google-site-verification: googlee20fcd946adc59a7.html Out of the Past: 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Calamity Jane

How did Martha Jane Canary get the name Calamity Jane?

In her autobiography, Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane, Canary says it came from a Capt. Egan whom she rescued during an Indian fight:

“When fired upon Capt. Egan was shot. I was riding in advance and on hearing the firing turned in my saddle and saw the Captain reeling in his saddle as though about to fall. I turned my horse and galloped back with all haste to his side and got there in time to catch him as he was falling. I lifted him onto my horse in front of me and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort. Capt Egan on recovering, laughingly said: 'I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.' I have borne that name up to the present time."

In his recently published biography, Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend, James D. McLaird dismisses her story as fictional. The only "Capt. Egan" on the plains at the time served at Fort Laramie and there is no record of him being injured in an Indian fight. His only recorded encounter with Canary was ordering her out of the fort after impersonating a soldier.

Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane
Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend
Artwork: Calamity Jane
Out of the Past: History Lessons

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Mackay and Evans Expedition

If Spain had fared better in its 1796 war with Great Britain, or if Napoleon's fortunes hadn't soured in 1803, the team of Mackay and Evans might be celebrated today instead of Lewis and Clark.

Like the Mercury astronauts who rode rockets into space in the 1960s following in the wake of test pilots like Chuck Yeager who had braved the edges of the atmosphere months earlier, the 1804-6 Corps of
Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark followed a course previously blazed by James Mackay and John Evans.

The first 700 miles of Lewis and Clark's journey, in fact, was made following a detailed map of the Upper Missouri River surveyed by the 25-year-old Evans. And much of the Corp's knowledge of Indian tribes and their customs came from Mackay, the most widely traveled and experienced fur trader in America at the time.

Continued in ... The Mackay and Evans Expedition

Corps of Discovery Opens the West
Lewis & Clark Overwinter at Fort Clatsop
History and American West Titles
Out of the Past

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

When and where did the first Thanksgiving occur in the Americas? The 1621 feast held by Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Plantation is the common answer.

Chronologically speaking, Plymouth's Thanksgiving was not first... by a long shot.

Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed in what is now St. Augustine, Florida, on September 8, 1565. On that day he held Mass and shared a feast of Thanksgiving with the Timucua Indians. The Timucua brought corn, beans, squash, nuts and shellfish, while the Spanish made a pork, bean and onion stew.

In 1598, another Spaniard by the name of Juan de Onate took a company of 600 people, 83 wagons and 7,000 animals across the Rio Grande. When they arrived, just south of El Paso, they held a feast of Thanksgiving with the Manso Indians.

Jamestown, Virginia settlers also held a Thanksgiving ceremony in 1610 and the Berkeley Plantation on the James River in Virginia held its first Thanksgiving held on December 4, 1619.

Continued in ... Holidays and Notable Events

Savage Barbecue
History and American West Titles
Out of the Past
Artwork: The First Thanksgiving 1621

Sunday, November 11, 2012

1953: Major League Monopoly

Fifty-nine years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Major League baseball exempt from the nation's anti-trust law.

Since the National League joined forces with the American League in 1903, the union of the two leagues has held a virtual monopoly on the professional game and its players, effectively preventing other competitive leagues from succeeding.

Early in the 20th century, a minor league called the Federal League of Base Ball Clubs developed major league ambitions and, in 1915, sued the Major League for interfering with their attempts to hire players that were between contracts (Federal Baseball Club v. National League). The court did not render an immediate opinion, but took the case under advisement long enough for the Federal League to have financial problems and disband.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to Major League Baseball.

Since then, the only time the Major League’s anti-trust exemption was seriously challenged or reached the Supreme Court was Curt Flood's suit for free agency in 1972.

The Roster
Curt Flood in the Media
Artwork: Fielder Jones, manager and player, St. Louis Federal League baseball 1914

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1809: Meriwether Lewis Slain

On this day in 1809, a co-leader of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Meriwether Lewis, died mysteriously.

One of the greatest explorers in American history, Lewis lies buried in a remote corner of Tennessee where an inn called Grinder's Stand once stood along the old Natchez Trace trail.

It was here, just three years after his triumphant return from the Northwest and his appointment as governor of the Louisiana Territory, that Lewis died from two gunshot wounds. No one witnessed the shooting at the crude inn he was staying at along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee.

A rectangle of rocks marks the site of a log cabin in which Lewis spent his final hours and a short path leads to his gravesite and monument. A preserved stretch of the Natchez Trace that Lewis was traveling before his death passes by the monument and is now frequented by day hikers and visitors to the Meriwether Lewis Monument.

Continued in ... Out of the Past

Book Store
Out of the Past
History and American West Titles
Photo: Grave of Meriwether Lewis

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fear of Food Experts

During the course of writing this book, I have often been asked what lessons I personally draw from it. Well, for me the history of expert advice on diet and health inevitably brings to mind the old saying, "This too shall pass." 
The massive reversals in expert opinions described in this book provide more than enough support for this skepticism. Indeed, the hubris of experts confidently telling us what to eat has often been well-nigh extraordinary.
In 1921, for example, the consensus among the nation’s nutritional scientists was that they knew 90% of what there was to know about food and health.  Yet just a few years earlier, beforethe discovery of vitamins, they had routinely condemned the poor for wasting their money on fresh fruits and vegetables, which were said to be composed of little more than water, with only minimal amounts of the protein, fats, and carbohydrates that were essential to life.
~ Harvey A. Levenstein

from "Fear of Food"