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 – A mere 7 landings ago, I was poised at 150.2, ready for the big breakthrough to the 140s. Then, (so predictably), I’ve hit way more OSers than USers. In fact, today’s landing puts me at 1/7 . . . KS; 55/51; 4/10; 3; 152.0. Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Talmage, Solomon & Abilene:
Here’s a broader view:
I landed in the Mud Ck watershed (my 23rd “Mud” or “Muddy” stream), on to the Smoky Hill R (16th hit); to the Kansas (55th hit); to the Missouri (351st hit); to the MM (747th hit).
Here’s my GE shot, showing a predictably agricultural setting:
Unfortunately, there’s no nearby StreetView.
I’ve decided to feature Abilene; it’s the largest town near my landing and it certainly has the most colorful history. From USCitiesOnLine.com:
The famous Chisholm Trail came to Abilene and helped to gain Abilene its reputation as the wickedest and wildest town in the west as the cowboys celebrated at the end of the trail.
Abilene was named by Eliza Hersey, the wife of Timothy Hersey, the founder of Abilene. She chose the name because it means city of the plains from Luke 3:1 in the New Testament. It began as a small stagecoach stop in 1857, but once discovered by the cattle traders it grew to a city of 3,000. Not only were there more people and houses, but also more saloons, night clubs, gambling houses and businesses. The stockyards here created a booming prairie town. Cattle arriving here were shipped east by train between 1867 and 1872. Everyone has heard of the famous lawmen, Tom Smith and Wild Bill Hickok who attempted to keep the peace in this town of riotous cowboys.
Former US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised in Abilene, spending most of his boyhood here. He attended Elementary through High School in Abilene.
OK. Here’s a little tidbit about Tom “Bear River” Smith. Tom was the Marshal for Abilene when something very bad happened. From Wiki:
In 1870, Smith and a deputy attempted to serve a warrant on two local farmers, Andrew McConnell and Moses Miles who were wanted in connection with the murder of another Abilene man, John Shea. Smith located the suspects in a small settlement ten miles outside of Abilene. A gunfight erupted, in which Smith was badly wounded in the chest. Smith returned fire and wounded McConnell. His deputy fled the scene, and as Smith lay wounded, Moses Miles hit him with the butt of a rifle, then took an axe and decapitated him.
So, who takes Tom Smith’s place? None other than Wild Bill Hickock. From Wiki, this about his time in Abilene:
Hickock’s time as marshal was short lived. While holding off a crowd during a street brawl, gambler Phil Coe took two shots at Hickock, who returned fire killing Coe, but then accidentally shot his friend and deputy, Mike Williams, who was coming to his aid. He lost his job two months later in December.
So, ol’ Wild Bill had some encounters with one John Wesley Hardin. From Wiki:
In Abilene, Kansas, Hardin again met Wild Bill Hickok, at the time the cattle town’s reining peace officer. Hickok took an indulgent attitude toward the young Hardin. He drank with Hardin and gave him advice. Hickock allowed Hardin to carry his pistols in Abilene, something Hickok never allowed others to do. For his part, Hardin was fascinated by Wild Bill and reveled at being seen on intimate terms with such a celebrated gunfighter.
At the American House Hotel, where Hardin had put up for the night, it is alleged that he began firing bullets through a bedroom wall and the ceiling above him, simply to stop the snoring of a stranger in the next room. The first bullet merely woke the man; the second killed him. Remorseful, and in the silence, Hardin realized that he was about to get into deep trouble with Wild Bill. Still in his undershirt, he exited through a window and ran onto the roof of the hotel portico—just in time to see Hickok arriving with four policemen, having been alerted by other guests. “I believe,” Hardin said later, “that if Wild Bill found me in a defenseless condition, he would take no explanation, but would kill me to add to his reputation”.
Not seen by Hickock, Hardin leaped from the roof into the street and hid in a haystack for the rest of the night. Toward dawn he stole a horse and made his way back to the cow camp outside town. The next day he left for Texas, never to return to Abilene. In his autobiography, Hardin said, “They tell lots of lies about me,” he complained. “They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain’t true, I only killed one man for snoring”.
Mr. Hardin had quite the life (and death). He was eventually captured and sent to prison, and got out on good behavior after serving 16 years of a 25-year sentence (although he was on parole). Wiki picks up the story:
Soon after being released from prison in 1894, he was pardoned and passed the state’s bar examination, obtaining his license to practice law. A brief, failed marriage prompted Hardin to move west, specifically to El Paso. If Hardin was looking for a new start, he didn’t find it in El Paso.
El Paso lawman John Selman, Jr., arrested Hardin’s girlfriend, the widow M’Rose, for “brandishing a gun in public.” Hardin confronted Selman, and the two men had a verbal dispute. On being told of the argument, John’s 56-year-old father, John Selman, Sr., a constable, approached Hardin on the afternoon of August 19, 1895 and the two men exchanged words. Later that night, Hardin went to the Acme Saloon, where he began playing dice. Shortly before midnight Selman, Sr. walked in and saw Hardin with his back to him, and shot him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. As Hardin’s body lay on the floor, Selman, Sr. fired three more shots into him.
Selman, Sr. was arrested for the murder and stood trial where he claimed he had fired in self defense. A hung jury resulted in his being released on bond. However, Selman, Sr. was killed in a shootout on April 6, 1896 by US Marshal George Scarborough. Selman, Sr. and Scarborough had been playing cards and got into an argument. Both exited to the alley and shot it out, after which Scarborough returned alone.
Scarborough was arrested for murder as no gun was found on Selman, Sr. However, just before his trial a thief was arrested and it was discovered he had Selman’s gun. He stated he had seen the shooting and stolen the gun before the crowd arrived. Scarborough was then released.
On April 5, 1900, four years after he shot John Selman, Scarborough was mortally wounded in a gunfight with two robbers.
Of the three characters I featured in this post, Tom Smith is far and away the most admirable. In fact, it turns out that Abilene’s own Dwight Eisenhower was an admirer of Tom Smith. This from the “Kansas Collection” website (www.kancoll.org):
Years later, Dwight David Eisenhower held the memory of Tom “Bear River” Smith in much higher esteem than that of “Wild Bill” Hickok. He considered Smith to be a personal hero, describing him in this manner:
“According to the legends of my hometown he was
anything but dull. While he almost never carried a
pistol he…subdued the lawless by the force of his
personality and his tremendous capability as an
athlete. One blow of his fist was apparently enough
to knock out the ordinary ‘tough’ cowboy. He was
murdered by treachery.”
Throughout his own celebrated lifetime, Eisenhower reportedly visited Smith’s grave at least once during every return to the town he loved most. During the 8-year period when Ike was the nation’s chief executive, he visited the Abilene cemetery on three separate occasions: in 1954, 1958, and 1959. The admired leader who headed the Allied forces to a WWII victory as a great general of the army, and demonstrated integrity as a decent and honest two-term president of his country, took inspiration from reading these simple earnest words:
THOMAS J. SMITH
Marshall of Abilene, 1870,
Died, a Martyr to Duty, Nov. 2, 1870.
A Fearless Hero of Frontier Days
Who in Cowboy Chaos
Established the Supremacy of Law.
I’ll close with this shot of Dwight playing football in Abilene. He’s second from the right (in a tie????):
That’ll do it. . .
© 2010 A Landing A Day