First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.
Dan – After hitting 150.0, I’m 2/8, with today’s OSer . . . MT; 111/91; 4/10; 2; 151.5. Here’s a somewhat-more-expanded-than-usual landing map, showing a cluster of landings around the peculiarly-named town of Circle. Today’s landing is the eastern-most:
Here’s a broader view:
I landed in the Deer Ck watershed (my 10th “Deer” watershed); on to the Yellowstone (47th hit); to the Missouri (349th hit); to the MM (744th hit).
Here’s my GE shot, which shows that I landed in what appears to be an irrigated farm field.
Note the property to the SE seems to be quite the facility. Here’s a closer view:
I’m mystified as to what this is. It looks much more complex than a typical farm operation, and is far from any town. Oh, well . . .
The nearest Street View shot I could find is five miles away. Here ’tis, looking towards my landing:
You can see the shadow of the Googlemobile with what I presume is the camera sticking up out of the roof.
Moving on to Circle – it turns out that one of the clustered landings around the town of Circle occurred just before I started this blog, in November 2008. In my email to you back then, I remarked on the cool logo shown on the town’s website:
You have to the love the slogan – “A Great Place to be Around.”
Back then, I remarked that I couldn’t find any information about the reason for the name “Circle.” Well, that was then, and this is now. Here’s a plaque in town:
If you read it carefully, you’ll see that one Major Seth Mabrey was a big time cattle driver/rancher, in the area, and the brand he used was a simple circle – thus the name. Well, I Googled ol’ Seth, and out popped an amazing Old West story about Dodge City Kansas that mentions the good Major. This book was written by an old cowpoke who was there in Texas (and in Dodge, I think) when the events discussed occurred. Here’s the cover page of the book:
THE COWBOY CAPITAL
THE GREAT SOUTHWEST
The Days of
The Wild Indian, the Buffalo, the Cowboy, Dance Halls, Gambling Halls, and Bad Men
ROBERT M. WRIGHT
Plainsman, Explorer, Scout, Pioneer, Trader and Settler
(1913, 2nd. Edition)
I’ve lifted the story that mentions Major Mabrey. I’ve done just a little editing here and there. This is pretty long, but trust me, well worth the read:
Two of the greatest gamblers and faro-bank [an old west card game] fiends, as well as two of the most desperate men and sure shots, were Ben and Billy Thompson. Every year, without fail, they came to Dodge to meet the Texas drive [cowboys had an annual cattle drive from Texas up to Dodge Kansas, which had a railroad station]. Each brother had killed several men, and they were both dead shots. They terrorized Dodge City and Ellsworth county, the first year of the drive to that place, killed the sheriff of the county, a brave and fearless officer, together with several deputies, defied the sheriff’s posse, and made their “get away”.
A large reward was offered for them and they were pursued all over the country; but, having many friends among the big, rich cattlemen, they finally gave themselves up and, through the influence of these men who expended large sums of money in their defense, they were cleared. Ben told the writer that he never carried but one gun. He never missed, and always shot his victim through the head. He said, when he shot a man, he looked the crowd over carefully, and if the man had any close friends around or any dangerous witness was around, he would down him to destroy evidence. The last few years of his life, he never went to bed without a full quart bottle of three-star Hennessey brandy, and he always emptied the bottle before daylight. He could not sleep without it.
Ben was a great favorite with the stockmen. They needed him in their business for, be it said to their shame, some of them employed killers to protect their stock and ranges and other privileges, and Ben could get any reasonable sum, from one hundred to several thousand dollars, with which to deal or play bank.
Ben Thompson was the boss of gamblers and killers in Austin, and another man – Bishop, I think was his name – was the boss of gamblers and killers in San Antonio. Great rivalry existed between these two men, and they were determined to kill each other. Word was brought to the Bishop that Ben was coming down to San Antonio to kill him, so he had fair warning and made preparations. Ben arrived in town and walked in front of Bishop’s saloon. He knew Ben was looking for the drop on him, so he stationed himself behind his screen in front of his door, with a double-barreled shotgun. Whether Ben was wise to this, I do not know, but when Ben came in, he fired through this screen, and the San, Antonio man fell dead with a bullet hole in his head, and both barrels of his gun were discharged into the floor.
Ben was now surely the boss, and numerous friends flocked to his standard, for “nothing succeeds like success”. Some say that this victory made Ben too reckless and fool-hardy, however.
Some time after this, the cattlemen gathered in Austin at a big convention – something like three thousand were there. At this convention, Ben was more dissipated and reckless than ever, and cut a big figure. There was a congressman who was Ben’s lawyer and friend (I won’t mention his name). After the convention adjourned, thirty or forty of the principal stockmen and residents of Texas remained to close up business and give a grand banquet (and let me say right here, these men were no cowards).
That night, Ben learned that they had not invited his congressman, to which slight he took exceptions. The plates were all laid, wine at each plate, and just as they were about to be seated, in marched Ben with a sixshooter in his hand. He began at one end of the long table and smashed the bottles of wine, and chinaware as he came to it, making a clean sweep of the entire length of the table. Let me tell you, before he got half through with his smashing process, that banquet hall was deserted. Some rushed through the doors, some took their exit through the windows, and in some instances the sash of the windows went with them and they did not stop to deprive themselves of it until they were out of range.
This exploit sounded Ben’s death knell, as I remarked at the time that it would, because I knew these men.
Major Seth Mabrey [the Circle connection!] was asked the next day, what he thought of Ben’s performance. Mabrey had a little twang in his speech and talked a little through his nose. In his slow and deliberate way, he said: “By Ginneys! I always thought, until last night, that Ben Thompson was a brave man, but I have changed my mind. If he had been a brave man, he would have attacked the whole convention when we were together and three thousand strong, but instead, he let nearly all of them get out of town, and went after a little bunch of only about forty of us.”
After this, the plans were laid to get away with Ben. He was invited to visit San Antonio and have one of the good old-time jamborees, and they would make it a rich treat for him. He accepted. They gave a big show at the theater for his special benefit. When the “ball” was at its height, he was invited to the bar to take a drink, and, at a given signal, a dozen guns were turned loose on him. They say that some who were at the bar with him and who enticed him there were killed with him, as they had to shoot through them to reach Ben.
At any rate, Ben never knew what hit him, he was shot up so badly. They were determined to make a good job of it, for if they did not, they knew the consequences. Major Mabrey was indeed a cool, deliberate and brave man, but he admitted to outrunning the swiftest of them when the bullets started flying.
Major Mabrey would hire more than a hundred men every spring for the drive, and it is said of him that he never hired a man without first looking him over carefully. Months after he could call him by name and tell when and where he had hired him.
The Major built the first castle or palatial residence on top of the big bluff overlooking the railroad yards and the Missouri River, in Kansas City.
A truly amazing look at the Old West. The lawlessness can only be imagined!
I’ll close with this shot of the historic Gladstone Hotel in Circle (photo by Arielle Lee):
That’ll do it. . .
© 2010 A Landing A Day