking, Water is for fighting.”
Mark Twain

Wk. 16
, 04/21/1910 – Mark Twain

“That rifle on the wall of the laborer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”
George Orwell

“…has no doubt inaugurated and carried to success more movements for the protection of wild animal life than has any other man in America.”
American Museum Journal (1915) in reference to William Temple Hornaday.
see also:
Wk. 10, 03/06/1937 – William Temple Hornaday
(and:The Originals Index – Cow? What cow?Buffalo?)

“I hope to live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators.”
“The miners’ angel”,* Mother Jones in response when she was denounced on the floor of the United States Senate as the “grandmother of all agitators”.
* A term also used for Nellie Cashman in Tombstone, c. 1880’s
Wk. 48, 11/30/1930 – Mother Jones

“One of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of tamely following its footprints.”
Contemporary Carl Schurz describing Secretary of State William H. Seward
see also:
Wk. 13, 03/30/1867 – Seward’s Folly
Wk. 15, 04/10/1867 – Alaska Purchase
Wk. 41, 10/10/1872 – William H. Seward

“High Ideals and no principles.”
1918 – a contemporary description of Woodrow Wilson.


“Politicians and diapers need changed often, and for the same reason.”
Mark Twain



“Well twenty-five cents for the morphine, and fifteen cents for the beer. Twenty-five cents for the old morphine, now carry me away from here.”
A verse from Soldier’s Joy.
My money says this is a Civil War verse but it stuck with the song. The soldiers, the song, the beer and the morphine, all came west… – Doc

“Bacon-1 1/2 cents per pound, Salt Pork-75 cents per hundred, Horses-$15-20 each, Oxen-$30 a yoke, Large Steers-$10 each.”
U.S. Army Quartermaster, Fort Leavenworth, KS (1829)
paid to locals for supplies

“I fear we are invaded by a hostile force,”
Bringham Young (1857) In reference to the approaching U.S. Army.
Wk. 29, 07/18/1843 – Utah War – The Mormon War

“When it comes to slaughter,
You’ll do your work on water,
And you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots
If ‘im that’s got it.”
OK, it’s Kipling (c. 1880’s), but you had best believe it was true in the Old West as well…
Ask Reno‘s men at Little Bighorn. – Doc
It was definitely NOT the lubricant of Chivington‘s murderous troops at Sand Creek

“It is very evident after checking up the assignments of troops and engagements between the Indians and the military in Kansas, that the small garrisons at Fort Wallace participated in more actual engagements with the Indians and were sent to the relief of more scout and escort parties than the soldiers from any other post in Kansas. Other posts were bases of supplies and regimental headquarters where large forces were mobilized for Indian campaigns. But none defended a larger territory on the western frontier of Kansas. . .”
The Frontier Defenses of Kansas – Garfield
Wk. 39, 09/25/1868

“You would laugh to see the Fort, here is a groupe of log shanties covered with dirt, most of the windows are made of boards hung on leather hinges and made to swing open and shut. There is two or three of them which have a half window sash and some of them have panes of glass in them. I suppose the aristocracy reside in them which have the glass. It is a military post. There are soldiers established here. There is but very few log shakes perhaps eight or ten in all and a cat could go in and out of them between the logs. There is a row of caves along the river bank in which the soldiers burrow in winter. You can look away and see nothing but high stony hills and valleys. …this country should be left to the Indians and Wild beasts and such is pretty much the case.”
John Morrill ) in a letter to his wife
describing Fort Ellsworth. (09/23/1865

“Along the main lines of travel throughout the whole western country, at distances from sixty to three hundred miles apart, the United States government are obliged to maintain a great number of these little military establishments . . . . In many instances not a white man lives in the intervening country, and yet without them overland travel would be impossible.”
New Tracks in North AmericaW. A. Bel (1870)

“The only good Indian, is a dead Indian.”
Gen. Phillp H. Sheridan, c. 1869
Wk. 38, 09/17/1868 – Battle of Beecher Island.


Battle of Beecher Island – 1868

“”the greatest battle on the plains.”
Lt. Col. George A. Custer

“The sensationalism it generated, indirectly led to an infusion of new troops into the plains, culminating in the Washita campaign.
John H. Monnet – Historian

Wk. 38, 09/17/1868 – Battle of Beecher Island
Wk. 38, 09/17/1868 – Roman Nose


“The only White officer who supports the unit is Regimental Commanding Officer Colonel Benjamin Grierson. Ostracized by other officers for his enthusiastic command of the African-American troops, Grierson believes in the abilities, dedication, and record of performance of the Buffalo Soldiers and declines offers to lead at any other post. General Pike offers to relieve Grierson ‘of this self-imposed exile and have him commanding a real cavalry regiment within a month,’ but Grierson refuses” — Turner Network Television’s documentary, Buffalo Soldiers.
Wk. 35, 08/31/1911 – Brig. Gen. Benjamin Grierson
PLAYERS – Timelines – Timelines A-L – Buffalo Soldiers Timeline

“I had some close calls while I was trying to pull the corporal from under fire and succeeded in getting him behind a bush and you can be sure it was a very new sensation to hear the bullets whiz and strike within six inches of me and not be able to see anything.”
“Our men were played out to begin with and from the position we were in all of us would have been struck….”
Lt. Powhatan Clarke in a letter to his father , describing the action at the Battle of Canjón De Los Negros.

“The wounded Corporal has had to have his leg cut off…. This man rode seven miles without a groan, remarking to the Captain (Lebo) that he had seen forty men in one fight in a worse fix than he was.
Lt. Powhatan Clarke in a letter to his mother, continuing the description the action at the Battle of Canjón De Los Negros.
Wk. 18, 05/03/1886 – Battle of Canjón De Los Negros
Wk. 29, 07/29 – Lt. Powhatan Clarke

“All public property from this post having been disposed of, it was abandoned on this date.”
Lt. James Brett, commanding a small caretaker force at Fort Selden, NM,
filed the final post return (01/20/1891).
see also:
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading PostsFort Selden

“For a black officer to manage white troops was controversial.  That was a major roadblock.  For in the military, to have troops that do not recognize the skills or management of their commanding officer would place the troops, and the officer, and the country at risk.
Renotta Young, the great grand niece of Col. Charles Young: in reference to the dedication of the  Colonel Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce, OH. (2013)
see also:
Wk. 02, 01/08/1922 – Charles Young


George Washington Quote - Commentators Quotes

barbed wire divider2 - Commentators QuotesEnd: Commentators Quotes

{001} C 09/19; E 03/18; F 12/11; P 12/17

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